Something I really wanted to do whilst travelling was work for a while, whether it be in a hostel, bar, cafe, whatever! I just wanted to settle down for a few weeks to experience living in one place for a little while, curb the spending budget and to be honest, do some work! I have to say, it does feel strange to not be working for such a long time, I have always worked, part time through school from the age of 15 (13 if you count when I helped out in my mam’s office licking envelopes and filing!), all throughout university and then I’ve been in full time employment since I graduated in 2005.
Colombia seemed the perfect place to work, specifically Medellin, as I had heard great things about the area and it was a sort of half-way mark in my six month travels through Central and South America. By luck, a hostel I had emailed about ‘volunteering’ (basically working for board), got back to me and said they knew a hostel out in the countryside which was looking for volunteers and sent my details on to them.
Alexis and Mathilde from Hostal La Finca got in touch straight away wanting to know when could I start, and within a few days I had left Medellin for San Jeronimo, a little town about 2 hours outside the city.
When I saw the website for Hostal La Finca and all the wonderful pictures of the beautiful surroundings, I knew I would like working there. The first night Alexis and Mathilde met me in the village and after a fun night of drinking cheladas and watching the locals dance into the night, we drove twenty minutes into the mountains on the colourful Finca tuk tuk.
Over the next two weeks I firstly Finca-sat, looking after the place while Alexis and Mathilde were away for a few days, feeding the chickens, looking after the two dogs Fibi, a gorgeous Beagle pup and her big brother from another mother Mateo, as well as Mila the friendly cat, and basically taking care of the hostel. There were a few guests during the week but the weekend was when it really took off at the hostel, with a majority of local Colombian guests enjoying a well earned break from the city.
I looked after the kitchen and guest rooms, cleaning, mopping, sweeping, polishing, changing sheets, washing, preparing rooms, stocking the fridge, helping guests with queries, cleaning and maintaining the swimming pool, generally doing anything that needed to be done! I worked hard! And it felt good to be useful and doing a bit of labour for the first time in a few months. Given the way my mind works, I also had some PR and marketing ideas for Alexis and helped him out with that, as well as mocking up a guest registration form, formalising the volunteer task information sheet, setting up the reservation board and creating some nice bird sticker templates to stop the birdies from flying into the upstairs windows. Every little helps!
In addition, I looked after the cheese that La Finca was cultivating (bathing them with water and salt every night – their beauty regime was better than mine), prepped some meals, made fresh juice and also cooked a meal for guests one evening, which they loved apparently! And they were PAYING for it! Can I add professional chef to my CV now?
Aside from the work, I had so much FUN at Hostal La Finca. A few friends of mine I had met in Guatemala and Panama respectively (who also knew eachother from Guatemala, small world…) stayed at the hostel while I was there, I was able to enjoy the beautiful hike to the nearby waterfalls, swimming in the huge pool and a visit to the local farm to pick rose peaches. I met such lovely people who were guests of the hostel and enjoyed crazy nights of aguardiente drinking, teaching a group of Colombian/Brazilian/German/Norwegian/Mexicans how to Irish dance, cumbia dancing as well as having hip hop dance parties (which I played a small part in instigating…), annnnnd I practiced my Spanish and a bit of French and German too. Not bad for just two weeks eh? And all in the most beautiful setting in the foothills of the Colombian Andes.
If you’re ever in Medellin or anywhere near, do NOT hesitate to book a few days out in Hostal La Finca! It is a wonderful place where you can really unwind and feel worlds away from the city, enjoy the swimming pool, hikes in the mountain, a dip in the waterfalls, and they also now offer yoga classes (by Mathilde) as well as biking and horse riding locally too. Not to mention a million other things and more to come as the hostel is only really taking off as it’s been open for just a couple of years.
Hostal La Finca – Culturas Unidas, is really where cultures unite for a wonderful, magical time!
Hostal La Finca is also on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/HostalLaFinca
I tried to convince Alexis to get on Instagram too, have you bought Mathilde that smartphone yet, Alexis?? 😉