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Ruffpyre! My Southern France Experience

FRANCE | Thursday, 23 September 2010 | Views [553] | Comments [2]

Sorry this blog is coming so late!

When planning my travels I decided to plan a week where I would get out of the typical tourist role and into the country. To really see the land and the people. I chose France as the country to do so in through a website called helpx.net. At helpx people who need help with their project or small business (i.e. bed&breakfasts, ranches, farms, reconstruction projects, etc.) can post little profiles displaying their project and then people (like me) who want to help with some project can go to this website and search through the different profiles and pick a project they want to work on. Generally the exchange is your work for room and board. In my search through different opportunities in France I came across one in Mayran, France. It is in the hills in Southern France. The organizer of this project is named Nicolas (one groovy dude) and he has a large vegetable garden he needed some help with and he is also restoring a 13th century monks tower. In choosing this property I had not a clue what I was getting myself into. It turned out to be better than I ever could have imagined and much much more than a place to stay and eat for free.

I arrived In Rodez, France on Sunday, Sept. 12. I never took the time to orient myself with the area. I just assumed that where I was going to be working would just be super close to the train station. WRONG. Rodez is much more built up than I ignorantly assumed. Arriving on a Sunday, at night may I add, didn´t make figuring out how to get to the property, 20 km away, easy. After calling Nicolas and leaving a message I decided to figure out how to get to his property myself. First I thought I would take a taxi, but they wanted a wopping 50 euro to drive the equivelant of 12 miles. I decided to not do that so I checked out a hotel across the street, too expensive! So then I started scouting out the area for tree I could just pitch my tent in and camp. I figured I would have better luck on a Monday finding my way. Well, like I said Rodez is much more built up than I thought so the whole sleeping outside thing wasn´t going to work unless I wanted to pitch my tent in a square or something. No thank you. After a bit of panic started to set in Nicolas called me back and said he would be there to pick me up in 20 minutes. Thank goodness! In the meantime I am sitting outside the train station and some guy comes a sits next to me and tries talking to me. He speaks french, I speak english, so there really isn´t any conversation that happens besides a lot of confused looks on both parts. Anyway, I understand enough french to know that he was saying he could drive me to his home and I could sleep there for free. Ugh, deep shivers! He is harmless though, just extremely full of himself. I tell him no, but he keeps bringing it up like maybe I hadn´t understood what he meant. Eventually he asks ¨Pourquoi?¨ And I respond in a raised tone in blunt english ¨Because I don´t know you!¨  He stopped talking to me after that, just in time for Nicolas to pull up! He brought me back to Ruffpyre, the street we lived on, in Mayran and gave me a small tour of the property and introduced me to Kim, the other helpxer! Both Kim and Nicolas are extremely nice and really funny people. Soon after I hit the hay.

They next day we meet for breakfast in the rustic outdoor/indoor kitchen and then to work. That is how everyday starts. So on Monday I got to work in the garden. I helped uproot potatos, beets, carrots, and tomatos. I felt amazed everytime I would dig into the earth and out pops more food! I know it is common knowledge that this is how it has always been, but it was really powerful to experience it. Especially to cook with it right after you dig it up! After a few hours we meet for lunch. Then we worked on sanding down a really long, old table. It felt so good to be out of busy crowds and exhaust fumes and to be working with my hands! Everyday I did a little bit of everything. It was really nice to have versitality in the day, I didn´t ever feel bored! Also, I appointed my self cook. Nicolas and Kim both cook great food, but they let me take over because I really enjoyed it. Everyday I was baking fresh break sometimes putting different things in it like walnuts or cheese or honey. I just got to play around with all these ingredients and it was always well recieved, so I just kept on cooking! It was lovely having the garden right there also because there was always fresh potatos, carrots, beets, tomatos, and zucchini to cook with. And fresh eggs!!! We had 3 chickens who I love very much! They had lame names though like Ginger and whatnot, so I changed them to Franchesca, Josephine the Second, and Henrieta! My lovely chickens layed beautiful, tasty eggs!

Towards the end of the week two more helpers arrived. Allison (Scottland) and Stan (London). I couldn´t have asked for a better group of people to live/work/explore with! Nicolas threw an amazing party at the tower on Saturday so we could cut loose a little. Kim, Allison, and I prepared dinner which was make your own pizza themed. So we made pizza dough and it into 30 individual sized balls. Then we had a buffet of toppings you could add on yourself. Then Nicolas had prepared a raised fire outside. So essentially it was a fire on top of grill thingy so there was about 8 inches of space between the ground and the fire. Then on a long piece of stone the pizzas were placed and then put under the fire. Within a minute they were ready and SO GOOD! I also prepared a sauted pumpkin and zucchini dish (all ingredients from garden) for the side and the guest brought desserts, bread, cheese, and wine... lots of wine! After eating and a bit of digesting the party was moved into the bottom of the tower. Where Nicolas has a disco ball hanging from these ancient beams. He also has a spot light shining on the disco ball and speakers set up in this tower. Try to picture this with me. A 4 story tower made of stone, red dirt, and lime from the 1200s that monks used to live in, in the middle of no where souther France, with a disco ball and some sweet jams with 15-20 inebriated French/Scottish/English/American people dancing away in it. It was SO MUCH FUN!The French know how to get down.

The next day we all were a bit slow going. I made a huge brunch for us and then off we went to Albi. A town west of Mayran. We took the scenic route through the hills, which proved to make us all feel a little worse for the wear, but it was beautiful none the less! In Albi there is this huge old Cathedral that we went to! After walking around a bit we decided to head back home. After getting lost on more windy back roads we finally made it home where we just wanted to sleep!

Monday (my last day at Ruffpyre) we all worked really hard in the morning because we were going to call it a short day in order to drive to Montpellier. Nicolas had a rugby game and I was meeting a couple people there the next day to catch a ride to Barcelona. On the way to Montpellier we stopped in Belcastel, a beautiful old city with a sweet little castle Nic wanted me to see. It was worth the stop. Also, we stopped at the worlds tallest bridge. It is fantasitc! It is taller than the Eiffel Tower. After stopping to take pictures we crossed it! If you go to Google and type in ´worlds tallest bridge´ you can see pictures of it. We picniced at the stadium where the game was going to be. Then Stan, Allison, Kim, and I went and walked around Montpellier. It is a cool city with a lot of youth. We made it back to the stadium to catch the end of Nic´s game. It was the first rugby game I have ever seen. Then it was time to say my goodbyes. Leaving them was hard. It was like this little happy family that I obtained. We ate every meal together and really shared with eachother.

It was a great experience going to Ruffpyre. I definitely want to return in the future to see how the project has progressed. Nicolas has a really good thing going with the property.

Tags: chickens, cooking, disco party, friends, garden, ignorance, rugby

 

Comments

1

Henrietta is a perfect chicken name! And it sounds like you are having a absolutely lovely time, sweetheart! I am so glad. I remember when we had a make-you-own-pizza night at your house in Como, it was delish, so I can imagine how yum the fancy french fresh-garden version of it was!
I love you darling, have a great time in Barcelona! Kisses!

  Emmy Sep 24, 2010 3:29 AM

2

Sounds magical!!!!!!

  MOM Sep 25, 2010 7:39 AM

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