In the past six weeks I have lived on two farms and had the exact kind of once-in-a-lifetime experiences I wanted to have when I left the US. Despite living in Manhattan for the past four years, I have prided myself on not being a city girl. But when Johnny handed me an apple tree to plant last week, I realized I was in denial. I didn’t even know how to weed, let alone dig a proper hole for planting. I must have looked like Clueless Cher to these owners. I have learned so much over the past few weeks. Maybe they’re not relevant to the entertainment industry but I feel like a fuller person anyway. A look at all I’ve learned (and a vote of encouragement for all others to try Wwoofing!):
When I arrived in Tobarra I didn't even know what a stallion was and I was scared to come anywhere near a horses's behind. Now I can clean 'em, lunge 'em and ride 'em!
The first day of climbing my butt was hanging out in the air and I was limited to protruding, stair-like rocks. By the end I was tucked in and twisting properly to use nub-rocks on straight-up climbs. Granted, after my last climb my hands/arms hurt too much to hold a fork and feed myself dinner. But when else would I have two weeks of free room, equipment and training to hone my rock climbing skills on some of the most beautiful mountains in the world??
3. Mary Mary Quite Contrary
How my garden can grow! I didn't know the difference between weeds and grass when I arrived. Here, Vio is giving me a remedial 101 class. Now I can pick out any herbs needed and plant apple, orange and avocado trees. Get ready for fresh fruits and veggies when I return!
4. Jamie Oliver Protege
Johnny and Vio have both trained as chefs and can whip up 5-star meals for 12 clients out of any ingredients they happen to find in the fridge. I learned all sorts of off-the-cuff cooking tips and easy recipes -- fig jam, pear puree and zucchini fritters were amongst my favorites.
5. The EXTRA Virgin
So clearly I needed some help in the kitchen... I ALSO didn't know what the difference was between olive oils (virgin, extra virgin, etc). I worked on two farms where we had to place nets to catch falling olives and learned how to press delectable oils. I have a whole new appreciation for quality oil (it's good for your skin!)
I had gotten used to sweating while I worked but never like I did when I was chopping wood for the family's winter fires. We trekked up into the forest and chopped down trees and threw the hefty lumber back down the hill to be collected at the bottom. Phew, manual labor at its best. Now I can use a chain saw (watch your footing on steep cliffs when that thing is on!)