Finding the Right WWOOF Host
Fun Acronyms: “O” is for Organic. Now, I like to think of myself as pretty green – I sort my rubbish into appropriate bins, I take my reusable shopping bags wherever I go, I use that scratchy-yet-satisfying loo paper.
What I’m not keen on that side of green that whispers “I’m macrobiotic, you evil meat-eater” and “I preach at you while you try not to gag on the smell of my dirty hair”. I actually like steak and believe my backpack’s “luxury item” of Moroccan Hair Oil is the best 100mls I’ve ever pinched off Mum.
Thankfully, you can find a WWOOFing host to suit you, whatever you’re up for. So don’t panic about fitting some stereotype of hippy or hardcore farmer! Whilst cruising the WWOOF forum, and knowing what we’re like, Ned and I tended to shy away from any properties with names such as “Riverdance Moonsong Farm” or mentioned ukuleles and group trust activities.
The program is about getting in and having a go, and if you choose your hosts wisely as well as keeping an open mind, your experience should be a positive one.
First up we spent four weeks on a banana/mango/other tropical goodies farm and eco-tourism business on the island of Madeira, Portugal. All the superficial things were there – the property was stunning; a narrow stretch of land bordered by the sea and 300m high cliffs, only accessible by an elevator.
Our private accommodation was lush, with cable t.v. and all the blogging time one could wish for. We had lunch, coffee, beer at the onsite restaurant and food bought for us to cook of an evening. We even got a lend of the car for an explore around the island. But our “hosts” were only on the property on Saturday afternoons.
Our second farm, in central (a.k.a. nowhere) Portugal was a completely different farmstay. Our aforementioned caravan was a bit scummy and there was no electricity, but our British/Dutch combo family were so warm and welcoming and the work so varied and considered, that our overall experience was completely fulfilling.
We sowed corn, planted trees, milked goats and made cheese from their milk. We ate with the family, balancing our plates on our laps while pushing the dog’s noses away. Every question was answered with gusto, all suggestions taken on board. We discovered what the WWOOF carry-on is about and now I’m hooked!
I recommend WWOOF to anyone looking for a personal challenge and a travel tale with a difference. Now put the “24 Countries in 30 Days” bus tour brochure down and back slowly away…