Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hort de Gloria.

So, I always thought in the back of my mind that I would one day go and live on an organic farm. But I never knew it would be this soon. Thanks to another American girl I met on a train in Italy, I found out about WWOOF-- "Willing Workers On Organic Farms"-- this amazing organization that provides people with information on different farms in any country they desire.

Since I knew I'd be in Spain shortly, I registered online with WWOOF Espana, and really thought it was way too late in the game to make it on to a farm (I was hoping to get there 2 weeks after I was registered). However, one out of about 20 farms wrote back and said I am more than welcome and I can stay for whatever length of time I desire. It was with a family business called "Aqua Ventura" that is based in an old farmhouse called Hort de Gloria. It's basically a small rustic hotel in the middle of the mountains-- people come and go on outdoor excursions during the day- hiking, climbing, kayaking, etc.

This place was naturally beautiful. It was basically a paradise. Chickens roamed freely-- there were countless dogs and cats just living the life. It is truly secluded-- surrounded by rolling mountains. When I was there, it was mid-November, and every morning seemed to become richer in color- rusted oranges, golden yellows, bright reds-- Autumn bursting through the foliage.

Aqua Ventura is run by a middle-aged couple-- the woman is Spanish and the man is South African. They have two pre-adolescent kids. Needless to say, they have their work cut out for them. Everyday, the guests expect breakfast, boxed lunches, and an elaborate dinner. Not to mention running a farm in itself is a lot of work. So, "WWOOFers" are always helping out, day and night, with anything they can to keep things running smoothly.

Our main duty, besides cooking and cleaning, was to pick olives in order to make olive oil. The farm had ton of olive trees, ripe and ready to be tackled. Most mornings would be very early- before sunset- and we'd be ready for bed by 10 p.m. I shared a tiny cabin with 4 other volunteers-- I was the only American, which I really loved. There was a Russian girl, a German girl, and a Swedish girl, who had literally biked by herself all the way from Sweden. Then, there were the Italian guys, who came together, and have the same name-- Francesco. These guys were the happiest people I have ever met-- constantly singing and playing the guitar, harmonica and tambourine. Although they did get on our nerves a little bit, I will never forget them. They were true spirit-lifters.

The German girl and I became really close-- she had quite the story to tell. I have never met anyone like her. She is a polygamist, who has about four or five different boyfriends. I knew she wasn't lying, because she had a "Skype date" with a different one every night. She is 29 and told me she just knows herself-- she knows she will never be able to commit to just one person, and she does not see why she can't love several people at once. She hopes to live in a commune one day with likeminded people-- basically people, I think, who are just okay with sleeping with everyone else. I was incredibly intrigued by her, but I still couldn't wrap my head around the whole idea.

When we weren't working, we went hiking together.  I was running, writing, doing yoga, playing with the dogs or just hanging out. We spent a lot of time singing and dancing together, and just enjoying life at the beautiful farm.

I decided to stay a week since my trip was already flying by and I had a lot left to see. Plus, my cousin was awaiting my arrival in Madrid!!


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