After making our way back up towards Buenos Aires for the third time on our trip, we had the opportunity to WWOOF on an organic dairy farm in a suburb of the capital city called General Rodriguez. I assume that most tourists never visit the small town of General Rodriguez; Maybe they visit the famous basilica where the Pope might say mass in nearby Lujan, but never General Rodriguez. For us, our time here turned out to be one of the highlights of our time in Argentina.
After email correspondence with our hosts, we followed directions to meet them at their friend’s store in town. Then Patricia, one of the hosts, picked us up in her car and drove us out of town. We had no idea what to expect since this was our first WWOOFing experience. We continued down the road out of town until we eventually turned onto a gravel road and later onto what can only be described as a mud road. We took this all the way until we reached our new home for the next two weeks: Granja Italó.
When we arrived, Patricia showed us our “casita” (little house) where we would be sleeping, and then we went to meet her husband, Alfredo. Patricia & Alfredo were extremely welcoming and were amazing hosts over the next 14 days teaching us the routine of farm life in Argentina.
During our stay, our days would commence around 7:45am every day and Anna and I would help Alfredo and Patricia with their daily tasks on the farm. At the very beginning of every morning, Alfredo would milk the 5 cows producing milk using the milking machine. He walked us through the process, explaining every step of the way. After the cows were milked, Alfredo would then deliver the unprocessed milk to Patricia who would then proceed to turn it into anything from cheese to yogurt to drinkable milk to dulce de leche. It was amazing to see the handbuilt machines that she used and to learn all biology, chemistry, and physics involved in what I thought would have been a simple process. For us, it was really neat to witness the behind-the-scenes of products typically bought at the grocery store. Eating the freshly produced dairy products later was the best part though!
Besides working with the milk, we also planted 14 trees, weeded the vegetable garden, sowed seeds in the field, fertilized the farm, cut the grass, removed an old cement foundation with a sledgehammer, and built a fence using recycled wood. The two weeks we were there flew by, but it also seemed like we were there for a much longer time because of all the things we accomplished. On top of all the farm work we did, we also improved our Spanish, learned the way of life of one Argentinian farm family, learned to make ñoquis (gnocchi) by hand, and shared many laughs.
I honestly believe that this was the best, first WWOOFing experience we could have had. Our hosts were exceptionally welcoming, patient, and friendly. We learned a lot, accomplished a lot, ate a lot, and made new friends along the way. This amazing experience made our two weeks in lesser known General Rodriguez truly special.