To ensure a reply, please make it clear that you have read this profile when sending a request. I am currently arranging volunteers from mid March to June but I will be making plans for summer soon.
La Suerte Vaca ( which approximately means "the cow pasture") is the name of the cortijo near Orgiva which become my home early in 2018. I spent the first of many visits to the Alpujarras around 30 years ago, so after retiring early from a career as a psychologist in London it was great to then come back to Orgiva, a town which has become a focus for many settlers and alternative communities who have moved into this area since that time. Search on Workaway and you will get some idea of the variety of interesting projects and work opportunities around here (granadaspain.co.uk/orgiva-capital-of-la-alpujarra/ ). It is a fairly relaxed and liberal-minded place, as might be expected in a town with a hippy reputation, so visitors should be prepared for that.
Since January 2018, with help from friends living here and from volunteers, we have been building a new garden with outdoor kitchen and plunge pool, restoring the terraces and stone walls and establishing a vegetable area. The small three room cortijo house is set in two hectares of shaded olive and almond trees on the side the Rio Chico valley within walking distance of Orgiva, leading down over seven terraces to a small river where for part of the year it is possible to bathe. The oldest olive trees on the land were probably planted by the Moorish (Islamic) population who settled here for centuries up until the final ‘reconquista’ of Spain by the Christians in the 16th century. The ancient ‘acequia’ watering system still works here, making it possible to grow vegetables and fruit trees as well as olives and almonds.
The views of the valley and the distant mountains are beautiful, and there is an atmosphere of complete peace and tranquility in the natural surroundings, with wild animals also inhabiting the land. Often the only sounds are of the birds and of the acequia flowing nearby. The traditional white villages, which were first established by the Moors throughout the southern slopes of the Sierra Nevada (the area known as “Las Alpujarras”), can be seen on the distant hills, and the charming village of Bayacas where the Andalusian poet Lorca spent time, is just a short walk away.
Orgiva can be reached in 15-20 mins, walking down the river valley, so visitors are able to be very independent without a car here. There are buses from Orgiva to the local mountain villages and to the coast, and to Granada city which can be visited by bus for the day.
Some of the friends who have been getting involved over the first year at the cortijo share my background in therapeutic work, others in establishing art projects, and one is a published novelist. We share an interest in spirituality too, in a very broad sense, and we are vegan and gay friendly. We are also very open to the possibilities for naturist living around the house and garden, and it is planned at later stage to develop the cortijo as a 'not for profit' hostel, suitable for small group retreats and holidays, with further yurt and cabin accommodation available. So Workaway volunteers who already enjoy naturism are welcome, and all visitors should be comfortable with a mixed/clothing optional environment, especially in summer months. (Please confirm this in your request, as many don't seem to read this far). There are currently between 2 and 4 volunteers here most of the time.
I am particularly open to requests from volunteers with skills in gardening, landscaping and bioconstruction, but those simply with enthusiasm for hard work on the various ongoing projects are also needed, and as I am not (at the moment) able to be here full time, I also welcome visitors who would like to act as caretakers in the house and gardens for up to a week when needed. Please note that some of the work tasks here are fairly physically demanding, and in summer it is only really possible to work in the earlier part of the morning, and in the evening. The minimum stay to be helpful is one week, with five working days of five hours (timings can be flexible).
Help with Eco project
Help in the house
This is a fascinating area, both historically and geographically, and the main benefit of a stay here is to get to know the region, and experience living in one of the most beautiful and relatively unspoiled parts of Europe. Those with an interest in gardening and sustainable living will find much of interest, and opportunities to develop skills here too. At a later stage (once the accommodation here has been developed further), it is planned to offer workshops which bring together our backgrounds in art, psychology, spirituality, and tantric bodywork. I also have a small but comprehensive library covering particularly Eastern religions, Tantra, and male sexuality topics. At the moment there is no wifi here (although 4g coverage is good) so it's an opportunity to break free from internet addiction for a while!
Looking for help according to skills and ability on a variety of projects around the land. The focus so far has been on developing a new garden area and maintaining the olive terraces, including restoring irrigation channels and stone walls, but in 2019 it is planned to develop outdoor living spaces and further accommodation, so skilled carpenters and those with building experience would be particularly welcome. The land is spread over seven terraces of olive and almond trees, with rough and sometimes steep tracks in between, so visitors need to be fit and in a good state of physical health.
English, Greek, Spanish
Visitors will have their own bed and possibly own room too, but depending on guests at any time, may be expected to share a twin bedroom with one other volunteer. There are two twin rooms currently available for volunteers. Camping in your own tent would also be possible too. The cottage is reasonably comfortable and has all basic amenities (including shared bathroom and a shower room in one of the bedrooms), although it is quite small and open-plan in the arrangement of rooms, so personal space and privacy are very limited.
Meals and meal preparation are shared usually, with food provided as part of the exchange.
The Alpujarras is a popular area for visitors throughout the year, and there are many interesting sights in the various white mountain villages and possibilities for hiking or outdoor activities, such as horse-riding. Orgiva, the hub town of the area, is about 20 mins walk away. With a car, several great beaches (including three nudist) can be reached in under an hour, and a bus to Granada city takes about 75 mins. Malaga is a 3 hour bus trip from Orgiva, although can be reached by car in about 90 mins.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
More than two
5 hours a day, 5 days a week