The Workaway Experience 

When Matthew and I decided to travel, we knew that we wanted to do volunteer work, and also be able to travel for extended periods of time. In order to do this you either have to have loads of money, or work to earn room & board. 

If you Google “volunteer abroad” you will come up with an overwhelming amount of results, most ranging from $2,500- $5,000 for a time period of 1-4 weeks, depending on the company. We did not want to pay money to volunteer, so we reached out to people we knew and also signed up on a website called Workaway.info. Workaway is a site that has volunteer projects listed from around the world. The jobs are all different and they range from teaching English to building hostels, or tending to sheep in Ireland. Each project lists it’s needs and expectations and also the accommodations that they give in return. Most of the jobs are five days a week for about 5 hours each day, some require less. In return for your work, you are given and bed and at least 1 meal, most provide 2 meals. 

For a person interested in long-term travel this probably seems like a dream, however it can quickly turn into a nightmare if you end up with the wrong host. Here I will list the projects that we chose, and advice on having a better experience than we did. 

Hostel Kokopelli was our first stop in Lima. The job was bar tending for about 30 hours/week. The work was in exchange for board in staff dorms, breakfast, and discounted rates on tours and drinks. For months we spoke to the owner and a few members of staff about securing our spots as volunteers and we also arranged airport pickup. When we arrived we paid the taxi fare, signed the papers for our room and decided to speak to the bar manager the next day. When we went to speak to the manager, he quickly informed us that they had no volunteer availability for at least one month. The next day, they hired a person that came after us, and her boyfriend had to pay nightly. This is a frustrating scenario when you’ve planned and budgeted this as your first long-term stop.  After a night of planning and frantic emailing, we where able to secure a place at another Workaway! 

 

Bravo Surf Camp was our next stop. A small surf hostel in Punta Hermosa Beach, Lima, Peru. This workaway said that they required 5 hours of work each day and in return they provide surf lessons, room and board, and 3 meals each day. This hostel requested help with things like gardening, outdoor projects, help with tourists, Internet help and hostel upkeep. What this hostel doesn’t tell you is that they require 7 days of work each week, it’s all housekeeping work and only one volunteer can leave the house at a time. So if you are volunteering as a pair, you’re basically confined to the house. The owner of the hostel is never around, as he’s surfing all day. They want you to keep the floors clean while they track in water, sand and dirt from the beach. Not to mention, their idea of gardening means picking up dog shit from every stray dog in the town that uses the garden like a toilet. The meals are poorly timed, so you are usually hungry for prolonged periods. As a volunteer you help cook and when food is cooked you’re expected to clean up after everyone. Basically, all work and no play. Needless to say, we returned to Lima 2 days later. We made a choice to try one more project, and if it didn’t work in our favor, we were going home. 

   

Our last stop before leaving South America was Chillhouse Hostel in Cusco, Peru. This hostel is under construction currently, so the work consists of painting, drywall, cleaning and construction-based jobs. The work is not difficult and in exchange for your work you get a bed in the staff dorms and two traditional Peruvian meals (read: soup) each day. Overall the owner Sebastian is nice, the rest of the team is mostly Spanish-speaking, and my advice would be to lock up your valuables (My iPhone went missing). The meals are usually served late. The biggest issue with this place is that it’s located next to a community park where everyone smokes weed, exercises and plays with random stray dogs. The park has a great view of Cusco, but crooked cops hang around the park, looking to rip off tourists for bogus charges. After being accused of selling drugs in the park, we decided to leave Peru for good.  

 

With workaways, it’s difficult to know exactly what you will get until you arrive. My best advice would be to come up with a list of questions, and try to communicate as much as possible. This still will not ensure that you have a great time, but at least it will help you to develop a plan and line up a backup Workaway assignment. While it may not have been the best situation for us, others on the same path loved every minute. My hope is that this helps someone. 

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Miraflores or Ameriflores?

I have to admit that I’m shocked by some of the things I’ve seen here in Lima, Peru today. We walked about 8-10 miles around town checking out the food and scenery. Kryssie and I were both blown away to see so many North American restaurants. We saw Popeyes, Chili’s, Pizza Hut, KFC, Panda Express, Pinkberry, and so many others. Not to mention, almost every store in Larcomar Plaza in Miraflores is something from a North American mall, with double the USD price tag. 

  
On average, we usually eat 3-4 meals before before 1pm and today all we had was a few eggs and a Quest bar, so we were both starving. Keep in mind that marathon we walked. After a few hours of looking for something more authentic and cheap, we got aggravated and decided to come back to our hostel and have a protein shake. BLAH!! As we were buzzing into the Kokopelli where we are staying I glanced at the restaurant specials next door, which had a 4 specials listed in Spanish. I was slightly annoyed and hungry so we decided that was where we should eat to avoid having a liquid meal. 
Once we sat down they tried to take our order in Spanish. I understood Arroz Con Pollo and Alfredo de la Fettuccine. I took the fettuccine Alfredo and she ordered the chicken and rice. Not really knowing what to expect, this was what they brought for the chicken and rice.

   We were both impressed considering it was only s.10, which comes out to about 3 usd!!! Holy cow, how did we not notice a $3 meal so close to where we are staying?!? 

Adventures in Standby! 

Good Morning from Miami, again. We thought we would be posting pictures of Lima sunrise or some delicious Peruvian thing that we are having for breakfast, instead we are headed back to the Miami International Airport. Today will be like something out of Groundhog Day, in the regard that it will be exactly the same as yesterday, minus the anxiety on my part (Matthew is far more calm than I).  

 We started our Journey Thursday by trying  to pick up our rental car that we reserved days prior, just to find out that ACO lists prices for rentals without listing the amount of fees and stipulations that come with renting. Before we knew it our $13/day rental skyrocketed to $48/day! We left and made a new reservation in the ACO parking lot, and headed to Fox, where we were able to pick up an affordable rental car, and because it was crowded we got a free upgrade!

 Between Thursday and Saturday we finished everything up for our move. Saturday we said our farewells, and Sunday morning we returned the rental car and took an Uber to the Megabus station for a bus to Miami. Megabus was its own little adventure, but overall the ride wasn’t bad, and the bathrooms were clean, so no complaints. 

We arrived in Miami late Sunday afternoon, we picked up another rental car and headed to a delicious little Cuban restaurant called Versailles. The food there was delicious and the Cafe Con Leche is one you need to have, also the empanadas with house sauce!

   
After lunch, we headed to a friend’s that offered to host us so that we didn’t have to pay for a hotel. She cooked us SO much food, it was really a great experience! After all of the hustle and bustle we needed food and sleep more than anything. 

Monday morning we packed up everything, double and triple checking to make sure we had everything we needed for Lima, and headed to MIA. We got to the airport early, checked in, had a bite to eat and headed through security check. After being cleared we excitedly rushed to the gate, to wait… And wait. The 12:55 flight started boarding, and we were so excited, until we saw the list of standby passengers, and that we were number 20 & 21 on the list. The first flight was already oversold, the flight had an aircraft swap to a smaller plane, and about 13 of us ended up at the airport waiting for the 5:20pm flight. We spent most of our down time trying to find affordable food, thankfully the airport had a GNC, I missed my protein shakes and Quest bars. Around 4:30pm they started loading for the second flight. Boarding was going smoothly, after everyone was loaded they were rapidly calling standby passengers. They got all the way to the people before us, again, and then the doors of the plane closed. After being there all day, we didn’t make either flight. We were fortunate enough to be hosted by the same friend, and she gave us a key to her house this morning, just in case we are in Miami another night. 

Today we are facing the same reality of an oversold afternoon flight, and the chance of making the evening flight depending on amount of standby passengers and their priority, ours is low since we are not employees.

We are on the Metrorail headed to the Airport, hoping the next post is from Lima! Wish us luck! 
   

 

From Dollars To Soles: 9 Days Left

Nuevo sol 1 USD = 3.17 Sol (7/26/15)


Nuevo Sol – Spanish pronunciation: [ˈnweβo ˈsol] currency sign: S/.)

   
The Nuevo Sol is the currency of Peru. It is subdivided into 100 cents, called céntimos in Spanish. The ISO 4217 currency code is PEN. It is most commonly referred to just as Sol.

The name is a return to that of Peru’s historic currency, as the Sol was in use from the 19th century to 1985. Although the derivation of Sol is the Latin solidus, the word also happens to mean sun in Spanish. There is a continuity therefore with the old Peruvian inti, which was named after Inti, the Sun God of the Incas.
  

José Quiñones Gonzales

  (April 22, 1914 – July 23, 1941) was a Peruvian military aviator and national hero. In a manner similar to how Japanese kamikaze would crash at American ships in the Second World War, he sacrificed his life by deliberately colliding into an Ecuadorian battery during the Battle of Zarumilla in the Ecuadorian–Peruvian war.

  

  Raúl Porras Barrenechea

  

was a Peruvian historian. He was born in Pisco, Peru on March 23, 1897 and died in Lima, Peru on September 27, 1960. He was a teacher at the Anglo-Peruvian School. As a student during the 1950s Mario Vargas Llosa worked with Porras for four and one-half years and learned a great deal from him.[1] Porras ran unsuccessfully for the rectorate of San Marcos University losing to Aurelio Miro Quesada.[2] Later he was elected senator representing Lima, and was selected first vice president of the Senate.[3] After that, during his second presidency of Peru, Manuel Prado Ugarteche appointed Porras foreign minister.[4] Luis Alberto Sanchez wrote the prologue to Porras’s posthumous book on Pizarro which was assembled by a number of Porras’s followers.[5] In 1991 when the nuevo sol [new sol] became the official currency of Peru. He appeared on the 20 S/. banknote

    

Pedro Abraham Valdelomar Pin

  

 (April 27, 1888 – November 3, 1919) was a Peruvian narrator, poet, journalist, essayist and dramatist; he is considered the founder of the avant-garde in Peru, although more for his dandy-like public poses and his founding of the journal Colónida than for his own writing, which is lyrically posmodernista rather than aggressively experimental. Like Charles Baudelaire in 19th century Paris, he claimed to have made his country aware for the first time of the relationship between poetry and the market, and to have recognized the need for the writer to turn himself into a celebrity.

    

Jorge Basadre Grohmann

  

(February 12, 1903 – June 29, 1980) was a Peruvian historian known for his extensive publications about the independent history of his country. He served during two different administrations as Minister of Education and was also director of the Peruvian National Library.

 

Mini Update: 19 Days to Go!

With only 19 days to go, things seems to be moving so rapidly! Every day is filled with some type of preparation for our trip, this week has been all about sales. I posted everything on Facebook yard sale groups, and we have so far successfully sold our bed, the bookshelf, and more clothes.  

 
We also did a trial pack this week to see how we are doing with space in our bags, and so far we have managed to do well with packing and our bags are under the weight, which was a pleasant surprise. 

Both passports are here now, which made us able to arrange our travel accommodations. Also, we are both up to date on shots and all we have to pick up is our prescription for Malaria.  

 
 The house looks a bit crazy, between making sales and packing boxes, there’s a lot going on. Excitement just keeps mounting and I think sleeping on our makeshift bed, and looking at all of the empty carpet space, and blank white walls puts things in perspective. Soon everything we know will be behind us, and we will finally be wanderers of the world! 

  

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