Friday, April 8, 2011

French Farmhouse helpxchange: part deux

Written on Friday, March 18th

So, been here for two full days now, and I must say I am feeling much more relaxed and enjoying the experience of it all. So far I've spent my work day painting/plastering walls in a soon to be private bed/bath that i'm helping a man from Croatia fix up (or I guess now he lives in Sweden). I have a pair of pants and a long sleeve shirt covered in paint/plaster stuff. My hands are covered in the same by the end of the day. I've really missed having my hands covered in paint/etc! I haven't gotten to do that since my college work study days in the scene/prop shop. It's quite comfy here. I have my own room! And i'm sharing a little apartment unit with it's own kitchen and wood burning stove for heat with only Mei and another awesomely nice girl from St. Louis who arrived yesterday. Also, the countryside is BEAUtiful. I went for a run yesterday, and the wine fields and other fields, and mountains in the background are do-you-good-pretty. It feels really good to be someplace non-city again. And the food here! – oh my deliciousness. The wife of the owner is Thai, from Thailand. Tonight the menu was pad thai, sweet and sour chicken, vegetarian green curry, and lamb curry. (in addition to salad, bread and cheese, and tropical fruits). In my two days being here we've also already had massuman (peanut curry) with sticky rice, squash soup (the only thing not cooked by Poi the amazing thai chef), green papaya salad, thai sweet basil chicken... that's all I can remember right now. Point is, there are lots and lots of delicious things are present at every meal. And then every meal is followed by cheese. Lot's of cheese. I enjoy that there is ALWAYS good rice too. It reminds me of home! And I haven't spent a dime, I mean, Euro since I've gotten here! Free travel for 5 hours a work a day – it's a nice deal. I'm not sure what we will do for the weekend yet (we have Saturday and Sunday work free)I hope to go for some hikes, and see some of the smaller surrounding villages.

The people here are mostly English. In fact, I feel like I am in England. Well, there are 10 of us including the owners, and 5 of them are from England, and none of them are from London either. Pretty much all the English people i knew up till now have been from London, and I'm learning there is a significant cultural difference between Londoners and non-Londoners. I'm still learning people's stories. I'm afraid to say I've been slightly anti-social since getting here. Well, not anti-social (cus I don't think I know how to do that) but not all that outgoing with the question asking and the story finding. I'm really enjoying the company of the outdoors, my music, and my room (and a good book). I think it might be because I'm only going to be here for ten days, whereas my next helpxchange I'll be there for a month... I don't know. I'm trying this new things where I don't over think things. So if I want to be in my room or take a walk alone, or if want to listen to music while I work and not make small talk with Vinko the heavily accented, politically opinionated, sort of shy, from Croatia but recently relocated to Sweden despite the fact that he very much dislikes socialist governments helpxer who I've been working with, then I choose to listen to my music. And it's sort of fun to piece together these people's stories slowly.

There's Katherine who is from Northern England as says the cutest English things, is on a working holiday, and manages properties back home.

There's Diane and Dean from England (but not a couple). Diane I don't know too much about, but she has a thirty year old daughter, a son (not sure of the age), is gregarious, nice, and we've had a conversation about tarot cards and astrology. They sell things at markets on the weekends. Dean seems to have traveled a lot. I'm not sure exactly where but he'll say things like, “oh yeah, I drove through st. louis. The arch, right?” and “When I was younger I smoked everything I could get my hands on while traveling down Africa.” But you have to imagine these things in a mumbling English accent. He's in his fifties. He loves to speak to me in American slang and makes jokes about how i'm a hippie from Hawaii. He also has such a nice head of hair! I don't normally notice guy's hair, but his is better than any middle aged celebrity I've seen (it's thick, it's shaped, and it has such a cool shade of grey).

There's Vinko, who I've sort of mentioned. He's a hard worker, really likes fixing up old English farms, and wants to turn it into more of a career. He tends to keep to himself. He comes out for meals, and then disappears again.

There's Matt, also from England, He's not a helpxer, but a friend of Peter the owner because he used to go out with Peter's 22 year old daughter. He's very friendly, helpful, lives with his girlfriend at a place with many horses. He seems to be an adrenaline junkie and has a ton of stories where he's either getting hurt (such as how the big dog here broke his leg when he was here by himself and didn't speak any French, or how he once almost blue himself up lighting a fire with petrol), or where he's getting into trouble (Speeding and or driving a bit drunk, etc). He's a character, but fun to talk to.

Peter and Poi – the owners have a three year old daughter who is adorable and gorgeous. And also seems to have the chicken pox at the moment, so i'm sort of steering clear of her. I don't know too much about Peter, but he's very nice (and Matt's always saying that he's a rather disorganized.) And Poi, in addition to being a great cook, definitely has a mischievous streak. The first night she was the instigator of a bunch of us taking way too many shots of 16% alcoholic wine.

And There's Melody. She's also American, and just arrived today so I don't know much about her yet, except that she has one of the helpful and pleasant dispositions that I have ever met. And she has a lot of different types of laughs, is very easy going, and has a good sense of humor. She just came from doing some helpxchanges in England, and this is her last one before she goes back to St. Louis where she has a number of jobs – a housekeeper, a farmer, a model for artists, and one more... can't remember. She's also vegetarian (hence the tofu green curry at dinner tonight which reminded me of my moms).

I'll be here till next Sunday- another week and a day - and then I'm not really sure where I'm off to for a couple of days. I know I want to go to Granada by the beginning of April, and see what places I can (including Barcelona) along the way.) In the meantime, spending ten days here with this company will be nice. Besides, it's only ten days. Just enough time to really experience it before moving on. I like this plan, and it's nice to stay put after jumping locations and people and beds every two nights for the last two weeks. I'll keep you posted of what's next.

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