Sawadika everyone! It’s been a while.
So originally I was supposed to have left the farm yesterday, but I’m still here. I’m not quite ready to tear myself away from the place yet. And I’ve experienced so much that I can't possibly write it all here.
When I first arrived at the Permaculture farm 40 minutes outside of Chiang Mai, it was completely different from what I had imagined. There were 6 volunteers working on the farm and we were two in the house. We have our own volunteer area, where we cook and relax and volunteers either sleep in tents or simple straw rooms.
I was a bit disappointed at first, having imagined that I would live with the family, eat with them and be the only one there (Xavier, French dad, Nathalie, Thai mother with cancer, Sophia, 9-year-old daughter, Eden, 2-year-old son). But the farm turned out so, so much better than I could have imagined.
My usual day looks something like this:
I wake up at 6.45, make breakfast for and with the volunteers and go to the house with Carol, the other volunteer in the house. We make coffee, juice, salad, ready Nathalie’s Enima Detox and clean the kitchen and dishes.
When we’re done Nathalie is usually up and I give her a cannabis oil massage for relaxation, pain relief and healing - having been taught by the girl I was replacing in the kitchen and then from there developing the massage through my own experience of Nathalie’s pains, tumors and preferences. I usually massage her for 1-2 hours depending on her pain level. Then I make breakfast for the family, clean and do whatever they might need that day.
I go back and make lunch with the volunteers (we always eat vegan food!) and relax for awhile.
Picture: me, Carol and Axel making Chilean pumpkin bread
I might play with Eden or Sophia, clean, make food or something else. At around 4 I give Nathalie her second massage, make tea and a smoothie and afterward make Xavier dinner. I then go back and make dinner with the volunteers and that’s the day.
It’s a lot of work, but it's good. And every day is new and different, especially considering Nathalie’s condition.
Sometimes she tells me about her childhood in the countryside, about her years in Bangkok, about natural healing, her look on modern society or her cancer, whilst I massage her.
We laugh together about her good memories on good days and I listen to her worries on the bad days or let her sleep with an oxygen mask on when she is too exhausted to talk. It’s heart-shattering being a fly on the wall to moments like Xavier discovering that Nathalie has been hiding a new tumor forming or Eden crying because he can't play with mama.
But then there’s moments where Nathalie tells me how thankful she is for my help and that she would build me a bungalow if it meant I would stay with them long term or the family sit down and share all their banana snacks from the market with me or Eden squeezes in between my legs to look at a picture book together or Sophia wants to only sit besides me when she joins the volunteers for dinner. And the good outweighs all the bad by far.
The family invited me to come with them on a trip to the organic vegetable farm and cafe ’monkey farm’ two days ago, where I spent my time taking care of Eden and playing games with Sophia on the entire car ride. Sophia told me it had been the best trip she had gone on with a volunteer so far. I was honored that they wanted me along.
And then there’s the volunteers - they are really, really good people. Will from England, Marco from Italia, Carol from Chile, Julius from Germany, Axel from Argentina and so many more. We’ve really formed a good family.
Picture: Marco, me, Carol, Will, Axel, Julius
Then there’s crazy and sweet Manat and Yayai, with their very handicapped daughter, who live and work at the farm permanently. They always smile and offer me food or a good laugh, no matter how hard they have it.
And then every Saturday, Manat drives us to the night market in the village close by, everyone piling together in the dirt in the back of his pick up truck.
I’ve had so many exhilarating moments on the farm, moments that remind me exactly why I travel. Where I feel completely high on life - high on the utter freedom and carefreeness that comes with not knowing what’s next and being alright with that.
On our first trip in the pick up truck back from the night market everyone seemed to feel the magic of the moment. We were all smiling stupidly, laughing too loudly and leaning or heads back to look at the stars. It was a tiny indescribable moment that was completely exhilarating.
Picture: Marco, Carol, Julius, me, Will, Axel, Charlotte, Marie and Claudia
One day after it had just rained we all had to move a 500 kg heavy brick maker to the warehouse, carrying it barefoot through the wet clay that stuck in chunks to our feet. It was hard work but rewarding when we put it down on the floor.
On the 16th of June we made pizzas in the pizza oven, Marco and I mostly in charge. None of us knew how to use the pizza oven and some pizzas were completely uncooked while others were black, but we had so much fun experimenting, finally getting the last of the 10 pizzas right.
Another day Sophia and I made dinner together for the volunteers, busting out our best moves in the kitchen to the music playing.
On the 18th of June Marco and I took the white cap (open mini bus for the villagers) to Chiang Mai and got our visas extended at the immigration office.
We spent the rest of the day walking around the old town and through the markets in Chinatown, eating good food and talking. It was great getting away from the farm for a little while and we had lots of fun walking around.
Some days it rains all day here
and some days it’s way too hot.
On the 22nd it was way too hot and so we all jumped in the nearby lake from the platform after lunch, playing and laughing in the water for hours. It was a day straight out of the movies.
The same day we all helped plant corn in the fields and shared an Argentinian drink some new volunteers had brought, while talking in the volunteer area.
One day I went to pick mangoes with Manat, Nathalie, and Sophia, catching the fruits that Manat threw down to me and gathering so many that the bag overflowed with them. It is incredible how much of the food we eat is grown here: mangoes, bananas, morning glory, herbs, eggplants.
Most nights we played card games after dinner until lights out at 10.
We had parties in the warehouse a lot too.
On the 23rd we pulled out mattresses to the middle of the floor and sat playing cards, drinking rice wine and beer and smoking tobacco from banana leaves.
The card games turned into dancing and soon all the South American volunteers were teaching the rest of us how to dance salsa and other South American dances. I danced with Axel and eventually started getting the movements right. We danced for hours, laughing and sweating and really dancing - oh, how I wished that we danced like that in Denmark, it was another kind of exhilaration actually dancing in pairs, swirling around and getting the steps right to Spanish music. I didn't go to bed early that night.
And I didn't the day after either, although we still had to get up early to work both days.
The next day we went to the Saturday market again and Marco, Axel, Will and I walked around together - getting Pad Thai and sticky rice, relaxing on a patch of grass and buying alcohol in 7/11.
When we met up with the others only minutes before Manat came to get us Julius had just gotten his ears pierced, and before I knew what was going on Carol and Sophia were dragging me to a stall on the street, chose a ring and in less than 30 seconds the man had stuck the ring right through my nose (after cleaning it!). I paid him 40 baht (8 kr), adrenaline running through me from the craziness and spontaneity of the moment. And just like that I had a nose piercing.
When we got back we played cards in the warehouse and talked about everything without inhibitions and danced and danced and danced, this time just jumping and moving around without care. At around 2 am we all jumped in the lake, laughing and swimming in the cool water.
I have a day off today, having spent it playing cards with Marco by the lake. We might go to the warehouse tonight for another party. And Axel and I are planning to make burgers. Most of our little odd family is leaving at the end of this week, leaving Will and I as the only ”originals” left.
But I’m so grateful for all the memories, especially in the last week - it feels like something has really changed in me during my time here - I feel so happy and carefree and brave. And I really hope that my travels will give me many more of these opportunities.