A Dash of Culture for Ecotourists

Workaway, the before edition.

After a quick sign-up and a 29 Euro fee, to be paid annually, I unlocked a gateway to a global resource that can help any hollow pocketed vagabond explore the world in a unique way and fulfilling way. As I open an excessive amount of tabs with potential volunteer opportunities, I can’t help beam with excitement, wondering how the alluring descriptions and pictures that portray such an enlightening and culturally holisitic experience match up with my future reality. Be sure to check back for the post trip edition, after I participate in multiple workaway opportunities around Spain. 

Sometimes it just feels like like a good time to ponder upon taking a break from drinking cheap beers at the hostel bar, break out of your comfort zone and start searching for a ways to experience a dash more culture than free walking tours can provide . Workaway’s easily filtered classifieds full of sustainable and organic family farms, communal ecotourism nature retreats and yoga getaways seem to provide an exellent way to learn about sustainable living and more sustainable ways of traveling that contributes to local communities rather than destroy them and promotes local culture instead of replacing traditions with trendy Westernized fads and empty trends. While many take pride in being off the grid and living within a fully self-sustaining structure, many blend sustainable methods with modern facilities.

The majority of descriptions offer a detailed outline that includes their expectations, lifestyle choices and main objectives. More specifically, those with particular projects will usually describe their larger motivations and some provide possibilities for workawayers to collaborate in a more creative and innovative manner and help contribute to their historical jazz education project, or ecotourist getaway that specializes in vegan diets.

Each host has a rating, however, feedback is lacking for many hosts which could make it a bit of a hit or miss situation and has potential to delegitmize the rating system. Contrarily, after a skype date or two, it’s easy to get a decent feel of what you’re in for. The average reply rate and average reply time is quite handy for setting expectations and planning ahead and the availability display is clear and provides enough options to allow some flexibility. Although, I do wonder how often some hosts update their availability due to perceived discrepancies between actual replies and the reply rates advertised. Also, it would be nice to have some indication as to how many other people have emailed that particular host that week or month.

Much like Willing Workers on Organic Farms (WWOOF) most hosts require a 4 to 5 hour workday, 5 days a week. In return all provide accommodation, of varying degrees between tent and dry toilet to double bed in your own cabin with a hot water shower. The majority usually offer at least breakfast and dinners, many of them with the families you are staying with or others in the community.

All in all, after way too much research and a ton of applying to various hosts, I can’t wait begin my journey and find out what awaits me in Spain.

Stay tuned for updates throughout July and August, and for my post-experience report in September to compare my expectations with reality.

Mr. J

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