This story starts at the Caravaca bus station waiting for my pick up to Camp Altiplano in Spain. I was excited about this totally new experience for me. I haven’t been volunteering before, not this way anyways. And there she was, the camp coordinator Silvia, with a Jeep (I learned very quickly she loves this machine which takes her wherever she wants to go). She is calm and relaxed with a firm attitude and from this very moment I knew everything will go well.
As Spain, so was the camp something new and exciting. The dry Autumn weather was welcoming me to the fields of almond trees. The view is breathtaking and if you see closely it is really visible which part is regenerated. As I have been reading about regenerative techniques I was eager to see how things work in practise and learn new things. I didn’t have to wait too long for this because there was a course starting and we needed to prepare the camp for the participants. This was no surprise for me because I was joining the course too, this is one of the reasons I decided to volunteer this time. And the learning continued during the course and suddenly everything made sense. I got an explanation for things I had observed.
And then the course was over and things fell into a normal rhythm. Running a restoration camp needs lots of work. The buildings need to be maintained, toilets emptied to composts, weeding, watering, harvesting, fixing one thing and another. To my surprise the planting season started and we seeded, spread compost and mulched. There is always something to do and if you still get bored you can make your own experiment if you nicely ask Silvia for permission. I wanted to see if I could make a quick compost with the material I had there. Whatever you do during the day, it is so good to see the result of hard work.
But everything is not just work. And the work is not really work because it is something you want to do. And volunteering is so much more than that. Besides ecological restoration I have learned Spanish culinary, traditions, language, customs, building techniques, agriculture, etc.
The benefit of this camp is the farm on which land this camp is located. For a change of daily activities we could give our helping hands to the farm. I loved the harvesting in any form. The smell of the fresh tomatoes, the shapes of aubergines, the flowers of zucchini to name some of these. Sometimes when we were lucky we could join the cooking of veggies to amazing pastes and sauces. Or when we were harvesting grapes we helped with the juicing process, the first step to wine. Some evenings we went to the farms to join dinner and play some music. Longer you volunteer, the more people you learn to know and the more fun you have.
As all the good times the sadness comes when it is time to say goodbye. I left this camp heavy hearted hoping I can return again and support this amazing vision the camp and the farm has. And once more I was at the bus station, hoping I could come back and be surrounded by these amazing people who make one feel part of the family, as you ever are.