Friday, January 13, 2012

HelpX en Válor: Christmas Celebrations

At my HelpX gig in Válor I worked for one day on Friday the 23rd, and then it was time for a weekend of Christmas celebrations!

On Saturday morning I decorated the Christmas tree with the decorations available:

Christmas tree
Then everyone helped to prepare food for the following day so that no one would need to cook on Christmas, just pop things in the oven.

Chopping vegetables

Making sugar cookies

Down at Tog's house there's a projector and screen in the living room, so we watched "Black Swan" in there on Christmas Eve.

On Christmas Day us HelpXers slept in, then one by one we made our way down the hill to Tog's house.

Christmas breakfast with my fellow HelpXers

My HelpX hosts had told me the night I arrived to start thinking of a game we could play on Christmas.  I had a couple ideas in mind, games that we've played after ultimate frisbee games here in Spain.

It was known that Terry (one of the hosts) wanted to somehow make people jump into a pool during his game, since the water was still too chilly for a swim.  When we saw Tog's pool after breakfast, we noticed balloons in the pool that weren't previously there.  So Terry explained his game: Each balloon had someone's name written on it.  Attached to each balloon was a string, with a rock tied to the bottom.  On the rock was a symbol.  Under the Christmas tree were presents, each containing a symbol drawn on the wrapping paper.  Thus, in order to open a present you had to jump in the pool, retrieve your balloon, then match your rock's symbol to the corresponding present under the tree.

I stared at the pool for a minute thinking there was no way I'd jump in.  I didn't have a towel down at Tog's house, and hadn't even brought a swim suit with me to Válor.

The fact that we were unprepared for swimming didn't stop Ginny.  She was the first to bravely jump in.  Others followed, each with their own style of entering the pool:

After two or three people had gotten their balloons and there was a towel nearby, I decided what the heck, here I go!  I got in the pool wearing what I had on underneath my clothing, and quickly retrieved my balloon.  The water was cold, but it was bearable.  I wrapped myself up in a towel right away once I got out.

Someone jumped in right after me, so I was taking pictures with my camera and watching.  Out of nowhere, someone grabbed my balloon and threw the rock back in the pool!  I hadn't looked at the symbol yet, and the others seemed to have noticed.  Mostly dry and somewhat warm, I jumped back in the pool to get my balloon again.  This time I looked at the symbol right away.

The symbol on my balloon's rock

My corresponding present
Our hosts had bought these little gifts for all the HelpXers from a chino shop, so I wasn't expecting much, but I was pleasantly surprised when I opened up my gift.  It was a cute little phone case that perfectly fits my Spanish cell phone.  This phone case will always remind me of that Christmas in Válor, and how I jumped into a cold pool twice for it. 

A phone case

After playing the first "game," I went on a walk with the other HelpXers.  From where we went, you could see where Terry and Ginny's properties reside from a distance, just up the hill from Tog's:

When we got back from our adventure through the hills, we all ate a starter course of prawns.  Next came Ginny's game: a wheelbarrow race -- with real wheelbarrows.  People formed teams of two; one person pushed and the other sat in the wheelbarrow.  After pushing the wheelbarrow over the starting line, there was a ramp maybe 12 yards away that you had to push the wheelbarrow over, and then there was a turn-around point you went around and then headed back.

Wheelbarrow races
My partner was the guy from Sweden.  At first he was in the wheelbarrow and I was going to have to push!  Someone else asked if that's how we really wanted to do it, so then we played rock paper scissors and I won the spot inside the wheelbarrow.  He ended up being a super-fast pusher and we won the first race!

Later there was a race between the two winners and the two losers.  We won that race too (he pushed again), so we won a prize!  Around five  o'clock that afternoon we ate lunch: all of the food we had prepared yesterday, plus a turkey.

When the sun went down we went inside Tog's, ate some cake, and then played more games for the rest of the night.  They were all entertaining, new to me, and required only a few simple household objects.  I'll write a post describing all of the games soon, that way your next party will be a hit!  I'll definitely be pulling out these games at future events (Watch out family, these may reappear Christmas 2012...)

It was a great weekend, and I'll always remember that year I spent Christmas in Válor.


  1. Awesome! Sounds fun--the Thering family Christmas could definitely benefit from some of those games, I'm looking forward to it. :)

  2. Good to see Terry and Ginny are still kickin!
    Great times were had there in 2009.