Big Question Marks

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Throwing a Sickie... well, sort of

Though I've been itching to chuck a sickie for ages (that's Aussie for taking a sick day off work when you're actually fine) but today I was unlucky enough to catch the flu bug that's been plaguing the office lately. On a Friday of all days! Eventually I had enough of the room moving around while I was completely stationary at my desk, and went home to get some rest.

That didn't work so well... I had a bit of a nap in but was woken up by (a) thoughtful phone calls (b) a thunderstorm complete with really loud hail and (c) nightmares about Huntsman spiders [btw: thanks everyone for your comments on the last blog... again our hallway friend has made himself scarce, so no need for the spider-killer spray. But here's a great Oz tourism video to watch, thanks to Sean.] So, forget sleep, I made some soup and got on the internet-- and found some interesting things...

Last week I found a great book on travel writing (something I'd love to do more of professionally) and it's gotten me pondering alternative forms of travel. Many of us think immediately of "holiday" when it comes to travel... whether it's a relaxation trip, week on the beach, or a sightseeing trip. Some of us have experienced the "working holiday", a totally different way of getting to know a new place. It's certainly worked for us! One thing that we haven't tried yet is volunteer travel-- which we would do in a second if it weren't for the enormous membership costs of many organizations and/or big time commitments (weeks/months). If anyone knows of any good links, do let us know!

While checking out the travel writing author's website, I was reminded of WWOOFing (short for Willing Workers on Organic Farms), where you get to stay & eat at people's houses/farms for free in exchange for a few hours of work each day. We've looked into ranch experience/farmstays here (to satisfy someone's cowboy urges) and they're all pretty pricey, but perhaps WWOOFing is something we might try to fit into our big Aussie road trip. Anyway, I wouldn't mind frolicking with sheep for a day! After a bit more searching, I found myself on WWOOFing sites for Italy, Hawaii, and Mexico... where I found my most favourite sample listing:

"I am interested in establishing raised beds for an organic vegetable and flower garden. I cannot be there from April until October and would like to find someone with gardening experience who would make a six month commitment to this project. The house is small and brand new, with lovely curves, sleeping alcove in one large room, kitchenette and composting toilet. Rent is normally $330 per month, but I would only ask for $150 and work trade. It is a wooded property, located in a friendly rancho outside of San Miguel Allende in the high desert country. I bought it 8 years ago, and it has taken me this long to pay off the original loans and raise a small but magical house. There is a well with good water. Property is about 1/3 acre. Have access to irrigation water from artesian spring that abutts property. Now I really want to put in a garden, but I have to go home to work for six months. Looking for the person who can love this spot of earth as much as I do. Rainy season will begin around May or June. Now the country is blossoming sweet perfumed yellow mesquite and guisache."

Anyway, enough dreaming for now. My travel writing author likes to suggest eating meals and staying with local families as one of the best ways to really absorb a foreign culture. Now this is something that weirds me out personally (not to mention the awkwardness of having to get out of eating meat dishes politely!) but I was surprised to learn that there are not-for-profit organizations out there (probably heaps of them too) that organize homestays-- such as Servas, and IMEC (where you pay $3-$7 per night to stay with a family in Kathmandu and the money goes directly to the family). Interesting concept, even just to think about.

And on another note... while browsing the Canadian WWOOFing website I found a really good reason to visit the UK in summertime-- check out this website!
Thanks for reading :) Back to bed for me now. - D.