My sister and brother-in-law volunteered to cover for me at work while I took a 4 month sabbatical to climb Tanzania’s Mt. Kilimanjaro and following that, a 5 day safari with my daughter to the Serengeti.
My daughter flew back home and I continued on to Porto, Portugal where I stayed for 3 days to unwind and mail my heavy climbing gear back home. I then took a train to Nelas, a small town in central Portugal to work on a vineyard – I was going to become a Workaway.
I discovered the Workaway website from travel blogs and thought it would be a great way to learn about another country - the people and their language, food, culture, economy and history without spending a great deal of money. After posting a profile of myself, I sent requests to a number of hosts and I chose a vineyard in Portugal. Workaway hosts are found in most countries throughout the world and I picked one in Europe as I was eventually going to tour Italy in my fourth month with a friend.
I couldn’t have picked a better host for my first Workaway site as I was provided with my own bedroom within a separate guesthouse. My 4 fellow Workaways and I were served a hearty breakfast at 8:00 am, started work in the fields at 9:00, coffee at 11:00, lunch at 1:00 pm and then the rest of the day to ourselves. We worked from Monday to Friday with the weekends free to do whatever such as travelling into the local town to shop or visit a pub; I also took a break half way through my 6 week stint and visited Porto again for 3 days.
Working on the farm had me pruning and raking the vines, building a large garden, constructing garden fences and tending sheep. All of the Workaways were encouraged to cook at least one meal and we enjoyed eating specialties from our individual countries. The most hazardous part of the job was keeping clear of those nasty geese – I was more leery of them then the lions on the Serengeti.
I found my second Workaway site at a retreat in Salema which is on the southern tip of Portugal. The owner rents her large home to yoga and art class groups and as it was being renovated, I spent 4 weeks painting, cleaning and undertook minor plumbing and electrical repairs. My free time was spent cycling and hiking in the surrounding mountains and relaxing on the beaches.
Most Workaway sites provide free room and board in exchange for working on their site. Owners will require help for a multiple of reasons such as helping with renovations, shopping, caring for children, ESL lessons and cooking for the household. The ages of Workaways are from early 20’s to singles and couples in their retirement years.
So if you have a young adult who doesn’t know what to do with his or her life besides eating you out of house and home, present the websites below to your son or daughter. He or she will thank you upon their return after living with people in another country and working beside other Workaways from around the world.
There are a number of websites that can help one find a temporary job in another part of the world including:
Anywork Anywhere: http://www.anyworkanywhere.com
HelpX: http://www.helpx.net/ .netWWOOF: http://www.wwoof.net/
This post originally appeared in the Vancouver Sun, July 19, 2014 © Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun