My last WWOOF stay (previous entry) was quite interesting, but it was neither organic nor a farm. Las Canoas Altas, however, was exactly what I had imagined when I first heard about WWOOFing. The hosts were really friendly and enthusiatic about their work- Marta is a doctor who practices homeopathy and herbal medicine and Vincent is an herbologist/beekeeper. Marta runs a small clinic in the town and makes medicines and preparations using the plants they grow in the garden and the wax they collect from the bees. Vincent works alongside the WWOOFers, explaining organic and biodynamic tecniques, identifying plants, and helping the volunteers with their Spanish
. This is a huge plus for prospective WWOOFers looking to improve their Spanish-- Martha and Vincent speak exclusively in Spanish and teach the language through work and conversation. During my stay, we worked on various projects, including planting and harvesting various crops, tending to the animals, making composts and biodynamic preparations, construction, and beekeeping. I especially enjoyed working with the animals- the farm is home to ducks, chickens, a large family of guajolotes (turkeys), cats, dogs, a mare, and my favorite, the goats. Marta left for a trip to Europe during my stay, so we slaughtered a guajolote and had a big turkey dinner to see her off. The food was excellent- we baked our own bread, ate honey from the beehives, and made yogurt and cheese. We dined together at the same time each day (a first in my life), said grace, and had long and interesting conversations over our meals. The food was so good that I grew two belt notches in just five weeks! I feel priveledged to have stayed with Vincent and Marta- I learned about agriculture (both the frighteningly unsustainable industrial system of the day and the holistic orgainic alternative), Mexican cultures, and philosophy, among other things. My Spanish is better today than the day I arrived and my general outlook has broadened and evolved. Hopefully I said WWOOF, Mexico, and Las Canoas Altas enough in this entry that WWOOFers searching the internet will stumble upon this page and decide to volunteer at Las Canoas Altas. After the tranquility and sanity of the countryside I'm headed to Mexico City....
-photos coming soon-
A few days ago I left Rancho Las Canoas Altas after a five week stay, and I don't think it's possible to overstate what an awesome WWOOF host farm this is. The ranch is located about a kilometer outside of a pueblo called Erongaricuaro (it's a mouthful, the locals simply say Eronga), on the shores of Lago Patzcuaro in Michoacan. I woke up each morning to the sunrise over the lake, and spent my weekends visiting the villages and ruins that circle the lago.