Q: Rachel, is it true you are already at your fifth country?
A: Yes, it is true. We are in Italy right now.
Q: Wow! And where exactly in Italy are you?
A: We are in this tiny town called Cuceglio, just outside of Turin. We are working on a farm through an organization called “WWOOF.”
Q: And what is “WWOOF”?
A: World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. It’s an organization that links volunteers to organic farms around the world.
Q: A farm!? But Rachel! You love things like air conditioning, ice water, and hair dryers! And you hate things like bugs, rodents, and walking half a mile to take a shower. Why did you choose to do this?
My answer, if I was asked this question in a job interview or giving a graduation speech: I am always looking for unique ways to see different parts of the world, push myself as a person, and learn about things that I have never experienced.
My real answer: I have absolutely NO idea what I was thinking.
Q: How long are you going to be there?
A: One week
Q: So how on earth did you make it to such a middle-of-nowhere town in Italy, a country you’ve never been to whose language you don’t even speak?
A: Well let me tell you. First we had to figure out the bus schedule from Turin to Cuceglio. Once we did that, we had to figure out where exactly the bus stop in Turin was located. After lunch we walked to the bus station just a few minutes before our bus was scheduled to leave; then found out we had the wrong place. Once we found the correct bus depot, we discovered that we had incorrectly read the bus schedule. After a lot of help from our map, Google translate, and some guy selling magazines, we finally got on the right bus to Cuceglio.
Q: Was someone there to pick you up?
A: Well. Yes. There was supposed to be. But when we got there, no one was around. So we wandered down this dirt road, two girls, with backpacks the size of those beanbag chairs from the nineties, in the middle of an unknown village in Italy. I had the number of someone at the farm, so we were going to try to find a phone. We stumbled upon a construction business with an office attached, and walked in. The man and woman behind the desk, rightfully befuddled by the lost and sweaty Americans pointing to their phone and talking at them in English, didn’t really know how to respond. We eventually said the name of the farm, and, by some Italian miracle, they knew exactly where it was. By an even greater miracle, it was really close. We wandered down a few cobblestone streets, got some grapes from a man working on a local vineyard, and found our farm.
Q: What are your sleeping conditions like?
A: We are staying in a cabin next to the cow stable.
Q: Wow, sounds very cozy and inviting.
A: It is indeed. In fact last night I fell asleep to the moans and grunts of what sounded like a cow giving birth. I really feel one with nature out here.
Q: How do you get from the main house to your cabin? Is it a straight shot?
A: Oh my, no not at all! First we have to walk through a field with grass taller than us (actually it may be corn. I don’t know. I’m only a temporary farmer). Then we have to wander underneath the bridge, solve the troll’s riddle, and leap over a three-foot-wide creek. Once we get through the dandelion meadow and over the mud puddles that never disappear no matter how hot and sunny it gets, we have to get past the dogs who still don’t recognize us and bark at us like we’re serial killers. By then, we have reached the cow stables. A sharp right past the mooing and manure, and we are home. Back at the cabin with water that’s too toxic to drink and electricity that works 50% of the time.
Q: What kind of work do you do?
A: Oh, you know. Typical farm stuff. Weeding, watering, planting. We work from 7:00 – 1:00, and then we have the rest of the day to ourselves.
Q: Have you ever been in the middle of pruning tomato plants and stumbled upon the largest spider you’ve ever seen in your life, nearly convincing you to run back to your cabin and pack up all of your stuff right there on the spot?
A: You ask such specific questions! But in fact yes, that did happen on our third day here. We were in the middle of pruning tomato plants, when we stumbled upon the largest spider I have ever seen in my life. It was the size of the palm of my hand, and it even had fangs (no seriously, it did). We stared at each other for at least ten minutes, unsure of whether to continue on or leave the farm immediately and never look back. In the end we just left that area of tomatoes and continued in the other section.
Q: Did you ever have to go back to the tomatoes again?
A: We told them that if we had to prune tomatoes again, we were going to file a lawsuit. I think they wanted to avoid court fees, because the next day we were planting lettuce.
Q: What kind of food do they serve you?
A: Oh man. It’s honestly the freshest food I have ever tasted.
Q: Did you just include this part to brag?
That concludes this Question and Answer session with Rachel Marsh. For more information on the European excursion, continue to follow this blog. For more information on Cuceglio, WWOOF, or spiders with fangs, try Googling it.