A three month adventure in France

Posts tagged “Olives

Green, purple and great!


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.IMG_2180

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)
Audrey Hepburn
Steve Rissman
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