My husband and I had been working the London life for many years and reached a point in our lives – do we settle down, get a mortgage, have kids… or do we take all our savings, take the plunge and have a year away from the norm… we took the jump!
We had been recommended a cheap way of travelling and experiencing different parts of the world which was WWOOFing: Willing Workers On Organic Farms. So we did some research, found the countries that this is popular with and planned out the year!
An important part of the planning was choosing places we had always wanted to see, as well as being able to volunteer there. This was a perfect chance to escape the London hustle and bustle and open our minds to the world and to experiences we had only ever dreamt of on our long, tedious tube journeys into work.
One of my personal dreams had been to surf Hawaii. A pretty simple dream and easy to achieve, but nevertheless an important one to me, since learning to surf at age 15.
So we made it happen – I sometimes think people are put off from living their dreams because of the ‘effort’ involved or thinking it simply couldn’t be possible. But anything is possible if you choose a path to work towards, think about what you want and take a leap of faith; it is entirely worth it for what you achieve and how you enrich your life.
We started our journey in Canada working on a farm in a little town called Hope, very apt. The hard graft on the farm gave us free food and accommodation, leaving our free time and money to explore local surroundings and go on adventures. This was the same wherever we went in the world – the work was often hard and laborious, but after staring at screens day after day in an office the fresh air and scenery over shadowed any of the work we had to do. Plus, the cold beer at the end of a hard day’s grafting always tastes the best! We travelled the world working on farms, living with families and having some incredible experiences along the way.
One place that stood out for me however was the island of Maui in Hawaii. Flying out of tourist-ridden Honolulu, we landed into the wilds of Maui. In our 7 weeks on the island we managed to get ourselves onto a project with a couple that were building an Earth House by the side of the Pacific! It was completely out of chance; whilst hitch hiking our way back from the beach one evening we got chatting to a local who happened to be helping out on this particular project and offered to put in a good word for us. Someone we barely knew put in a good word! We were working there the next day, pitched our tent by the sea and stayed to help the couple out.
This is the way our time in Hawaii seemed to go, wonderful people doing lovely things for each other. We were stranded one night, trying to get back to the project and it was getting dark. A guy pulled over and said he would drive (out of his way) to take us home. We offered him some money or beer in return for his kindness but he told us only to do something nice for someone else, sometime. We remembered this on our road trip around New Zealand when we came across a couple broken down in the middle of nowhere and took them into the next town to get help. Kindness spread across the world!
Maui was one of those magical places. It’s a place that you instantly feel at home in, feeling happy and at one with beautiful places and most importantly, beautiful people. My dream to surf didn’t seem as important anymore (although I did do it!), I just wanted to give back to all the people that helped us and to the land that we were living on. We learnt to go right back to basics, and appreciate the beauty in the planet around us in its simplest of forms; a gorgeous sunset, eating food grown from the land, washing in a waterfall. These are the pleasures that Maui provided for me and took me back to a raw enjoyment that I needed to find after being surrounded by a materialistic world that didn’t make the time to enjoy moments that the world can offer you.
I cried when I left Hawaii, not because I was sad to go (our next stop was Fiji, so another exciting adventure loomed) but because I was overwhelmed with the change I found in myself.
Travelling gave me the chance to open up doors to other ways of existing that I never even imagined.