Once upon a time, or better said two years ago in Thailand, a Canadian boy, who worked in the resort on the beach where my best friend Alona and I were staying, told us about Workaway – a new way of combining travel and volunteering. At that time, Alona and I were just two lazy travellers that spent most of their time on the beach or eating at the local food markets, but we thought that maybe one day we were going to travel and volunteer at the same time, allowing ourselves to not only significantly cut travel costs, but also see new places from a non-tourist’s perspective.
As with most of our ideas we made it happen, and a bit less than two years after we found out what Workaway is, we landed safely on beautiful Canadian ground. We only bought a one-way ticket and decided that we would simply go with the flow and see what happens. We only made a few arrangements before leaving Europe, and one of those was to book a place in a community house in Toronto.
I think it’s important to mention that we hadn’t experienced any kind of community living situation before, besides sharing an apartment with random roommates at certain stages of our lives. It didn’t always go well but that’s another story. Honestly, I didn’t even know what a community house was, but after reading Steve’s (the owner of the house) description, I decided that staying in a community house would be great to start our trip to Canada. I applied, and after a few days he answered, saying that we seemed like a great fit to the house. We were delighted to think that we were not only going to stay for a few weeks in Toronto, but we would also get a chance to meet very interesting people whom share similar ideas and ways of living.
To be completely honest, I always thought that a community house was something super hippy and I wouldn’t fit in, but I’m actually very happy I was wrong. The place we stayed in was indeed very open and friendly, but it was also well organized which made sharing space with another 10 human beings not only bearable, but actually quite pleasant. The house itself was very big, so everyone could find a place for themselves – my favorite spots were the upstairs deck where I practiced and taught yoga every day, and the front porch where we shared our meals.
In exchange for staying in the house we would work around 4 hours a day, with weekends off. It worked out perfectly as we had enough time to see a bit of the city and also work on our own projects. Steve would ask us to help with cooking, general home maintenance, sitting the little girl that was living there, and helping with some graphic design and translations for a website he owns about the vegetarian lifestyle. We performed all the tasks gladly, feeling blessed for being able to share our skills and knowledge with other people and receiving a great amount of hospitality and kindness from Steve and others living in the house.
We would start our days quite early, preparing breakfast for everyone, practicing yoga or meditating, and welcoming the day on the upper deck. The weather in Toronto was great so we would eat our morning oatmeal with fruits on the porch, chatting with people that permanently lived in the house. We would spend the rest of the morning helping out and in the afternoons we would usually wander around the city or just relax in the house.
Days were long and full of different activities, but the three weeks that we spent there also went by really quickly and we were quite sad when the time to departure arrived. We bonded with the people who lived there and we really enjoyed living in the community house, so although we were excited about discovering new parts of Canada, we also felt it would be nice if we could stay a bit longer.
Besides the morning routine that made my stay there unforgettable, and the opportunity to teach yoga to those beautiful people, I really loved our delicious vegetarian meals that we cooked together. Homemade hummus, peanut butter with black tahini, and freshly made salads were only a few of my favorites. I watched people preparing some dishes with great attention in order to be able to make them my own one day.
We also shared some meaningful conversations with our housemates, played instruments, biked around, and visited really great farmer’s markets where Steve would buy supplies for the house. The veggies and fruits, organic and brought straight from the fields, were super tasty and the visits at the markets itself would be really pleasant. I’ve seen veggies that I’ve never seen in my life, like purple peppers and ground tomatoes, that were some of the tastiest things I’ve had in my entire life! Plus, although I’m not really a corn lover, Ontario’s corn is second to none.
Needless to say, our first Workaway experience was amazing. When we decided to travel this way we didn’t really know how it would turn out, but after almost a month of workawaying in Canada, we have to say that we had a blast here and we were really happy that we took this opportunity to travel and work at the same time. We are planning to keep travelling this way for a while longer so keep your fingers crossed and wish us luck with the upcoming adventures!