Monday, August 22, 2011


I don't really know how to approach this so let's just cut to the chase: I spent all last week working on a farm in the French alps.

It's kind of a long story how I got myself into this, but if it is something that interests you, check out, wwoof standing for Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms. It's more or less an organization that links farms with volunteers who have the desire to learn and experience all the workings of organic farming.

I decided to do this because it seemed like a cool alternative vacation plan, plus one on the seriously economic side (in exchange for your work, you stay and eat for free). I'd never worked on a farm, but the idea of digging my hands in to the earth was appealing. I chose France because it's close and also I thought I'd put my summer course to good use. Tucked away in the mountains, I believe that La Ferme Agri-Nature in Marcellaz was just what I needed...

The house at sunset (I suppose this explains the bizarre lighting..?), from the back.

The house was up on a hill, and to get to the massive garden (this is just one side of it) was about a five minute walk down.

This was probably the most taxing of all...making, as Guy the other wwoofer put it, a "house for the beans". Although it may look simple, do not be deceived. It took us two full days of work and I won't even go into detail about how tedious it was. It did feel good, though, to see the progress, and once we were done we spent a good three hours weeding all around it. The result: a lovely sight.

The neighbors. Apparently that red van hasn't moved in over ten years.

Le petit marché...I did quite a bit of maintenance here, as it was open 24/7 and right on the main road connecting Marcellaz with the other surrounding towns. Weighing, pricing, etc etc.

I worked from 9-12 and then again from 2-4...leaving plenty of time for bicycle exploration.

These funny little houses were everywhere...apparently people used to store their most prized possessions in tiny sheds nearby, in case the house burnt down or something equally disastrous happened.

Collecting apples was fun and also terrifying. After carefully placing them in the canvas bag on my shoulder, I had to climb down the questionably-stable 10 foot ladder and put them in this basket, elevated so that the grazing sheep wouldn't get to them (they came over the minute they saw us put up the ladder).

As one might imagine, there were a lot of cats. What's a cozy farm kitchen without a curious little kitten?

On my last day of work I collected strawberries and then we made a strawberry pie. This is Miki, head of the house, I wouldn't mind if he were my grandpa.

Finally, before my evening flight back to Madrid, I visited the lovely lakeside city of Annecy. A long bike ride all along the east side of the lake...breathtaking.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Hello world, I just came back from paradise.

I am almost tempted to just leave the photos to speak for themselves, because a million words couldn't tell the stories, feelings, experiences that the last 12 days were. But since I am no photographer, I also feel this is unjust...

So here is a photo journal of summer vacation 2011: IBIZA. You should read it in case you ever visit the spectacular island, and also because I just spent the last hour and a half making it.

Day 1
This is the first photo I took: it must feel good to be home. We arrived mid-afternoon on Spanish time-zone (5ish), perfect time for a cup of tea and then off to a particularly stunning spot on the island--Punta Galera. Flat rocks jutting out into the ocean, perfect for sunbathing as a lizard might on the earthy-warm stones...

And hello, first Ibiza sunset at Punta Galera. Every single evening was just as fantastic--each night this ball of fire transformed into a neon cookie.

Day two
Taking advantage of the brief encounter with a full-house (all the kids are home, baby!), we set off with Lucas' family and friends to Formentera, about a two hour trip on the Morna. The best way to discover a new place is off the beaten track... how about off the track all together? There is so much beautiful, untouched coast on this tiny island...

Day Three
After a night's camping on the boat: nothing like waking up and jumping into crystal clear waters.

The crew! And a wobbly lunch on the boat. Talk about drowsiness the minute you set down your fork...

Day Four
Headed back to Ibiza. I feel almost unworthy of sights like these because I don't really appreciate boats in the way that some people do. I do, however, appreciate beauty...

I also appreciate culos. I feel as though the anonymity of this photo makes my posting of it completely acceptable.

Day Five
Anything to escape the mass amounts of people on the island...some sandwiches and beers and off to the cave-cove. This photo doesn't really give an idea of what it was like, but at least we look good. Just imagine pulling up to a wide cliff that shows no sign of leading down to the shore...but then oh! Hidden on the far edge, there's that steep, slippery staircase that breaks off and turns directions at least four times, stopping half-way at an enormous cave that looks out to the other side of the ocean, and finally arriving to a tiny little cove where three storm-beaten boathouses stand.

Day Six
Speaking of boathouses, Lucas' favorite spot on the island is his uncle's in Cala Corral. There is no running water or electricity, but there are boats, a few mattresses, and a roomy porch, to name the essentials. The place is the red with the blue garage doors (although the colors are difficult to discern here..)

We went to different calas to park and snorkel around or eat lunch the few days we were camping in the boathouse. Totally worth the aching shoulders--I found that my pain threshold is much higher while singing.

Day Seven
Good morning, Cala Corral! Some navigating plans for the next outing on kayak.

A nice view.

Underwater cameras are fun toys. Here we are unintentionally "raising the roof" in Ibiza. I am not embarrassed to say that I did not make it to one club while on the island...although there is still some curiosity lurking...

Day Eight
With the help of uncle, we take out the Llaüt (pronounced ya-oot), a typical Ibizan fishing boat. Lucas' great uncle bought it along with a neighboring boathouse for 1000 pesetas, that is, 6 euros, 100 years ago. Those are tree branches that hold up the paddles and extra poles for the overhead shade...

It really is a lovely thing...

This little octopus was SO AFRAID! Watching the race to catch it reminded me of a scene from Fantasia. After darting around trying to avoid Lucas' grasp and then spraying ink in his face, the little guy accepted his fate and then became quite cuddly. SO CUTE!!!!!

Day Nine
Mandatory tour of the old city of Ibiza, Dalt Vila (literally--upper town). This is the 16th century wall that surrounds it. Raised up on the southeast coast of the island, its views are far and wide for obvious reasons...

Pirates ahead!

Day Ten
We went sampling ham sandwiches in Santa Gertrudis, a small but lively town not far from the capital and known for its artesanal trade. The restaurant itself has an interesting history, it is filled with all sorts of eclectic artwork...story has it that the owner used to allow artists to eat for free in exchange of wall decor. This place only serves sandwiches: I approve.

Last Day
Then all of the sudden we jump to the last day... I am getting a little worn out and perhaps I am overdoing it but I guess this is what happens when you are in dead-of-August-Madrid with NOTHING to do. And the truth of the matter is the next two days were lost in oblivion as far as photos go, as we were kidnapped on a small motor boat and taken to a friend's sailboat in Formentera and unexpectedly held captive there for two days. It was rough, let me tell you. And then we catch up here, about to head to the airport. As usual, it all went by way too fast!! Thank you to my guide and hosts at Can Torre (can=house in Catalan). Couldn't have been lovelier :)