Puivert, France – October 14th to 27th 2013
Initial Thoughts: When I first arrived at Green Horizons, I was sick, tired and more than a little travel weary. I was starting my first workaway experience and the family seemed friendly and hospitable, but the house was filthy. I mean really, really filthy. And even though I won’t share any photos of it, I can’t help sharing some of the details. There were 7 cats, all of whom had fleas I soon found out, and the house was filled with their hair, spilled food and litter boxes. There was mud tracked throughout the house, dishes piled high and stuff cluttering every surface. If I’d had the energy and the means, I would have immediately turned around and left. However, in the end, despite the mess I was glad I stayed. An experience I had a few days later made that clear to me. I went for a walk in the afternoon sunshine after a rainy morning. I donned a pair of rubber boots and tromped along the road in the tall grass feeling intensely happy. Off in the picturesque valley there was a rapidly running river, an ancient stone bridge and a field of fruit trees. I stumbled upon a rustic, French village and wandered the little streets enjoying the views. The village was filled with old stone houses decorated with brightly coloured shutters and gardens that overflowed with flowers even in late October. As I walked up to the church the bells started to toll and simply stopped to take in the moment in this beautiful, peaceful countryside.
Best Moment: One lovely afternoon my workaway host took myself and another workawayer to a nearby Lake. It was a perfectly clear day and standing on the shore we could actually see the Pyrenees mountains in the distance. I sat in the sun wondering at the beautiful weather in southern France. I decided to walk on the path that followed the lakeshore. As I walked alone I realized that this beautiful moment was mine. I was incredibly lucky to be breathing the stunning mountain air, to be soaking up the sun in October and to be surrounded with such absolute beauty. I realize that a life of being behind a desk doesn’t bring me alive. Having a routine in a city does fill me with passion and wonder. I need a life where I can be outdoors, exploring. That day firmly inspired me to take on my next challenge – to walk the Camino Trail in 2014.
Take Away: I love France. I loved France the first time I visited and attended a wedding in Paris then spent two weeks in a gite near Biarritz. I loved it last summer when my sister and I spent 2 weeks eating, drinking and swimming our way along the Cote d’Azure. I loved the two weeks I spent in Aude at a sustainable B&B gardening, cooking, feeding chickens, hiking and eating fresh bread. Always eating fresh bread. Before coming to Aude I knew I loved France but I didn’t know that there was a quiet, peaceful part of the country filled with hardworking people who respect the land, the livestock, the old ways of life. It combined my love of the country with my desire to escape the tend of modern life and I felt like I could one day make a home there.