Thursday, November 12, 2009

Culture Shock and Culture Shocking


I cannot write right now, really, as I am very very jet-lagged and mixed-up from all the memory of velocity and my current, alien state of staying-put. But. I want to thank everyone for the kind messages and wishes for a safe journey home, and assure you than Matthew and I are very physically here, even if our brains are still somewhere over the Atlantic.

In the next few weeks I am going to be putting up posts regarding advice for WWOOF hosts and guests, reflections upon the farming methods and infrastructures which we experienced in the last eight months, a review of the restaurants we visited and the hostel that we stayed at in Barcelona, as well as general tips for people planning to backpack through Europe. Plus our own little aftermaths here in Boston.

Happy Thursday!

Monday, November 9, 2009


This is just a wee little hola to say that we are happily and hungrily in the good city of Barcelona. A night of good food with friends and a red-eye busride south brought us to this lovely little hostel, Apt. Ramcat, full of a cat and poppy motif and friendly, quiet people.

We have spent today with Gaudi, and I must say that he is an excellent traveling companion.

Anyhow, we are on our way to tapas in the Old Quarter. Have a good night!

Over and out,

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A tiny little sprout.

The end is very near.

Garlic is all planted, their sprouts, les poussees (named after pousseur, "to push") sticking up hopefully from their bony bulbs, thrusting out new, long roots into the dirt that we planted them in two weeks ago. Most of the onions - red and white and yellow - are planted as well, tucked into their plastique by many hands - WWOOFers, pros, and apprentices alike. It's been raining, and my throat is a tad bit sore, and my nose a bit stuffed after running around yesterday picking the last of the beans, planting more bulbs, and shoving stakes and flinging mud onto the plastic to make sure that it doesn't blow away. all of this while being rained on, both torentially and lightly. Matt and I looked like we were wearing cement shoes, only they were made of mud, weighing us down dopily and making it quite difficult to leap over a vegetable bed with success.

Since I began writing this post on Tuesday the ground has become more and more waterlogged and it is impossible to put out a foot without becoming completely drenched. This is both an annoyance and a vehicle for epic mornings, full of bareback and high speed tractor runs down the highway and mad dashes to pick and shave the roots off the last of this week's celeriacs. In short, a lot of fun, though it leaves you looking and feeling like a sad water rat after awhile. The best part is coming in for lunch and having piping hot soup and chicken - ooh la!

Apart from the good social and down and dirty life that we have been living here, the Toulouse area has been a great place for us thanks to its climate. The autumn here comes pretty close to resembling the Eastern Woodlands', what with rain, colors (though typically dull) and cold nights - truly cold, where you can't sit watching stars for longer than a handful of time. We even experienced the kind of cold that goes right through you, completely disregarding your skin and bones, wool and down, when some friends took us out for a day at the Pyrenees. We arrived at a good time, during the second week of October, allowing us to experience the major undressing of the trees and the seed-harvest and reaping of the corn. Heavy-duty field work and frost have turned the corn patch into stubble and the shriveled tomato plants into nursery beds of spinach seedlings and fennel.

As the days pass Matt and I both think more and more about our homecoming. It will be something else entirely to be living in Boston after such a prolonged ramble throughout eight different countries and a whole lot of homes. We are very excited to see everyone and I wonder often about the ways in which culture shock will hit us hardest. I know that we will find ourselves suddenly in a world full of Christmas songs and holiday commercialism, which will be strange after being in a place where Halloween isn't celebrated in the slightest and Christmas itself is treated far more subtlety. But perhaps it will be the small things which strike us most, and I can't begin to consider what will be most affecting.

Anyhow, we are about to off to the home of one of the apprentices, as he and his girlfriend will be treating us to a massive cheesy dinner full of fondues for all and wine for those that partake. It will be a good a way to begin our farewell to France, and a welcome event of warmth after a day of wet wet wet harvesting and AIMAP box packing.

Before I go I'd like to give a hearty hello to Pete, a good friend of Matt's Grandma and a devoted reader of Beauty and the Cheese. Thanks for your support and I look forward to meeting you in a few weeks!

Talk to (and See you!) real soon! (We return to the continent on the 11th!!)

Up up up! Image thanks to