Policastro on the Amalfi Coast

on Saturday, April 18, 2009

Five hours on the train to Policastro from Riccia...we played gin rummy (I'm kickin' Rick's ass...very rare occasion, but I'm enjoying it!). The landscape goes from rain, forest, grassy hills and snow capped mountains...to palm trees, small beaches, sandy hills and sparce, stone mountains. The sun seems brighter and the trains local. Like when I started using the red line on the west side in Manhattan as opposed to the green line...but...even more urine and gum on the seats.

We're learning that Wwoofing is difficult to describe because the experience is just so different every time. We are working with a married couple of Wwoofers now who came from a farm that had one teepee to share with the farmer, his wife and their two kids. They had a dry bathroom...a hole in the ground about 50 meters from the teepee that they used until it was completely filled. They said they enjoyed having a poo and watching the stars. The boy of 2 was scared to walk there alone so he would poo in a pot in the kitchen with them and they would later dump it out. A bit more extreme than where we are now. A 16th century mansion on the Amalfi Coast.

We drove up to the farm in Sebastiano's two seater Fiat. I was in the trunk with our packs...alone, bouncing around, staring at the sea moving away from us. I felt like a migrant worker...a slab of meat...a couple extra hands being transported to the farm.

The most difficult part about Wwoofing is arriving, meeting your co-workers over dinner and then being expected to fall asleep not knowing what tomorrow will bring. Dinner our first night, Sebastiano found wild leeks growing on his property and cooked them up in an omellete. It was his first time ever eating them (ours too) so we, in Italy, you are allowed to make one BIG wish the first time you try something new. We paused for a good 5 minutes for everyone to gather their wish....then we ate the shit out of that omellette and agreed to pick more leek in the morning. My wish...I can't tell you!

The characters that you meet are so much fun. Kyle, from Chicago, Sebille, from France...they met in Istanbul as teachers and were married 5 years ago. For Easter, Kyle helped slaughter a baby goat with Salvario (the native farmer to the propery...Sebastiano is more of the money and brains...but a good farmer and amazing chef too). He explained how it was quick and effiicient, the whole process. They attach an enormous air compressor to the goat to separate the skin from the muscle....when they get to the horns, there's a brief struggle to and when it finally gives, the face of the goat is removed like a mask. A gift for Easter. Kyle said he was shocked at how clean the insides were and how fast it all happened. He said is was humbling...that he was excited to enjoy the goat with them at dinner because they had worked so hard at preparing it for the holiday. Mark, who just flew in from Guam after studying there. He fled his last farm at 4am because they were so terrible. Baical to dog...you know...Baical...like the lake in Siberia...The biggest lake in the world that hold 1/4 of the earths natural water. A mile deep...and a very cool dog.

The family that lives on the farm and makes cheese (which we got to do as well!!) does not speak Italian, but a dialect...a language of itself. We sit in on the lessons that Kyle is giving them after lunch to learn English...it helps with our Italian. I'm thinking of starting to read some books in Italian. The cheese it made from a mix of goat and sheeps milk and a splash of retin (the insides of a goats stomach...basically to make the milk curdle). The ricotta is made from all the leftover milky water goodness after the cheese is formed.

Simple things, things that we plan on bringing home and practicing, are becoming less shocking and more a part of our everyday lifestyles. We haven't dried our clothes in a drier since we arrived in Europe. We line dry...always. It just makes more sense. If it's raining...we don't wash our clothes that day. Simple. We rinse our glasses without soap. A glass becomes our own and we watch out for it...if it gets filthy we use a bit of soap, but for the most part...nothing...no soap, just a nice rinse. We seperate everything after meals. Plastics, compost, pig food, tin, glass...and the rest is typically burned in the fire where we cook. We shut off the water while we lather in the shower, we pee outside...everywhere....nothing is thrown away.

We are also learning that in every instance, it is important evaluate your situation...always work smarter and with the right tools rather than work harder. After the first week, we picked up on this...we were exhausted and almost unable to work. Take it easy. Enjoy your work...and enjoy your wine.

Some other small things we're picked up...Fig trees rock. They make excellent jam and, althought they smell amazing, the bark from the tree does not create a lot of heat...it's more for potpourri. We harvest and planted coriander, parsley, mustard seed, garlic, wild asparagus, calendula, borage, sattiva and hops. Wild aspargus likes to grow under the olive trees....so do snakes... We work so hard together and we relax together too...people are the spice of life...but my favorite spices are harvested back home. Before I fall asleep every nite, I miss everyone back home...but I have to stop myself so I can get enough sleep for work in the morning.


Robert said...

We miss you, too! Here's a rundown of what's going on over here...in slightly less poetic prose: James is getting married today. Joelle's birthday is Monday. Lost is insane! True Blood is back on in June. WXRP is giving away tickets EVERY HOUR for various shows. We don't even recycle plastic at work, but I plan on cleaning up the outside of our work building on Earth Day. Your cube is still empty.

Be good. Enjoy. We'll see you soon!

Valerie said...

As the tear fall down my face and I wipe them away the sobs seem to take over and repeat tears,wipe etc.
I miss you both so and when I read what you are doing my first thought is you are nuts!!!
But it is a true adventure and a life awakening experience that, I myself could not take!
Please stay close to each other and be careful!
Remember when you come home we have two toilets, there will be no peein or poopin in the yard!!!!!

Love ya,

Amy said...

You guys are my favorite spices in life!!! LOVE YOU!!!!

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