Workaway: A trade of… what exactly?


For the life of me I can not seem to actually achieve a sense of working while away with the ironically named, Workaway.


Five months ago my goal in signing up was to learn about sustainable farming while frolicking around South America. Yet what I experienced amongst disappointment was much more profound.


For those who are unaware, Workaway connects travellers with local, small businesses or farms needing help. In exchange for a few hours work the volunteer receives free board.

I’m sunning by the waterhole at my fourth Workaway… clearly not ‘working away’ and lazily contemplating all my Workaway disasters but also the lessons learnt.


For example….

1- You’ve no idea where your sleeping for the night coz your host kicks you out while her boyfriend whisks her away to the Caribbean coast.
‘Living day to day, man!’

2- When you arrive at a yoga ‘village’ only to learn by village they mean, you and three cats.
“Acceptance, cats like stretching anyways!”

3- Your host yells at you for everything you do then kicks your fellow worker out on Christmas Day.
“Practicing self-love.”

And now this Workaway….
I’ve arrived to learn the magical ways of a medicinal farm but the owners have split up and left temporarily so it’s just the volunteers and a stash of Spanish labelled mystery potions.


As I’m hauling a bucket of drinking water up the hill I contemplate why I keep returning to one disaster after another.

Then a painful question slaps me in the face like a branch I forgot to duck under,
‘Is it truly a desire of mine to learn about sustainable farming or is it more important that I avoid being purposeless?’

As I scrub the plates with a fibrous sponge we picked from a tree out back, some of my thoughts begin to loosen.

I’ve always loved travel for the sheer terror of it. The unknowns. I push myself to do things beyond my normal comfort zone. These experiences teach me a lot about what I’m truly capable of. However, as a seasoned traveller perhaps I’m now finding a challenge in the nothingness of it all.

These lazy Workaways have lulled me in with a false sense of purpose only to reveal a harsh state of meaninglessness. I’m often quiet, bored, lazy… states I would never allow myself to fall into back home.

So instead of making trinkets of medicinal potions and bubbling cauldrons of local plants I’ve fallen into a beautiful routine of …. not much.

We wake up by the crow of the rooster and begin our day. We pick fresh papaya and dine in the first light. We work in the garden to grow food and listen to the weather patterns to find what the seedlings need most.

We spend hours cooking and eating lunch. Adjusting the stove with the sun to heat our soups or stoking the fire to boil our tea. During lunch prep, lunch digestion and lunch clean-up we take our time to chat, to laugh, to simply enjoy.

After lunch we often swim in the waterhole, read books or we all sit out back watching miss goosey and the dog hilariously muck about.



And that’s it. Day done.

Sounds so simple and maybe dull yet there’s a richness to it. The joy in moments usually missed by a busy lifestyle back home.

Like each morning feeling my skin sizzle in delight the first time the sun glistens over us.

At the beginning of the week we all hiked for an hour with the food on our backs so now my taste buds still tingle with gratitude each meal.

Working in the garden my heart fills with anticipation watching clouds roll in to water the thirsty gardens.

Instead of being distracted by ‘Liking’ friends posts on Facebook I spend time getting to know the real people around me.

And finally, instead of working or studying to improve my future I’m simply enjoying being who I am now.


This last one was a biggy for me. I’m a doer, a busy bee, a curious bunnie


But one thing that loosens the constant worry off my back or the weight of needing to always do more…

This life is not meant to be improved, just enjoyed.

Thanks for the inspirations Workaway.

By Stacey Williams


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