About volunteering – what crazy wind blew me to the middle of the Atlantic?
(Listen to the music while reading blog post.)
My attitude regarding travelling has changed a lot for the last years because of different experiences. I used to be an employee with just a couple of days for going to holiday, so my original style of travel was the usual let’s-go-somewhere-and-see-as-many-sights-as-we-can-just-to-return-home-more-tired-than-before-holiday. Then my life changed fundamentally as I became a freelance photographer and this changed all my habits like a domino effect. First I went for organized group excursions between the safe borders of Europe. Then I left the continent, but still enjoying the safety of travelling with others, fully organized. But after a while I felt I could discover a place best on my own. Slowly, carefully tasting it, trying to learn it, not just rushing through it. So timidly one day I decided to spend two months on the beautiful island of Crete, Greece. This is how it all started. The people I met there (a girl who has travelled for four years at that time, amongst others) and the stories they told made an unexpected impression on me. So about a year after this, I got my 28-liter backpack and bought a plane ticket to South-East Asia, alone. OK, not completely alone. I took my camera on me as well.
And as from time to time I repeat this since then, one day I just thought, what if I did something useful while travelling, for a change. So I entered a website where hosts can find volunteers and volunteers can look for hosts.
As I am not really into taking care of children or something (I guess why this gene is missing from me, but that’s the case), I found a job which may be as supportive as children care. At least I think so. A guesthouse was looking for volunteers and this was the very first (and the only one) post I saw. Somehow, misteriously, I knew at the exact moment I saw this post, that this will be my journey. I projected myself to the shore of the Atlantic ocean, to the tiny island of Madeira, and on this mental picture I saw myself very happy. I can not explain why, but it was clearly obvious from the first moment, that I was going to come here. Believing in the power of thoughts, I asked my friends just to imagine me in this idyll. They did it, and a mounth later I found myself here. Where there is the ocean. And the mountains. And happiness.
But of course things are not just so easy, not even when everything starts smoothly. This is the first time I am a volunteer and first I was frightened of the fact that after 8 years of freelancing somebody would tell me what to do, when and exactly how. But on the contrary I was relly curious how would I react in a situation like this and the unknown seemed very exciting.
When on my first day it turned out that I would be a cleaning person for one month, I came within an inch of leaving all this behind and try to find some other opportunity. My ego was protesting constantly, and I was thinking, well, at home I built a successful business, I have a profession what I truly love and now I am supposed to clean other people’s toilet? This is really what I was looking for?
But shortly I succeeded to look at the situation from another perspective. I was thinking for an entire afternoon, watching the big waves on the shore and I reminded myself that I’ve choosen this place for a reason and that giving up at the first obstacle never drove me anywhere before. This is not how I manage problems. But when you are persistent of what you want and just try to do your best, life usually gives you a gift for that effort.
Now I think that it was good for my infamous ego to show a little humility, as in my normal life I practically don’t allow many to lead me. After a while I didn’t feel bad about cleaning after others, because I realized that this was not really about vacuum cleaning a room. In fact, you’d like the guest to feel themselves at home, having a great time in the place you made them comfortable and desirable.
In short, now I am very happy about my decision. It is a present that I can be in an amazing place with interesting people and every single morning when I wake up and watch the rising sun painting the clouds ridiculously pink and purple, I feel completely grateful for the wonderful life I can live.