28/01/2015 - 31/12/2020
Hello workaway hosts of the world!
My name is David. I did a little tally, and as of June 2020, I've spent 27,5 months doing various workaway exchanges, spread over 5 years and 14 different hosts. This traveling streak of mine started even earlier, in February 2014, when I went off to work on a luxury cruise ship, but needless to say, workaway has been a big part of my life the last couple of years!
I grew up playing and dreaming in the woods behind our house/80-bed country hostel in a small village in rural Belgium. Although life can get a little complicated at times, I suppose this is where my love for the simple life stems from. I caught the travel bug pretty late in life, on a 6-month long-distance bike trek in 2010/2011 from Belgium to Israel. Increasingly bored and dissatisfied with the 9-to-5 mentality , I accepted aforementioned cruise ship job, and I've been living out of a suitcase/backpack ever since.
I've recently turned 40, and although I admittedly live a relative care-free life, this comes with the maturity and sense of responsibility you'd expect in a grown-up boy my age. You'll find I'm pretty laid-back, intelligent, with a (dark) sense of humor and sarcasm coursing strong through my veins. I don't mind being taught new things by a 16-year old if have be, as I've no problem admitting there's things I don't know and can't do (yet). I do love picking up new knowledge and skills though, and like to think I do so pretty quickly.
I started doing workaway to explore new skills and environments, but lately I feel I'm gravitating increasingly towards permaculture and natural building projects. I hope to really build up my experience and skills in that area in the coming years, and eventually start my own project. That being said, any profile that offers surfing or horses as a side-benefit certainly have a leg up! ;-)
I prefer longer stays (a month and up), and love physical labor. I work best on multi-day or multi-week projects that I can go back to at the start of every day, and that I can tackle with a certain degree of independence. I prefer being part of a larger group of volunteers, and being part of a little community or family, but within that context I don't mind working alone either.
Other (fun) facts about me:
- Expect me to show up barefoot!
- I love making Belgian waffles for my hosts & fellow volunteers at least once.
- I'm drug-, alcohol-, smoke- and even caffeine-free! This has more to do with personal tastes, than with any moral judgments.
Some of the things I've done professionally are:
- working in a restaurant & hotel kitchen: small dishes, home-made ice cream, lots of dishes;
- administrative work in a big construction company;
- pc technician;
- working in a book store and a comic book store;
- working in an organic supermarket;
- providing after-school day care for children up to 12 years old, and holiday activity leader;
- "montage" & "demontage" of luxury glamping tents;
- hosting on a French camping park for a Dutch camping operator;
- taught fitness (specializing in "natural movement"), yoga and a little self-defense, both on land and on sea;
- worked for a handyman/contractor (assisting in tiling, brick laying, renovating a wood-frame house)
Some of the things I've done through workaway or similar schemes:
- renovating a b&b for a kite-surf school (cement work, repointing of an old natural stone wall)
- lots of painting (both in Portugal and the Mojave Desert)
- worked on a bio-dynamic herb farm (weeding, planting 50.000 thyme plants, extending drip irrigation, harvesting)
- mucking stables (both in Portugal and California), horse riding, repairing fences, installing a "hot-walker" ...
- woodland management (both in the USA and Portugal): chainsaw, wire hoist, splitting wood, clearing land, shredding branches, ...
- working in a hostel (reception, cleaning, making beds, preparing breakfast), both in Portugal and Israel
- building a little homeschool (more cement work)
- helping out on a dogsled farm (lots of poop-scooping, mending pull harnesses)
- building a goat-platform
- digging holes in the desert
- assisting in the build of a small, traditional "palapa" (mostly cutting guano leaves and peeling bark of poles)
- hosting an Airbnb + house-sitting
- building a tin roof on a workshop, a pair of outdoor showers, a sheltered outdoor seating and dining area, and a duck house
- helping out a handyman on various projects
- building a small roof tile roof on a guest house
- helping out on a natural swimming pool project
Courses & workshops on permaculture and natural building:
- building an eartbag dome (7 days);
- building a straw bale house (5 days);
- decorative clay plastering (6 days);
- permaculture design course
- roundwood timber framing + 3-week community build of an open sided workshop space
PS: I just did a two week course on Thai massage in the North of Thailand as well!
Obviously, anyone can run their volunteer program as they see fit, but based on my experiences after a combined 24 months of volunteering through workaway, these are my thoughts:
All food has to be included for a 25 hours-a-week program. That doesn't mean I expect my meals to be cooked for me. I'm more than happy to help out, taking turns with fellow volunteers, do my own cooking with ingredients supplied or even work with a stipend. On a side note, I find doing the dishes with the "family" are great little bonding moments.
Respect the working hours you put up on your own profile. If you're systematically stretching those 5 hours or so a day, you need to plan better, renegotiate the arrangement you have with your volunteers, or reconsider if working with volunteers is the best option for your situation all together. I realize that at times a little extra effort might be needed to get everything done, or to get to that deadline. I take my workaway responsibilities just as serious as I would do any other job. I have worked many more hours than agreed upon in the past when I felt appreciated or my hosts' passion for their work/project was just plain infectious. Just don't assume, or take advantage.
Special dietary requirements