We had been waiting for this moment for a few months, since searching for volunteering opportunities in South America. Boca had sent me a link with a few dozens and this was the one that immediately caught my eye: http://www.ecoyogapark.com.ar/. ‘Obviously’ this was the exact one she had chosen as well. Silviu was fine with whatever we decided, so we knew we had to come here. The place is more of an ashram, with organic farming, eco houses, daily yoga and meditation, philosophy classes and music therapy – all for 12 USD a day. What’s there not to like about this whole arrangement?:)
The bus ride there was not uneventful: one of the highways was closed so we had to take a country road, small, unpaved and full of holes. We were on it for a few hours and the constant breaking to avoid the holes gave me the worst motion sickness ever. I tried hard to sleep as much as possible and by the time we got back to the proper road my stomach was so messed up I had to say ‘No’ to the champagne they offered on board… I know, who does that, right? Well not only that, but I couldn’t drink the wine either, so Boca had to skip her champagne as well because when they brought it she was holding two almost full glasses of wine she had to fight with first… We had been waiting for this moment for so long, the promised buses in South America where they served wine and champagne for dinner… and now, when we finally found one, we were unable to enjoy this special treatment fully… At least the other 3 guys made up for it, as they had 2 glasses each, to compensate .
After the 22 hour bus ride we were supposed to catch another bus and then a cab to get to the park. This was not uneventful either (we even tried hitch hiking but I guess no man in his right mind would stop to pick up 5 backpackers carrying 10 backpacks) and we finally made it there at some point in the afternoon. The moment we entered the park we were so pleased with what we saw: green all around, palm trees, different kinds of huts and funny looking houses, different farms and animals at the horizon, and just a really great atmosphere. It was a sunny day and for the first time in more than a month we were able to walk around in a T-shirt. It turned out to be a one-time deal though, as for the next 18 days we spent there the temperature started at 3C in the morning and, with a few exceptions, never really went over 12-13 C.
We were immediately welcomed and shown around the park, then told what the daily program would be like. The volunteers would work about 4.5 hrs a day in the organic garden, on the ecological house or in the kitchen. The day started with prayer/music therapy at 5am and continued with preparing breakfast at 7, eating it at 8, continuing work ouside until 11.30, an occasional yoga class at 12.30, lunch at 1.30, philosophy class at 3.30, music therapy at 4, yoga and meditation at 4.30, snack at 6, dinner at 8 and then an occasional movie in the cinema room after dinner. Well, that’s something one could easily consider a busy schedule indeed! Of course all these (except for the actual work hours) were optional, but it was so hard not to attend something you knew was on and cool too! We had thought we’d go to the park to take some time to slow down, reflect, write, read, learn some Spanish, but we very soon realised that with so many things happening all the time, so many fantastic people around, so many stories to listen… with all these, having some ‘personal’ time would indeed prove to be very difficult.
We soon made peace with this when we realised the benefits of the above mentioned activities. We all had different ‘favorites’ in terms of the work: Boca was in her element in the kitchen, Silviu offered Takur (who is the ‘Godfather’ of the place and a guy we totally love!!) to spend his work hours massaging everyone in the park, and I had completely fallen in love with building the eco house. It felt as if a childhood dream had come true – playing with mud for a constructive purpose. We all sort of swapped around and did other things as well, to get a full experience of the place. One of the things never missing while working was the mate (the South American tea), as Argentinians are as serious about mate breaks as they are about their siesta time. I guess their motto could be something along the lines of: ‘working hard is one thing, but serious relaxing is an absolute must’. 🙂
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