I live in a village with an estimated 50-70 residents. It's called Les Piles de Gaia. My host does not seem to know where it comes from. That is neither here nor there. I am living with a family in rural Catalunya, an hour and a half outside of Barcelona, Spain, and earning my dinner through hard labor.
It is an organic farm, though it has rained for parts of almost every day since I've arrived and the ground is too wet to be stomping all over the fields of garlic and onions and lentils and melons and tomatoes and peppers. So, I have mostly been apprenticing as a mechanic, taking apart and putting together farming equipment with Joan, who is the father of this family. This type of work is exposing my inadequacies as a true engineer while simultaneously building those skills up. Also my hands are getting real dirty and collecting cuts and bruises. Nothing like roughed up hands to make you feel like you are getting something done with your life.
The days are very similar. It is a weird feeling of timelessness, because of the pattern, and because of the isolated environment. I wake up at 745am, I eat an unhealthy breakfast which often includes rice milk (which I suppose is, in fact, healthy) and cookies. I get to work with Joan. I prepare lunch with him and we two and Marinella, his wife, eat a late lunch which includes a huge salad. Then its siesta time, and I read (I have now finished all my English language books and am going to start reading a Gabriel Garcia Marquez book from the stairway bookshelf) or try to lessen the mountain of unreplied-to emails that I have accumulated. There is an afternoon of work, and once the kids get home (Pol, Melissa, and Didac), I frolic with them until dinner time. The kids are 8, 7, and 4 years old, and very excited about my presence here. Today there were footraces, hide and seek, fishing in the artificial pond (for watering the backyard plants), and football on the menu of activities. After dinner, I drink tea and hang out watching TV (nightly Catalan-language gameshow) with Joan and Marinella until bedtime.
I am so content.
Each individual aspect of this experience, I can mutter it to myself and smile with wonder that it is happening. I am living, for a short time, in Catalunya (lest you not know, they speak a different language here (though they also know Castilian Spanish)). I am working for a man who values simple, sustainable food (how did I get so lucky to pick Joan and his family). I sleep in a cabin in the backyard. I have been welcomed into a beautiful family. I am concocting footraces with a 7-year-old amongst the stone houses of a small village. Etc. Etc. Etc.