Day 63, 15 hour travel day - 9/9
Our time in France had come to an end. We left the apartment at 8am, picked up our last fresh-baked Bordeaux pastries (to add to our giant bag of travel snacks that Nadia got for us), and arrived at the train station. We said goodbye and hopped on the train. Apparently our train was from 1982 and still had the original upholstery. Why else would the seats have smelled of stale cigarette smoke and B.O., and be stuck in a constant recline position? Fortunately we found a pair of seats that were in the upright position, but unfortunately the smells were all there.
We arrived at the Irun train station for our 4 hour travel intermission. We read a bit, edited photos and snacked. The time went by surprisingly fast, so we boarded our next train. Thankfully our new train was a lot nicer than the previous. No weird smells (unless you count the smells that rubbed off onto our clothes from the prior train) and the seats were comfortable. I had yet to have my nappy time so I took advantage of our long train ride and passed out. Jerrad finished reading his book (The Room), so I woke up excited that it was my turn to read it.
We got to the Zaragoza train station at 7:51pm and had a bus to catch at 8:00pm... so we ran around frantically with our giant luggage trying to catch a bus that we couldn't find. We ran back into the station to find a help desk, quickly mimed that we needed to find a bus and were told to go downstairs. We ran downstairs and saw a bus getting ready to pull away, and of course it was our bus. With 8 seconds to spare, we loaded our backpacks onto the bus and took off towards Barbastros.
We arrived at the bus stop and our new host, Jesse (who wants us to refer to him as "Jesse Man"), picked us up. We drove for about 30 minutes and finally got to our beautiful destination; Casa Luisa in Secastilla, Spain. We walked up 3 of the 5 stories (6 if you count the wine cellar) and met Jesse Man's lovely wife, Maria, and a fellow helpx volunteer from Hungary, Viki. Our 15 hours of traveling and potato chip/cookie snacking had us craving something healthy, so we were very happy when Maria offered us the rest of the food on the table; a delicious salad, fresh bread, lentils, rice, homemade tomato juice and some garlic sauce that Viki made. All of the produce we ate came straight from their own garden, which explained the extra deliciousness.
After eating real food, Jesse Man gave us a tour of their home. He explained that their house was about 140 years old, that Maria would visit it as a child in the summers, and they have been renovating it since they moved in 4 years ago. He showed us where they keep their homemade vinegar, homemade rancid wine, fresh spring water that they gathered themselves, and garden vegetables. We also learned that they make their own soap (Fight Club style, minus the human fat) and that they are very careful not to let anything go to waste (left over food/crumbs is either used to feed their chickens or make compost). We met their dog, Chorchie, as well. After the tour we hung out in the attic sipping on homemade wine using a porrón (which was a bit tricky to learn), swapping stories and reminiscing about childhood things like Ren & Stimpy. After we realized how long we had been awake, we said goodnight and went to sleep for our first time in Spain.
Day 64, Casa Luisa - 9/10
Our first day of work began at 8am by being woken up with a holler from Jesse Man. We got dressed and headed down to the kitchen. Our breakfast was a magical, fresh baked sugary bread loaf from the bakery down the street.
After carbo loading we all (sans Maria) climbed into Jesse Man's truck. Even Chorchie got to come. We drove up the mountain a little bit and arrived at a field with olive trees. Viki and I worked on pruning olive trees while Jerrad used a weed whacker to whack weeds. Jerrad seemed to be enjoying himself a lot. Unfortunately, there was a crapton of flies around the olive trees and they insisted on flying into my eyeballs every chance they got. Other than the bugs, it wasn't a bad job.
About an hour later we hopped into the truck and headed to another field. Chorchie, the mountain dog, opted to run the whole way there. The field had mostly been pruned already, so we just worked on a few of them. After pruning we dropped off some fire wood at a storage unit/garden. Jerrad (whose Spanish name is "Javier", because "Jerrad is unpronounceable in Spain") chopped some wood while I collected herbs for chicken feed. Then we headed to the house for lunch.
Lunch was delicious. We had fried eggs, zucchini, salad, lentils, rice and bread. All of the produce we ate came directly from their garden. Fresh vegetables are the shit. Even the eggs were from their own hens. After lunch we went to the local bar for beers and wifi.
Our 2.5 hour lunch break came to an end and we washed two of Jesse's cars for their yearly carwash. Next, we headed to Graus (a nearby town) because Jesse had a guitar lesson to teach. While he was teaching, we vacuumed out one of the cars at a gas station and then headed to a plaza when it started to rain. We sat on a bench and watched it rain/thunder/lightning while children ran around in the center throwing fireworks. As it was nearing the time to leave the sun started to shine through the rain, which was bonita (I know spanish). Then Jesse arrived and we headed back to the casa for showers and fiesta prepping.
Once we were prepped for the fiesta we all (sans Jesse) headed back to Graus for Ronda night. Ronda night is a yearly tradition that has been going on for 500 years. Men, wearing traditional Aragonese garb, go around playing instruments and serenading women of the town. After each song people walk around with platters of sweet bread and porróns of wine for everyone to share. We sat in the plaza waiting for the fiesta to begin and we saw some little boys wearing giant heads while running around and hitting people with a broom. We didn't understand it, but enjoyed watching it. Once the serenading started we began our drinking of wine and eating of sweet bread. We followed them around to a few houses and Viki went with Maria to rehearse for her play (for a future fiesta). Jerrad and I followed around the serenading-ing for about an hour. His favorite serenading was at the old people's home, because they brought out platters of tomato/ham bread. After getting stuffed on breads we met back up with Viki and Maria to head home for bed.