Wwoofing Adventures #1

10 September 2008

This is the first of many posts detailing the adventures my two roommates and I had in the UK under an organization called WWOOF--Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms. Having never really farmed nor concerned ourselves particularly with environmental issues, the three of us nevertheless hopped on a plane June 11th and set out for two months of farm labor and learning, accented with weekend tours of historical UK sites. Posted sporadically will be my account of our experience.

June 12, 2008

There’s nothing like waking—or was I even sleeping?—and ladling strawberry yoghurt between my teeth at 2 am trying to convince myself that the last three hours of tossing and turning served as the necessary punctuation between night and day. How much time has passed between now and the flight’s beginning? What time is it in the U.S.?

But we’re not supposed to remind ourselves of the old time; we’re in Britain now. I will obediently set my watch to our new time zone.

We arrived slightly before our due time of 6:55 and disembarked to a bustling Heathrow International Airport. The yellow signs marked INTERNATIONAL ARRIVALS and CUSTOMS became our guides and we went from one to the other as a preschooler swings from rung to rung on the monkey bars. As we proceeded to baggage claim, my imagination kept foisting upon me the scene of the three of us staring at the emptying carousel, watching as bags were reunited with their owners one after the other while our humble rucksacks never appeared. Those bags contained our entire trip, all the work and touring clothes we would need, all the sunscreen and Advil, all the shampoo and wellies and cameras and socks and host gifts and rain ponchos we had so carefully packed—and what would be the compensation? My whole bag was probably worth around $50 and I certainly would not be able to replace everything in it for nearly that amount here.

Our bags appeared promptly on the carousel, however, and we were soon free to buy our Oyster cards and take the Picadilly line into central London where we changed to the Jubilee and then the DLR, finally arriving at the outskirts of Greenwich in a little corner of town called Deptford Bridge.

Deptford. A mottled stretch of brick shops outlined the streets with its little grocery stores, laundromats, a two-story Noodle King, and dim-windowed salons displaying posters of sultry-haired models. One shop had a handwritten advertisement for a nail technician. I had noticed en route the gradual evolution of passengers as we came closer into Deptford as the designer shoed,
suit-clad men of the world’s financial capital were swapped for the sweatshirt hooded, baggy-dropped jeans of…well I could envision them on street corners or in alleyways conducting business of a whole other sort. These were those streets. And here was our hostel.

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