Checking back into "Planet Mainstream"

Trip Start Jan 15, 2010
Trip End Nov 09, 2010

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Flag of Argentina  ,
Thursday, February 25, 2010

I loved being a hippie farmer for 3 weeks, but taking a hot shower and sleeping in a bed sure feels good (even if it is a $20 hostel bed!)!! I learned so much on the farm and made some lifelong friends in the process.

I received a ton of comments and emails showing support and enthusiasm for the farm experience…also a fair amount of disbelief (it is okay, there were many mornings I wasn’t sure I was going to make it either!!). On our last day, the daughter of the owner (who is a Wellesley educated farmer, btw) told us that they weren’t sure about us at first--that we were probably “too mainstream” to enjoy and contribute on a farm, but they were very surprised as to how flexible “people from Planet mainstream” could be J I only lived the life for 3 weeks, but I guarantee I have a whole new respect for the small farmer and promise to support local farms from now on. I also encourage everyone to go to the library and check out “Deep Economy” by Bill McKibbens. I would love to have some discussions about it! The whole idea that Americans have gone completely over the top with the “More = Better” and our hyper-individualism really resonated with me. There are a lot of facts which may annoy some readers and thrill others, but overall, a very interesting read. One of my favorite facts is that just by shopping at a Farmer’s Market instead of a grocery store you have an average of 10 conversations versus 2 at the grocery. Let’s all start getting reconnected to our communities!

My birthday was a big event on the farm. Every 3 days we got a day off, and my birthday happened to fall on one of the days off. So everyone pitched in and planned an Asado (BBQ). They made guacamole, hummus and mole sauce for the beef, which was cooked on the grill. Also, there were amazing no-bake cookies--mix oatmeal, coconut, peanut butter (but there was no PB so one of the volunteers made PB from nuts and oil), sugar, and then melt a dark chocolate bar, mix ingredients together, form in balls and once the chocolate cools - voila! Mouth watering chocolate balls! WOW! We grazed all day, eating the delicious food, drinking wine and beer, talking, playing charades and eventually the iPod speakers came out and we were dancing in the unfinished new house! We felt mildly guilty at times, as the adjacent farm is also a WWOOF farm and the volunteers were hard at work, I imagine wondering how they could switch to our farm since we were having so much fun! I felt humbled by the efforts of our new friends to make my birthday special. I got some cool gifts--Jeff made me a heart out of the mud plaster from the house, another volunteer had a magnifying glass and burned a design into a piece of wood from the house and another gave me a jar of flowers from the garden. They were some of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever received.

The farm is currently getting ready for winter, so we were hoeing and weeding the beds and then seeding cover crop (mix of alfalfa, clover, vetch) which provides nutrients to the soil and hopefully crowds out the insidious crab grass! (My legs are still sore from squatting to do all the weeding!) Other "prepare for winter" activities included making squash eggplant chutney and canning it, drying squash and tomatoes and canning tomatoes. Obviously there is also a big push to get the house finished-we saw the first straw bales go up on our last day!

A few questions we received--just in case others have been wondering the same things!

Q: Did the bano seco (outdoor toilet) stink?

A: No, by keeping it dry and covered with the dirt and sawdust, it was 10 times more clean than any port-o-potty!

Q: Did you lose a ton of weight working so hard and only eating veggies?

A: I wish, but alas, I did not J We were so hungry at every meal so there were always seconds…and in addition to veggies we had lentils, rice, potatoes or polenta at most meals. And many times to make things more interesting there was frying involved!! Not to mention on the days off we went into town and scarfed on ice cream, pizza, steak sandwiches and pastries!!!

Q: Who did the cooking?

A: We alternated the cooking chore. Cooking for eight with two propane burners (no oven), was a bit challenging but we learned to deal with it! Dish washing chore was also alternated- soapy ditch water for washing, rinse with a capfull of bleach in a giant pan of hot water.

Q: What did they grow in the garden?

A: Tomatoes, carrots, turnips, potatoes, kale, chard, others greens, squash, eggplant, wild arugula just showed up and it was very tasty J They also had pear and apple fruit trees (although they were not yet producing), bell peppers, hot peppers, corn, basil, rosemary, sage, broccoli, artichokes, soy beans and green beans, edible flowers, sunflowers and marigolds for beauty.

My favorite veggie meals:

- veggie burgers - take the mornings leftover oatmeal and / or leftover rice, mix with grated squash, an egg if there is one, polenta, lentils, and fresh sage and rosemary from the garden. Form into patties and fry in a pan.

- raw, grated squash in the salads was really good. Mix in tomatoes, wild arugula, all kinds of weeds that are food but I don’t know the names of them, basil, raw sweet corn kernels. The dressing that one of the volunteers made was the best part--- cumin, cinnamon, salt, oil and vinegar.

- polenta with anything!! But mostly lots of eggplant, onion and squash versions of stir fry.

We are currently spending 4 nights in Mendoza. I resisted the temptation to book a fancy hotel--instead we have a quiet 4 person dorm room with bunk beds and private bath / shower all to ourselves. The bed is not very comfortable, but it is all relative--beats the ground!! On day one here we took all of our laundry to a Laundromat. Many of our clothing items are stained beyond repair, so we are looking quite a bit less tidy now than when we started! We might be buying a new t-shirt in the near future J So far we have just been wandering the streets of Mendoza eating and drinking whatever we want and taking full advantage of siesta time. Tomorrow we are going on a wine tour of two vineyards and an olive oil producer. Saturday we will probably be heading out to a mountain town called Uspallata, then on to Valpariso in Chile. We were a bit disappointed to find out that the Inca Trail in Machu Pichu is closed until April 1, so we won’t be doing that trek on this trip. Still lots to see, though, so no worries!! J
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James on

Awesome entry. Glad you guys are having a great experience.

Bo on

Excellent be carefgul of the quakes

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