Ecstatic Dance, Microbiotic Eating With Hippies in Middle-Of-Nowhere Belgium

Ecstatic Dance, Microbiotic Eating With Hippies in Middle-Of-Nowhere Belgium

“Help wanted: building an ecological project and humanity with permaculture and children playing in the gardens and trees, giving people a peaceful place for drinking tea, relaxing and community sharing… free energy, communication, natural food and consciousness… We welcome people with a positive mindset, believe in a sustainable world and are motivated to help this project thrive and shine”. “I like nature, peace, tea and thriving and shining.  Vegan meals won’t be a problem for me”, I thought, then promptly connected with and accepted an offer to volunteer at this eco-house in middle-of-nowhere Belgium. Since the host was new on workaway, I had very little idea what to expect- goats, farmland and moderately liberal hippies was my best guess. I arrived at the tiny train station, wondering where Nancy could be hiding on the small platform and hoping she could find me with my backpackers gear since I had no idea what she looked like and my cell phone was buried deep in my pack. Fortunately, she popped out behind a pillar with purple leggings, brilliant blue eyes, youthful but with the weathered skin of a gardener. She steered me to her enormous white van and clanged pots together as she made room for my bag in the backseat. Her very bouncy Sheppard appeared to me looking at me curiously, his half-black, half-white face angled for examination but he was too busy leaping around to really figure me out. Fortunately, “Mitch” liked me enough to share a seat with me on the ride home and Nancy told me that contrary to what his puppy energy suggests, Mitch was actually 30 years old. “He eats all macrobiotic like us, beans and rice and pea soup and vegan dog food with no sugar. He ate a piece of normal toast once and was so sick for 5 days that the vet thought he may die”, she explained solemnly, “I gave him love and miso soup and look at him now!”. Indeed, Mitch was the poster child for a macrobiotic diet, with his shiny fur, mischievous eyes and speedy legs. The ride to her house only took a few minutes, past suburban looking houses and flat farmland. We pulled up to a modern A-frame house with lots of skylights and large windows, whose modernity surprised and relieved me. “At least I wouldn’t be spending the winter in a rural love shack,” I comforted myself. But then I walked in the door and a colorful, semi-abstract painting of a nude, elderly and slightly rotund couple greeted me. As I got the grand tour, I started to learn hippies are far from free either. “We don’t eat sugar and we ask that you don’t bring it in the house. Our last workawayer loved to eat sugar and pasta. He didn’t follow that rule and it didn’t work out,” she clucked disappointingly and appeared to be praying for the salvation of his soul. “We shut the doors, especially the toilet door, to promote the flow of feng shui. We don’t like electricity and wifi waves messes with our brain. It just makes my energy go….”, she buzzed her lips and flapped her hands around frantically. Her tables were covered in crystals, dried, flowers and children’s art. I spotted a toy house in the corner and asked whether she had a kid. “Yes, Iaaz was my golden boy but he died”. She spoke about it so warmly that I wasn’t sure I heard her correctly through her accent until she directed me to a shrine in the corner of the room covered in old photos and a candle. “He died in a swimming pool. In May. I love to talk about it”. I wasn’t sure how to react so I passed along my condolences complimented her on what a beautiful boy he was and how happy he looked in the photographs. All of a sudden, the plastic playset in the background, which stood abandoned except for bunnies hoping around its base, seemed to lurk ominously through the morning mist, kind of a depressing thing to look out at when you wake up for morning breakfast. The thought of staying in his old room seemed even stranger. Macrobiotic Eating “Are you hungry? My partner Bernard will soon be joining us for lunch”. And sure enough, he arrived on cue. A tall, thin man with Beethoven hair and plaid bellbottom pants just a tad bit too short. He evaluated me with piercing blue eyes and didn’t say much throughout the meal except to help Nancy with occasional translations or clarifications. As she dished out assorted vegetable-based dishes, she explained some basics of macrobiotic living....