Six watery eyes clenched tight, burning. Acrid smoke clawing its way through our lashes. Our hearts belted out a tune of protest from lack of oxygen. Singed hair frazzled to the scalp, though a little less frazzled than our psyches. Every two hours, twenty-four hours a day, five days a week. This was our Wwoofing experience.
Having never experienced Wwoofing in Canada I thought, for shits and giggles, Why not? Drawn to the ocean, my search was somewhat limited. And then I found a local Salt Farm. Woot! Woot! The nightmare began.
I had a friend staying with me from abroad and we enlisted another from Germany to experience what we anticipated a great new adventure. We signed up immediately. Unaware that our friendships were about to evaporate into the blue, smoky air like the water we harvested and boiled. The conditions were deplorable and our nerves as gritty as the salt we produced at week-end.
The process was cool. Exciting. The hazards, numerous. The host, indifferent to our requests for proper lighting in the wee hours of the night. Gave no regard to the axes we tripped over. No consideration offered while we took turns splitting wood in the dark, stoking the fires. Burning our fingers through holes in gloves on the old, handmade brick ovens. Remember, we’re attempting this with our breath held and eyes closed. No respirator. And, dam cold wandering into the tar black sea hauling jug after jug of water, directed only by the stars and a little headlamp.
I believe we lasted 3-4 weeks. We nearly killed each other, but all walked away alive. In different directions I might add, never to speak again. Three great people turned utter asshole after a matter of weeks. Admittedly, this may say a little about our underlying character. Perhaps, we were simply pushed too far and out of pride tried to endure.
I don’t know how those boys feel now, I can only suppose. I, embarrassed to say the least. To think I brought two unsuspecting tourists into such a situation is unforgivable. Even worse, the three of us treated like this by a fellow Canadian. Inexcusable. And to find out later by the German, the same thing happened to him twice before on this Island.
Let me live in a culvert before I undertake such another venture without due diligence. The premise of Wwoofing is excellent. The advantages numerous. The opportunists, even more so. Hell bent on getting too much for nothing, exploiting. Wwoofing is supposed to be four hours labor a day for room and board. Some hosts are ignorant to this fact. Some hosts don’t allow you back on their property to collect your belongings because they are pissed you called them out.
The moral of the story; Be careful what you wish for, correction, be careful who you Wwoof for … And if they turn out dogs who bite the hand that give them excessive free labor (I know they all aren’t) please report them to the pound. Wwoofing is give and take. Not take, and bake the minds of Wwoofers. We don’t Wwoof because we are financially strapped. We do it to expand our grey matter.
Wwoof host, don’t act as though you are doing us a favor. And, might I recommend a date with the movie, ‘Dogville’ on Netflix to straighten out your perspective.
Wwoofers, do your research!