It’s been a quick month so far with so many new experiences, so I’m taking time to revisit what we’ve done so far. In comparison with those going travelling in the far East or Asia, I thought our cultural experience would pale, but we’ve experienced a lot so far, through new scenarios, but also through the people we’ve met. Now, we’re in Madrid where the number one recommended activity is bullfighting and menus without meat are hard to come by. There’s a stark difference in culture. We’ve also been lucky enough to meet people from India, Thailand, Afghanistan as well as the Netherlands, Germany and Spain who have given us cultural lessons from their homelands.
In terms of workaways, we’re 2/6ths of the way through and we’ve had two very different experiences so far, learning a lot each time. Some helpful tips for those considering workaway are: invest in an eye mask and earplugs as no-one we’ve met so far believes in curtains and new sounds take a while to get used to. Furthermore, other people’s ways of living can differ greatly to yours – I’ve always found myself to be quite polite but you can’t please everyone at all times. People warm up though and it’s (usually) worth the wait.
In terms of what we packed, of course I’ve brought things I didn’t need:
- I am carrying far too many books.
- That third pair of leggings – I don’t have the legs for leggings and carrying sports wear still doesn’t encourage me to go running.
- A book I never managed to get through at home – having more time to read doesn’t make a book easier to read.
- My diary – I don’t often know what day it is (or what time for that matter) and I love that. I feel less inclined to write lists of things to do when I don’t have days staring back at me from the page. I do still have my notebook at that has become the book for all writing.
- Make-up. I’m becoming a true hippy and have worn mascara 3 times in the last month and that’s all. Being able to rub my eyes and not worry about black smudges outweighs my desire to have longer looking eyelashes and I’m convinced I’ll get a better sun tan if I’m not wearing make-up on my face. (The results so far are debatable).
And I didn’t bring things I did need:
- Shampoo – in my desire to use less plastic I bought a solid soap/shampoo bar and it makes my hair lank so I invested in shampoo. €3,95 I didn’t budget for.
- A belt – my work trousers are too low slung to be publicly acceptable. Why I didn’t try them on before I came evades me.
- A really intense hand cream – didn’t I say? I’m a gardener now.
- More socks. It’s actually a bit of a faff when your sock collection doesn’t last a week.
I’m learning every day about what my place is in this world and what I’ll do when this dream travel life is over. Outdoors. Physical work. Writing here and there. Reading Feral has made me want to pursue a life of attempting to rewild our oceans before it’s too late – I best get to work.
And now, we’re in Madrid, where everyone oozes confidence and smoking and drinking is de rigeur. That’s a huge difference I’ve seen – in both Germany and Spain (so far) smoking is not only the norm, it’s encouraged through vast advertising boards and cigarette machines in every cafe and bar along with street corners in even the quietest village road. When it’s everywhere, no wonder it’s commonly indulged in.
I feel remarkably out of my depth in Spain after being able to navigate (basic) conversations in German. No one seems eager to speak in English despite our attempts to meet in the middle, in Germany, I found this to be the other way. Though, now we’ve arrived at Workaway three, we are staying with an English family and conversations are wonderful.
In terms of money, I’m pretty impressed with how well we’ve kept on budget. Travelling for five weeks has cost us (all inclusive) €743.84 (approx. £585.76) At first, I thought this seemed like loads but it’s actually less than I’d spend on a regular week-long holiday, so not bad at all.
This £585 has included visiting 3 countries, 4 cities, 4 towns, taking 2 planes, 8 trains, 10 busses, 2 trams, 4 subways, 4 ferries, and riding 2 bikes. I’m €23,48 over budget (approx. £18.49) which is accounted for in my buffer and is really hardly a thing.
In terms of other numbers, I’ve managed 8 yoga practices, 1 run, read 2 books, worn through 1 garment, sent 4 postcards (and written a further 2). We’ve met someone from every continent in the world apart from Africa. I was also counting the coffees we had but it got ridiculous after a few weeks. Same with beers. Woops.
During the trip, I’ve got closer to finding out what I want to do and more about who I am and who Stuart and I are. It’s been excellent. In particular, I can’t recommend workaway enough. After just one month, I’m excited to see what’s ahead, and here’s to the next 3.5!