So it’s been a while! But here is a quick recap of the research project (and other random adventures) that I did in the beautiful Pyrenees-Orientales of France!
For my 10 day stay, I was with a host family in a tiny village in the middle of beautiful farm lands. Unlike typical midwest farmlands that are usually miles and miles of corn, the fields here varied greatly in color and type of produce. My family cultivated apricots, and their entire extended family (who all live within a five minute drive) are also small production farmers. For my study, I explored the advantages, disadvantages, market, and changing ways of small production farming in this region. There was a lot to learn, but what struck me most is that the famous “35 hour work week” of France does not exist for these families. While they remain fairly independent of economic crisis, their life is entirely in tandem and dominated by the seasons, weather, and rhythms of growth. There was something so honest and pure about this family grown business… if the thought of being tied down to a section of land for an extended period of time didn’t freak me out so much, I think I would very much like this type of work. 🙂
For one of the days I met up with a dearly cherished new friend (thankfully, you tend to make those while studying abroad) who was placed in a nearby village and we took a bus to the most beautiful mountains on the most glorious day with the best baguette ever in hand! It was perfect! The bus dropped us off in the sleepy little village and we somehow made our way to the mountain (which was farther away then it appeared). We essentially just made our own path the whole day, through the fields and hopping creeks until we finally got to the forest-y part of the mountain… and then we just continued to make our own path since we couldn’t find the actual trail. Really can’t use enough superlatives to describe this day… THE BEST!
I really bizarre thing for me is the proximity of other countries in Europe. One day my host family casually suggested that we “go to Spain for lunch.” I can’t get anywhere cool within a half hours drive radius from my house (no offense, southwest Michigan), but before I knew it we were in Spain! And better yet, we visited the Salvador Dali museum! Yeesh what a nut! I love every bit of his surrealist craziness… as well as the tapas we had afterwords. Wonderful!
Next up, an update on my weekend in Paris and my volunteer project I’ve been doing in Toulouse! À bientot!