Our First French Host
I’ve always said that there is no better way to discover who you are than by going to new places and trying new things. Travel has taught me more about what I want from life, the kind of person I want to become and where I want to go, than any other one single thing.
We picked Workaway for a number of reasons; the biggest of which was the ability to travel inexpensively… but also because we wanted to learn new things, try new things and for me especially, to help me discover what I really want. What makes me happiest.
The mister is lucky – he knows what he wants to do and how he intends to make a difference. I just have this series of dreams floating through my head and it’s terribly hard to nail down one specifically.
I want to be a published author (but my procrastination tends to keep that on the back burner). I want to own my own business (but I can’t decide exactly what I want to do). I want to live in the countryside (but I’m not sure exactly what I need to do to make that happen).
I can be a little wishy washy… I can’t deny that. Don’t worry though – I’m working on it. ;)
Our very first Workaway was in The Middle of Nowhere, France. I don’t mean that in any derogatory way, it really was no where near much of anything. If you consider ‘anything’ to be cities, towns and civilization in general. It was however, near a beautiful green forest, lakes, streams, trails and mountains, and thus directly related to Dream #3.
It was far enough away from town that you couldn’t get there without a vehicle and the nearest neighbour was across the lake.
We only spent a short time there, just over a week and a half, as we had already committed to another Workaway right after.
That week and a half was absolutely fantastic.
Our hosts were incredibly kind and generous; they made us feel welcome from the moment we stepped through the door. It was a series of small gestures that really did it – they were very careful to make sure that we didn’t work longer than our agreed upon amount of time and that we enjoyed our hours of relaxation.
When they found out we hadn’t tried many French cheeses or wines yet they went out and picked up a selection for us to try. For no reason other than the fact that they wanted us to have that experience!
The work was fun and included a lot of gardening projects. I rather quickly discovered that planting on a hill is a great way to get in shape and an even better way to destroy those who aren’t in as good shape as they should be!!
We were lucky enough to be able to house sit for a few days as well; which really gave us the opportunity to sink our teeth in and get a feel for the place.
There’s something about being out in nature, away from all of the conveniences of city life, that makes it so much easier to connect with (and pinpoint) the more important things. I wrote more during that week and a half than I have during the rest of this trip, and for me that says something. It says I was relaxed, happy and focused. Without those things I can’t write, it simply doesn’t happen. (Dream #1)
That’s not to say that I was completely in my element, the number of biting bugs was beyond astounding and I was forced to learn how to deal with ticks; what to look for and how to remove them. It was pretty horrific, especially when the Mister and I had to do nightly tick checks and on more than several occasions found the nasty little beasties with their heads burrowed under our skin. They are most certainly the stuff of nightmares.
FYI: Should you ever be stuck in this situation (because ticks are a menace in many places, not just the south of France), I highly recommend this tool.
It’s the simplest bit of plastic but it worked perfectly to remove them (and their heads) every single time. When you consider that we were removing tics from dogs as well, you can be guaranteed that we gave it a good and proper testing!
This post took a bit of a nasty turn, I know, but it is important (I feel) to include all of the less than pleasant things as well. (At least I didn’t include a picture of the horrid little things!)
Life isn’t always easy and comfortable, and if it is, you’re probably doing a lot more existing, rather than living.
Every time we go somewhere like this, I take my dream of living out in the country, I dust it off a little and hold it up to the light. Each time I do this, I can see how my recent experiences have affected it, for the good or bad. You would think that with the tick experience this dream might have grown a little bit shakier, but when it came down to it, it turns out that it has just solidified it for me even more.
I don’t like ticks – who does? I’d be happy never seeing one again. But now I know that I can handle them if I am forced to, and that makes the big wide world of creepy crawlies just a little less scary.
I learnt some things about gardening, ate a ton of freshly picked (by me) strawberries, saw the devastation that a pest can cause and witnessed how easily setbacks can happen when you are relying on nature for an income.
I also breathed in the fresh forest air and canoed across a private lake. I sat in front of a crackling fire while the rain poured down outside. I pulled out endless amounts of weeds and brambles, carted wheelbarrows full of mulch and listened to stories about how so many things never quite worked out on this plot of land… and some that did.
My dream coalesced and solidified just a little bit more, and I found myself looking out on the forests and mountains with joy – and longing.
I don’t think Dream #3 will be leaving me anytime soon and hopefully the rest of my travels will help me discover how I can finally make it a reality!