For me, traveling is usually a whirlwind. Every day is a chance to see something new, to travel to another place, to meet another person. It’s easy to get caught up in said whirlwind and forget to take a breath, sit down for a second, have a glass of wine, watch the sunset and get to know the place you’re at in the moment.
Andy and I had a bit of down time between Mendoza and our next planned adventure. WWOOFing (willing workers on organic farms) is something we’ve always wanted to try so we packed up our bags and headed about 60 km south of Mendoza to a little town called Tunuyan. For the past 2 weeks we’ve been staying on a farm called Madre Tierra. In exchange for 6 hours of work a day (3 in the am, a long siesta in the heat of the day, and 3 in the afternoon) we get free room and board.
Madre Tierra is really a small commune. There are about 5 houses and families that live here though we mainly work with Gustavo and George. The houses are all constructed from bio materials which basically entails recycling pallets for the frame and then covering said frame with a mixture(la mescla) of sand, earth, clay, grass and water. The roof extends far out over the walls to protect them from the elements and the foot of the house looks like a small stone wall that acts as a buffer for the walls on the bottom. All of the windows are either recycled wine bottles or car windows. There are big, beautiful gardens, wild artichokes and raspberries, a bioconstruction sauna, animals of all shapes and forms, and hammocks for lounging. All of the members do something a little different but they all work together to make this a truly beautiful and inspiring place to live and be reminded to take a breath and appreciate the planet we live on.
There are two other WWOOFers here at the moment, Olivia from Belgium and Suzanne from Switzerland. They are both incredibly lovely and interesting ladies and we’ve shared many an adventure together. There are also 3 other volunteers living on the surrounding farms and cooking, eating and playing futbal together are common events.
Finally, woofing here has been incredible for my Spanish. George and his family speak no English and Gustavo speaks some. I’ve been forced to learn fast and dirty and it seems to really be working! I’ve definitely got some words under my belt that I never thought I would know in Spanish (injertar – to graft, like on a fruit tree) but everyone has been so patient and helpful with the basics as well. Exito!
Days on the farm have been a far cry from the mornings of white bread slathered in dulce de leche and evening meals of empanadas. The farm is bursting with life and people who know the best way to cook them. We’ve been eating like kings and loving every second of it.
It’s really not to shabby getting free room and board to play with mud all day. No, in all seriousness some days are spent hoeing, picking up sticks and digging holes for plants. Who am I kidding? It’s awesome. And good exercise!
Also, one day while harvesting quinoa leaves this actually happened. Quinoa grows like a weed here and it’s delicious. We use the leaves in everything.
On our dia libre Gustavo drove Andy, Olivia, Susanne and I to the mountains for a day of rock climbing. The mountains were truly spectacular, it was a welcome treat to escape the heat and everyone seemed to have a good time getting their climb on. Andy and I are heading back there tomorrow for a week of spectacular camping and climbing….
We’ve gone to a few protests for water protection here in Tunuyan. There’s a lot of mining that’s destroying the local water table and an impressive local movement to put an end to it. This is one such protest where there were a number of local bands including one from some genre called “morge.’ It’s mostly big percussion beats and it’s crazy.
And of course, every long morning of work was offset by an afternoon siesta in the hammock.