Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Away for the holidays

Tomorrow (Dec. 22) I'm leaving Madrid and will be gone without internet access until January 6.

I'll be taking a bus to Valor, Granada in southern Spain for my first Help Exchange (HelpX) experience. is an online listing of host organic farms, non-organic farms, ranches, lodges, B&Bs, and even sailing boats who invite volunteer helpers to stay with them short-term in exchange for food and accommodation.

"HelpX is provided primarily as a cultural exchange for working holiday makers who would like the opportunity during their travels abroad, to stay with local people and gain practical experience.  In the typical arrangement, the helper works an average of 4 hours per day and receives free accommodation and meals for their efforts."

I knew I definitely wanted to do a Help Exchange this summer when I'm done with my program, so I paid to become a member when I discovered the site a month ago (to be able to contact hosts and read all host info and volunteer reviews of hosts).  There are HelpX hosts all over the world.  The site is divided into these categories: Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Canada, USA, and International.

Christmas break kind of snuck up on me and I hadn't made any plans, so Sunday night I sent off a bunch of messages to different HelpX hosts, to see if anyone had space and was taking volunteers over the holidays.  On Monday I got a positive response from a couple in Valor, Granada; so yesterday I bought some bus tickets and tomorrow I'm off!

Here's what their HelpX profile says:
We own 2 properties in La Alpujarra, Andalucia. A village house which we let during the summer months and a small finca where we are growing organic fruit and veg and a few almonds & olives for our own use. We need help mainly with building at the moment so there is quite a lot of heavy work. 
We ask that people work 5 hours, 5 mornings a week but are willing to be flexible with times/days, if, for example, you want to take a long weekend to go off exploring. Granada & the coast are both easily accessible by bus as is the local town of Ugijar. 
The farm is between the pueblos blancos of Valor & Yegen (30 mins walk along a good track to either) both with shops, bars and restaurants. 
When working at the Finca, you will be accommodated in the "dormitory" casita consisting of large room with beds and bathroom. 
We live on the property with our two very friendly dogs and we will be working alongside you. We cook, eat and socialise together and there is always food available if you fancy a snack between times. 
We have solar power in the main house where you can charge phones and laptops but there is no power in the smaller house, we use solar lamps and candles instead and there is ample hot water for showers. What else do you need electric for when most of your life is lived outside? Trust us - you won't miss it!! 
We have solar power in the main house where you can charge phones and laptops but

We do have good internet access for checking emails, making travel arrangements etc and also have lots of books and games available.
We don't require any experience, simply enthusiasm and a smile but do ask that you are over 20! 
Feel free to drop us an email or give us a call if you have any questions.
Hope to welcome you soon!
And here's the website for their properties.

I'm looking forward to the change of scenery, disconnecting, and enjoying the countryside.  I'm excited to be busy working on whatever I end up doing, and hope to learn a thing or two.

I've scheduled a couple posts to publish while I'm away, since I'll be without internet.

Hope everyone has happy holidays and a happy new year.  See you in 2012!

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