So I went to Barcelona, and stayed in an abandoned ice cream factory with a variety of people who do such things as fly on the trapeze and put on medieval shows for the community around. After only two days, though, I started feeling the pressure to get moving to a different country. I definitely gave Spain its fair allotment of the short time I have – three whole weeks. That leaves me only two and a half weeks to share between France and Italy! Preposterous.
I managed to hitch in an almost straight shot to Lagorce, France, which is not the sort of place you’ll have ever heard of. It takes several turns down successively smaller roads before you even find the name of this village on the local road signs. But I was on a mission, coming here. There’s a website called HelpX, where people can put notices that say something along the lines of: “Come help out on my farm/hostel/house/whatever, and I’ll give you free room and board while you work.” I found such a place there, but I couldn’t actually contact the people running it, because I didn’t want to pay the 20 euros to become a member, and then use the site only once before leaving Europe. So I decided to take a chance and just go to Lagorce and try to find the couple running this place.
I feel like I’ve reached some sort of Zen level of traveling where everything turns into serendipity. In hitching here, I got my first ride on a motorcycle, as well as a ride with a guy who had just returned that morning from a kitesurfing vacation in Brazil, and a family who went several miles out of their way to get me to Lagorce. Their son asked me what the specialty American food was, and when I got off, he gave me cookies and two lumps of sugar – this must be tantamount to the widow’s mites. That night I discovered from posters around the town that the following day there would be a festival all around the village. I also explored a little bit. What an incredible place: all the houses are medieval stonework, all crowded congenially onto a tall ridge overlooking fertile valleys.
Today I went to the festival, which was all about how to improve the world, starting at the local level. Some people from a local organization that saves heirloom seeds and donates them to Africa and the rest of the world knew the couple I was looking for. For a while there was a question of whether I could stay and volunteer – not because I showed up unannounced, but because they actually had two previously arranged volunteers showing up at 2:00 today. But they made a space for me, and now I’ll be here for about a week. Which is I think the longest time I’ll have spent in a single place since I started journeying.
Anyhow, what is this place? It’s a nascent “bed and diet” – differing from a bed and breakfast in that it’s going to cater specifically to people who want to go on vacation and still follow the paleo diet or one of the various diets like it. How perfect is that? The couple are Martin and Nina, Danish and German respectively, and the other volunteers are two Calgarians named Marian and Addy. We’ve already talked a lot about the paleo diet and how much sense it makes and how many problems it can solve. I plan to do some serious learning here. And of course, some work for them. And some good eating as well. And it’ll be nice to not be constantly in motion, too. Just having a home for a week in this tiny French village. Here, imagine me heaving a deep, relaxed sigh.
By the way! I’ll be here Thanksgiving Day, and I’ll have a stable internet connection. I don’t know about a camera, but when I think of an idea of what I can do, I’ll write something about it here.