As it’s normal and we live in a world where we’re designers that do remote work for a big ad agency, where payments have a due day but they never meet and this is very normal, in this area where you are a freelancer there’s a little difference between not having money and being traveling the world and not having it while you are estable in a city.
This can sound like very harsh, but the truth is that we have learned to thank those moments because they have taught us to live on different types of situations that for some reason change constantly, but the fun thing is that you must understand that we can live with 5 dollars for a week and still be very comfortable.
The last of this occasions happened on November of 2015 when we were told that our next payment were due to beginning of December and the next one by mid of the same month, thing that left us with 200 dollars for the next seven days, the interesting part is that as I told you before although we had the dates the truth is that we received everything by mid month, so we survived with 200 dollars for three weeks.
But in this occasion was very different, because we were with very little money and we were waiting for our blessed payment and what we received was a mail with the dates that told to us that our payment would come in three weeks, this is where the world collapses, you start to ask yourself how the hell you do to pay for rent for the next three weeks and buy the rest of the stuff you need to survive, you do math as crazy and nothing.
Hostel where we stayed while we were in Baños de Agua Santa, Ecuador.
There were like three hours debating me with my mind, but yes you read it right just three hours and not because I came up with the solution, but because the solution came in form of an Argentinian girl named Carolina who was cooking at the Hostal were we where and meanwhile I was preparing a coffee to relax (I know is not the best beverage to relax) and whilst I was making the blessed coffee, Carolina was commenting me that we could do volunteer work as she always do and she recommended us to enter to workaway.info
With two cups of coffee in my hands I went walking easy and not running (I was carrying the cups) to the arms of my beloved damsel to comment her with all the emotion in the universe that we possibly had the solution to our conflict, to what we entered to the website and we came along with lists of people who needed help with basic stuff (gardening, paint, design, etc…) in exchange of lodging and for four hours of work daily, reading the articles and comments it did not take ten minutes to pay the 40$ membership, in fifteen minutes we had a full profile of us at the web, in ten more I was already thanking Carolina who was surprised and told us that we didn’t lose time.
The city of Baños de Agua Santa, Ecuador.
At the end we had two people interested in us and we selected one that had a designers trap in the title “We look for designers that like to cook” what Natha replied “We are designers and we like to cook” obviously they took us as quick as we took them and by the end of our days at the hostal we already had a place to arrive for the next three weeks while we were waiting for our blessed payments of our client, what we never expected was that that will become one of the greatest weeks of our adventures.
View of the smoke coming from the Tungurahua volcano from the town of Baños de Agua Santa, Ecuador.
After taking three buses to go from the andean zone of Ecuador to its beaches, a trip from Baños de Agua Santa to Guayaquil, where we’d take another bus to Manta and we finish with the bus to Puerto Lopez that would left us at Puerto Cayo, to be more specific it left us in the resort “Sueños del Mar” that is about five kilometers of Puerto Cayo and it was our home for the next weeks.
If this were a movie I can tell you that when we got off the bus and we saw the site entrance the letter with the name fell in front of us, a bustling breeze passed and possibly I told Natha “Welcome…”, but in a few words yes, the place seemed about to fall.
Street from the hotel, the only way to get out and meet other civilizations.
First view you get when you arrive.
We were received by another volunteer an egyptian girl, that obviously didn’t speak spanish, who took us with the owner who is from United States, we were introduced to the rest of the volunteers that were Canadians and US, at this point we realized that our spanish obviously was almost useless, something that was very great because we could practice a lot our english and it turned out great, we even learn to pronounce vegetables in english that wrtten in spanish would be something like “veshtebol”, yes, I’m proud of that.
Time would introduce to us the personalities of everyone and I must tell you that all were great, another thing that you should know is that at first our original job that was to cook didn’t happen because the bar which is the place that was being rebuilt to turn back to life the place wasn’t ready yet and just because of that there weren’t clients to cook for, so we faced new duties, interesting and super exciting that you would never imagine like rebuilt of pictures, master at painting things in black, painting walls in white,cooking an aperitif to somebody that got there suddenly, international translator, international legal translator, hotel manager, bar manager, designer, customer service, window cleaner, pool table technician, video technician, dj, failed attempt of audio technician, photographer and turtle savior.
In nearly a month of stay we saw volunteers come and go, people that lasted a week in most of the occasions because they were bored because the place was in the middle of nowhere, but there also were volunteers that knew how to take advantage of the place, entertain themselves in their own world and I consider that this type of mentality is the one that allows to anybody including us, to enjoy a place like this one for a whole month without getting bored.
Puerto Cayo beach, the bar/hotel is located on the edge of the beach, so this was our daily view.
But if there are volunteer to highlight would be ones very particular that break all the stereotypes, they were the first ones we met when we arrived and it’s for all the people that tell me on the way “Good you’re traveling now that you’re young” I must tell you that there is nothing more false and close minded than that comment because the first people we met were a not-so-young Canadian couple, married that travel for Latin America currently volunteering and they learned to speak spanish months ago in Colombia, they’re not experts but they speak in no time, this took us to funny situations like the fact that the mister ask us to speak spanish in all time with him and specially to his wife so after she could teach him, detail I found very funny.
The second famous phrase that I don’t stop listening to is “Take advantage now that you don’t have any children”, when we arrived to the place there were already volunteering a Canadian couple with two kids that made me laugh on several occasions and same as us have their own adventures through Latin America that they tell on their blog and they travel in a very peculiar and great vehicle, you can follow their adventures here.
Hotel and bar in the background.
At the end of our stay had more volunteers, they turned good friends as the German woman who came to Ecuador after traveling for 29 days in a cargo ship from Germany who taught me to say goodnight in German and was a couple made by a Lithuanian girl and a boy from Slovakia this two destroyed us playing volleyball and they rescued a pelican, were part of our little family that we can also add the only Ecuadorian family of the place, they helped us with lots of information and the day when Natha closed the door of our room on both sides.
Pelican saved by the guys.
But if there is somebody to highlight is John one of the volunteers with whom we fraternize more, the same who convinced us to stay for christmas dinner and the one who basically have transformed everything he finds in the resort that it does not work or is not used in some element for the bar that practically is made with recycled things from what it was the hotel some time ago, giving the result an spectacular place at the beach shore and although I don’t have pictures of the before I left you with visuals of how the bar was before we left and believe me it’s anything like the place when we arrived, but the best thing of this is that we could pay a dollar for a beer bottle of 700ml something that was part of our benefits as volunteers.
Months before we had reservations in a hostel in the same shore but 4 hours way south, first time we made a reservation with time and to be honest our worst idea, at the end that reservation was for December 23 and at the 22 we were doubting so much because it would be a bit stupid not to be at christmas with the people we shared a complete month, and John ended up convincing us to stay and we weren’t thinking anymore about it.
Living christmas was the best and peculiar, with lots of nationalities gathered we had different traditions and times to celebrate them, what took us to a celebration of two days of christmas with two very different dinners being the wow one the turkey because missing the oven it was adopted a very peculiar way that everybody was surprised with was to drown the turkey in three gallons of oil inside of a big pot and for everybody surprise it worked, anyway we didn’t eated the turkey because we’re vegetarians now (this is another day story), but John had the kindness to cook some other dishes for us to enjoy such as cornbread.
Our Christmas: D
By the way, a week ago we were payed, so the detonating of everything served its purpose, but honestly all is for a reason and for travelers I can say that this option helps you save a few bucks, to me I enjoyed everything I did every time specially the day I realized that I prefer to paint a wall on white for five hours before going back to an office eight hours a day, we hope to keep volunteering in a close future, above all things to keep making friends like the ones we found here and to meet again on the way.
– Aender Lara desde Ayangue, Ecuador.