Apuglia and us+5

   Since our return back to Vancouver, Katie and I have been meaning to tell more of our story since we left Paris. In short we left the city and headed to Italy for the remaining three months but not until after we saw a bit more of Europe first...we'll talk more about this soon.
   One day while Katie was working at Rose Bakery, I had come home from grocery shopping and decided to look further into a learning experience the two of us can take back, something outside and definitely food. Coincidentally through workaway I stumbled upon a man by the name of Tonio Creanza, who by which lives in Altamura for half the year and owns a good portion of some olive groves. Why a coincidence? Tonio lives in Vancouver when he isn't busy in Italy restoring art and culture http://www.messors.com/

Instantly I thought how perfect this would be for the two of us. It wasn't too long ago Katie looked at some trulli decals on the back of a bus driving down Quai de Montebello in Paris and asked me, "Where is that place?! I want to go there, can we go there Marco?"
I replied, "Oh, Puglia? It's pretty south. Supposed to be beautiful- yeah let's see where our crazy journey takes us!"
Couldn't wait for Katie to come home and tell her what I had found. We both wrote a quick letter to Tonio and crossed our fingers he would choose us to pick olives! 

Baking Pane Alta 
Some weeks passed.

A couple more- mind you we noticed Tonio has been online and read our message but he had not responded. WHY?! Why can't he just let us know something, anything? It's killing us to know! You can tell how anxious we were.

Then Finally we received a response followed by an interview through Skype! How ironic it was that we were being interviewed for a job picking olives in Italy with a man in Vancouver and us in our apartment in Paris! Small enough world

The team :) 
Katie enjoying the magnificent cliffside of Matera 
Come November we are to be two of seven harvesters: Janine, the chef from Canada; Matej, the engineer from "in the Czech Republic"; Andrej, the business man from Serbia, Marloes, the sociologist from the Netherlands, and Laura Kinery, the freelance writer from USA. What an amazingly interesting group of people we turned out to be!

When Tonio had arrived at Bari to pick the two of us up and upon introduction with Tonio Katie looked at me, I looked at Katie. We both smiled.

Clearly the man had a good amount of wine. 

But hey, it's Italy right? 

After some interesting driving through the grid-like city center of Bari to the airport to pick up Andrej, we all safely arrived at our home for the next three weeks.
We all enjoyed a beautiful sausage and squash dinner cooked by Tonio's mother and an introduction to each other, as well as the harvest- which to me looked like a football play only instead of circles and arrows I was looking at half filled wine glasses and napkins. We all went to bed full and ready to hit our first day first thing in the morning!

Pissing Rain harder than you can imagine. 

After we all became so proud about setting up the systematic nets which catch the olives and lugging the compressor through the mud we were quickly sent home by mother nature. It is in the best interest of the olives, as well as it becomes impossible to harvest in the rain, that we do not work in the rain. the mud is like no other; stickier than a jolly rancher you accidentally bit into.
The sun hit us daily and that meant work. I can't even remember how long the stretch was, but it was long enough that getting up to hull so much weight in olives became harder and harder! Katie and I could barely move after the second day...we were so sore. 

Never the less it was very rewarding to see fresh olives being pressed. Your bounty of hard work being turned into liquid gold and the aromas coming out of the press are intoxicating.

The magical lunches on the beautiful orchards, each showing their uniqueness in vista and variety of olives. The never ending family dinners shared by Tonio's beautiful family made you feel close to home again. Tonio's extensive knowledge of the region's geography and archaeology left us educated far beyond what we expected.  

 The conversations all of us had were nothing short of engaging. Sometimes subjects were touchy but we all had good fun in connecting a way very few people have the opportunity to. We come from all walks of life with different values and diverse ideas. Katie and I are very fortunate to have been surrounded by such a family and such hospitality.

Coming home and seeing our pressed olive oil on the market...It just gets us everytime. Smiles.

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