Pins & needles (lit: ants)
Last meal: couscous and vegetables.
Drink of choice: homemade lemonade!
Song in my head:
Today marks the day exactly halfway through travelling by myself!
A week ago today, I left the worst place I have experienced my entire trip. Here is my story: (*cue Law & Order’s signature ominous double note*)
The town of Évisa and its surrounds are absolutely beautiful, and so when the bus dropped me off in the town, I was feeling pretty lucky/smug. The farm itself, mostly for self-sustainability rather than selling produce, was about 6km out of town. And it had been my favourite WWOOFing advertisement for the whole of Corsica.
CHARACTER 1: Marie. AKA Ice queen/bitch. This was the coldest woman I have ever met. She was unfriendly and unwelcoming from the get-go: she picked me up from town by driving up nearby, calling out to me from her car, and saying little to nothing on the drive to the farm.
I was then told that I would be sleeping in an enormous empty house (which had approximately 1000 external doors that were never closed), by myself, with no wifi, phone reception, electricity, nor running water. I had a small lamp in my room (attached to their house by approximately 1 million extension cords) and a tap (attached by approximately 1 billion hose extensions) in the bathroom. I had a dry toilet (flush = sawdust) and a camp shower (worst design ever – I had to crouch to get water above my knees, and on two successive days there wasn’t much sun, so the water was really cold). These I became accustomed to, and I can see their benefit as sustainable practises, but I was peed off that there had been nothing about it in the ad. I sneakily used everyone else’s bathroom for the first 24 hours (all the perks – hot water, flushing toilet), to which Marie told me that I wasn’t allowed anymore.
So aside from the living conditions (like I said, not so bad but I really should’ve been given a heads up), Marie was just a really cold unfriendly person. I didn’t feel at all welcome, and sometimes felt uncomfortable just being in her presence. She didn’t say much to me, she’s one of those people who would speak over other people if she had an opinion, and she never spoke slower when I asked her to repeat something. When I told her I would be leaving the next day, her immediate unemotional response was “Well you’ll have to empty and clean the toilet, and change the sheets on your bed – all WWOOFers have to do that.” Obviously she totes misses me.
CHARACTER 2: Christophe. The husband and breadwinner. SUCH a nice guy, really welcoming and friendly, he spoke slowly and explained things clearly, and made a big effort to teach me new things (he helped me make bread for the first time!) He works as the equivalent of a National Parks person (?) in Corsica (Fôret d’Aïtone). The other WWOOFer who arrived later thought his name was Christian, and he was French, and so probably (unfortunately) right. Awkward.
CHARACTER 3: Maréva. Eldest, girl, 5. Desperate to steal the attention laid upon her younger brother, and thus would act his age. I’m talking urinating in public view, nightly post-dinner tantrums, constant crying/screaming/mischief throughout the day. She has absolute power in that house. It’s depressing to watch. She was a bit enamoured with me, because I was new and a girl, so I had little time to myself and on more than one occasion she came into my room just after I’d finished showering. Secretly, in my head, I would call her MALréva, because mal means ‘bad’ and rêve means ‘dream’. Sometimes I think I’m pretty witty.
CHARACTER 4: Atlan. The boy, 2. Not toilet-trained in the remotest, which would be fine if his parents made him wear a nappy. He poops four times daily. DOES THIS POSE A PROBLEM FOR ANYONE ELSE? But seriously, he peed everywhere and once I saw him pooping while standing, sans any kind of pants. Human rights issues sprang to mind. Also Marie said he was named after the deity who held up the world, but I’m fairly sure that his name is AtlaS? Awkward. And they can’t even pretend he’s named after the Narnia lion either.
CHARACTERS 5&6: Pascal & Laetitia. These were two friends of Chris, who stayed for 6 days after I arrived. They were so lovely, helpful, spoke slowly, and would even exchange exasperated looks with me during the nightly bedtime tantrum. I was really sad to see them go.
CHARACTER 7: Rashid. The other WWOOFer, from Toulouse. He arrived the day after Pascal and Laetitia left. He was really cool, and this was his first WWOOFing experience so I felt bad for him – I kept reassuring him that this was not the norm. He spoke with a bizarre accent, a bit like Québecois: he said pain (‘bread’) like paing, really nasally. On my final night, he taught me a gazillion rude words, and some French tongue twisters.
The work itself wasn’t so bad – mainly weeding and a little bit of mulching (that was in the greenhouse and the mulch was animal wool and it was the hottest day ever = ew.) I now have a weird brown tan above my hips at the back, where there was a gap when I would crouch for several hours in the sun. It looks like someone has just smeared a stripe of tanning lotion there. It’s really weird.
Got into the habit of running daily: horrifically slow up an 11% ascent, but the scenery made the muscle burn worth it. I also finished the Count of Monte Cristo, which was kind of a turning point for me. I’ve now started a tatty second-hand book bought in Abbey’s in Paris. Authentic.
I ended up staying here for 10 days, reasons for which varied: waiting for a postal item to arrive; trying to give it a chance; hanging out with/protecting Rashid; and attempting to HTFU. In the end though, I wasn’t at all happy so I left. I walked into Évisa at 7am, the bus driver recognised me from last time, and my previous host from Ajaccio was happy to take me in again, this time in her own home.
The next three days passed in a blur. I sent a package home to mum (I figure I don’t so much need an 800g book or a big fluffy beanie at the moment) which was overpriced and not-quite-full, so I bought some shoes I’d had my eye on and sent them straight away. I miss them. There’s still the “new shoes!” excitement, but no actual shoes. I did a little bit of exploring Ajaccio, but mostly I just hung out with Tamara, recuperating and getting my mentality back in check.
Organised to catch the ferry back to the mainland. Almost missed it, so there was an embarrassing ok-now-I’m-awake dash with my enormous pack within the building and across the port to get to the boat just before the doors closed. I looked like such an idiot. It was great – I felt like me again! Forgot that I’d pre-bought breakfast with my ticket, so I had second breakfast which obviously made me ecstatic. First pastry in weeks. Then I pretty much slept on the floor (surprisingly clean!) for about four hours, before the arrival in Nice!