Finca La Rosendo

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Situated about 20 minutes south of San Rafael, Argentina, tiny little Finca La Rosendo gets lost amongst all the heavy hitters in the region. On the short bus ride to get there, all you see are hectares and hectares (miles don’t exist down here, see?) of grapevines. La Rosendo has those too, but they choose to do things a bit differently.

For several years now on-again, off-again couple Virginia and Alejandro have accepted WWOOfers to stay with them.  They are your typical live-off-the-land, pot-smoking, white man dred-having team, and they believe that the majority of what they consume should come as a direct result of the work they put in. They have a rather large subsistence-only garden, a compost area, around 10 chickens and 2 roosters, 4 sheep, 2 amazing dogs named Milton and Doris, a vineyard which produces Malbec, Syrah and a sweet dessert wine, and fruit trees. Their house was built using sustainable practices, and my casita was built as an addition a few years back to house volunteers that swing through. It is built of straw, mud, bamboo and wine bottles. No joke.

Every day I wake up, usually freezing, and start a fire from wood I have gathered in my small wood stove in the corner of the casita. As caffeine is a necessity, I head over to my kitchen, which is a desk with a gas tank beneath it, two burners sitting on top. (Only one of them works.) I start the hot water for my instant coffee, and sit wrapped in a blanket next to my fire, watching the sheep pass by my window on the way out to pasture. The bathroom is a dry pit surrounded by a homemade wood enclosure built by past WWOOFer, French Simon. I’ve heard a lot of stories about French Simon, mainly that he was over-sensitive and was really into building this pit toilet. For this I will be forever grateful to French Simon, because the old pit toilet only had 3 standing walls. Ahem.

Around 10 AM I go to the garden to pick up the agachada (I dont know how to say this in English... it is an implement like a ho but sharper and wider. Also, please keep your ho jokes to yo’self) and head to the back of the vineyards to begin clearing the ditch of dry grasses for next month, when the government will turn the water back on. Because of the fact that this area is a desert, all of the water is controlled by the government. Because Finca La Rosendo is organic, we cannot simply spray chemicals on things to make them go away. We have to machete the hell out of them. It provides a good time to think and listen to the sheep munching away.

After about 2 hours of clearing the ditches, we head in to have lunch. Virginia is an amazing cook- everything we eat comes out of their garden or from a garden of a friend that lives nearby. She bakes the bread herself, and they have canned jams from all the fruit that they grow here in the summer.   Of course, there is always wine. We drink wine with lunch, and if conversation is going well and we are enjoying ourselves, sometimes we drink too much. Thus, lunch can often be a 2 hour affair. I love this part of the day.

When lunchtime is over and we are all sleepy from the wine, the real work begins. We clean and disinfect bottles, fill them with delicious red wine, and then cork and label them. This process takes hours, as all of it is done by hand. We put on music and work silently, or we talk about politics, about what goes on in the US, or the oddities of the Argentine version of Spanish (what does pibe mean again?).

Working until the sun goes down ensures that I’m back in my casita to make dinner around 7 PM. I have the evenings to cook, drink wine (one of the included items in my weekly food basket), read, write and think.  Staring out my window, fire crackling at my feet I realize:  this is the life.

 

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