Foix, France – October 28th to November 12th 2013
Initial Thoughts: When the tiny 10-seater bus I was on dropped me off in Foix’s main square, I immediately liked it’s laid back, real world charm. It was a Tuesday morning and the park benches were full with elderly men watching the world go by. The streets were lined with cafes where people of all ages enjoyed a coffee, the newspaper and the autumn sunshine. The public fountain provided fresh water for travellers and there were even public washrooms – a real luxury. All around the simple daily life of a French town in the countryside was taking place.
Best Moment: One late afternoon after a long French lunch that included baguette, wine and various kinds of cheese, my second workaway host and I were working in her fields planting an orchard. Later, as I sat on the top of a hill looking down at the forest below and marvelling at the beautiful night sky, I realized that I was happy in a simple, quiet way. It was one of those times when the world is so beautiful and the moment so poignant that you feel lonely. But as I searched my heart for with whom I wanted to share this moment, I realized for the first time in a year that it wasn’t the love I had lost. I knew deep down inside that he wouldn’t have made the moment better and if I had stayed with him, I never would have been standing on that hill in France at all. As I profoundly understood this reality, it changed everything. I realized that in that moment I was happy, I was enough and I would be ok.
Take Away: What I learned from my time in Ariège has a lot to do with my work there. I experienced the value of physical work, of work that concretely produces something of value, of work that allows me to be outdoors. Spending 5-8 hours a day in the fields only served to reaffirm my love of nature. I loved breathing in the mountain air, having dirt under my nails and being exhausted at the end of a day of hard labour. It was satisfying in a way I haven’t experienced in a long time. The hot, healthy food felt reviving and sustaining and the fact that it was a direct by-product of our work made it all the more delicious. More and more I feel drawn to a slow, simple lifestyle that goes back to basics and connects me with the land that sustains me. The quite, unstressful life of a workawayer in the countryside is what I crave and a path I hope to follow.