Picking olives is not really like picking olives. It is combing grapes, plumbs, cherries, or olives off branches. When we have about 8 boxes or almost 200kg after one day of work the next day comes and we can almost double that. We then head to the mill, all you need are 350kg of olives to get yourself some oil. I am not sure the exact amount of oil this produces because the olives all have different amounts of oil in them. I do believe that the return rate is 10% on average. So it takes a lot of work to produce olive oil but fresh olive oil is worth the effort! The aroma that comes out of the oil is so similar to the taste of an olive straight off the tree. I have never tasted anything so bitter in my life. I nearly purged the breakfast out of my stomach the first time I ate one. I keep watching the parents of these olive trees taste them and I keep getting the same nasty kick I did the first time. The host seem to think there is after tones of fruit but no not for me. The olives look like fruit but as much as I desire them to be, they are not.
What is the experience of picking Olives en Provence?
Walking up to the tree and taking in the character of it. One tree had its leaves practically laying on the ground because his branches were sagging. As Gerry stated we were hoping it would perk up a bit once we took the weight of the world off its branches. No luck but lots of satisfaction as we pruned it and gave it some love.
Another part of the process is laying down bashers under the trees to catch-all the olives. These are actually big blue tarp’s. Laying these down is the hardest part of the whole job because they are huge, maybe like 24ft by 24ft, some of them. We are working on a hill so the olives turn the bashers into a playground of slides and we must catch them when they fall. Hehe. Standing with your back facing down hill balancing on you tip toes rolling the edge of the tarp to give it that sort of unique edge is what bashing is all about. Sliding the tarp to the stump part umm the haha I’m stumped, the bark, the stem, whatever we are covering the ground which covers the roots and like with the tree before sometimes only one branch falls and we have to crawl under the others to pick it up so we don’t break it. Backing up a little to make more sense, imagine a large square drawn on the ground around the olive trees this is basically what we do with the blue bashers. It’s complicated sort of, and I’d rather describe the trees.
I learned the other day that you can tell a lot about a trees roots from the way it grows. Some trees grow branches only on half its side, so that is where its roots must lie.
The company, the thing that makes olive picking magical. I am thankful for the women I work next to and the man and woman of it all, Mark and Gerry. These two host have a great laugh about them and a charm that keeps the butterflies in your stomach for days. I just like the way that sounded it’s not actual feelings of butterflies but you definitely walk away from a day or an evening with them feeling happy and giggling. This goes for my fortunate luck in stumbling upon two roommates that spark the same fire. The risk if this lifestyle is running into other helpers that do not make a match with you. I at this moment have found my matches and it shows everyday we are together.
We cook, well they cook, I watch because I am still refining my confidence for cuisine. We play games, mind games. We talk about our previous lives as if it all still exist because it does we cannot escape that. We talk about our futures oh these girls have bright futures very very bright and I am so excited to see the universal impact of their worldly decisions. I walked into this situation knowing I was surrounded by powerful women and they have done nothing but prove me right with every word and every move. The last time I felt this way was when I started working at the botany store in Denver. Good company is restorative and the strongest medicine I have ever found.
Anyways, I am flying to London when my days can no longer be filled with olives and company. I cannot get a visa because I am working outside of the system and so I get 90 days in Europe and have to spend 90 days out of the Schengen territory at least. I want to complain but it is a force into another part of this beautiful world that I am not going to fight. So off I fly to the next land of joyous adventures. First I shall celebrate thanksgiving with a wild boar and a cake native to Latvia.
Seeing as I am without a journal or a pen I am sure you will be hearing from me again soon.
Thank you for reading.
With a lot of love,
Why is WWOOFing or Helpxing transformative ?
I have to first talk about myself, my apologies but then I will get into the stories.
I came here because I want to be a Dr. A clinical psychologist. I have an option to go to school and get American Psychological Association (APA) accredited and then find myself not really healing people. For me this wouldn’t work.
I have an option to go to school and get my Clinical Counseling Doctorate and then I can get my acupuncture license, I can get my certificate in herbs, I can get my Ayurvedic license, my Homeopathic license, my osteopathic license, or maybe just one of those because I would die before I finished school with all those but I do not want to choose one because they all help heal people.
Or I could go to school get my Naturopathic physicians doctorate with an emphasis in psychology but then I am not insured and I will get sued all the time. So I came here.
I came to get in touch with nature because all of these native traditions have that in common. I am not going to get anywhere by standing at two opposites of an issue. Here the two opposites are Western Medicine and “Alternative/ Native Practices” or as Metropolitan State University of Denver once called or calls it Integrative Therapeutic Practices. The best college education program in America. I must stand in the middle on a farm. I must not go black nor white I must find my way to the grey and that is a small combination of both which creates or gives birth to a new system. Farming. Nature (tradition). For me at least this is a healing practice that works.
To further answer my original question, how has this benefited my health?
I am physically getting healthy, it shows. I am mentally getting healthy, slowly, and my spirits are also finding health. There are seven and more aspects of health that I can list that have benefitted also from this experience but mind, body,and spirit are talked about the most. Honestly, financial health, environmental health, social health ect. are all transformed and impacted by one, your spirit. Just spirit.
Believe me or not, label me, say I’m this or that, but I stand firmly in the middle on a farm healing myself in hopes to inspire others to take responsibility for their own health and take the responsibility out of the hands of those majority of Doctors who do not understand the true origin of disease.
That is what I have been doing. 🙂 I have been a child playing with goats, olives and other children. My sudo parents have been my host and oh what magnificent human beings they are.
Currently I am so very lucky to live with or working with two women who are infinitely fascinating. I cannot believe I have only three more weeks of living, cooking and picking olives with them.
This has helped me Spiritually because I have been around plants all day, trees, the plant that most resembles us. Olive trees here. Each tree is different just like humans. Each grows in its own direction and I learned yesterday that you can tell a lot about a trees root system by the way it grows. Some trees completely grow on one side. Funny.
A farm is a sanctuary. A place to quite the wind that gets caught in our branches and uproots us. The wind is our mind, the branches are our consciousness and our roots are our instincts.
We all have them. Our instincts are always right no matter what. No one can read, no one can hear your instincts but you. When we stop listening to our instincts we get caught in behavior that is unkind to ourselves and those around us. I don’t want to say it but drug abuse and this includes food, can dig up roots.
No worries as long as you can breathe (thank you Kristen) you still have life and access to your roots. Drugs are okay as long as you don’t get caught up in the branches as one of my great professors once said to me. Or lose touch with your instincts.
I can tell you my instincts feel like they are inside of me like they are warm and so powerful they make me want to make a noise, sing, hum, say ah or something. Say hell ya!
I hope you read this and get what I am trying to say. I hope I bring you love for yourself and more importantly for those around you. Love for the things around you, not the TV, not the news, but yes the objects, the people, their characters, the music, the smells, the taste, the directions, the sense’s in front of you. Google sense’s there are more than five as I learned tonight. Google it!!!!!! These get you in touch with your instincts your roots and brings a very important smile to your very beautiful face.
People I have paraphrased and who have inspired this,
George Vitholkus (I think that is how you spell it)
And my new friends at Olives en Provence and the lady at my first farm.
Oh and this random gem I found at my hostel in Toulon…. A lot of him. I will email him this.
Picture story time 🙂 like a kids book. Hehe
I’ll come to this soon. 🙂
With unconditional love,
Amanda Jewel Bourgeois
Bonjour Mon Amie,
The first day was rough. No sleep, no food, no map, so I was dizzy and lost but still smiling. I was lost for six hours before I found my hostel, not surprising to those who know me. Paris stinks, it is really dirty, and the people are pretty. All of them, well many of them. The metro system is difficult, the Paris metro app saved my life, thank you Monsieur Montoya, a good friend of mine with lots of Parisian experience and advice. Everyone is kind and speaks English with a French accent, I love it. The first day, all I had the confidence to say in French was Merci and vous parlez anglais?
When I checked into my hostel I took a shower then went out for some dinner. I walked around for an hour reading cafe menus and found escargots, my anticipation of all paris cuisine! I was not too excited about spending 13€+ on a meal and decided to go to the market shop instead. I picked a tiny loaf of bread that had walnuts baked into it. Yummyish I’ve decided I don’t like walnuts but it was still good. I paired it with goat cheese balls that had figs in the middle and I sucked on those. They get a sweet and creamy YUM!!!!!!
I ate it in bed then passed out in my clothes.
I keep waking up at two. This night it was a lucky coincidence that my friend FaceTimed me. I was so excited I cried a little. I walked down the stairs to find that I could not get out, so I stood there and chatted as our voices echoed up the entire building oops!
I then returned to my bed and my mom called me. Before my friend called me I had left once to use le toilette and I remember being woken almost every hour by someone else before all this so I had to decline my mothers call :'(. I guess I didn’t have to but….. 😦
I chatted with her a little over Skype message and ya I love her.
730 am comes and my roommates are getting up. Yeah!!!! New day!!!!! I get a message from my Memau… I want you to go to my favorite museum Le Louvre and the little one next to it…. So that was my goal, after I get a phone, after I get a train ticket out of here, and after I find it. Haha soooo I find it around 4. And decide to get some lunch/dinner meal instead. I sit at this cafe called something like “Orangina”, I don’t know. I hope that’s it. I’m embarrassed to say what I ordered so I will just keep it between me and my parents.
Between my 7:30 am croissant and coffee at the hostel I saw a lot. I went to this market thing that reminded me of the knock off brand market you find in Tijuana, say it with a Mexican accent. That was cool but I was trying to get to Le Louvre not Mexico. I referred to my map, got my bearings and found myself at the big mall that sits underground only a couple blocks from Le Louvre which I did not know. I went in and the first store is a music store. I was really sad I don’t have a CD player or a camera to document these French artist. The store sold books too coulda bought one, yes, coulda carried it, no, coulda read it, yes, coulda shoulda woulda. I moved on.
Inside which what seemed to be the middle there was this theater thing set up where you could sit down in one of these four raised rows of red velvet seats. I did. They were showing this movie about fashion things it was in French I didn’t know what it was saying but I had felt like I had been searching for music for days and it was playing. Whatever it was it lifted my mood and it brought my hair out of its braid. I got some energy, got up and walked down one of the many off shoots of halls that you couldn’t see the end of. I passed by all the clothes stores bc I’m broke and have no need for something new on a farm. I found a health store it had like aromatherapy products in the front so I was like “ME” and sniffed a lot, and put on a lot. I wondered farther and found some dog collars, this is like an all family store. For real, because behind that, I found baby toys. I played them all!!! I was playing with that thing you put over your hand and all the little nail type things mold to it and you turn it over and you see the shape of your hand it’s really cool. Do you know what I’m talking about? All the nails are stopped by the plexus glass except the ones not pushed up by your hand. Ya? This pretty little old lady walks up behind me as I set it down and she said “bebe amusant?” as she laughs at me. I said “oui” it was only then that I realized I was in the baby section. I found this other toy that made baby cow calf sounds, two at a time was really amusing.
I was tired of the mall at that point and was feeling lonely because it was a family store and it brought up sad thoughts. So I left and as I was leaving there was this church in front of me which I could enter. I went in thinking it was the Notre Damne it had round windows so it was similar I thought. They had reserved places set up for prayer so I sat down and meditated. Brought myself back to the moment the place I was and to myself. I looked at everything in there. I tried to see every detail, every painting and sculpture and the stories behind them. At that moment I wish I was more familiar with the bible but I knew enough to recognize some of the stories. I told myself a little quote I once read.
“Religion is the belief in others experiences, Spirituality is the belief in your own”
I saw so much symbolism in that one building it was overwhelming.
And then I left and found myself sitting across from three Parisians at that cafe I mentioned earlier. A group of kids maybe my age were outside being outlandish and funny. I could only hear them laughing.
Backing up I have forgotten a large part of my day. Purchasing my cell phone. I found an Orange shop and found a phone and it’s plan for 54€. The young man assisting me adored my smile and maybe my accent. He memorized my number and asked me if he could call me. I said yes, he is kinda cute and listens to folk music. We played phone tag all day and decided to try tomorrow. He gets off work around 730. I might take him up on his offer of dinner and a rock concert. I am hesitant though but we will see.
My name is Amanda. Some call me Manders. Some call me Mandarin because it sounds like my name, it could be mandarin oranges, I like mandarin oranges, they are cute, I am cute, and it could be Mandarin Chinese. Mandarin is my nickname at work, the place that sucks and feeds my soul. This place is my life and has been since 2010. Most of the relationships I have formed here in Denver come from this beautiful bourgeois-bohemian “bo-bo” of a restaurant. School also consumed my life but that is over now. After completing a grueling four years of education in psychology and alternative medicine, while working in the restaurant industry I am creating a new chapter in my life.
I am going to France. I will WWOOF my way through these next couple of years as I explore another country. There are many sources out there explaining the gig, so in summary I will work on a bunch of organic farms in exchange for free room and board. I am going to France because I believe it to be the land of my ancestors hence the last name ;). I speak a tiny bit of French and know a little bit about the culture from high school and college french classes. I took one college course which basically reviewed my entire high school’s education so I like to think I have an elementary level of French.
My family bought my one-way plane ticket in May when they gave me graduation money checks :). So all I needed was a passport and a visa. The passport was easy, the visa was impossible. They want me to fly to LA in Cali because in order to issue me a visa I have to physically be there. I am already broke trying to save for my trip so that is not happening. I ran into a random guy who just got back from France and he said it is really easy to get a visa once I am there so I will wait. Getting through customs with a one way ticket is another issue. I have to either have a visa or proof of exiting the country according to a bunch of other websites. So my proof of exiting the country is reservations at a hostel in Rome, Italy for Christmas. Christmas in Rome, for me, best present ever! I have also booked my Hostel in Paris for when I arrive to France. A week in Paris at a hostel named after one of the most famous hippie musical festivals in America, yes please! I will not say the name I feel like for safety reasons.
And I have found a farm!
After many months of reading host profiles and searching horses, goats, music, art, dance, and the sea/mountains, I have found the perfect place that includes all of these. I will not know exactly how perfect it is until I get there but I will get to make bread everyday, I could live off of only bread if I wasn’t going to get fat off of it eventually. This lady who I am staying with also has horses and goats. I want to learn how to ride horses so that I can explore the land on horseback. I figure I will cover more ground and see more faster via horses. I want to learn how to make goat cheese which is also something I could live off of. Fromage du Chevre spread all over du pain sounds amazing all the time.
How did I get my first farm? Well I sent one e-mail months ago and never got a response. I liked the farm but knew it wasn’t a perfect fit and wanted to just see what would happen. I went back to the farm profiles, stuck with my location of anywhere near the Med sea and close to either the Italian or Spanish boarders. Found the farm, composed my e-mail, in french and then the English translation and Voila, I got a response. She sent me more information and I said I was still interested do you have room for these dates. She said yes I asked a bunch of questions she doesn’t have time to answer which is fine because I already have so much information about the farm and no matter where I go, it is going to be magical.
Who helped me through this process?
Friends and family have helped me a ton!!!
As well as several blogs and articles. I must give credit to the following sources for words of wisdom and inspiration.
The wwoof France website, hopes are that you have already been here 🙂
-10 tips for getting your first WWOOF gig
-The WWOOF independents pocket guide to WWOOFing
-The Essential WWOOFing Pack List
-Ten of the best WWOOFing breaks
…Soon to come as I gather my sources.
Thank you for listening perhaps now I can go to work and be happy to serve people instead of putting my mind in Paris and forgetting to order someones calzone with ranch.
Peace and Love