Decisions, Decisions…in Dozza, Italy

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Our pants were dirty, our shoulders sore, hands blistered, hay stuck in our shoes and hair, and yet we smiled, wine glasses in hand, rolling green pastures of grapevines unfolding in front of us beneath a rose colored sunset. Following our two week adventure with Jon’s parents through the magnificent sites of Rome, Florence, Amalfi, and Venice, we settled down and signed up for another farm help exchange in a small village called Dozza (pronounced Dote-sah) about 40 minutes from Bologna, which is about 2 hours south of Venice. Why? For a couple of reasons- First of all, Europe is expensive. Help exchanges allow us to maintain our $50/day budget. We receive free accommodation and meals in exchange for 4-6 hours of work or help per day. But what’s even better is meeting local people and having a unique experience. Some of our most special and cherished memories come from our experience in these help exchanges. The other day our host, Victoria, took us to a local community Tortellini-making event. What a hoot! Did you know pasta is made of just egg and flour? The event was all locals and the ladies rolling the pasta with us could not stop talking and laughing about the fact that Americans were making tortellini with them. “They will be talking about you guys for years!” said our host at the end of the night. Someone took a picture of us and it circulated so much that a friend of ours who lives in the area received the picture from one of her Italian friends who is currently living in Texas! That brings me to the second reason we are here in Dozza- our friend, Luci! We met Luci in Oaxaca Mexico and told her months ago we planned to go to Italy and would love to meet up. 4 months later, she was shocked and beyond excited that we signed up for a help exchange in a town 5 minutes from her house. Coming to this region was an easy decision. All of the pieces just fit together! But it isn’t always this easy to make decisions.

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IMG_2773One of the most challenging parts of our trip so far has been deciding where to go next. We have spent 8-10 hours straight just trying to figure out the next region, and then many days after that figuring out the details of accommodation, transportation, timing, etc. And the fact that we are nearing the end of the trip makes it even harder. Our wallets are tighter, time shorter, and the list of things we still want to do is infinitely long! We originally planned to head to India, China, Nepal area. Can we fit that in within a couple of months? What about learning Spanish? I could definitely use more time immersed in the language. Jon has a friend in the UK, we should visit him! What about South America and Machu Picchu? We only made it to Colombia! Greece and Eastern Europe have always been on my bucket list, maybe we should head in that direction! So little time and so much to do!

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The view from the farm. Not bad at all.

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I thought this type of scene was only in movies and cartoons!

With all of these desires and expectations swirling in our heads, we pause. Whenever we are feeling overwhelmed, we remind ourselves to be patient, breathe, and ponder a bit. Within the quiet moments of this pause, clarity comes as we are reminded of one of the most important lessons learned on this trip: slow travel works best for us. Settling into a town, getting to know the neighbors and shop owners, making friends, finding the best local restaurant that isn’t listed in Lonely Planet, memorizing the street patterns so that we no longer need our iphone map, days of doing nothing but reading, writing or talking, occasionally seeing some of the nearby sites and museums. This is our style of travel.

And so sadly Asia, South America, and Eastern Europe are crossed off the list. They are just too big and will have to wait until the next World Tour. For our next destination, we want to pick one place and stay there. Somewhere close by since we can’t afford any huge flights. But where? As I stare into that rose colored sunset which is turning into a violet purple/blue, I ask Jon “What is unique to this trip, to this time in our lives? What is it that we really want to accomplish now? The sites will always be there. So what do we want to focus our time and energy on at this moment in our lives?” We pause and ponder again. And then bam, we look at each other and almost in synchronicity we state definitely, “Spanish”.

Entonces (So), we are headed back to Spain! See you there!?

Here is some “graphic note taking” of our recent discussion/decision:

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And some lovely pictures documenting our time in Dozza:

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Chickens checkin out the tool shed

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I will be dreaming about hay for weeks now!

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Beautiful gardening all around the house

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We work hard for the money!… I mean accomodation!

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Davide and Jon workin the hay

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Rakin’ with two other helpers from Ireland. Hope you gals are having fun in Italy!

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The goat herd. They are so cute and funny lookin!

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This lucky kitty gets to eat left over ricotta cheese, made by the goats and the family!

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Nina, one of the best doggies around!

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The grapes are comin!

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The cherries are comin’ too!

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Biking through the countryside. Lovely.

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Victoria is from England and Davide is from Italy. A wonderful union!

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Charlotte, the youngest daughter, brings her classmates to the farm so they can learn about farming and practice English.

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Charlotte reads 3 Billy Goats Gruff to the class.

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Visiting Luci at the 50’s diner, American Graffiti, where she works. Was so great to have a bacon cheeseburger, fries, and Sierra Nevada beer. mmmmmMMmm.

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After dinner selfie at Luci’s house with her parents!

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Family selfie on our last night!

Special thank you to Victoria, Davide, Isabel and Charlotte for making our farm stay so wonderful! If anyone travels to Italy, we  highly recommend staying at this farm! You can find them on Airbnb or at their website http://www.farmstayitaly.org

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