Should I Turn 10 Weeks into 8 Weeks?
My current plan is to stay here in St. Etienne de Serre until July 11th, when Marc’s family will come pick me up. Marc arrives on the 12th, and we stay with his family through the 15th or 16th, after which he and I go to Lyon for a couple days until he has to fly home on the 19th. After he leaves, I take a train down to Montpellier and then make my way up to Lagamas, where I will stay with a good family friend, Rosemary. I stay there until August 1st or so, then go to another WWOOFing farm or two, then I spend 5 days in Paris at the end of the month.
Having now spent a week and a half here in France, on two different WWOOFing farms, I’m calling my current plans into question a bit. With my current schedule, I will have spent 6.5 of my 10 weeks working on a farm. While I’m definitely enjoying the work and the experience of living in rural France, I feel that 6.5 weeks of it is a bit of overkill, and may actually lead to me enjoying my time in France somewhat less.
WWOOFing is fun, but I am finding that due to the isolation of most farms, it’s hard for me to actually see much outside the boundaries of the farms themselves, and as a result I kind of lose my sense of being in France. The farm in Les Vans was a good compromise in that it was near a town, but the 25-30 minute walk up and down a steep hill in order to get there, as well as my own lack of free time, made it nearly impossible to visit. Here at La Tranchat, we’re about 10km from the village, and during my approximately 9km walk this morning through the roads near the farm, I only came across two other farms. I love the farmers here, but I spend a lot of time twiddling my thumbs, to be honest. After work is done and lunch has been had around 2pm, the family disappears until dinner at around 9pm on various errands, naps, and other farm work. I have that time to myself, and since I don’t like using their internet for more than an hour at a time, I’m at a loss for what to do much of the time (since they don’t let me work more than 5 hours a day). I have read my one book twice over and started on it a third time, explored the area rather extensively, and done some design work on my computer. I’ve busied myself occasionally with fixing things around the farm, but there’s only so much of that I can do on my own, and in general I feel like I have a lot of wasted time.
The thing is, I foresee future WWOOFing in France as being more of the same, and if that’s to be the case, I think my time would be more productively spent at home, to be honest. I could spend the time traveling around France by couchsurfing in various places for a few days at a time, but the stress of having to constantly find a new place to stay would somewhat mar the experience for me, I suspect. For a nomad, I really love a sense of stability an awful lot.
So, here’s what I’m considering:
Right now my departure date is August 31st. Rather than spend most of August WWOOFing with a few days in Paris before my departure, I’m now considering heading home on August 17th or 19th, cutting my time in France about two weeks short. In my newly shortened post-Lagamas stay, I could visit one or two other places, plus Paris, and have enough time to actually explore them. If I can couchsurf for even half of that time, which is very doable, then I can splurge on having a hostel for my whole time in Paris, and maybe a couple days somewhere else. This plan would allow me to get to see more of France, as well as to actually feel like I’m traveling, rather than just living in a foreign country as a farm labourer (which, to be honest, is the truth at the moment). It would also allow me to save some money and also to have some time to readjust to life at home before the school year starts again in September.
The exception to this plan is if I can find a good horse farm to work on. I really, really want/need to get more experience with horses, and I’m willing to put up with the conditions of WWOOFing in exchange for that knowledge and experience. There’s a farm near Tarn that I looked at before and if I widen my search to other regions of France, I might be able to find another good one, but I’m going to be picky this time around. If it doesn’t sound awesome, it’s just not worth it to me.
So, dear readers, what do you think? Should I stick it out through the end of August? Should I find a horse farm to work on? Should I cut my time short and use the remaining time to see more of France? I’d love some input on this one. If I want to leave two weeks earlier, that means a departure date of August 17th, which gives me until July 27th to make a decision and change my ticket, so I’ve got some time, but not a whole lot.