Francisco “Kiko” Muñiz is a cork harvester who lives in Galaroza. Like others working in this field, he does all sorts of other agricultural work. I spent a couple of days with his cuadrilla last year on farms near Jabugo and Alájar. Here Kiko sits with his axes and various “cucharos” which are prized amongst the cork harvesters. Traditionally these could be used for anything from drinking cups at wells, to bowls for making gazpacho, or if big enough, for bathing a baby. Nowadays they mostly decorate the local bars.
MAUNEL AND ANTONIO
Manuel Santos Carvajal is from a new generation of cork harvesters from the Sierra. He lives in Galaroza. He does all kinds of forestry work. Maunel likes to sing and joke while he works which makes being with the caudrilla enjoyable. Here he is working with Antonio “El Cordobés” from the village of Alájar. Antonio also keeps 50 or more goats so I think there is a visit in the offing for Chaparro, the camera and me…
Francisco is a rare breed: a young arriero or muleteer. There used to be hundreds of arrieros travelling across the Sierra but now there are very few so I felt really lucky to catch a rare glimpse of an arriero at work during the cork harvest; tractors are the norm nowadays. The days I was with the cuadrilla, Franciso was working with his two mules. Rodolfo and Marquesa, who know their work and who are extremely well cared for.
ARRIEROS FROM CAÑAVERAL DE LEÓN
One of the many lovely things about riding the paths of the Sierra is the probability of chance encounters with farmers, goatherds, walkers and in some instances, cork harvesters. On a ride through Valdelama, Paul and I came across these arrieros or muleteers from Cañaveral de León, a village situated in the far north of the Sierra, They were loading up cork near the village of Navahermosa and had brought their mules and donkeys down to help with the work.
Jan Nimmo ©2014