Farming in Spain: Days 1-3
Day 1- Wednesday April 8, 2015 – The Arrival
Unable to sleep a wink during our nine hour red eye flight to Barcelona, we are more than a tad delirious with exhaustion and excitement! We stumble off of the plane and are questioned intensely by immigration, “what were you two doing in Colombia hmmm?” After passing his scrutiny, we are pleasantly surprised to find a tourism booth in the airport that helps us find the bus we need and also helps us to get a free Lebara sim card for the phone. Off to a great start! Two bus rides later, we find ourselves sprawled out over about 6 or 7 seats at the Olot bus station anxiously awaiting the arrival of Marta, our host for our work exchange. At about 9:30pm she picks us up and drives us to her home in a cute town called Hostalets located in the foothills of the Pyrenees, very close to the Spain-France border. The minute we step out of the car and take a deep breath, we know we are in for an adventure as the air is saturated with the smell of cows.
Day 2- Thursday April 9, 2015 – The Tractor
I almost cried today. My eyes welled up more than a couple times while peering out over the landscape of bright green and golden fields, listening to the low murmur of cow’s moo’ing and the babbling stream, absorbing the warm sun and cool breeze. Marta is the sweetest and nicest person and lives in what could be called a duplex, attached to her mother’s two story home. It has modern amenities and appliances and a corner fireplace. Our bedroom is downstairs between the two units in what used to be the chicken coop. But do not be deceived. This spacious coop has tiled floors, two heaters, a ping pong table, sink, and comfy bed with about 5 blankets. Our nights are warm and cozy and the minute our heads hit the pillows we are out cold for a good 8-9 hours each night.
Today we awoke around 10:00am which we think is impressive since the jetlag effects are fierce. Miguel, Marta’s brother, is the farmer and our boss. At just age 28 he manages and runs the farm and knows everything about it. Our first job- help him put on the super heavy and clunky side plank thingys of his tractor. Normally his girlfriend Marta (there are two Martas at the house haha) would help him with this but she is pregnant and this is really the absolute last thing she should be doing. We are happy to help. I felt a bit useless but I screwed in the bolts while Jon and Miguel did the lifting. The best part was riding on the back of the tractor through the fields. Afterwards, we started on the wood pile, moving it from the backyard to the place where they store the wood in the front of the house. At 3:00pm, we had a big family style lunch (typically the biggest meal of the day here) in the spectacular living room/kitchen of Marta’s mother, Dolores. Looking out the windows into the country side as I was being served a hearty portion of bean/tomato/chicken stew with fresh bred and wine, I almost cried again. There are two other work exchangers at the house who everyone calls “the Czechs”. However we have yet to see them as they have been quarantined in their room, both extremely ill with fevers reaching 103! After work we took a stroll to town which is a pleasant five minute walk from the home along a stream and passed sheep and of course, cows.
Day 3- Friday April 10, 2015 – The Grass
Woke up at 9:30, had some cereal and went to work on the wood pile again. It is a big pile. Jon’s neck is very sore today from all of the heavy lifting. Liliana, one of the Czechs says she is well enough to help with the wood. Marta tells her to rest but she refuses and is determined to help out today. I keep a close eye on her. Miguel asks Liliana and I to mow the lawn of a property a little ways up the mountain. We follow Miguel in his tractor up the hill. When we reach the top, Liliana begins to sway and shake her head from side to side. Uh oh. Down she goes! She isn’t unconscious but just very very light headed. “I think I am maybe still too weak” she says. I walk with her back to the house so she can rest. Jon is laying on the couch with a sore neck and both of the Czechs are bedridden. Of the four helpers, I, the one with the least farm experience and weakest upper body, am the only one well enough to work. Honestly, I have never really mowed a lawn and am daunted by the task. Thankfully Jon says he is feeling a tad bit better and says he will help. Four hours later we have mowed and weed wacked the entire property and the cows next door are happy and full from eating all of our trimmings. Incoming text from Marta “Can you prepare lunch for everyone? Thank you!” A new challenge! Jon, Liliana, and I prepare a lunch for everyone with the ingredients in Marta’s kitchen. We end up making a grilled eggplant and veggies in a tomato sauce, pasta with cream sauce, and baked pumpkin. Thank goodness everyone enjoyed it. Long, hard, awesome day today. We sleep well.
Coming up next: Days 4-10!