Six months ago, thanks to all the amazing bloggers I had been reading, I discovered a lot of websites that give you advice and tips on how to travel in a different and more enjoyable way. Lets say, have longer stays, different types of experiences and ideas to develop personal projects. Not “your typical” vacation.
After reading all these articles, for the fist time I decided to do things differently, take a risk and travel as a volunteer. I joined the Worldpackers community, and applied to volunteer in many places around the globe.After a long time waiting, lots of messages exchanged and lots of preparations, everything was set up.
I was going to Montreal to work in a hostel for three months. In winter. I heard that it gets as cold as -30º Celsius, (I am Mexican, you know? WE CAN´T EVEN IMAGINE BEING -30º C) but well, nothing was going to stop me. I had been accepted as a volunteer!
Sleeping on a hard metal, no couch but a pad bed.
Serving pancakes and having a huge smile, every morning at 8am: HELLO! HOW ARE YOU? HERE WE HAVE SOME JAMS, YOGURT, ORANGES, PANCAKES, AND THE COFFEE IS OVER THERE. AND THERE IS SOME TEA AND JUICE THERE, ALSO. WHEN YOU FINISH HAVING BREAKFAST, YOU WASH YOUR DISHES AND I DRY.
That was the speech I had to say EVERY morning to every single person that, half a sleep, approached to me wanting to have something on their bellies to start the day.We were a group of 11 volunteers working for the hostel on the same conditions but we had different roles. We were all different ages and nationalities.
From the first day the fact that I needed to be the nicest and the most open, friendly person I could be, sank in. It was a warm feeling knowing that all the people I worked with would be everyday having breakfast with me and having Sunday night dinners (Gite Hostel exclusively).
I felt so lucky when I found out that one of the girls that also volunteered was going to be my roommate. The other nine volunteers (all guys) lived in a nearby house from the same owners of the hostel that was open for business only in the summer. So that place was completely for them and my roomie and I hung out there all the time.
Thanks to my bosses, Coumba (Senegalese) and Carl (Quebequer) I learned the exact definition of squeaky-clean and discipline, something I didn’t know that well, (Now I know my mom and future employees will be thankful to them as well).The life I knew changed completely, it turned upside down..
On day one, I was received by a friend that I hadn´t seen in more than 12 years! Luckily and I don’t know how, we resumed our friendship and now she is craved into my heart and she feels like family.
Let me leave you with some personal thoughts…
There I am, feeling a little bit lonely sometimes. I had already hung out, worked and spoke to family and friends at home…. Trying to figure out in my free time, “who are you? Who are you now with all of this new things happening in your life? You used to do homework? Go out? See your friends? Read?”… Imagine… new life, new city. You just say… ok... What do I do now? And there my friends is where the fun starts.This is a picture of a beautiful cafe where me and the other volunteers used to go to have a coffee and dessert. We hung out there like 2 hours and then each one was off to their houses, or wherever they had to go. The surroundings were covered with snow; there was hot food and the smell of coffee.
My description of “home” at this point was my beautiful Spanish roommate. We became so close, with a difference in age of almost 7 years. Since the beginning we treated our bedroom like our little nook, only ours, respecting our own spaces.
She sometimes was angry or tired, but with time I figured out how to make her happy, (and she did the same with me), so we were never angry at each other. We did amazing things together thanks to her creativity (she‘s an artist, a dancer and a tea lover) huge traveling history. The smell of her favorite incense made our tiny room smell like home.
Now every time I smell it somewhere else (she gave me some to take with me), it takes me back home, like when a song takes you back to a place or time. Also, the music while she worked, or our crazy shouting when we where laughing and telling stories at each other.
My life changed drastically in the first two months. Everything I told you had a huge impact on my life and I remember so dearly every moment of every day.