Saturday, January 7, 2012

HelpX en Válor: Success!

I'm back in Madrid after spending the last two weeks on a Help Exchange (HelpX) in Válor, Spain.

The weather was perfect: sunny days in the 60s.  The countryside was gorgeous and quiet.  Although wifi was available, I left my laptop at home and didn't use any of the other helpers' computers.  During the two weeks I read three books, spent every afternoon soaking up the sun, journaled every day, and was able to hear myself think.  It was very relaxing to strip down to the basics.  A simple, fulfilling stress-free life.

Where I sat and read many afternoons

I wasn't sure if there would be other helpxers while I was there or not.  Luckily, there were.  When I arrived on Thursday night, I sat down at a full dinner table of eight.  Five of those were helpxers; I was the sixth.  During my two weeks the number of helpxers got as low as three, and when I left it was at five.  The other helpxers throughout the two weeks included: A girl from Denmark, a guy from Sweden, a young couple from Wales, a girl from Ireland, and a man from England.  Needless to say I was never lonely, and I learned lots of UK English expressions (and occasionally found myself talking in a British accent...)

Taking a walk on Christmas Day with other helpxers

Our hosts have two properties side by side, so the helpers were sleeping in one house, and the two hosts slept in the other.  On a normal work day (M - F), we get a wake-up knock on the door at 7:30am, followed by "Buenos días, son las siete y media!" Us helpers get up out of bed, brush teeth, then head next door to the hosts' house for breakfast.  In the hosts' two-room house there is a kitchen table, the food, and two hot plates for cooking; so all meals are made and eaten in the house where the hosts sleep.

Where the hosts sleep and everyone eats

During breakfast, our hosts would tell each person what they'd be working on that day.  At 8:00 we begin working, then there are two half-hour breaks at 10:00 and 12:00, during which we'd drink coffee/tea and perhaps eat some toast or digestives.  At 2:00 the work day is done and lunch is eaten.  Then helpers had the rest of the day to do as they please, with dinner eaten around 8:00pm.  Some of the work I did during my two weeks includes: painting, picking olives, kitchen duty (the washing up and cooking lunch & dinner), shoveling rocks to move them by the pool, and insulating a roof.  

Scraping the roof to lay the insulation

I'll be writing more detailed posts about my time in Válor soon, but for now know that I'm back safe and sound; it was a wonderful way to spend my winter break.  I know that this will be the first of many helpx experiences.

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