Surprise!

Esther and Laurence at Sunset

We recently had two incredible HelpXer’s, Esther and Laurence out at RCV to lend us a helping hand. If you can read French then you can read their original blog post at Spin the Bottle.  Hope you enjoy their blog as much we did!  Thank you Esther and Laurence!  We won’t forget you!!!

It is sometimes (often) hard to put emotions and feelings into words, whether it is about something sad or something wonderful. This is the case for our experience at Robert Clay Vineyards in Mason, Texas. We stayed for two weeks instead of ten days. It is only four more days you’ll say, but we still had a hard time leaving. We cried when it was time for goodbyes. Only the future will tell if we will meet again. Here is their website: http://robertclayvineyards.com. You can also follow them on Facebook!

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We did not know what to expect when we arrived in Mason. We were now in the middle of Texas, and everything seemed much greener than what we had imagined. After driving through the beautiful Far West-looking village, we turned onto a dirt road and drove for what seemed an interminable time in our van (la Grosse) before finally reaching the vineyard. Dan and Jeanie were waiting for us near the RV. They warmly welcomed us and we realized that our house for the stay was an extremely luxurious, clean and well equipped trailer. Dan took us to Mason and we ate at delicious Mi Pueblo. He warned us right then and there that we would be working with Lex for the duration of our stay and that we would fall in love with the young assistant (he was right). That is not all. How could we not fall in love with all the people we met, with the city itself or with the tractors that we drove? We spent hours and hours in the vineyard pruning, cutting, placing, tucking, moving and attaching the vines with Lex, Blake (Dan’s son) and Dan himself (when he tried to flee his computer work). We handled guns, chainsaws, weedeaters and flamethrowers. We drove tractors wearing a gas mask to spray the vines or simply drove them to mow the lawn. We played with Olive the dog and we risked our lives destroying cactus. We killed, skinned, seasoned, grilled and ate a rattlesnake on which we almost stepped. We painted the entrance gate to the vineyard and we hunted rabbit, raccoon and skunk. We drank wine, we cooked and we ate a lot of Mexican food. Mostly, we laughed a lot. We ate popsicles, it was hot and we begged Dan to buy a pool (Blake’s idea). We even participated in a “bootcamp” training class given by Jeanie in the sun at 100 F (synonym of too hot to live).

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Dan and Jeanie were more than generous. They invited us to dinner, introduced us to lots of lovely people including their children Blake and Ashley, Lex’s parents and his brother Colt, as well as many other friends. They made us feel at home. Dan is passionate about viticulture and it was fun to learn tons of things about it. We really wanted to stay longer and maybe help set up the protective nets against birds, or simply to continue working hard and spending well-deserved evenings at the wine bar. Lex and Blake, our coworkers, made our stay incredibly funny. Imagine a 13 year old little man, armed with a flamethrower, driving an all-terrain vehicle and who exclaims at any time that it would be a lot easier to burn all the grapes rather than taking care of them as much. Blake is smart, kind and funny and he puts as much effort into cheating at dominoes than into learning French (a lot). He’s a real guy and he is always wearing his big cowboy boots. Lex is the one that your parents want you to bring to family dinners and with whom they want you to have children. He is charming, interested and interesting. He works like four and he never complains. It was not uncommon for Dan and Lex to work all night. Not to feel too useless, we cooked for them, something they really enjoyed. We had a day off and Lex took us to San Marcos, to Austin and to the Blue Hole in Wimberley. It was a beautiful day and the fresh, cold water really did not hurt. Lex and Blake practiced their French throughout our stay, so they now have a varied vocabulary comprising the following words and expressions: surprise (surprise), peux-tu me donner (can you hand me), attends-moi (wait for me), toutes les portes (all the doors), merci beaucoup (thank you very much), picpic (sticker) and poush-poush (aerosol).

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Esther and Laurence at Sunset

Dan, Jeanie, Ashley, Blake, Lex and everyone else, thank y all so much! Our 14 days in Mason surpassed our expectations. It was an unforgettable experience. The exhausting work days and the incredible moments of laziness were as great as the dinners at the house and the evenings spent at the wine bar. It was heartbreaking to leave, but we will cherish these memories forever.

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