Let’s talk about LUCK!
How lucky it was to find an opportunity to live with a lovely family within 2 hours travel, of not one, not two, but three UNESCO World Heritage sites. And, how lucky that this family encouraged me to take a day trip to Avila – the best walled city in the world, according to UNESCO, and they should know.
Then, add to that the fact that this family took me to Toledo, which as it turned out also had a permanent exhibition of the Knights Templars, whom I have added to my bucket list this year. And, which prompted a return visit to Toledo.
And, then there was Aranjuez just two metro stops away .. That I did not know about before meeting Susanna and her family.
OK, your first question: How did I find this family in the first place?
Answer: a subscription website “WorkAway”. Where you enter your parameters and simply hit Enter. Whammo, up comes opportunities that match your wants. Now the ball is in your court, and you make your request of the family, group, hostel …….
Question 2: Who pays what?
Answer: It is your responsibility to get yourself to the site. Typically, your accommodation is free and often your meals are also free. This information is in the description written by the person looking for a volunteer.
So far, luck is just knowing where to look, and how to apply.
It helps if you can speak the language of the host, even a few well known phrases will help. But there is always Google translate.
Many foreign hosts speak English at some level, or they want to practice their English. I have found that even making an attempt at the host language puts you in a better position. When you can express yourself, things are easier and your host may direct you to things or people who can help you.
Next question: Am I going to work a 40 hour week?
Answer: That should be communicated in the advertisement on the website and, confirmed verbally, or in an email before you say YES.
Now there is a very small chance of having “bad luck” with the host.
So, my job with Susanne’s family was to engage her children in English conversation. To that end, I armed myself with some English workbooks, card sets and stickers from my local dollar store, to use with the girls. I was given a private room and bath. There were no tasks assigned during the hours the girls were in school. So, I found small household tasks to keep me occupied while in the house. Susanne scolded me for doing her ironing and I countered by explaining that I did not like being idle, and since it was my choice (and she worked) and I wanted to help; she relented.
Doing a bit more than expected can pay dividends, like being shown around a World Heritage site like Aranjuez, and it’s local market.
The Royal Palace
hair do-dads, anyone?
hats, accessories, shoes, scarves, clothes, fruits, veggies, candy, books, and sunglasses
In addition to the World Heritage sites, I was also included in family activities like swimming at the community pool, having a girly day of mani-pedi treatment. (That is a manicure/pedicure, guys). Went to the movies, attended a Madrid young singers event in which the youngest daughter participated, and enjoyed the jacuzzi on the patio.
When it was time to move on to Ireland for the summer, Susanne asked when I could come back. She said she was pleased and had shared this experience with others. One of her friends also wants Anglo females to stay for a few weeks at a time, during the school year.
Ok, calling all Anglo females that would like to visit Spain during the school year. Anyone feel LUCKY?