I am sitting on my bed by the open window, having just come from a celebratory pizza supper. I’m not quite sure what we were celebrating – no one seemed to know! Maybe the end of Yom Kippur, maybe that we could afford to buy cheese for once, maybe just because one of the brothers in the community came up with a new pizza dough recipe. It doesn’t take much for these people to find reason to find joy and ¡tiene una fiesta! Welcome to our first WWOOF farm!
Where are we and how did we get here, you may ask? As for how we got here, it was an adventure (as seems to be the norm these days :P)! Since Argentine payphones hate the world and generally refuse to work, we had no way of phoning our first farm for clearer instructions on how to get there from our hostel. We therefore spent over 45 minutes in a remise (kind of like a private taxi, very common here) with a superstar driver who had no clue where he was going but refused to give up, stopping at three different gas stations, two friends’ houses, and one bewildered man riding a bike to ask for directions. Josh and I were desperate, did NOT have enough pesos on hand to pay for a wild-goose hunt of a remise ride, and were ready to be dropped off at a monastery that we kept driving past (“They’re monks! They’d have to take us in!” was Josh’s reasoning), when finally, we found our farm and pulled into the drive of a sprawling, 100-year old colonial house.
I will never forget my first vivd image of our first farm, which also happens to be a Messianic Jewish* commune. After extracting us and our backpacks from the remise, one of the members of the community led us into house, swinging the door open to reveal a room packed with hugely-bearded men, women in headscarves, and children in tunics, all smiling widely and waving enthusiastically, “¡Bienvenidos! ¡Bienvenidos!”
These communities were first formed in the sixties (ha! I’m finally getting my chance to live out the 60s hippie movement!) and can be found all over the world. Their mandate is to live a life of unity as described in Acts 2, where “all the believers were together and had everything in common,” sharing the love of Jesus (Yeshua) through their communal life. *They’re not actually “Messianic Jews,” but that’s the most concise description we could come up with.
A typical day in the community:
6:00 AM – Woken up by a small group singing Spanish and/or Hebrew hymns outside our bedroom window, followed by a “¿Yeshua? ¿Sara? ¡Buen día!”
(Parents, muchas gracias for giving us Hebrew names… we’re a huge hit here!)
I must tell you, gentle Spanish voices are a huge improvement over the incessant beeping of my watch as a wake-up call.
7:00 AM – When the shofar blows, the entire community gathers for a mihnka (Hebrew for “offering”), where they sing, dance, and share anything God has put on their hearts. When we first arrived, they were observing Yom Kippur, a time of repentance and purification, so the mihnkas were much longer and more solemn. However, Yom Kippur ended last week and Succoth has begun, which is seven days of celebration and thanksgiving, so the mihnkas are now full of exuberant circle dances (which we usually get pulled into) and loud singing! 🙂
8:00 AM – Breakfast! Normally rice with flax, sometimes with a hardboiled egg.
9:00 AM – The workday starts. Generally, the WWOOFers are sent to the huerta (greenhouse), where we pull weeds, tie up tomato plants, pick massive avas (bizarre Argentine pea/bean things, we can’t figure out what they are) and clear brush for the new garden. There are three other WWOOFers here right now: one guy from Holland, one from Wisconsin, and one girl from Seattle. They’re all super nice and easy to talk to, which is helpful when you’re picking avas together for three hours. However, every WWOOFer hopes that they will be the lucky one to be sent to the panadería (bakery) for the day, since your main job there is to make granola and cookies for the community’s store, and be fed snacks every hour.
1:00 PM – Lunch! Generally rice with lentils or salsa.
2:00-3:00 PM – Siesta! God bless Latin America for coming up with this. Since lunch is not usually the most filling meal in the world, Josh and I use this time to munch on dulce de leche or salamis that we smuggled in from town.
3:00 PM – Back to work until around 4:00…
4:00 PM – Marienda… aka teatime! One day we had arroz con leche (rice with milk, an Argentine classic), and for the past few days we’ve had homemade yogurt with homemade granola and carob. ¡Muy rico!
6:00-7:00 PM – The workday is finished, and this hour is used as a “preparation time” (both physical and spiritual) for the evening mihnka (which goes from 7-8 and is the same as the morning).
8:00 PM – Supper! Usually “spread” (which is actually what they call it in Spanish!). Spread is either mashed black beans and peanuts or mashed yams, spread on homemade bread and eaten with lettuce and tomatoes. Amazingly delicious!
9-9:30 PM – People stay talking around the tables, or else wander inside (we eat outside, unless it’s pouring rain, which it has been the last three days!) and pick up guitars, accordions, steel drums and flutes and start improvising incredible music together.
9:30 PM – By this time, everyone has started to head to bed. About 10 different families live in different rooms in the main house, and then there are 4 other little houses around the property. Josh and I are sleeping in the schoolhouse; they actually moved one of the classrooms out into the hallway to make our bedroom (despite all our protestations that we didn’t want to kick the kids out of their class!) In our house, there’s also another couple from the community, as well as a dorm room for all the “single sisters,” as they say here.
Outside our house (with my sheep friends):
SIDE NOTE: Yesterday as we walked to our house, I wondered where my sheep friends had gone. Then I found out they had been slaughtered that morning. Lesson learned: It may not be a good idea to become such good friends with farm animals. 😦