The title of this blog doesn’t sound particularly yogic, which is because there isn’t going to be a lot of yoga in this one I’m afraid. In fact, my first ten days in Spain have been so bizarre and unexpected, I wasn’t even sure I should write about them on my blog. But, in the words of Swami Kripalu “To perform every action artfully is yoga.” I’ll leave you to judge just how “artfully” I’ve been performing my actions this week…
I’m currently using Workaway to allow me travel and do yoga while volunteering in exchange for accommodation and food. Great, in theory. For my first placement I stayed with a writer in Andalucia. He told me he wanted help with managing his social media and looking after his villas. Great, I thought. The place looks beautiful (I wasn’t wrong there!), I love social media, and maybe I can learn a bit about writing from him too. The reality was somewhat different.
After a few days to settle in, I was put to work painting the bathroom, while my host went on a trip. This didn’t sound too bad, except the bathroom in question was dark red, and my host wanted it painting ivory. With gloss paint. This was possibly the worst idea in the history of decorating. Three coats of gloss later and the dark red was still showing through. My best attempts to protect the floor tiles from the interminable drips of ivory paint had failed, and everything I touched became a painty, tacky mess. As for me, after three days of being stuck on my own in the tiny bathroom, I was high on paint fumes, covered in gloss paint that no amount of showering with turps was removing, and going borderline crazy.
Things did not improve on my host’s return. Clearly (and rightly) judging me unfit to decorate any other rooms, I was given less responsible tasks, such as bleaching a mouldy fridge, and scrubbing a rusty barbeque. The fridge I did a decent job of, the barbeque less so. Have you ever tried cleaning a barbeque with a wire brush? It didn’t go well for me. I cut my hand on the brush, and covered myself in soot. Coupled with the paint spatters, it was an attractive look. Eventually, sick of trying to swill said barbeque in a tiny bucket of water, I gave up, and rinsed it in the swimming pool. Not good, I know, but determined to stick to my yogic principles of truthfulness, I confessed immediately afterwards. I don’t think my host was actually listening, but at least I tried, right?!
Just as I thought I had done as much damage as it was possible to do, my host invited a large group of friends for lunch. He asked me what cake I would bake for dessert. I tried to tell him that baking isn’t really my thing, but this fell on deaf ears. So after googling a recipe that promised “best ever brownies” I got stuck in. The recipe told me to check the brownies after 25 minutes. What the recipe did not take into account was the volcanic heat of the ancient gas oven in the villa. After 16 minutes I caught unmistakeable whiffs of burnt cake. I rescued the brownies before they were entirely inedible, but the edges and bottom were undeniably blackened. It’s fine, I thought, hopefully by the time they’re served everyone will have had so much wine that they won’t notice. As my host watched me hack off the worst of the burnt bits, he informed me that his guests included a former chef of Mick Jagger and Michelin-starred restaurant owner. Brilliant.
Thankfully, everyone – chef included – was very gracious about my overdone offering. And all in all it wasn’t a bad week – the place was absolutely stunning (see picture!), the weather was beautiful, and I was able to do yoga every day by the pool, which let’s face it I wouldn’t have been doing back in the UK. But I have learnt that I need to select my Workaway placements carefully and perhaps stick to those with a clearer focus on yoga. And no, I still haven’t got all the gloss paint off myself!