So we found another volunteer project on the website work away. Its a couple (French and English) who were traveling the world for 3 years and decided to buy a piece of land and settle in Colombia. They called the land Eden. The land is in the Sierra Nevada mountains about an hour from the coast. We’re taking about a beautiful but really basic set up: no electricity, running water from the stream and practically everything outdoors (kitchen, shower, dorms). The land is in a tiny valley with big mountains all around and a deep green colours everywhere. It’s something very different from our day to day lives at home and that’s what we were looking for.
In general we are happy we went, but the polite way to say it was it was challenging.
We cooked all meals together with the owners and other volunteers. That was great, quality fruit and vegetables from the land and a lot of creativity since you don’t have the usual things you’d find at home.
We had loads of free time to read, relax and watch Narcos and in general the place is an amazing spot to disconnect. We had a couple of cheeky dips in the river as well.
The problems came from the extremes. The owners have a 5 year old daughter who is the wildest thing I’ve ever seen. Her mother doesn’t believe in traditional education, or discipline and more or less lets her express her “creativity” (which means do whatever she wants with no consequences). If she wasn’t the centre of attention she would make sure she was. We had a tantrum on average once per meal and it was horrible. Another volunteer and her five year old daughter joined us for the second week. Naively I thought they’d entertain each other, but instead we got two wild kids causing havoc while their parents meditated. If you think I’m exaggerating, well even Julie who normally has dozens of kids hanging out of her couldn’t handle these two.
The next challenge was the wildlife. Our cabin was home to spiders the size of capuchino cups that hung out on my backpack. We were safe behind the mosquito net, but constantly checking everything took some getting used to. Add to that the constant vigilance for snakes (thankfully i only saw one) and a hoarde of massive beetles, flies, mini mosquitoes and cockroaches and you’ll find yourself a bit on edge.
The other thing that I struggled with was the bullshit. It was easily the least organised project I’ve ever seen. More time was spent in conversations about spiritual energy and mini life-coaching sessions than getting planning or working on tasks on the farm. I’m a bullshiter as much as the next person, but the idea was to learn while we were there and honestly with the set up we didn’t mange to get that much out of it.
Finally it rained every afternoon and was humid the whole time. It was almost impossible to wash and dry clothes. Even out cabin left us with mould on our back packs and clothes.
When we left, we didn’t regret the time we spent there, it was definitely something very different, but we were happy to leave.
- On our very first morning, the dog gave birth to 9 puppies!
- I found several ticks on me. Not cool.
- My firelighting skills are off the charts now. Don’t even need fire lighters.
- Attaching a machete to my belt for starting work in the morning is an new routine for me.
- Eating at least one pineapple straight off the plant is also something I wasn’t quite used it.
- I’ll miss the outdoor river water shower.
- We watched a BBC documentary about one of the tribes in the area, the Kogi. It’s called Aluna. Kogi men mix coca leaves with roasted sea sheets for energy. Mad stuff.