view from our new location.
I climbed one of those distant peaks a couple of years ago.
In fact, we only found this host a week ago. The original proposition cancelled and suggested some friends that needed help. We contacted them and started to make arrangements but things didn’t go smoothly, easier to abandon a host before arriving than to arrive and find things in complete disarray.. So Vivien quickly did some research and found our present location on a “Chantier Parcipatif’(a building site that welcomes others to learn and help out at the same time) website and there was a positive response within an hour of us asking if we would be welcome.
Our hosts are renovating a fabulous old barn situated several miles from the last village of the valley, way up high, accessed by a dirt track that becomes practically inaccessible in winter. They, husband, wife and daughter live here part time in the summer, flying in from their current home in Martinique. This summer they have friend staying with them for the season. Running water is from the nearby stream and for the moment there is electricity when the generator is running. It is used whilst there is a need for power tools and produces enough extra to chill the fridges, charge lights, mobile phones and run a dilapidated old washing machine.
summer kitchen, shelter and shower room OR car port in winter
the encampment with restored barn in al its glory
Several days later........
We should have been a bit more wary about the mega fast response requesting us to come and help, also the fact that there were no other willing hands about. It’s not that the place was chaotic, far from it, it was one of the neatest well thought out building sites I have been on so far. The difficulty that we stumbled upon was one of communication. Our host was 60% or more deaf and not attuned to building sites or giving directions, his friend was more than willing to dispense advice, whether asked for or not and took every opportunity to direct us, even when we had already been given tasks to complete. With the generator running almost constantly, plus power tools, chain saws and hammering it was difficult for anyone to have a decent conversation, let alone an in-depth discussion on the finer points of construction detail. In addition for me, the second language and two new and interesting accents to contend with made even light going a challenge. So you can imagine how smoothly things went.
Suffice to say, after three exceedingly frustrating days of miscommunications, along with the heated discussions between our two ‘bosses’ as to who was in control, the fact that we could have decided ourselves how to do several of the tasks easier, cheaper and with a more robust result, we decided to leave. A week early.
Our hosts were surprised and individually both strangely sympathetic to our plight and apologetic for the behaviour and attitude of the other. Neither really got the gist that it was of their making and will probably continue in the same vein in the future. An interesting week that did little to forward our cause in finding land, but a great deal in learning about communication skills, taking control and team guidance. Duly noted as we move on for an unexpected long weekend of recreation.