Oh man are we sore! Our fingers and arms are tic-tac-toed with scratches and we now understand where the term ¨farmer's tan¨ comes from. After an 11 hour bus ride Wednesday night and a 2 hour bus ride Thursday morning, we finally arrived at the Madre Tierra farm and promptly jumped right into work. We were handed shovels and taught how to uproot trees from the forest and replant them next to the man-made ditches lining the property. We breaked for lunch and then spent the afternoon building fences surrounding the land. At sundown we brought the horses into the stable after they had spent the day grazing, and then we prepared dinner. By 9:30 pm we were exhausted and fell into our sleeping bags. We are sleeping in a cubby above the other volunteer's bedroom that is cozy and perfect for us, but it gets COLD up there! During the night the temperature drops below freezing and Nick and I are sharing one twin-bed instead of a full-bed mattress to conserve warmth through body heat. Often we have a few guests crawl in during the night and share in the wealth of warmth--the farm cats! At times there are three of them cuddled up beside us inside our sleeping bag!
Our second and third days passed much the same as our first. We hear the roosters crow at 7 am and we get up more or less an hour later. We don't have to work until 10 am, but the morning hours are perfect for Nick to study for the GRE's and for me to read and write. And it really is something to look outside and see the morning clouds pass over the Andes that loom snow-caped in the distance...
However, although we like the work and love what we are learning, the truth is it has been a bit of a lonely experience so far. We have experienced a lot of anti-US sentiment and feel that we have been unfairly associated with everything bad our government has done. It is the first time I have felt really out-rightly judged for something I feel I am unfairly accused of. It is strange because we are automatically tagged with certain labels, and it seems that because of that, even small talk isn't something that some people want to engage in with us. It is strange and a bit lonely, and for sure something pretty new to us.
But, if anything, we are learning how fortunate we are to have each other. At the end of the day, we can turn to one another with these feelings and I think it allows us to each other in a truer, clearer light and become closer. So for that, it is only a positive, and I am thankful for that outcome. Also, we are learning the importance of living free of judgment. We are experiencing first-hand what it is like to be judged for something we have no control over, and we are learning the importance of open arms and an open heart.
And in the end, we are learning what we set out to learn--how to build and how to grow. And that knowledge is priceless, and something we will lovingly apply to our future!
I will post pictures later when we have more time on the Internet, but for now I will leave you with this list of the Top Five Craziest Things About This Farm Life:
1. We take 2 showers per week, and rapid lightening fire showers at that!
2. We go to the bathroom in a composting toilet!
3. Our alarm clock is a rooster...That in itself sounds pretty badass...Maybe it's all worth it for that story!
4. For dinner, we make soups right over a wood-burning fire, cooking pumpkin fresh from the patch and garlic hot off the vine.
5. We haven't looked at a clock for days, going completely in-tune with the sun and our bodies.