Hi, everyone! Thank you for your patience while waiting on this first post. Grace and I arrived in Brussels on August 29th. Our first host had to cancel on us, so we decided to do some tourist activities then go to a last minute host in Mandray, France on September 5th. Our first workaway experince is coming to a close today, making this the perfect time to update everyone on how we are doing. (*For those of you who do not know what workaway is, I put a little note at the end of the post)
Where: Mandray, France
When : September 5th-9th
Host: Man and Son
It took Grace and I two buses and three trains to get from Luxembourg to Mandray, France. Mandray is a very small, rural town with a church on the hill that rings it’s bell every hour and every half hour (lots of ringing!). Our host is part of a town organization that keeps an old saw mill and museum operational. He was kind enough to give us a tour and demonstration.
Our first workaway experience has been good. Upon arrival, we were greeted at the door with a kiss on each cheek then led outside to a picnic table where they poured us wine and handed us potatoes and a potato peeler. Later, a tour of the house showed that the futon we were to sleep on was located right in the middle of the room that was used as kitchen, dining room and living room. Our host is completely renovating his house, so things were in a bit of disarray. Lots of tools lying around, wires sticking out of odd places in the walls, Sheetrock and windows propped up in random areas of the house. Running water was only available in the bathroom. They kept buckets of water in the main room for rinsing hands and dishes. Fortunately, a natural spring runs directly to his house, allowing him to collect water in a large concrete basin on the backside of the house. They have WiFi and a computer, but no tv.
Our jobs included gardening, a lot of weed pulling, household chores, and sanding shutters he will paint and put on his windows. The man was always asking us if we needed a break or wanted something to eat/drink. Everyone was very nice and accommodating. He had company every night we were there, and most of them enjoyed talking to us in English or helping us pronounce French words and phrases.
As fun as this has been, there were a few things that caught us off guard. For example, they didn’t use plates unless it was absolutely necessary (i.e. spaghetti). Windows and doors were left open all day and flies did not annoy or disgust them. There was no soap in the entire house, except for in the shower. My personal fave: The man would get jars without labels from his fridge or cabinets, look at it from every angle ...smell the inside contents, make a face ...stir it and eat a large spoonful then say, “No, it is good! Ha ha!” Then replace the used spoon into the jar and pass to us. As happy as we were that he was not trying to poison us, this daily occurrence severely cut down on our food options. Luckily, he had fruit trees in his yard, grape vines covering his house, and he baked bread daily.
Today is our last day in Mandray. We will be traveling only one town over to Fraize, France for the next couple of weeks.
*workaway is the program Grace and I are using to help us afford to travel. You aren’t paid, you just get room and board and three meals a day covered. If anyone is interested in this program or would like to know more, please just email me.