[orange blossom farm]

During my freshman year of college, one of my friends, who was a bit wealthier, was cleaning her apartment. She had so many things. I was so envious. I admired all of her stuff. I liked the idea of having a lot of things. I thought that having all these possessions represented wealth, beauty, happiness, I don’t know, something better. I remember, though, telling her that she needed to simplify her apartment, encouraging her to get rid of the things she didn’t really need, didn’t use, didn’t wear, etc. Obviously, I was a bit hypocritical, being a recovering-hoarder, myself. Nonetheless, I kept telling her, “Simplify. You have to try to simplify your life.”

I don’t know why that memory sticks out for me above the rest. My mom likes to purge things after a while too. Before, I was just throwing things out that I didn’t care for anymore. Now, I know that simplicity is something I will begin to crave more and more, yet still can’t seem to attain.

And so, I was attracted to this farm.

I found the opportunity to volunteer at the Orange Blossom Farm through a website, www.workaway.info. From the description, it sounded like the perfect opportunity for me to learn the ins and outs of self-sustaining living. I hope to one day apply what I learned at the farm to my own future home, whatever and wherever it may be. The idea of living off the land, earning a simple, honest living really appealed to me. I applied to volunteer at the Orange Blossom Farm and crossed my fingers I would hear back from someone.

Anke, the host, responded to me. She sent me a series of questions to answer and pointed me to their website. I fell in love with the place. Upon receiving my response, Anke accepted me as a volunteer at their farm. Hooray! 

I mostly stayed in touch with Anke for my volunteer information so you can imagine my surprise when Georgios [her husband – I may also refer to him as George] greeted me at the bus stop.

The bus driver had a couple words with him [something about how did Georgios find me? I was so beautiful. I’m from Taiwan and he went to Taiwan when he was in the Marines and I was welcome to visit him in Preveza….?] Weird.  We walked over to the camper van that Anke and Lambros [their 5 yr old son] were waiting in. I sat at the dining table with my pile of stuff as we drove to their farm home.

We pulled up next to a big iron, roll-away, gate.I’m not so great with descriptions, so here’s a picture to help me out a bit.

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Imagine, a gate on the left side of the picture. When you walk in through the gates, there is a large patio area, where I think most people would park their cars. There, George and Anke have a canopy full of crates that they use for different purposes.  To your right of the gate, you’ll see the outdoor dining area where we eat our meals. [I was standing way to the right when I took this picture.] Then, in front of the gates, is the brick home where George, Anke, and Lambros sleep. Overhead, you’ll see a great kiwi tree that hangs on top of a metal ceiling-thing. [so, descriptive, right?] And behind the dining area, you’ll see a fig tree. It was humble and cozy. Oh, and they also have four dogs. I liked it here.  

Anke made us all some lunch: tomato & velita [a large, meaty, leafy weed] salad with olive oil and salt/pepper, boiled velita leaves, and potatoes. It was plain, simple, and right up my alley. We chat about the usual stuff. How was the trip over? Where are you from? How do you like it here? What have you done so far? Lambros, though, wouldn’t talk to me. He’s a bit shy at first.

George explained the general work schedule: work in the morning [usually 7-11am], lunch around 1-2pm, siesta, afternoon tasks [usually 6/7-sun set], then dinner. Generally, they would go to bed around 11pm. There will be a 2 day work-trial so that we can all determine if this is a good fit for everyone. If I agree, I will need to pay a 30E security deposit [money will be deducted for any lost tools, broken things, etc. – they’ve mostly been giving the 30E back in full at the end of the volunteer peiod]. I will also be working 6 days a week, but, if I want additional days off, they will need to deduct  8 euros from my security deposit. [I was only worth 8E a day?? That’s 1E an hour. Eek]

Somehow, I managed to get 3 mosquito bites in the 45 minutes of lunch.. I can tell it’s going to be a tough few weeks; my skin does not do well with mosquito bites. I scar easily and I’m very prone to bites. Bleh.

After lunch, Anke took me to my living quarters. I say living quarters because, well, I’m not sure what else to call it. It’s a 3-room tent about a 1.5 minute walk away from the house. The tent is quite large, there’s  a main “living room” area when you walk in and two bed rooms on each side. The tent is tall enough to stand up comfortably an each “bed room” is probably 6×4 ft [big enough to fit two twin mattresses]. In my room, I had one twin bed, a pillow, some bed sheets, and a couple blankets. The bathroom is a separate room about 15 feet away, pretty basic. The shower, is right outside the tent. It’s a camper shower, meaning I have to fill it up with a hose. I will mostly shower in the dark of the night, under the stars.
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I take it all in. A part of me is a bit in shock and half questioning whether I can really do this for 3 weeks. Another look around and I set down my pack to begin unpacking.

By the time I was done, I was hot, sweaty and quite tired. I laid on my mattress for a bit. Anke said she would come get me for dinner. I ended up falling asleep for a few hours. When I woke up, I walked over to the house. Lambros and I played soccer with the kids down the street for a bit while Anke and George returned from the fields. More mosquito bites. My Ben’s 100% Deet was not holding up.

We had dinner, which was the same as lunch. We talked about previous workawayers, Germany, Greece, Taiwan, all sorts of random stuff that you talk about when you first meet someone new. We also had delicious champagne that George makes himself. It’s light, refreshing, sweet, with a hint of lemon. I could probably drink it all day. I could hardly taste the alcohol. We also had some watermelon. My favorite.

Around 10/11pm, Anke walked me back to the tent. I took a short shower under the stars. I’ll admit I’m a bit less adventurous when it comes to nudity [I’ve never even gone skinny dipping] so showering in the open was a bit awkward for me. Needlesstosay, it was a very short shower rinse-off and I went back to the tent.

I lay in bed, listening the world outside. There was some music faraway, maybe the neighbors? I could hear cicadas singing, or grasshoppers chirping, trees rustling in the wind, leaves crunching, bugs hitting the tent screen. Just like camping, right? Something just felt different though. I don’t know why, I was a bit scared.

Uh oh. I had to go to the bathroom. And so I make the trek outside. One of the dogs was sleeping outside the tent. Thank goodness, my own personal guard dog.

I went back to the tent, resting a bit easier now that I knew I had back up. I was ultra-sensitive to the sounds outside. I still couldn’t shake the feeling of bugs crawling on me, though. I hate mosquitos. And spiders. Have you ever been so paranoid that you started imagining things? I kept thinking I had bugs crawling in my bed and on me and under my clothes. If a stray hair fell on my back, that  was probably a mosquito. A bead of sweat trickled a certain direction, another bite. A leaf touched me, mosquito. My knee itches, bit again. I do the same thing each night with all the tent sounds too. A leaf falls, someone’s coming. The wind blows, it’s probably a wild animal. A cricket chirp, it’s probably somewhere inside my room waiting to jump in my mouth when I sleep. Tell me what weird paranoias keep you up at night!

Eventually, though, I fell asleep. One night down. 17 more to go. Let’s do this!

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3 responses to “[orange blossom farm]

  1. Pingback: [luckily lucky from unluckiness] | simplysheu·

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