The Dirty Life

Trip Start Sep 01, 2010
Trip End May 15, 2011

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Where I stayed
Chacra Millalen

Flag of Argentina  , Chubut,
Monday, January 3, 2011

Well we are back on the farm again, for another WWOOFing (worldwide oppurtunities on organic farms) experience. This time we are in the Lakes district of Argentina just outside the small town of El Hoyo which is near El Bolson. When we were arranging our trip many months ago and contacting wwoof farms, this one was one of the few that actually responded to us. However, when they did write us, they informed us that all the spaces for wwoofers were full for the season but they would be accepting some extra volunteers at some points. These extra volunteers would be required to pay a samll fee of 65 USD a week and would help with work around the farm for a few hours in the morning and then would have afternoons free. This seemed a little weird to us at first becasue usually wwoofing is includes a full day of work and costs nothing in exchange for room and board. But, in the end we decided that the price was right and that it would be nice to only work half days for this particulatr farm. So we wrote to Josephine at Chacra Millalen and arranged to come and voluneer for one week. In addition we decided to pay 50 pesos a night ( $13) to rent a room that they had available, instead of bringing a tent and camping on the property for free. As with most wwoofing experinces, we knew very little about the exact dertails of what we would be doing here and what the place was like before the taxi dropped us of on that first day.
       As soon as we arrived we were greeted by two Americans who were in the kitchen preparing lunch. These two, were also paying the fee to be half wwoofers. They showed us around a little bit and informed us there were a few others doing the same type of volunteering as well as three girls who were full time wwoofers. In total there were about 9 volunteers when we arived, 8 of them being Americans. In our travels in South America up to know we have only met a handful of other Americans so it was interesting to find such a high concentration here on the farm.
       As we walked around and met everyone, inclding Josephine and Fabio who own and run the farm, we were immediatly in love with the beauty and tranquiality of the place. El Hoyo sits in a valley with medium sized mounatins that abubtly shoot out of the gound all around the flat plains that are scatterd with beautful farm land. On Millalen they have 15 hecters of land (about 25 acres) with a wondreful garden full of berries, vegtables, herbs, and fruit trees. There are many other nut and friut trees scaterd across the property. They have a big wooden building that has a kitchen and few rooms that they rent out, and a big common room. There is the house they live in, with their son Juan, and some other houses that they rent out for extra money. In addition, there are other structures like sheds and the Panaderia which is for bread making in a woodfire oven.
      After about 20 minutes on the farm we knew we loved the place and had already asked Josephine if the room would be avalible to rent for an additional week. It was and we arranged or scheduled to stay a bit longer. By the end of the first week we knew we had to stay loinger and arranged for a third week.
    While were were there some people came and went including more AMerican volunteers, Argentinains renting the houses, and locals coming by just to by some fruit or Jam. WHile we were there the main thing that need to be done was to pick the Rasberries and Boysenberries. There were so many coming off the bushes that we would have one person on each line of busehes and it would still take all moring to pick them all. Then, a few days later there were more ripe berries and it is back to harvesting. Many of the berries get turned into jam which is then sold and eaten by us. I ate more berries in 3 weeks in forms such as jam, raw, ice cream, pies, or any other way you can think of then in my entire life up to date.When we werent harvesting berries, we helped with other jobs, such as making Adobe bricks that would be used for an upcoming construction project....
    Everything on the farm is real. Noithing has to be forced to make it feel rustic. They live a simple life and when you see how easy some of the things they do are to make this lifestyle possible i makes you wonder why not implement these shanges into your own life.
    When we werne't working, in the afternoons, we would do one of a few things to keep ourselves occupied. For example, we would cut through some of the neighboring farms to arive at little rocky beach along the local river. We spent many afternoons sitting there just hanging out. One day we walked way up the river bank with some inter tubes and rode for about 45 minutes on the fairly strong current back to the farm. Each weekend we would choose a random mountain top that we could see fro mthe farm and spend the day makoing our own path up to the top. SOmetimes we would get stuck in the middle of some thorn bushes and have to hack our way out.
    One of our favorite aspects of the Millalen experience was meal time. At the beginng of the week there was a list to sign up for cooking wither lunch our dinner. When it was your turn to cook, you go into the garden and pull out whatever begtables are ready to be harvested that that you want to use in your meal. THere are also some other ingredients that aren;t form the farm like cheese or milk that can be used in the cooking. The meals were always amazing. Many of the other vcolunteers were great chefs and regardless of cooking skills the fresh unproceseed ingredients make for delicious meals. Once the meal is ready somebody would ring the bell signifying to those who are still working to wash up and to come eat. We would hold hands and have aquick moment of silnce before the meal and then all eat together on a huge outdooe table. The natural food makes you feel great and knowing that it all came out of the garden from only a few feet away is a very cool thing.
    There is so much more I could share about the amzing people and expeinces we had at Chacra Millalen but I will spare you reading more of my rambling words. Now we are leaving, a few weeks behind shcedule, and making our way into Chile.

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