Yay pictures!!!! So, in this post I'll only cover my time on the farm in Ardeche
So, break down: At Api Ferme there is Olivier, who owns the beehives and he lives with his partner Ameline who is the mother of Enora, Maelenn, and Matthieu, and Olivier's father, Michel lives with them as well.
Here I am in front of all the honey-based products that Olivier makes on Api Ferme; honey (of course), vinigar, spiced bread, candles, hazelnut spread, and nougat
Here is little Maethieu feeding some apples to the donkeys.
So, Olivier, Ameline, and Michel sing gospel with a group of 16 people and they had a mini concert which I decided to attended. It was really cool to see them sing and little Matthieu and I got to hang out some more. Yet, at the end of the concert when he ran off to get some candy the woman sitting infront of me turned and told me, "Ton fils est trop mignon!" "Your son is so cute!"........I've now reached a new level of old, I can be mistaken as a six-year-old's mother. Thankfully though, my uturus has been fetus free for 23 years now, and I have no intent of changing that in the near future possibly never.
So when I got to go hiking I was usually accompanied by either Matthieu or the old dog (I could never remember his name so I just called him old dog), or sometimes by both. Old dog is an epic pup, aged at about 14 years, deaf, old-person skeletal skinny, and is so excited to be petted he trembles. During the day he also likes to hike the trails by himself.
Here I'm adding the labels to the vinigar bottles
Marie, another wwoofeuse, filling up the vinigar bottles
Because the recolting season is over Olivier doesn't open the bee boxes anymore, but I was lucky enough to be there at a time when he had to treat the hives for parasites. So, Marie and I got to see some bees while we were there.
Once again I found myself in an extremely ugly place
With the family I also got to go to a dinner and a show. The show was a band consisting of a quebecois, a new yorker, and a frenchman (sounds like the beginning of a joke) playing traditional new orleans music. Combined with that and the gospel singing I felt like I went to france to experience american culture.
The music was amazing and I had a delicious escargo pizza...I figured I should eat something I couldnt get back in 'merica.
Michel also had a wonderful production of kefir which is a delicious, if not a little odd, drink made from the fermentation of bacteria and yeast. You essentially make the drink by cultivating the yeast/bacteria mix in some water feeding them citricy fruits, filter out the little guys, and leave the liquid ferment for a day. I fully intend to try this out when I get settle somewhere...only problem is I need to find someone with some of the bacteria/yeast mix to start out my own colony.....craigslist maybe?
My two weeks at Api Farm passed incredibly quickly but at the same time I feel like I was able to become close with the family. I would love to return someday during the spring or summer during the recolting season to learn how to raise bees because as I mentioned in an earlier post I'm planning to have bee boxes of my own...yes, I have a rather eclectic list of interests, but it keeps life interesting!
After I left Api Farm I went to Lyon with a neighbor, Sylvie, who had generously let me stay at her appartment there. I didn't have much time but I figured I should go for a short stint just to check it out. It was a nice enough city, though the weather was rather bipolar
It was a normal city; churches, streets, rivers
My first day walking around I explored the Vieux Lyon (old Lyon) and after a couple of hours of that I decided to cross over one of the rivers. As I neared the bridge I heard someone shout my name, which took be aback because I didn't know anyone in Lyon. I ended up being Alessandro, Olivier's little brother, who had hung out with us a bit on the farm in Ardeche. He was there for the week for an internship in welding. In such a big city we happened to cross paths at just the right time. The world's a crazy small place right? Since both of us had nothing to do we just wondered around the city doing some of his errands, talked, grabbed a beer, and I bought him a haircut for his birthday (it had been on his list of things to do).
Before Sylvie had offered to let me stay at her place I had already made arrangements to couchsurf in Lyon with a guy names Herve. Even though I didn't end up crashing at his place he offered me dinner tuesday night which I happily accepted. We had a great night talking about traveling (he lived in Vancouver for a while), music, and other randomness. It was an exceptionally agreeable night. I must say that Couchsurfing has really allowed me to meet some really awesome people of whom I would never have been able to meet otherwise. Thank you couchsurfing!
After Lyon I skadoodled up to Paris to meet with an old study abroad friend, Robert, and I spent christmas with my friend Yoan and his family. More details later.
I hope you all had a wonderful chrismast/whichever holiday you celebrate. Yoan, Robert, Mikael (Yoan's friend), and I are going to be heading down to Aix-en-Provence for new years. Should be a great time