Haven’t you heard?
Traveling without much money is not so scarey.
I’ll start by saying that travel is enjoyed differently by everyone. But there are a few groups of us. I’ll keep this short and describe the two extremes.
On one side you have the ruffians. They carry sardines and hard cheese, with ultralight backpacking methods and over-stuffed ultralight-backpacks, they are true adventure seekers, unafraid of the weather and prepared for the worst.
Then you have the cruise-liners. They prefer a buffet to a bonfire, a handbag to a hatchet, enjoy a fine night in luxury to an evening en el campo, and drinking champagne until sunrise is better to them than waking up con el sol.
Most of us fall somewhere in the middle, perhaps willing to stretch a little in either direction, depending on the circumstances.
I’ll admit, I’m a bit of a ruffian. So when I heard about workaway.info from a travel blog I discovered through stumbleupon (does anyone still use SU?), I was enthralled.
The jist is that you volunteer with someone, the host, and exchange for your help, which is usually 20 or so hours a week of work, you, the workawayer, are provided a free place to stay and often your meals too. Plus, what could be more culturally rich than the people who are living the way life had been traditionally lived for centuries?
We left Madrid on a train and were greeted in Plasencia, Spain by Ana, a wonderful Spanish woman from Madrid who has made her new life as a yoga instructor, cook, and therapeutic masausse in Plasencia.
Her and Alfonso, a jack of many trades, had agreed to keep us.
While Ana’s English is not refined, neither is my Spanish. Kenny has a better grasp of the language and we were able to make it to la finca (the land) without too much “que” and “sorry?” that might have potential to dampen the confidence in two travelers and a Spanish woman.
We began immediately, wasting no time. By nightfall, Kenny, Alfonso and I had put in a wood stove and cut enough fire wood to warm our little room and kitchen. Ana prepared a wonderful dinner that first night, and did a fantastic job of keeping us well fed. Her and Alfonso exceeded expectations when it came to food, always accommodating my picky diet far more than I would ever ask.
Through our week there, we worked on the straw-bale-insulated house they are adding to the existing structure, a 100+ year old stone structure.
It’s exciting to work with these materials, soil, straw, and water, as the building medium. We mixed our magic trio, filled the frame, crafted contoured walls while grunting, laughing and focusing from our heads to our hands. It’s a fine feeling, something I think we all need more of, the fading craft of tangible work.
Alfonso called the day early as we lunched at 6 and enjoyed each others company until dinner at 10. The times are different here. The Siesta is real.
We also spent a day raising wall panels and putting up doors. It’s now a room that will be Alfonso and Ana’s while they continue to build this little ecological community they have planned.
They want to live, work, and breathe the land. They have an approval through a local ecological organization to develop a community on yhr hectares where people of different trades can live and work together. Ana’s will be her therapy work, Alfonso’s, his land and produce, along with his business in town, and whoever else is fortunate enough to join them. While they have a lot of work left before they open their invitation to others, it’s enjoyable work and work they’ve chosen for themselves, something not all of us can say we have.
Our stay with Alfonso and Ana has been nothing short of splendid. I certainly haven’t covered everything. The gates and stone walls we worked on to keep the cows in their place, the walks down to the local lake to cast at carp, the mushrooms we gathered and feasted on, the dos perros, and all the conversation and laughter.
It’s an experience I’d trade nothing for. They set a bar for our workaway experiences to come, and I think I can speak for Kenny when I say we are excited to see how high the rest of the world raises it.
We are headed to Lalita, a place near Hoyos, Spain. The website tells far more than I can. I haven’t been there just yet.
follow me on instaham at whearn0624 and mi amigo Kenny at klnapper