Tell us more about the Workaway program- how do you get matched with a family/choose a family and contact them about what they want you to do?
Basically, how it works: You sign up and create a profile on workaway.info telling a bit about yourself and maybe what sort of work you’re interested in. You pay for a year/ 2 year subscription, which is about $30 (a great value, because that’s pretty much the cost of one or two nights in a hostel, so it really pays for itself). So once you’ve joined the site and created your profile, hosts can contact you or you can contact them. You can look through the site without a subscription, but you can’t contact anyone unless you’ve signed up. The way this one (our first workaway!) worked was that the mother of the family contacted us to see if we’d like to come. Others, we’ve sent the first message. It all depends on what you’re looking for and what they’re looking for. Some apparently have really intense skype interviews and applications, but we got lucky enough to be offered a great placement with a great family without even asking! So, as far as getting matched with a family: there’s no matchmaker. It’s just who you or the families want to reach out to. Then you can communicate with them over emails/on-site messaging to learn more about the work that they want you to do and the logistics of getting to their house and etc. Because they obviously don’t list the address on the site for security reasons, although most of the hosts’ profiles do include pictures and detailed descriptions of the work required. I’m pretty sure many hosts are more than happy to pick you up from the nearest bus or train station like ours did. They’re super nice!
What sorts of jobs have you all been doing- setting up for/attending an opera concert sounds really cool!
Our first week was mostly spent gardening, i.e. pulling weeds in a really big, really cool walled garden. If you’ve read The Secret Garden, just imagine that. Okay, maybe a little less whimsical, but still very cool. And speaking of “cool,” it’s actually been really nice out, so it wasn’t hot and miserable to be outside among the plants. However, we did run into some adversaries like stinging nettles. They feel like a jellyfish sting, only it kind of lasts several hours. It doesn’t hurt a lot…but it hurts enough. After a bit it just tingles. They’re harmless, really, but they were EVERYWHERE! Waiting to jump out at you when you least expect them!
After a few days of gardening, we finished the walled garden and the greenhouse and hauled the weeds away in a wheelbarrow. Then we cleaned and painted a bathroom and hallway and a few doors, which has taken about a week and a half. It’s looking really nice. Both the garden and the painting have given us a nice sense of accomplishment. It’s great to see the before and after of something you’ve worked really hard on, and since my dad is a painter, I feel extra cool to be like him.
But possibly my favorite job has been cleaning out the river. So there’s a nice little mill river thing that runs alongside the house and flows into a larger river somewhere. But there are tons of weeds and muck in it that must be cleaned out each year…which means that I got to get into knee deep water and mud and get all squishy and dirty and rake out the mud and junk. I feel down on my butt a couple of times, which was hilarious because I was trying so hard to keep my balance despite the mud sucking me in like quicksand. Basically, I enjoy any task where I get to play in water and relive my early days of making mud pies.
Then, of course, my other favorite job was setting up for the opera and serving drinks at the interval. It was an opera and musical theatre concert performed by a lovely singer named Norah King, and all the proceeds went to the local parish church. It was a really nice day (such a blessing between two rainy days!), so the concert was outside on a raised area of the ground with a stone wall along it, which is apparently called a ha-ha! To set up, we took bales of straw and arranged them in rows, colosseum-style. It was funny because when we came back later for the concert, people had started filling in seats from the back, just like in church, as the parson joked.
I'm also incredibly jealous you've been horseback riding over there... Tell me more about the horses!
There are four horses: Kruger, Lily, Charlie, and Cheeky (who’s really only a pony and looks like a majestic baby unicorn). Only she’s NOT a majestic baby unicorn because if she were, I would be able to tame her! Alas, having no horseshoes, she refused to walk on the gravel path, thus running me into every thorn bush and tree along the sides, or into the crops. Not that it wasn’t a fun ride. But Cheeky was, well, cheeky. Also, we had a grand adventure where 3 out of 4 riders ended up falling off our horses!
Lastly, what have you all been taking with you from place to place- luggage wise? Has it been hard to commute, or has it gotten easier?
What have we been taking? EVERYTHING. We packed for a year. EVERYTHING. Giant flippin’ suitcases. EVERYTHING. AWFUL! Luckily, tomorrow we’re going to the post office to mail a suitcase home full of half of my stuff and half of Jill’s. It will be a glorious day when I rid myself of Bilbo Baggins (That’s the name of my suitcase. Get it? BAGgins? Cause it’s a suitcase. And because it reluctantly comes along on adventures). I’ve been fortunate enough to have some courteous human beings help me carry the suitcase up various staircases along the way, but on the whole, it’s been a lot to lug around. I’m thrilled to see it go. Also, Jill’s suitcase, named ‘Taire (after Grantaire, but also because its handle was torn), was broken from the beginning. She got a nice new one, which she christened Thor, because it is worthy. Ah, suitcases…. I predict that travel will be much happier without them.
And is there anything I can bring you from the USA? :)
NO! NO MORE! PLEASE NO MORE STUFF! Hehe, but thanks for offering! No, wait, I lied! Kraft Mac & Cheese! My precious….Oh, and maybe a Snickers and/or a KitKat. They have them here, but we need to compare them, because they somehow taste different from American ones.
(PS: was that enough questions?)
Yes, thank you, Amber! <3
Until next week,