With a cancelled season last year and uncertainty still looming we wanted to catch up with our intrepid tour leaders to hear what they have been up to this past year. Here is the first round of updates we received – not surprisingly, the same themes emerge from most – school, travel, appreciation for the little things.
Categories: About ExperiencePlus!
Tour Leader Updatesby Maria Elena Price - Tuesday, April 6, 2021
I have been keeping myself busy recently – backcountry skiing on orange snow! Also drinking some antique wines. Antique wines are not really a thing. I was just hanging out with Stéphane and Sophie last weekend and drinking some old wines. Some of them were almost the same age as the consumers! They were not all still good – but interesting to taste nonetheless.
I am living in the same town as before, giving qi gong classes and also teaching students about environmental education in Montpellier. Throughout the year, I have also been working as a translator online for my tao-qi gong teacher. I’ve spent some time in the mountains, have been working for a friend and making chestnut cream and different products related to chestnut. I also picked up olives to make olive oil last November, now I have oil for my year and now is the time to prune the trees. I have helped some friends cook a pig (making paté, saucisson etc…).
At the moment I am working hard to present a marine environmental educational project to the portuary authority of Ibiza. If it gets approved I will have a grant for this project for 4 years! That’s big!! But because I got itchy thinking of big commitments, I designed the campaign in a way that I can have less work, around 5 months a year, which will allow me to do other things and travel.
I keep busy in the off-season teaching English as a second language in the Grenoble area. As I primarily teach adults and professionals this is something I can do all year round and, although business has slowed down, I get enough work to stay afloat. But as it’s difficult for me to always stay indoors and since as soon as the nice weather arrives I have the urge to hit the road I still took my annual break from the teaching and took the opportunity to try new things: in July, I volunteered to work on the restauration of a 13th Century castle in Auvergne (in the Center of France) where I rebuilt a portion of a collapsed wall. Afterwards I went off to do 2 wine harvest campaigns: one in the Beaujolais and one in St-Emilion (where the Dordogne tour finishes).
I am spending the winter in Val d’Isère. I was actually fortunate enough that they wanted me to do a bit of fire prevention training before the season, so they had me start my contract hoping the season would start at some point. Many were not that lucky. I am now some kind of a fire expert and, good news, a bicycle is not a fire hazard. So for the duration of the contract I was able to stay in the provided accommodation and had all my time to spend skiing. I bought some backcountry gear and have been going around pretty much every day that had nice weather. Unfortunately, the snow wasn’t all that good, but it really got me in an excellent shape.
Recently, I just finished a one month intense bicycle mechanic training, and with other motivated people we launched a participative bicycle workshop in Voiron (near Grenoble). This workshop will be a place where people can come to fix their bike or learn how to do it. We are all volunteers who are passionate about bicycles and wanted to help more people to be autonomous to ride and fix their bikes. Before we find the right space, we will start to offer the workshop at markets or other events with a trailer full of tools. I am excited about developing this project.
I’m busy working towards the end of my Master in Marketing Strategy and Tourism Promotion. I’ve been reading books and studying all about marketing and after more than a year of online lesson and exams I’m also doing internships and various projects. I’m currently doing an internship with the company “Romagna E-Bike”, probably the biggest and more famous company-shop for the sale and rent of ebikes (MTBs mainly). They have a team of crazy pilots that do races for RedBull and cooperate with influencers etc. I’ll be finishing my final project and thesis in the middle of June.
I’m back at university as a Ph.D. candidate. My research project investigates the influences (and cross-pollinations) of “new technologies” (social network, smartphones and other devices…) on the writings about the present and the representations of reality, with a main focus on contemporary Italy and in the context of the cultural production of the so-called Anthropocene. (Avignon Université in joint supervision with Università di Parma). I’m really excited about this project and I’ve already published a couple of articles.