The weekend before my 25th birthday was really special to me. One of my best friends came to visit me in France and we drove all throughout the area, stopping in different beautiful places, taking pictures and laughing. It was really grounding to see her there, because I was already feeling rather miserable and had decided to leave my job at the camping site. She traveled very far, using not the most comfortable ways to travel, to see me for just two days. And it was great. I felt understood and remembered that there are people in this world who are on my wavelength, which is a feeling I was missing there.
She brought me presents for my birthday – which were perfect and showed me she knows me well :) – and a card from another one of my best friends – which contained words that I needed at that moment – and we slept together in one of the huge safari tents. I liked the slumber party, I liked the company, I liked the travel vibe we had going. Honestly, I really liked being able to complain about everything at the camping site too. Roadtrippin’ together was great, even if I did occasionally drive past our goal (an available parking space, mostly), making us having to drive in a circle to end up there again.
Saying goodbye to her on my actual birthday was really hard for me, because it meant I had to stay there by myself for even longer and having spent two full days with her made me realize how great life could be. How awesome my life is. How great my friendships are. How much I miss being able to connect to people on an intellectual level and feeling understood.
Well, this all sounds rather dramatic, I’m aware of that, but that’s the way it felt. And honestly, this weekend is really the only good great memory I have of my time there. So seeing the pictures again… that’s just magical.
I’m late in uploading all of my pictures, as you have recently enjoyed some from six months ago and also a few from nine months ago. So now, uploading these pictures from four months ago is not so bad. Soon there will be more pictures from the same period and even a few recent ones!!!
I have been here a little over a week, but it feels like it has been much longer. Which is probably why I have been feeling bad that I haven’t written anything about it yet. It’s not that I didn’t have the time, but just that I have not yet figured out what to tell you. I don’t know how I feel about this whole experience just yet and not everything that I could tell is suitable to discuss with the world wide web. So I decided to just give you a glimpse into my day-to-day life, and we can go from there.
It’s just been a little weird. When I went to Indonesia, there was so much to tell. Everything was new. Here… it’s ‘just’ France. And I’m at a Dutch campsite, so basically it feels like I’m still in The Netherlands (except for those wonderful but rare occasions on which I can actually practice – and hopefully improve – my French). It’s a language I want to learn to speak so badly, but to get better at it I need to do it, and so far… I haven’t had to do it a lot.
This past week and a half has been a learning experience. I have gotten to know a lot about the business that is this camping site and I have learned how to operate within their procedures and rules.
My domain here is the reception area and the shop. I keep everything organized and neat, which is a task that can easily be trusted to me. I get to print a lot of things, create program booklets and menus (the layout, not the content), I make the schedules and I gained a new hobby: laminating stuff.
Besides the kitchen I help out with a lot of other different tasks, like cleaning, working in the kitchen, doing a whole bunch of dishes, restocking the tea carousel, filling up cups with mayonaise. I get a bunch of fun tasks (that will probably only be fun the first time) and I enjoy doing it all.
So a bit about the living conditions. I’m staying in a trailer, where I have my own bedroom with a big bed. I share it with another girl, but we hardly see each other there because we work different hours (meaning, I get to go home at 17.30 – although I usually offer my help in the kitchen and hang out there for two hours) and she rolls in at 23.00 or 0.00.
The next morning, I probably wake her up at 6.30 when I get out of bed to do some yoga or go running, but every time I ask she says it’s okay and that I’m not bothering her.
It is freaking cold. I always sort of thought I was an outdoorsy type, but I guess I only am when the sun is shining. I hate the cold. And I’m cold all the time. Except when I work in the kitchen, so that’s… something.
The internet here is worse than in the secluded places in Asia that I have visited, so that’s too bad. But the upside is fresh mountain air every time I go outside, a great view to start and end my day with and living for free. Because that is basically what I’m doing. I get paid, but I also work for food and housing. The cook here makes great vegan meals for me every day and he really knows how to cook! I eat delicious french bread and I drink lots of water and tea. In the morning, I can even get fruit and make a smoothie. So that is arranged really well and that is great.
My goal was, sort of, to not spend any money while I am here. And now that I have decided that I want to see a bunch around the area, I will have to spend some money on gasoline, but other than that, I will be able to live here without any costs. So I’m going to keep track and write down all the expenses I have. But it will not be much, because I really have everything I need here.
So, even though I still have my ups and downs, my certainties and my doubts and my good moments and my bad moments, I’m liking it here more and more, and by now I feel confident that I can make this a great summer.