Why the title? Simply because you’ve landed yourself in the South of France, just a stone’s throw away from Spain in l’Aude, at a holistic healing “center” with a specialization in raw food cuisine for the purpose of healing cancer patients (a very interesting subject, actually).
To be honest, you expected more. Like a full-on up-and-running center with guests and large groups. What you got, in fact, was actually quite predictable: a small mountain house with an adjoining fixer-upper, one guy trying in earnest to get the project rolling, and a handful of English-speaking (doh!) wwoofers.
Wait, wait, wait. You’ll re-set the tone. It’s no one’s fault but your own that you got a shitty night’s sleep because you over-exerted yourself yesterday (as you’re apt to do).
This place is actually totally fucking awesome. Your veritable wet dream. It’s no secret that once upon a time, you were a raw food vegan, only nowadays you say it somewhat ashamedly, as though you were being stupid. (Well, perhaps at the time, when you are training with U.S. Rowing, you were being stupid, if not simply because you couldn’t eat enough).
You went to Europe in June of 2008. Since then, you might say your culinary skills have come a long way. You learned delicious fat-and-potato-filled recipes in Ireland, vegan macrobiotic tricks and principles in Belgium, and how not to waste anything gone-off in Spain. Recently, whipping up something tasty (especially vegetarian) has been no daunting task. You must admit, however, that although you arrived in Europe a yogurt-eating-vegan, you left a voracious omnivore.
And here it culminates… you’ve come full-circle. Back to your nutrition frenzied self of several years ago. And you love it.
Readers shouldn’t get you wrong. You love meat, cheese, alcohol, and cooked food. They are tasty, and their respective yin-yang qualities have the ability to send you reeling blissfully in a much-needed gastronomic orgasm like a dab of MDMA can transform you into a serial hugger.
But after only two days here, outside Le Tech, you remembered the immediate effects of raw food: the way you stop eating when you are full, the fiber-laden BMs in the morning, the unusual feeling of lightness and energy that can only come when you don’t expend up to 20% of your calories simply digesting. Oh yeah, and that wonderful phenomenon of immediate weight loss….
Yes, life is good here on the “raw food compound.” (Thanks a lot, Alexis, for getting you into the habit of calling wwoof houses “compounds.”)
You haven’t eaten anything that was unsavory, or boring. But then again, you eat everything, and have already been practiced at such a lifestyle.
Imagine eating 2 bananas, an avacado, and some dates and walnuts for breakfast… having an assortment of 2-3 salads, a gently warmed raw ginger-mushroom-garlic sauce over the top, with a raw hummus or squash dip on the side. Dessert could be an almond-date-chocolate-mousse with lemon-coconut whipped cream on the side. Never before have you eaten so many organic nuts, fruits, and vegetables so consistently; never before have you bombarded yourself with so many micro-nutrients. No wonder you feel amazing.
To be fair, you allow yourself about a cup of cooked rice in the evenings, to be certain that you meet your calorie needs and don’t have another major incident like the one of few days ago…
When you fell through the ceiling. That was a first.
The work here is interesting. Christian, your host, has a house badly in need of restoration. When he found our you’d once smeared cow shit on a wall, he promptly asked you to do the plasterwork. So there you were, in what will be a loft, trying to plaster the walls while precariously balanced on a few planks laid over the ceiling joists. Stupidly, you tried to reposition yourself on the planks by putting your hand down on the mouse-shit-covered ceiling boards and… CRACK!
Before you knew it, you were falling head first through the ceiling into the bedroom below you. Fortunately, “she’s like monkey,” and you threw your arm over a ceiling joist, righted yourself with a deft swing, and abruptly truncated your descent. You hung there, legs kicking through a cloud of mouse shit and splinters, above a bed.
You have a way of crashing about a place, don’t you?
Your repair job on the ceiling was poor, but what were you to do, lacking materials? Much of the work you’ve done on the house has been “sub standard,” at least as it would be in the eyes of Marlene, who has most particular tastes. But Christian is not a builder, or a perfectionist, and is also a penny pincher himself.
Every day he tells you about some amazing deal he got on such-and-such for such-and-such amazing price. Most days, you discuss the work in terms of the cheapest means possible. Given that your materials are bent and warped, as it the house, you cut yourself some slack. There are no straight lines from which to work.