Workaway (because we are now jobless at home)

It was about 9 months ago that I first read about Workaway (a program where travellers exchange work for accommodation and often food) in the online travel section of a local Australian news site.

The article was part interview, part account, of a young Australian couples experience as Workawayers in both France & Italy, highlighted the obvious financial benefits for both parties, but also the potentially rich and immersive cultural experiences (not to mention language learning opportunities) that could be had.

I kept it in mind, and when our then potential global trip became something more substantial, I signed both Sarah and I up thinking it was something we could utilise, not for our whole journey, but at least for part of it.

Again, as our trip got nearer and its bones began to flesh out a little more, I looked up what opportunities were available, saved a few potential hosts, then put it on ice for a time until we were on the road with a better idea of where we might be able to dip our feet in the experience.

The Mexican city of Guanajuato provided us with just that opportunity.

Welcome to Guanajuato!

Welcome to Guanajuato!

I’d saved Dermot, an Irish host in a Mexican city for several reasons.

His Workaway rating was 100/100, which certainly looked pretty good, he had some glowing feedback reports, and finally, as my Spanish is still very basic, I thought it perhaps prudent to try for an opportunity where language wouldn’t be a barrier/lead to any confusion (after all, this was our first go at it).

So about a week out from our likely arrival in Guanajuato we shot Dermot a message from the website (short notice we realise, however ours has been the sort of trip we’ve rarely known where we’ll be until pretty late) and thankfully heard from him pretty promptly, sorting out the necessary particulars from there.

Immediately after leaving our Taxi near the Pipila (a monument which overlooks the city), we quickly learned why he’d asked us to call him on arrival, rather than just given us his address. A confusing maze of stepped paths served these homes perched high above the city, and any attempt to try and give us an address, would have likely seen us lost for some time!

We shortly met Dermot, had a tour of his place, met another Workawayer who’d just arrived from Alabama in the US, admired the exceptional views that his home possesses, before a quick trip with him to the local supermarket helped give us a better idea of the lay of the land (we didn’t really get stuck into any work until the following day).

So, how was the experience, and what did we do?

Well Sarah and I were eager to get stuck straight in (our preference was ideally to start work early before the day would heat up, also allowing us some free time to explore the city in the afternoons), so kicked things off with some painting, assisting Dermot later in the day with some plant shopping before concluding with the un-enviable task of lugging said plants down many flights of stairs to his place!

As you may have guessed, our first day ended up a little longer than the expected 5 hour shift, but we certainly didn’t complain, it was great to be busy.

Painting panels on the roof, we were able to enjoy the spectacular views!

Painting panels on the roof, we were able to enjoy the spectacular views!

Shopping for plants at a nursery outside Guanajuato

Shopping for plants at a nursery outside Guanajuato

That set the tone for our week. Dermot’s intent is to rent 2 of his 3 floors out as apartments, and he is incredibly close to reaching that goal.

As such, the tasks were a variety of odds and ends, not one single week of monotony which we were very thankful for (there was plenty of shopping, planting and cleaning).

We shared the cooking with the other Workaway guest, and it was great having the facilities to be able to cook some of the flavours we’d been missing from home.

Another hard day cleaning grout

Another hard day cleaning grout

The fruits of our labour: Selecting, hauling then potting plants

The fruits of our labour: Selecting, hauling then potting plants

To compensate us for our efforts, our host Dermot was incredibly generous.

All our food needs were amply met, and he was more than happy to reward us at the end of a days work with a few cold beers, enjoyed together with his wonderful terrace views.

Cold beer refreshment at the end of a hot day

Cold refreshments (beer) at the end of a hot day

Playing the true host, he was also eager to show us some of the town (especially the nightlife), taking us to several of his favourite bars downtown, where we were able to really mix it with some locals.

It was a great way to really bond, letting our hair down together after the effort we’d put in each day.

Dermot was also very receptive to opinions and ideas, eager to hear our thoughts, and keen to take on board all that he could to make his place as good as possible for his future guests (it also really made us feel a part of it).

Our farewell to Dermot and Guanajuato

Our farewell to Dermot and Guanajuato

True, there were sometimes frustrations, but this inevitable when so many ideas are being bounced around (for some reason we all seem to want things our way), but nothing too bad.

It was a great way for us to start our Workaway journey.


* Check them out for yourself at

* The sign up fee is 23.00 for a single person or 30.00 for a couple (both for a 2 year period)

This entry was posted in Mexico and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Workaway (because we are now jobless at home)

  1. Tracie Howe says:

    Sounds like a great experience! I often get bored if I am “relaxing” in one place for too long, so I think this would be good for me. Also easy on the wallet.

    • Chris says:

      We’re a bit the same!

      It was the financial aspect that first appealed to us, but we’ve also walked away from it with some local insights to the place, as well as a couple of new friends!

  2. rachelheller293714697 says:

    Thank you so much for posting this link, Chris! Could certainly come in handy on my travels next year!

    • Chris says:

      My pleasure!

      When I first read of it I thought “how brilliant”

      Happy to share our experiences as well as the programs details, etc as anything that can make travel more affordable to everybody is sensational!

  3. Chris, that’s fantastic! I’ve never heard of Workaway and I think it’s a brilliant idea. Talk about win-win! And what an interesting introduction to Guanajuato. Congrats. ~Terri

    • Chris says:

      Thanks Terri!

      I believe there are a couple of other similar programs as well, but this is the one we investigated first.

      I think it is brilliant, and whilst not ever experience will be amazing, it sure is a thrifty and worthwhile idea if both parties approach it in the right spirit 🙂

  4. Pingback: Guanajuato in full colour | theworldwithchrisandsarah

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s