Out of no where it was Friday, and our week in Hualien was coming to a close. I had completely grown accustomed to the lifestyle. It felt natural to rise with the sun, take a slow start to the day, work until it was too hot, get re-energized and then do it again. As I said before I like manual labor, I like using my body and being outside. I worked one desk job, I was literally attached to my desk in a dreary office. It was miserable, I could never go back to that lifestyle. Maybe that’s why I’ve settled on teaching for now, because I am on my feet all day and it is anything but stagnant. It was great to have that confirmation on what I’ve always thought I wanted; to have my own farm and live a simple life away from everything, now I know that’s really what I want.
We woke up Friday and had our breakfast and cartoons as usual. Our job that morning was fixing the irrigation rows in one of the corn fields. We had dug a trench the day before but the water wasn’t flowing properly through the field. We had to hoe out the dirt in between the rows of corn (Yùmǐ ) to make a clearer pathway for the water. It was hard work. We didn’t have much direction from Deng so it took the two of us working as a team going back and forth over the field trying to figure out the direction of the water and which way was best to go about it. It was actually pretty fun, like a giant manual maze.
That afternoon we had lunch and took our nap until 3 PM when, we woke up and expected a new project. Instead of a new project, there were new visitors at the house. Nin-Hua’s mother was in the kitchen with a suitcase full of cooking ingredients, while Deng was having a conversation with some men in suits in the living room. I had hoped to learn a little about cooking traditional Taiwanese food this week, so I offered to help out in the kitchen. Nin-Hua’s mother was staying to visit for the evening, she wanted to meet us and cook us dinner! I tried to help as much as I could but I’m afraid I wasn’t very useful.
It wasn’t until 5PM we went out to plant another field of corn. The men in suits were local politicians and Deng brought them out with us to show them some of the fields. We planted the last field and then headed back for dinner around 7. It was nice having Nin-Hua’s mother there, it made the atmosphere even more familial and it really felt like we were all one big (odd) happy family. After dinner another uncle came over and it was another sitting around and drinking green tea session until midnight.
The next morning we said our goodbyes, and Deng drove us back to the train station after breakfast.
We promised to keep in touch and assured him that when we have our farm in New York someday he is welcome to come visit. I am really happy we decided to WWOOF and cannot thank Deng and his family enough for their hospitality. It was a much better way to experience Taiwan, especially such a beautiful area. We not only got to see it, but were able to actually live there and participate in the community, not just from the outside looking in.
For me, it was a great way to get more familiar with the culture I have been living outside of for the past year. My experience with WWOOF Taiwan was a great way to start off year number two living in Taiwan and not just being another foreign face floating by.