BARRACO LODGE, CHILE
if you read my previous post, then you've already heard about and seen some photos from our experience staying at barraco. what we weren't prepared for though, was not crossing the lake again for the next 32 days.
we had been living on the road for about 8 months at this point, across 4 continents and over a dozen countries, the constantly moving lifestyle had started to catch up with us. we were also wrapping up a perfect road trip with friends through chile, this being our final scheduled stop. to find balance and save some money, we knew we needed to slow down. originally we had arranged to volunteer on a small farm near puerto varas via helpx, which we were looking forward to after having such an incredible experience working in slovenia. however that all changed once we stepped foot on barraco's land and met their knowledgeable, kind and inviting staff.
we learned a ton...from making bread from scratch to transporting un-broken horses down the river. what we will always remember though, is our appreciation for the time and effort it takes to get things done in such a remote part of the world. the days were long and sometimes very hard yet we never got tired of soaking in the views from barraco's deck and the simple beauty in taking things more slowly.
WHAT IS WORK EXCHANGE?
exactly what it sounds like really – a volunteer opportunity for travelers to work in exchange for free lodging and food. each experience can be different based on the work, environment, type of business or operation, but the same idea has grown globally to support travelers and provide an alternative educational opportunity.
our agreement with barraco was that we would help out on the land, in the kitchen and looking after guests. as well as leveraging our backgrounds in a few key areas: business development, sales, marketing, and social media. we worked on unifying their social strategy to be more consistent and informative, targeted new markets to grow their business and completely over-hauled their now all-inclusive pricing model. it was fun, challenging and very hard at times... especially given the occasionally reliable internet connection.
OUR DAY TO DAY:
KYLE: every day was different, which was the best part. the entire lodge ran on wood fire, from the hot water for showers to the hot tubs to the kitchen stove, so chopping/moving logs and starting fires was an all day affair. i would also pick up and drop off guests, transport horses and gasoline across the lake (behind an 8 foot boat!), feed the dogs/horses/cats/oxen, and transport wood for building projects uphill to the lodge. one of my favorite days was manning the coals for 6 hours while we slow roasted the traditional patagonian lamb.
KATE: my jobs were split between helping with social media, building guest materials and general strategy for growing the business. i also spent a lot of time in the kitchen, helping prepare meals alongside the head chef, setting the table for every meal, making drinks [i'm now a pisco sour master!], working with the local vendors [i think my favorite was seeing where they got their fresh homemade honey], picking apples, doing many [many] dishes, tending to the guests, and many other random little jobs that would pop up.
AND WHEN WE HAD A LITTLE FREE TIME:
sometimes we would work 12 straight hours and other days we would have the whole day free to enjoy the lodge and surrounding nature. after completing our jobs/tasks for the day, we would explore the local waterfall and streams, hike, fish, sleep at the local refugio, take boat rides and cuddle with the dogs when we were feeling lazy. there was always a roaring fire to cozy up by and keep you warm as the weather was usually unpredictable.
INTERESTED IN DOING WORK EXCHANGE?
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