statistics

The numerical breakdown of my trip. I was going to include expenses, but I’ve been too lazy to bother with it thus far.

2 countries

97 days

13 Nationalities
-Turkey: 1
-Ireland: 17 (this number has been reduced to VIPs)
-Australia: 4
-Canada: 2
-England: 10
-Switzerland: 4
-Italy: 1
-Czech Republic: 2
-Germany: 1
-France: 3
-United States: 3
-South Africa: 1
-Latvia/Russia: 1

30 males, 20 females

3 Wwoof hosts

11 co-Wwoofers

5 CS hosts

7 co-CSers

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chimera

It’s not difficult to see why Ireland is dipped in tales of magic and enveloped in fantastical myth. It is easy to believe there are fairies and the like in the midst of such wondrous surroundings. I’ve found even some of the most commonplace things here are tinged with a bit of enchantment. When the wind is particularly vigorous, the gates let out a sort of musical wail. On greyer mornings, the sound of the rain dripping on a lot of metal barrels adheres to a rhythm so specific it seems it could hardly be anything but intentional. The wind as well, appears to be inhabited by lively spirits. Ed say it has three distinct sort of voices. The days of fog are filled with a heavy, white dreamlike state. The ocean holds a boundless sorrow and serenity capable of gripping any wandering soul. I could hardly think of judging anyone for giving credence to the local lore. Everything does indeed seem magical.

Ireland is for those with imagination.

thoughts on Wwoofing

‘Wwoof’, ‘Wwoofer’, and ‘Wwoofing’ aren’t terms most people are familiar with, but these are words that have bonded themselves irrevocably with my iPod’s autocorrect. ‘Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms’.

I remember my brother mentioning this ‘Wwoof’ program, and it seems unreal now that the term should have so much life to it. It is composed of intricate relationships between hosts and volunteers, of skin scarred by a day’s work, of numerous similar and yet entirely individual caravans, of unimaginably fresh produce transformed into a warm meal, of cultures gently colliding, and so much more. How incredible that I should be introduced that day years ago, to a ‘concept’ of something I now know so intimately.

Basically, Wwoof is an exchange. The host offers food, accommodation, and knowledge about whatever it is they do. The volunteers offer labor, to put it simply. But that is only the surface level. Wwoof is also a cheap way to travel, a way to meet people from all over the world, a way to learn about organic growing and living sustainably, an opportunity to put your language skills to practice (languages that you want to learn or the language you already speak), a way to share life with people from completely different backgrounds.

I could share three months worth of my affinity for Wwoofing, but I’ll spare you. Essentially, it introduced me to some of the most passionate, motivated, kind, simple, and interesting people I have ever encountered. It provided me with three months of doing something I enjoyed every waking moment of every day. It offered a way to live in another country without spending years working and saving money. It certainly taught me skills that I consider useful – not only things such as how to root herbs and what to feed goats when they won’t eat, but also things like taking initiative and learning when to ask for help. Being a part of Wwoof has shaped me in ways for which I am unequivocally grateful. I absolutely plan on Wwoofing again, hopefully repeatedly. It comes with my highest recommendations, and if you are interested in trying it out and would like a companion – let me know! It will likely be ridiculously easy to convince me to join you.

appreciate it appropriately

Things I have come to a new respect for:

1) Lotion. The usefulness of lotion is suddenly extremely apparent.

2) Belts. Are a great invention.

3) Toilets. Flushing toilets are surprisingly luxurious. Especially ones with non-see-through doors and locks.

4) Wool socks. They make all the difference in keeping warm.

5) Dry weather. Rain is in fact not completely joyous in all situations. Such as harvesting. Harvesting in the rain actually kind of sucks.

6) Clean clothing! It’s wonderful having clothing that doesn’t smell like goats. And as a bonus isn’t caked with mud.

7) And dryers!! Dryers are so novel. Who knew how wonderful dryers were? (UPDATE: Actually, this was written at the beginning of the trip. I am now less than enthralled with dryers. Luxury, not necessity.)

8) Nettles. Despite the awfulness of touching them, nettles are freaking delicious. (boil ’em, blend ’em, stick ’em in a stew…)

9) Having long(ish (for me anyways)) hair. Didn’t see that one coming. Ever again. But it’s true, my hair is longer than usual and it is really quite optimal in conjunction with the vivacious Irish wind.

10) Pubs. Irish pubs are absolutely the best things in the world. Everything you could possibly need, can be found inside the warmth of an Irish pub. Phone? Yeah. Internet? Yep. Place to store your luggage while you traipse the city? Check. A not-ridiculously-marked-up cup of tea to go with your internet? absolutely. Friendly people who are willing to help with whatever you happen to ask them? Pretty sure that’s a bingo.

11) Butter. I have never liked butter. Which is weird for a baker-y, chef-y type person. I’ve always preferred margarine, despite it’s completely inexcusable nutritional makeup. Butter just tastes gross. I’ve often wondered how people could ruin a perfectly good slice of bread by asphyxiating it with butter. But. Irish butter. Irish butter is a completely different thing. It is so creamy, and tasty, and…it actually improves a slice of bread!

12) Hitchhiking. Yeah, that way to achieve certain death that you always hear about? Mmm, not so true. That stereotype is specific to individual countries. And even in said countries I wonder how true it actually is. I personally really enjoyed my hitchhiking experiences. The people were lovely, and there is something about having to rely on others that strips you of the belief that you are in control. I refrained from hitchhiking during the latter part of this particular trip to appease my parents, but shhhhh!, I’m pretty sure there will be further hitchhiking ventures in my future.

13) Cell phones. Yes, not having a cell phone was glorious. Oh, what a wonderful feeling that was. But, alas not having a mobile did not only affect me. Admittedly it would have been loads easier/quicker to connect with CS hosts, Wwoof hosts, and other new friends if I had a mobile. Conceded, I’ll ameliorate the issue in the future. Maybe…

14) The sun. It’s true, the sun is actually pleasant in moderation!

You want there to be a fifteenth, don’t you? Too bad! There are fourteen. Deal with it.