Arriving at the farm on a cool September morning, the sky was brilliantly colored and the air was immaculately fresh. I was given the grand tour of the farm, which grows vegetables including parsley, lettuce, kohlrabi and its main grain: barley. As an incredible source of protein, I learned to love (and eat) barley with every meal and embrace all its flatulent side effects. Afterwards, I settled into the Monster House, where the nearly 15 other WWOOFers lived.
Now, I’ve gone to sleep-away camp and college, but I’ve never felt as quickly at home as I did at Vallanes. WWOOFers come and go, and when I arrived my boyfriend and I were the only Americans on the farm. We were surrounded by people from countries like Spain, France, Serbia, Belarus, Italy, Belgium and Germany. Everyone was friendly and eager to learn about one another, and with English as their second (or third … or fourth) language, the Americans became the “go-to crew” for communication breakdowns. It was nice to feel useful. We all tried to pick up Icelandic, but found it nearly impossible.
We worked six days a week, beginning at 9 a.m. Each person was given a task, and it was yours until completed. They ranged from harvesting, to packaging for Icelandic supermarkets and restaurants, to picking and washing berries. While some of the work could be considered “hard labor,” a lot of it was just monotonous. Working with others allowed for bonding, but oftentimes I found myself working in a field alone, cutting mizuna and staring at the statuesque mountains in front of me. With hours to think and let my mind be free, my normally anxious persona drifted away and I experienced an unfamiliar feeling: calmness.
It was a whirlwind that went extraordinarily quickly. If I hadn’t bought my return ticket, I’m fairly certain I would have stayed. Now that I’m home, part of me almost feels like my trip was a dream. Another part of me feels that if I talk about it, it’ll be gone forever.