Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The End

Thank you Europe. Thank you for the wonderful experience, for all the awesome people I met, for the beautiful scenery, for the opportunity to learn new things, and for the chance to discover more about me. I had an amazing journey.

I had planned to write a big finale, a dramatic ending to this blog, but I have changed my mind. This isn't a finale, this isn't the end. This is really the beginning. I have trips to plan and people to look forward to visiting in the future. This isn't goodbye, it's see you later.


After three plane rides, a two hour plane delay in Charlotte, and 13 hours total traveling time, I made it home. I was tired, I was jet-lagged, I was cranky, but I was happy as hell to be home. I walked out of the airport into the warm breezy night, into the welcome embrace of my good friend and I knew I had done the right thing in coming home. Even though I had been awake for 24 hours I stayed up showing pictures and telling stories to my friend. I finally made it to bed where I slept only a short time before I was awake again and on my way to my hometown to see my family. I gave hugs and kisses and was very happy to be in their presence.

Today is the start of trying to figure out what to do now. I need to figure out where to live and I need to find a job. I am excited about this. I am excited to see what my next adventure will be.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Goodbye Scotland, Goodbye Europe

I boarded the plane in Glasgow and flew over the ocean blue. I waved goodbye to Scotland and blew a kiss to Europe. I'm currently sitting in the Philadelphia airport waiting for my connecting flight home. I am so excited to get home and to see family and friends. I miss Europe already but I feel good about being back in the states. I'm actually feeling a lot of things right now. I'm kind of overwhelmed. I want to write about it but I don't know how to form the words right now. Maybe I should shake off this jet-lag and culture shock. I do want to say that I am feeling so thankful and happy. What a wonderful experience.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Before and After

The first picture was taken my first day in Fettercairn. The second picture was taken my last day in Fettercairn. I tried to implement as many permaculture principles and techniques as possible in this garden. The man who I was working for had not heard of permaculture and was reluctant to some suggestions but overall was open to letting me do my thing. I created raised beds, companion planted, sheet mulched around the berries, and mulched with seaweed.

Raised beds are beneficial because they allow extra water to drain out faster and the soil will become warmer quicker. The extra depth of the soil in a raised bed is beneficial for your plants. The plant roots have extra room to grow and are more likely to produce large plants than if they were in a crowded, shallow space.

Companion planting is beneficial because by planting certain plants together they can ward off harmful pests or attract beneficial insects. For example plant carrots and leaks together- carrots repel onion fly and onion moths, leaks repel carrot fly. Cool, huh?

Sheet mulching layers cardboard or newspaper, compost, and vegetative matter right on top of lawns or weedy areas. Over the course of a few months the mulch and the underlying sod and weeds decompose. Sheet mulching increases the population of beneficial soil microbes and worms, improves soil's capacity to retain nutrients and water, and reduces weeds.

A mulch of seaweed helps to control weeds as well as supply valuable nutrients to the plants.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Picnic in the rain

I had a picnic in the rain on the beach today. Okay, I am exaggerating, it wasn't raining. But it was sprinkling. Three of us went to the beach, which is a 15 minute drive from the house, to gather seaweed to use as a fertilizer in the garden. We arrived at St. Cyrus beach and the day was beautiful. The sun was shining and the breeze mild. We had loaded up the trailer with seaweed we had gathered and were settling on the beach to enjoy a picnic lunch when the wind started to blow, the temperature dropped drastically, and big black storm clouds moved in and blocked out the sun. We were already chowing down on cheese sandwiches and soup when the first drops of rain started falling. It sprinkled for a bit and stopped. We saw the storm was blowing north and patches of blue were popping out from between the clouds so we figured we were fine, that the storm had passed us. I turned around and saw that, nope, we were not fine. There were more massive black clouds blowing in from the south. We quickly packed up our lunch and high-tailed it back to the car. We were almost to the parking lot when the rain started pouring and hail started falling. It was a cold rain. It was 40 degrees fahrenheit! Just in time to get in the car and drive home to take a warm bath.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Feeling lucky

I jump up and down. I yell and shout. I love Europe. I love home. I love my family. I love my friends. I love me. I love you. I feel like the luckiest person alive! I love it all!

Home. Running through tall prairie grass. Munching on wild weeds. Jumping in cool, country lakes. Racing bikes down city streets. Cooking up delicious meals. Gardening. Hanging out with family. Tickling my nephews to hear them squeal with laughter. Making music. Sitting on front porches watching the sunset. Walking through thunderstorms. Thunderstorms! Loving. Being loved. Home.

Europe. Laughing at language barriers. Riding trains. Flying in planes. Singing in the garden. Dancing with friends. Walking in strange cities. Smiling at accents. Drinking dirt cheap coffee in small cafes. Bathing in waterfalls. Eating lots of great food. Getting burned on wood stoves. Being a garden extraordinaire. Becoming strong. Loving. Being loved. Europe.

Europe. Home. Home is. Europe. Home. Europe is. Home. Home is. Home.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Do you say Missouri or Missourah?

I bought my plane ticket home today. No, your eyes did not deceive you, you read that right, I bought my plane ticket home today! After a few very confused days I decided it was time to come home. After looking at my diminishing bank account, I figured it would be very stupid to continue on, especially with the rising prices of summer right around the corner. I was trying to decide what the wisest choice would be. Do I carry on to Spain and try to be a resourceful as possible or do I not come home broke? I decided to stay in Europe, the next day I decided to go home. In one day I changed my mind a few times. Back and forth. I felt like I was going insane. I would love to keep traveling, believe me, but I had to call a spade a spade and realize that it's just not financially possible right now.

Not heartbroken about it. I actually feel really happy. I've had an amazing four months. I've met so many amazing people that I plan to keep in touch with and to visit again in the future. That's the idea, come home, work my butt off, makes lots of money, and come back to Europe to garden again. That's an idea anyways. That or start my own garden project.

I am so super duper excited to see family and friends. I have to thank my nephew for my final decision. In my struggle for clarity I was talking to the little guy and he asked me, "Joni, when are you coming home?" To which I replied, "when do you want me to come home?" In his sweet little voice he said, "now". Yep, that was it. That was all it took for me to immediately start packing my bag for my return home.

Awe home. I love the sound of that!

The River Esk

A four mile bike ride from the house is a hiking path that follows the river Esk. Yesterday, I found a bike that fit me and I decided to spend the day exploring the river. It was a gorgeous day! The sun was warm, the air cool, a gentle breeze. It was perfect! I walked for two hours along the path and enjoyed the sound of rushing water going over boulders and down rocks which flowed to become calm and steady.
I sat and watched salmon jumping up stream, which brought tears to my eyes. How lucky to have seen such a thing. In ten minutes of watching I counted 15 salmon. Is this a normal salmon run? Is this enough? I hear stories of not being able to see the bottom of the river because of so many fish. I could see the bottom of the river with no problem. The salmon are dying. Dams, global warming, loss of freshwater habitat, these are all factors to the demise of salmon. Want to know more, read Derrick Jensen. Actually, just read Derrick Jensen in general because he is brilliant. But back to the salmon. I did see some and I yelled out encouragement to them as they threw their bodies against the raging falling water. What an inspiration. If only I had their perseverance and ambition to throw myself against the raging destruction of society on a daily basis. I try to but too often I feel weak and overwhelmed. Me, the salmon, we must continue the fight to live in a poisonous world where civilized people torment plants and animals. We have to. How else are we going to survive?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

I went to Balmoral and all I got were these biscuits

I wanted to see Balmoral, the holiday cottage of the royal family, which is about an hour and half north of Fettercairn. Friday night I sat down and put together a train and bus schedule for the following morning. I worked out what trains and what buses I needed to catch and at what times. Everything was figured out perfectly. I woke up bright and early Saturday morning to catch the 8:00 train. This train was going to get me in to the city of Aberdeen with enough time to spare to catch the bus to Balmoral. I got to the train station and the train had been canceled. WHAT!?! I was really pissed off for a minute but calmed down and tried to figure out an alternative plan. I walked into town and saw a bus sign saying that there was a bus going into Aberdeen at 8:30. I decided to catch the bus with hopes that it would get into Abderdeen in time for me to catch the Balmoral bus. Nope, I missed it by ten minutes! I aimlessly walked through the bus terminal trying to figure out what the hell to do now. There was another bus to Balmoral but I would only have 30 minutes there before I had to catch the last bus to Aberdeen. I laughed at this idea. It would be a waste to pay 15 pounds for a bus journey and only have 30 minutes to explore. I scoffed at this idea and walked around some more aimlessly trying to decide what to do. While I was being aimless, the Balmoral bus arrived at the station and people started boarding. I couldn't accept defeat so I dug the 15 pounds out of my pocket and boarded the bus.

It was a two hour ride to Balmoral through the highlands, which was stunningly beautiful. I unfortunately didn't get any photos due to the shaky bus and dirty windows. I got off at Balmoral and saw that I only had 3o minutes to see Balmoral. I high-tailed it up to the grounds with the hopes of snapping some pictures. I got to the gate and saw that there was a 8 pound charge to even enter the grounds. What the hell? I entered the queue and glanced at my watch again. There was no way I was going to get in and have time to see anything. I cussed under my breath and figured I didn't have the time or the money to see Balmoral. I went to the gift shop to use the loo, get something to drink, and splurge on ice-cream. I talked to the friendly gift shop worker who convinced me to buy some authentic Scottish biscuits.

I caught the bus back and enjoyed the two hour scenic drive back to Aberdeen holding my bag of biscuits and bottle of coca-cola. This was all I could show of Balmoral...oh and the one picture I took of the River Dee. Once returning to Aberdeen, I caught my scheduled train back to Fettercairn.

At first I was really perturbed about how things worked out. I spent a lot of money and time on buses. Today, thinking about all that happened yesterday, I am glad I did it. It was nice to see more of the Scottish countryside. Sure I didn't get to see Balmoral but I definitely had an adventure.

Seeking Help

I love traveling and am so grateful that I am here doing this. I have been traveling for 4 months and have learned tons, have met lots of great people, and have been discovering me. I am learning that I love gardening. I love doing permaculture. I love making a positive contribution to the earth and community.

I started my permaculture/gardening education back in 2006 in rebellion to a failed relationship. Some context. I was living in Atlanta, GA working at a massage therapy school. My ex was a teacher there and while still dating, he helped me get a job there. I liked working at the school, but massage therapy was his passion, and not necessarily mine. I was yearning to find my own passion to dedicate my life to. Our relationship ended, we were still working together, and I was majorly unhappy. During this time I had a happy accident and discovered permaculture. My interest was budding and I couldn't get the idea out of my mind. I finally decided to move on from Atlanta and I went to California and received my permaculture design certificate. During this time I also heard about herbalism which also struck my interest.

After finishing a two month garden internship at the school I received my certificate I moved to Kansas City to pursue an herbal education. I was learning to live on my own, struggling to keep my feet on the ground, and losing site of my new found passions. After several unfortunate incidents I forgot about going to herbalism school and gardening. A year went by before I got focused again and signed up for herbalism school. I was happy in school, I found a gig helping facilitate a course on permaculture design, I got involved in an environmental group, helped build community gardens, and lived in a co-housing project. Things were good. Last summer I started traveling as a garden volunteer and found myself in Michigan and North Carolina and greatly enjoyed my experiences, which led me to be here in Europe.

I have been thinking about what I want in life. Where do I want to take my knowledge and experience? I see myself building a project inspired by the projects I have been helping. I would love to build community gardens to teach youth and community about gardening, health awareness, and being more self-sufficient. I would love to have my own space to create this. The problem is I don't have any money. I don't have any land.

I would like to return to the states in the next few months. I will need to find a job to make money and I would love if I could find a paying job doing what I want. Even if I have to get a regular job I don't want to lose sight of my passions of gardening and herbalism.

So, the point of this is to seek advice, help, inspiration. Does anybody know of any paid sustainable garden jobs in the states? Does anybody have land that could be lent to building community gardens? Anybody feel inspired to help start a garden project to help empower community?

Any ideas are appreciated. Thanks!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Passionate about passion

I stumbled upon a guy I dated seven years ago on facebook, and we exchanged brief messages to catch up. I was happy to learn that he is pursuing a passion of his that I remembered him talking about when we were dating. It's good to see that after seven years he is still following his heart and going after his dreams. Could he say the same for me?

Wait, what was I even passionate about seven years ago? I had never gardened or had any idea to. I didn't know what herbalism was and would have scoffed at the idea of making medicine from plants. Seven years ago I was working the national park circuit working and partying. Partying and working. All I wanted to do was travel around the world. I wanted to be an adventurer.

So yeah, maybe he could say the same for me. I was passionate about traveling and still am. Cool. Ok, this makes me feel chipper. It's nice to say I am still pursuing a passion. I don't have to say that I am sitting in some cubical, staring out the office window with glazed over eyes, not seeing what is front of me but stuck in some paradise in my mind. Ewe, what a waste of time.

Listen up! This is to all of you sitting in some deadbeat job, loveless relationship, uninspiring, boring, tiring life, STOP! Calmly stand up, slowly walk out the door, and never turn back. This is your first moment of freedom. Let me say this again, THIS IS YOUR FIRST MOMENT OF FREEDOM!!!! Run down the sidewalks while laughing hysterically, shout from the rooftops, abandon your cars, have a dance party in the middle of the intersection, scream and yell with glee. There are no more excuses, no more avoidance's. This is it. Life! Live your life. The life you really want, the life you always dream about. The dreams you have when you are working a job you hate, during sleepless nights in a loveless bed, during all those mediocre moments that tick tock away.

What are you going to do? Where are going to go?

Good luck!

Monday, May 10, 2010

I Miss You

Sometimes I get nostalgic and sentimental and think about family and friends and feel like jumping on a plane to fly home on the next flight. It's usually a fleeting emotion that I don't ever seriously consider. As much as I love and miss my family and friends I am nowhere ready to come home, and I will keep traveling. I just wish I could see everyone while I am here in Europe. I would grab everyone up and jam them into my pockets and take with me wherever I go, and in a way, I am. I have memories, I tell stories, and I have many thoughts of you all. A friendly email, a nice comment on facebook, a pleasant conversation on skype. These keep me satisfied. Thank you!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Stonehaven and ruined castles

Yesterday I was feeling grumpy about money and choose to spend most of the day inside the house. What a waste of time. I didn't come all the way to Scotland to sit in a house putzing around on the computer. In the scheme of things, how much is 10 pounds really? This is how much it cost me to hop on the train to the next station on the line, Stonehaven.

Wowzers, isn't Stonehaven beautiful? I walked from the train station to city center, the beach, the harbor, and along the sea cliffs to Dunnottar Castle. Dunnottar castle dates back to the 14th century. During the 12th century, before the castle was constructed, the site was a catholic settlement with stone chapels, and it is said that William Wallace set fire to a chapel here with a garrison of English soldiers taking refuge inside. Wow! What an experience to walk through the castle. It was absolutely stunning. We don't have this back in the States, do we?
After touring the castle I sat on the lush green cliffs to enjoy a thermos of tea and watched rain couds blow in from the sea. The wind was cold but refreshing. My god, is this real? Am I really doing this? As I sat and pondered this, I felt a settle happiness.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Money sucks

I could drone on about how much money sucks, which I think a lot of us could agree with, but I don't feel like it. I just want to comment on the fact that my money is slowly dwindling away and every penny I spend is one less penny I can spend in the future. Once the pennies are gone, I have to return to the states. This is the one bummer about being a volunteer.

The money thing was putting a damper on my day today. I have the weekend off and I could hop on a train and travel all over the country to fully experience Scotland, but when I saw the ticket prices, I winced and decided to hang out in the village instead. I just hope I don't end up short-changing my experience here in Europe because I am concerned about spending money.

What to do? What to do?

Friday, May 7, 2010

American to British

I've been around quite a few Brits since I've come to Europe. I've lived with them in Czech Republic, Portugal, and of course, now in Scotland. There are many differences between American English and British English. I have posted some that I have come across in the past few weeks. Mind you, I am just posting word differences. I could go on with different expressions and such, but I'll let this appease you for now.

Underware/ pants
Pants/ trousers
Thrift store/ charity shop
Dumpster diving/ skipping
Cookie/ Biscuit
Drug store/ chemist's
French Fries/ chips
Wheat/ corn
Thread/ cotton
Trash/ rubbish
Yard/ garden
Sweater/ jumper
Freeway/ motorway
Diaper/ nappy
Gasoline/ petrol
Bar/ pub
Line/ queue
Flashlight/ torch
Trunk (of car)/ boot
Zucchini/ courgette
Eggplant/ aubergine
Bathroom/ loo

Wrong size bike

I wished I had my bike today. My beautiful golden trek. I'm in Scotland and it's collecting cobwebs in my twins basement in Missouri. Oh well. Since I don't have my trusty 'ol bike, I made due with one that they have here. There are three bikes for volunteers. One was being used, one had busted tires, and the other was a bit big for me. I stroked my chin and wondered what to do. I looked out the window at the beautiful sun that was shining, which I haven't seen in a week, and I decided I would throw caution to the wind and ride the bike that was too big. It was actually quite dangerous to be roaming around the country roads on a bike where I couldn't sit on the seat and peddle at the same time, but I went slow and steady. I wouldn't say it was exactly fun to ride this bike, but it was surreal to feel the wind on my face as I coasted down the flat country road in Scotland. I mean, I'm in Scotland! Riding a bike. I passed horses, looked at the beautiful scenery, and enjoyed the cool sunny day.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Spain baby

Well, it's official, I am going to Spain to volunteer. I found a gig on workaway that seems promising and am planning on going the first of June. Keep on, keep on, moving on.

So forget the poll. Or hell, keep it going. I still have money left. I still have places to go, places to see. This is the life, I won't deny it. Wahoo!

Can one really eat too much gooseberry crumble?

The farm in Portugal ate a raw food diet. When I started eating raw I was told that my body would have major side effects. I was warned that it could be painful or uncomfortable because the body would be detoxing all the poisons from my body. I eased into eating raw with no problems. I actually felt more vibrant and awake. Since arriving in Scotland, I have gone back to eating cooked food, and I can tell you that my body is having major side effects that are kind of painful and uncomfortable. My stomach won't stop rumbling and I won't even get into how much time I've spent in the bathroom. Oh, how I need more fresh, crisp, alive, good veggies and fruit to eat. I'm even eating a relatively healthy vegetarian diet here. Well, healthy besides all the leftover cakes brought back from the cafe that the house owns.

Which is a good segue into explaining my current living situation. I am volunteering for a community house that owns a cafe (the only cafe) in Fettercairn, a plot of land in the village where there is a garden, and just outside of town about 9 acres of woodland. So the idea is that the garden will provide healthy, organic food for the cafe and the space in the woods will be a nice area to spend some time. The garden is getting established, the cafe has been open for a month, and paths are being cleared in the woods. It's tranquil, it's peaceful, it's a nice project to help for a month.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

My hands

I look down at my fingernails that are now constantly caked in soil, no matter how much I wash or how hard I scrub, and I smile. I look down at the palms of my hands and I count the many calluses that have formed from spade, shovel, and pitchfork handles. I turn over my hand and look at the many scars that have appeared from brambles, hot stoves, and accidents. These are the hands of a gardener. These are my hands.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Where next?

I'm planning on being in Scotland until the end of May and I don't have my next volunteer gig lined up yet. Depending on what volunteer opportunities are available, I could go anywhere in Europe. There are so many options I am beside myself. I would go to every country if I could.

I was sitting here thinking of where I should go and I thought it would be fun to take a poll. Where would you go? Yeah that's right, I'm asking you, where would you go? Email me, reply to this post, facebook me, whatever. Give me some ideas. Get specific. Let's see what we can come up with. Winner gets to come visit me! (on your expenses of course)

Monday, May 3, 2010


I am currently living in a nice little village called Fettercairn. It's very tiny and I could walk the whole village in 15 minutes. The village is surrounded by daffodil fields which makes it seem like a fairy tale. It's gorgeous. There isn't much in the village but there is a malt whisky distillery (photo 2) which I walked past. The air smelled strong of whisky and I felt a little light headed from the fumes. It was from that or it was from a change in diet and elevation, I can't be sure which.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

In Scotland

I am in Scotland. After two plane delays, painful navigation through London Heathrow airport, and grueling customs lines I finally made it to Aberdeen from Lisbon. I was a bit nervous going through customs but I got through like a breeze. Passport stamped and I was on my way!

Once in Aberdeen I left the airport and went to the train station where I caught a train to Laurencekirk, the nearest station to the village of Fettercairn, where I am staying. The train ride was beautiful. Most of the ride went along the hills that spill into the sea. The sky was dark and stormy with patches of sunlight popping through which caused multiple rainbows. The hills were a rich green with blotches of yellow daffodil fields. Oh, Scotland is beautiful but I will have to get used to the cold and rain again after being in Portugal.

Back to fires in the stove during the day, two layers of clothes, sweaters, and a heavy coat. The sunburn I got on my back my last day working at the quinta is out of place here. I don't mind the cold though because the atmosphere is very warm.

I was welcomed by the members of the house where I will be living here in Scotland with friendliness and openness. I got to the house, sat down to a wonderful dinner, and then went to a local village for some entertainment. We went to a pub where local musicians where gathered and playing local Scottish folk songs. I drank a local ale, stomped my foot to the beat of the music, and felt happy. What a great way to be welcomed to Scotland!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

I see the moon, the moon sees me

Being in the middle of Portugal in the mountains, we are free of light pollution and smog. This means that the sky is crisp and clear. Coming out of the tent the other night to go wee, I was astounded at how bright the moon was. I stared up it and drank it up and I got drunk on moonlight. I was standing in the cold in my underware and I couldn't bring myself to leave the moon's embrace. I sang the moon lullaby my mom sang to me as a child, I took some photos, and I laughed as I looked around the valley and noticed it was completely lit up by the light. There were no need for flashlights on a night like this. How completely mesmerizing.

Thoughts on the bus

I have said goodbye to the quinta once again. I boarded a bus and am now in Lisbon and flying to Scotland in the morning. I already miss the quinta. On the bus I thought about this past month and the Awakened Life Project and I was bubbling with joy. What a wonderful month, what a great project, and what beautiful people. I felt so much gratitude. Gratitude for this opportunity. Gratitude for the six people I lived with for the past month. Gratitude for gratitude's sake.

On the bus journey I started to feel sadness so I thought about the fact that I really haven't left the quinta, that it is still part of me, and I felt happy. I will take the quinta with me to Scotland, and wherever I go from there, and I will always be a part of the quinta. There is no need for sadness.

Being Silent

On Tuesday, my second to last day of work, we had a silent retreat at the quinta. This means that there was silence the whole day; while we worked, during meals, and in the evening. No communication of any sort unless absolutely necessary, and if it was necessary we had to communicate without words. Silence started when we woke up on Tuesday and broke after morning meditation on Wednesday.

When the silent retreat idea was first expressed I felt opposition. Oh god, the thought of being silent, not talking, not laughing, not telling jokes horrified me. All I could imagine was boredom and frustration, but as we were agreeing to the idea, I thought, how bad could this be? I thought it would be fun to try. If anything, it would be an interesting to see what would happen.

We woke up, did our morning meditation, ate breakfast, worked, did a 30 minute meditation at noon, ate lunch, worked, did a 30 minute meditation at 3:30, worked, ate diner, finished the day with a 45 minute meditation and went to bed. The schedule was written down on paper so we didn't need to talk. We had decided who was preparing meals and what jobs would be performed the night before. Everyone had solitary jobs so we didn't need to work in pairs. There was no need to talk.

I had a good day being silent. I was able to focus on my introverted self and there was no pressure to say something witty, crack a joke, or have to contribute something to a conversation. I enjoyed eating meals with everyone and just enjoying their company. It was nice to sit near good friends and enjoy their presence and not have the need to say anything. It made me feel closer to them.

The idea for being silent was so we would get a chance to be with ourselves and to see what we experienced. I experienced a lot of love. I thought a lot about my family and friends and felt happy. I was just letting my thoughts flow into me and was just being with them. I tried not to persuade my thoughts or control them so I could see what my mind would do on its own, and I was satisfied to have so many good thoughts come into my mind.

I was also glad to experience being silent around other people without the need to say something, which is rare for me. I am known to be quite talkative and somewhat loud at times. It was very rewarding to stay silent and not have the need to say anything. I think I will try to incorporate this more in my life.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Ok, this past week has been interesting. I came back to the quinta to figure out what to do about this volcano disruption. Was this a blessing in disguise and should I stay at the quinta longer? Or was this just a delay and should I continue on to Scotland? Usually I would feel stress and anxiety about making decisions like this but strangely I didn't. I knew that if I just sat with these thoughts a decision would present itself.

I was painting the door for the yurt and I was thinking about how much I love the quinta, how much I like the people here, and how happy I am volunteering here but I know that it is time to move on as planned. I want to keep on traveling, meeting new people, and experiencing new things. I allowed myself freedom and to just be with my thoughts without pressure to make a decision and clarity came to me. I need to remember to slow down, just be with my thoughts without controlling them, and an answer will come to me. Ah, this is good.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

In Porto Again

My trip to Porto has ended up being kind of a waste of time. Or was it?

I got off the bus and learned that the latest update on my flight was that it was canceled. So, I was sitting in a hostel in Porto and laughed at the thought that I could be back at the Quinta hanging out with friends, reading, and taking it easy, but instead I was sitting in a youth hostel in the city. I really didn't need to take the bus here after all. I chose not think about all the money I am spending that I didn't need to spend and instead decided to think about what to do with this mini vacation that has presented itself. I walked out of the hostel into the breezy evening that smelled like the sea and rain. Where to go, what to do? I walked down to the river that ended up being a tourist haven. I groaned and started up side streets to get away from the tourists and get more into authentic Porto. I ventured up a small alley like street and was drawn to a little cafe where I decided to eat dinner. I ate mussels that melted in my mouth, followed by fresh fish from the sea, and a delicious Portuguese wine. Yes, I spent a lot more money than I would have if I had not come to Porto, but damn it, it was worth it!

Leaving Portugal

Today was my scheduled last day at Quinta da Mizarela. I hugged everyone goodbye and boarded the bus knowing that this goodbye was not forever. I am too drawn to this little mountain farm in Portugal and hope to be back someday. I took the bus to Porto where my flight is scheduled to leave from. On the bus journey I thought of the wonderful people I met at the Quinta, I thought of the wonderful food I have consumed, I thought of all the clarity I have felt while being at the Quinta, I thought about how happy I have been feeling since arriving in Portugal. I felt a sadness at the thought of leaving the Quinta but I felt overwhelming happiness when I thought about all that has transpired in the past two week and was satisfied. As I was looking out the bus window at the passing vineyards I had an overwhelming emotion that I will be back someday.

When I got to the hostel in Porto I checked my flight information and saw that my flight has been canceled into the UK due to the volcanic disturbance from Iceland. Oh no! What to do? As of now, all flights are canceled until Wednesday evening. I mulled it over for a bit and my decision wasn't hard... I am going back to the Quinta! I am going to let all this volcanic ash blow over and book a flight next week. Or who knows, maybe I'll stay in Portugal even longer.

I knew I would be back!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Life the past two weeks

I've been meditating. I've been eating mostly raw food. I've been dancing. I've been laughing... a lot. I've been gardening. I've been practising permaculture. I've been painting. I've been carrying lumber. I've been hiking. I've been reading. I've been talking. I've been composting. I've been in the rain. I've been sleeping in a tent. I've been having good conversations. I've been drinking tea. I've been enjoying the scenery. I've been listening to thunderstorms. I've been meeting cool people. I've been taking it slow.

Life has been good here at Quinta da Mizarela. I am happy.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Discovering me

The past three months have been about gardening and traveling Europe, but it has also been about getting to know myself. Who am I really? What are my desires? What are my passions? I've been trying to distinguish between my true self and the parts of me that are influences from others. I am trying to be as authentic and honest with myself as possible and being open to change in this journey. I'm taking all these persona's, bundling them up, throwing them away and liberating my true self. I love being a gardener. I love getting my hands dirty in the soil and connecting with the plants. I love doing physical work. I feel alive, more human. I love studying plants and learning their medicinal properties. I feel a connection to my ancestors who have passed this knowledge down through the generations. I love volunteering and helping worthwhile causes that aren't dependant on exploitation, commercialism, and capital gain, but rather geared towards being stewards of the land, earth conscious, and sustainable.
I feel that being at the Awakened Life Project at Quinta da Mizarela in Portugal is helping in my journey to finally get to know myself. I am focused on just being. Being me. I can slow down, breath, and focus on letting myself emerge.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

In the mountains in Portugal

I'm currently sitting in a cafe in a small village in Portugal surrounded by mountain terraced gardens. To get to the village from the farm I am volunteering at I walked in the gentle rain down a gorge with cascading waterfalls. There was green foliage and blooming flowers around me and it was absolutely beautiful. Am I in a dream? I must be in a dream.

The farm (quinta) I am staying at is terraced gardens in the mountains with a stream going through that leads to the waterfalls at the edge of the property. My room is a traditional Mongolian yurt, which greatly pleases me because I have always had a desire to live in a yurt. So score! The people are very friendly and open and I already feel at home. The diet consists of mostly raw food which totally makes sense here because there are so many wild edibles and greens to eat. I feel very relaxed and comfortable already.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Goodbye Czech Republic

I'm flying out tonight. Making a stopover in Germany, where I will sleep in the airport and then onto Portugal, my destination. A new workaway experience, new people to meet, a new garden to plant. I am looking forward to this new adventure but I will miss Czech Republic. Last night, as everyone made their way up to bed, I slipped out the front door and walked to the garden. The night was chilly, the moon was struggling to come out from behind the clouds, and in the air I could smell the promise of rain. I knelt beside the raised garden bed and put the palm of my hand on the soil. It felt cold and bare. Peas will hopefully be sprouting there soon. I spoke to the seeds and quietly coaxed them to grow into nice healthy plants. I walked from bed to bed and wished the seeds luck on their journey to germination.

One of the challenging things of being a workawayer, traveling from place to place, is that I am not able to stay and watch the seeds grow and develop into healthy, nourishing plants. I felt sad to walk away from the garden. As I snuggled into bed I whispered goodbye to the present garden and felt closure and then felt anticipation to get to Portugal to get my hands dirty in their soil.

So now it is time to say goodbye to Czech Republic. For now, anyways. I liked it here. I liked the people I was volunteering for, I liked the country, I liked the culture. I will be back someday.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Day trip to Austria

Went to Austria today. The border is about 30km from the house so it would have been silly not have gone to Austria. It was a breeze driving into the country because there are no border controls. No fence, no weapons, no showing of identification, no questions. Didn't venture too far into the country but did manage to pee in the woods, make a pit stop at a cafe to drink a coke, and passed through some nice little villages. It felt different than Czech Republic, but of course it would, it is a different country. These are just my perceptions mind you, but it felt cleaner, more kept up, nicer. It didn't feel as old. Austria was nice and it was a good way to spend a few hours, but strangely, I felt glad to get back into the Czech Republic. It felt like home.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Two months

Wow, I just noticed that I've been gone for two months. Give or take, a month in Norway, a month in Czech Republic. That's pretty exciting to think about. And to think, there was a time when I use to say explicits every time I heard someones tales of European adventures. I literally would get angry when I thought about the fact that I hadn't been to Europe. I would think, "I've been to every corner of America, why haven't I seen Europe? Even a measly little bit of Europe." Ha! Those gripes are long gone. Europe, Europe, here I am! I am now you and you are now me.

My favorite season

I had been working most of the afternoon and decided to take a tea break and read my book outside on the porch. I took off my socks and shoes to let my feet air out because they have been suffocating. Except to shower, I haven't taken off my socks in three months. I sat back against the wall, wiggled my toes, let the sun shine on my face, and felt the beautiful spring breeze against my skin. Without a doubt, spring is my favorite season.

How could it not be? It's the season to celebrate life. The dormant earth is starting to breath and stretch. The empty branches are starting to bud and flower. Plants are getting prepared to grow. Grass is turning green. Winter snow falls turn to spring showers. It's the season for t-shirts and jeans, walking through the grass barefoot, pleasant weather picnics, picking flowers for fresh bouquets, planting beautiful gardens, and celebrating the start of longer days.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Yay! It's spring!

I am wearing a t-shirt today. I don't have to wear two wool shirts.
I am wearing one pair of trousers today. I didn't have to put on my thermals.
My sub-zero boots are making my feet sweat and soaking my wool socks.
The sun is shining and the snow is melting rapidly. Spring is here!

The ground is thawing and I was able to work enough soil to fill four tires I am using as planters. A key principle in permaculture is to reuse objects available to you. Junk that you have laying around your home, yard, land, or neighborhood. There always seems to be excess tires laying around, no matter where I am gardening, and they are useful in the garden. I stack a few on top of each other, fill the bottom with rocks, and fill in with soil. When it is time to plant the seeds I will plant basil and sunflowers in the tires. It should look very nice.
I have also been busy building raised garden bed frames with scrap wood that is laying in the old barn. I am learning that building is not my forte. It's like I have a brain of a chicken when hammering in nails... and that's in insult to chickens. All I need to do is hammer two boards into a block piece of wood to form a corner. When I'm hammering the nail bends instead of going in straight, I cuss, tap it straight again, continue to try to hammer the nail into the board, and hammer my finger instead. Really, it can't be this difficult. I was annoyed as hell but had to laugh at myself. Don't give me a hammer, nails, or a saw and expect great results. I think I should go and focus on my strengths and let a better equipped person handle the raised garden beds.

So I'm off to continue designing the garden, turning soil to get ready for planting, make sage infused olive oil for cooking, and dance around the kitchen while baking cookies.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Willow Adventure Continued

Who lived in the cabin? Did the old man live in the cabin? No, I don't think he did. It looked like no one had been near the cabin since winter started. Who's cabin was it? Was it someones holiday cabin? Most likely, but I'll never know. There were no tire tracks into the mill, there was no vehicle. The only footprints in the snow where from the mill to another building close by. So where did the old man come from? Does he live at the mill? Did he appear out of the forest? Was he an apparition? Most likely he was an employee of the mill or a caretaker, but we will never know.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Willow Adventure

I played adventurer today. I trampled through knee deep snow. I climbed over fallen tree trunks. I followed an animal path through the forest. Walked across a rickety wood plank bridge. I leaped froged over a creak... actually, I clumsily hopped across the water and belly flopped onto the opposite embankment, but that was one creak. I successfully scaled other creaks with no problem. To be fair, they were more like puddles of water then creaks, but who's counting?

There were two of us and a dog and we noticed a paper mill in the distance that seemed to be abandoned and thought it would be a good idea to go explore. We happily tramped through the forest to the boundary line of the mill and saw an old, run down cabin. I looked around at the random shoes hanging up on the porch, dirty bottles hanging upside down in the yard, the sinister look of disrepair, obvious abandonment and wondered did I just walk into a horror film? It seemed like the perfect set. Apparent old empty mill in the background, rundown cabin in the foreground. I can almost hear a chainsaw buzzing to life as a fanatical laugh comes around the corner. As this was going through my imagination we walked past the cabin and over to the mill. We figured it was empty for winter until we noticed footprints in the snow and as the menacing music started playing in my head, I changed my stagger to a fast paced walk, until I heard a man's voice booming behind me. I stopped. Oh god, this is it! We turned around and replied to the voice who turned out to be a sweet old man. He was yammering our ears off but I didn't understand because he was speaking Czech. I nodded my head and smiled as my companion communicated with him (she speaks Czech). As they talked I ended my ominous daydream and took in the beauty of the area. Pine trees, snow, creaks. It was quite the scene. I wish I had my camera.

We said goodbye to the old man and the mill and walked on. Our goal was to find coppiced willow to cut for fencing. We found some willow, cut off enough branches to carry and made our way back to the house. Carrying an armful of branches longer than me, through knee deep snow was somewhat burdensome, but achievable and I didn't mind, it was so beautiful in the forest. I hoisted the willow up unto my shoulder and thought it was a perfect time for a whistled tune. But I didn't because A.) I was breathing heavily and B.) I can't whistle.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A weekend in Český Krumlov

Cesky Krumlov is a beautiful little town in south Bohemia that sits between the s-shaped bends of the Vltava River. The castle (photo 2) in Cesky Krumlov is one of the biggest in central Europe and the biggest in Czech Republic. The town is quite stunning and I personally think a must see if in the Czech Republic. I stayed the night in a hostel which gave me time to walk amongst the castle grounds, tour the city, walk across it's wooden bridges, see a gypsy band (photo 1) playing in a local pub, taste the local beer (Eggenburg), and to eat a lot of tasty food.
Wondering around town, I thought about how lucky I feel to be having this experience and also thought that I will always look back on this journey with a warm heart. There is something about the Czech Republic that is humbling. Maybe it is the age of the towns, or seeing evidence of a country that was once ruled by a totalitarian government, or seeing a place with so much history. How could one not be humbled?

Monday, March 8, 2010

A little this a little that

I like my current living situation. I'll tell you why. We always have good music playing, there is a jug of wine on the table at all times, there is good Czech beer chilling in the hall, we have good conversations that lead to bits of laughter, the work is pleasant, the house is sustainably minded, we eat good food, and I have freedom to share my values and ideals.

The work (for me) has consisted of sanding furniture, washing cabinets, designing the garden, keeping up the wood stoves for heat, cooking meals, and washing up. My key job is to help with the design of the garden and it's been great discussing garden plans and coming up with ideas for potential garden designs. Should I design a mandala garden or just square beds? Should we do raised beds or not? What vegetables should we grow? Is there enough sunlight where we want to plant? What plants should we plant where the greywater is draining? I could go on believe me. Designing is so exciting for me, you have no idea.

Currently the house consists of the British married couple who own the home and four volunteers. Three from the States and one from South Africa. We are all native English speaking people but I am finding I still need to translate some things from British English and South African English to States English.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

First weekend

I walk down Bohemian streets with snow falling on my face. I pull my hat further over my eyes, hunch my shoulders, shove my hands in my pockets and carry on walking. I don't mind the snow, I don't mind the cold. When the weather gets unbearable I pop into a cafe and drink espresso and eat sweets. I don't mind the snow, I don't mind the cold. I have castles to see. I have town squares to explore.

Riding in trains and riding in buses. Visiting historic castles and Czech villages. I trace my fingers on stone walls and think about the history of these buildings. I try to imagine all that has happened in between these walls, and I try to wrap my American mind around the age of these towns.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Living situations

Why would one choose to live in a house where there is no central heating and the average temperature is hovering around freezing? Where you have to wear layers and layers of clothes to be comfortable, and you can see your breath when you breathe. Why would one choose to live in a house where the toilet is a composting loo outside and snow is falling on you as you go wee? Or why would one choose to live in a house with complete strangers? I don't know, for the sake of being sustainable? To be better stewards of the land? How about for the sake of taking a decomposing house and slowly renovating into a sustainable household. It is astonishing how little time it takes to accumulate your body to these more extreme living situations, and for me, it is worth it. It is worth every effort or sacrifice for the betterment of the earth.

Let me ask this, why would one choose to live in a house where the food is not composted or where the water is not used as greywater? Why would one choose to live in a house where recycling is not done? Why would one choose to live in a house where the main ingredients for cooking are processed foods? I don't know, I don't have an answer for that.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The adventure of not knowing the language

I was spoiled in Norway where almost everyone understood English. Outside of Prague, hardly anybody understands English. I found this out today when I was trying to get from Prague to Cernovice (the town I am living near) on the train. At the train station the ticket agent spoke little English but was able to tell me to take the train from Prague to Obratan where I get a transfer to Cernovice. Easy enough. What she failed to tell me was that before I got to Obratan I needed to get off the train at a station, take a bus to another station where I catch another train to the town of Tabor where I get off and onto another train that would take me to Obratan and then on to Cernovice.

So there I was riding along, thinking it was taking a long time to get to this Obratan station, when the train stops and I am told to get off. It was the end of the line. I was wondering what the heck was going on so I went to ask the ticket agents at this station and no one spoke English but after a few minutes the ticket agent figured out what I needed and I realized I was supposed to get off the train an hour ago at Tabor. I had to buy a new ticket and get back on a train and head back to Tabor which would lead me to Obratan and Cernovice. It all worked out with the help of hand singles and pointing at maps. There was a kind old lady who understood where I needed to go when I showed her my ticket and she gestured to me what stops to get off at. She was helpful and I was grateful for her kindness.

When I got off the train in Cernovice I needed to find the road that would lead me to the home I am volunteering at. I had no idea what direction I needed to go to find the road so I stopped at the post office and showed them the address. Without any English being spoken, I was guided to where I needed to be. I thanked the women who was helping and was once again grateful for the kindness of a stranger and the power of understanding through hand gestures and pointing at maps.

I found the road with no trouble and made the 45 minute walk to my new temporary home. It was surreal walking down a lonely country road in the Czech Republic. It was beautiful. I made it here safe and sound even after all the language confusion.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Second day in Prague

This morning I strapped on my walking boots and headed back out into the city. I walked to Old Town and saw the Astronomical clock and Old Town Square. I then walked to the Jewish quarter and peeped in at the cemetery. You had to pay to take the tour which I didn't have money to do but I found a nice space to view through the gate at the bathroom and snapped some photos. I then walked and walked and got lost countless times and walked some more.

Some information about the sites visited today:
Prague Astronomical clock (photo 2) is a medieval clock that dates back to 1410 that represents the position of the sun and moon and has a calender dial.
Old Town is the original place of settlement of Prague approximately around the 9th century. Records that date back to 1100 indicate that there as a market every week in the square (photo 4) and large military gatherings took place here.
Old Jewish cemetery (photo 3) was in use in the early 15 century. There are 12 layers of graves due to the fact when the cemetery ran out of space and purchasing extra land was impossible, more layers of soil were placed on the existing graves, the old tombstones taken out and placed on the new layer of soil. This is why the tombstones are placed so close together. It is estimated that there are 100,00 burials in all.
I love walking through the narrow streets, streets that were obviously not made for cars, and imagine what life must have been like so long ago. I look at the buildings and in my mind wipe away all the modern shops and restaurants and in their place try to imagine what it must have looked like hundreds of years ago. I wonder if it looked essentially the same. If I erased all the cars and modern conveniences, I could almost pretend that I was there, hundreds of years ago.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

First day in Prague

I'm in Prague and I already love it! Riding the train in the underground and walking through the hostel, I've noticed signs to be careful for pickpockets. Ah! I know this city will be lively.
I was given a map at the front desk to guide me to some tourist attractions in the area, but I didn't want to use it while I was walking because I didn't want to look like a tourist. Which was quite silly because I think most people I saw were tourists. Never mind that. I had memorized some street names in my head to guide me to where I wanted to go but this didn't work and I got lost. I thought about getting out the map but decided against it. I choose instead to let my good sense of direction guide me. I meandered through the city streets and took in this beautiful city. I never once worried about being lost or not knowing where I was. I walked and walked and alas, I ended up exactly where I wanted to be, Charles Bridge (see photo 1). Charles Bridge is a historic pedestrian bridge that crosses the Vltava River. It's construction started in 1357 and connects Old Town to Lesser Quarter (Prague Castle). I walked across the bridge and walked to Prague Castle and saw Wed Vitus Cathedral (see photos 2, 3), which is the oldest Gothic Cathedral in central Europe. I am glad I have another day here because there is so much more to see.

So far I really like Prague. It is breathing life. The streets are bustling and there is a lot of action on the sidewalks; tourists hording in groups, peddlers limping through, artists kiosks scattered about, and souvenir shop after souvenir shop. And the people watching! Need I say more?

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Thanks Norway

I leave Norway in two days to fly to Prague. I am excited to get to the Czech Republic but I am a little sad I didn't get to see more of Norway before I leave. While in Norway I have only seen the Oslo airport, Randaberg, and Stavanger. While the area I live is beautiful, it would have been nice to see more of the country. I haven't even seen what it looks like here without snow cover. In my mind Norway will always be grey, cold, and snowy. I should make a point of coming back here this summer for a visit.

Besides the small disappointment of not seeing more of the country I am not very sad to be leaving Norway. On the contrary, I am greatly looking forward to gallivanting around Prague and to live in the Bohemian countryside of Czechia.

I was going to make some claims about the country and share some of my observations about Norway, but I have changed my mind. I don't think it's fair to characterize the country based on my limited excursions into the society here. I was mainly in shopping areas and tourist areas and god knows those are horrible areas to base a view on the country (any country).

I will say that I enjoyed walking among the small farms along the sea, I appreciated the Norwegians use of wood in building, I loved listening to the melodious language, and I enjoyed being immersed in another culture.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Norwegian Police

Today while I was working I heard a helicopter circling above me. I stopped what I was doing and wondered what the hell was going on. Helicopters are an ominous sound for me. In Kansas City I lived in an apartment for two years that was across the street from a hospital. The helicopter landing pad was right next to my apartment. Every 20 minutes or so my windows would shake as the helicopter took off or landed. I usually thought of extreme situations of people dying. After that, before I moved away from Kansas City, I lived in a poor neighborhood in the East Side (which is to say "the black side") and I heard police helicopters daily. My roommates and I would run outside to watch who was being chased or searched, usually with feelings of anger and injustice.

So when I heard the helicopter flying around today, I wondered who was being chased or who was dying. There is no hospital nearby so I knew it wasn't trying to land or take off, so I thought, "police". Which made me stop and think that I haven't seen one sign of police since I have landed in Norway. I haven't seen a police car, I haven't seen police walking around. Is it because this is a pretty homogeneous country? I looked up some facts on the police department in Norway and I found some interesting facts: Norwegian police do not carry firearms on a daily basis, they keep them locked down in patrol cars, and if need arises they need to get permission from a police commissioner. From the years 1994-2004 the Norwegian police fired aprox 78 shots, 48 being during a bank robbery in 2004 (the Nokas Robbery... look it up). Most of the police belong to a union (Politiets Fellersforbund) and in March 2009, 4000 police officers paraded the streets of Oslo in a protest march to the Norwegian Parliament for the government's decision to control work hours. Sounds somewhat different than the police in the states.

I don't know exactly what the helicopter was doing today. Maybe it was the police searching for someone, but not to arrest but to save from being lost at sea. Usually when the police are circling in a helicopter it means they are trying to rescue someone. It could also have been sightseers taking pictures of the beautiful area.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sunrise, sunset (to the tune from Fiddler on the Roof)

When I first got to Norway in January I started work when the sun was rising and finished work after the sun had set. Hum, that sounds like the sun was barely up or I worked all day long. Neither is the case. I should explain. I usually work from 8am to noon and then again from 5pm to 6pm. Anyways, back in January the sun would be out around 8:30am and down around 5pm. Now, the sun is up when I wake up at 7:20am and twilight is still going strong when I exit the barn at 6pm. Since winter solstice, Randaberg gains 7 minutes of sunlight a day! This being due to the country sitting so far north. My hometown in Missouri only gains 3 minutes of sunlight a day. Also, being this far north, twilight lasts forever which also makes the day stretch a little longer. Usable light, I like to call it. The sun isn't out but it is still enough light where you don't need a headlamp or headlights to see.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sick of being sick ... and scooping pig poo

I am still sick. It's been three weeks and I am still sick. I can't stop coughing, coughing, coughing. I would give anything to be laying on my parent's couch with a warm blanket tucked around me, the smell of chicken soup cooking wafting to my nose, my mom rubbing my back telling me everything is going to be okay, and waiting for my dad to get home with the treasured bag of medicine to make me feel better. I don't know what it is about being sick that makes my mature (debatable?) 27 year old self resort to feeling like I'm 10. Last night I caught myself feverishly crying out "mommy". What I wouldn't give to have my mom and dad nearby and I wish that Benders was right around the corner. Benders, for the unaware, is the drugstore my dad owns that offers affordable solutions to all of your home health care needs. Check it out!

The one good thing about having a stuffed up nose is that I can't really smell right now. Which is a plus while mucking out pig pens. We moved the piglets to an open pen so we could dig out theirs and put in clean fresh straw. The farm does this about once a year. So yeah, imagine a years worth of straw soaked in pig shit and piss (pardon my french). Wheel barrow after wheel barrow and it seems like hardly any progress has been made. But even though I said I couldn't really smell right now, the smell is still horrible. I don't even want to think what it would be like if I was snot free and breathing easy. I shudder.

It's a big job and it is causing me to feel very weak and that I don't have any muscle. Like my body is strictly made of fat and flab. As I'm scooping up layers of foul straw I'm begging my muscles to pull it together and do their damn job.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Workaway makes it too easy to keep traveling

Have I explained workaway.info? Workaway is a website where families, individuals, or organizations register and set up a profile and are looking for volunteers to help in a whole range of different fields. The volunteer gives a few hours of work, usually 5 hours a day 5 days a week, in exchange for food and accommodation. There are no contracts. The site is made for budget travelers, language learners, or culture seekers and families, individuals, or organizations who are looking for help. It is genius. Workaway is where I found this gig in Norway.

I have been thinking that workaway is a great way to travel for cheap, meet interesting people, and to learn a lot by doing an assortment of different jobs. I have decided that I want to take advantage of my time here in Europe and have decided to pursue other workaway gigs before I head to Scotland in April. So I am leaving Norway March 2nd and am heading to the Czech Republic to volunteer for the month at a sustainability project. Then onto Portugal to volunteer at a permaculture eco-village for the first two weeks of April. Then Scotland.

Workaway is brilliant. It's brilliant that I am here. This is exciting stuff!

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Went on a three hour boat tour of the Lysefjord in Stavanger. There were two observation decks to stand and take pictures and enjoy the beauty of the fjord. It was freezing cold standing outside with the wind whipping you about, but it was worth every second. The fjord was beautiful.
A little info about Lysefjord. From end to end it is 23 miles with rocky walls falling nearly vertically over 3,000ft to the water. Not only is the fjord long and narrow, it is in places as deep as the mountains are high. Pretty cool, huh?