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Category Archives: Work

Write for La Aventura Project/Stay in hostels for free

A big announcement today, everyone!  Since we are back in the US now, working real jobs again (boo) and editing the documentary, we don’t have as much to post here!  Thus, we are looking for current travelers in South or Central America to write hostel reviews for us and keep our directory growing!  If you are a good writer (in English), good photographer, and would like to stay in hostels and hotels for FREE, please contact us about an opportunity to write for our website.  We will also gladly feature a link to your own personal blog or website on all of your hostel reviews.  Again, we are only looking for travelers currently in South or Central America to review hostels in those regions.  Leave a comment or email us at laaventuraproject AT gmail DOT com if you are interested in more information about this awesome project!

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We Hate Loki

Before reading this, read yesterday’s post, because the two together are meant to appropriately demonstrate our love-hate relationship with Loki Hostel.  It was a blast running the bar.  The experience we gained because of it will definitely help us if we ever want bartending jobs in the future.  But another thing that we really like is SLEEP!  The noise around that place never stops.  It’s fine if you are working, but when you’re trying to sleep at 2am and the whole building is still shaking from the loudest dubstep you’ve ever heard, you start to go crazy.  Not to mention once the bar closes everyone runs around drunk and screaming, messed up on Blood Bombs and ready to go out to the clubs.  Headphones or earplugs are definitely necessary for sleeping in the dormitories.  Most who stay and work at Loki are just all about the partying, every. single. night.  Many people love it, and end up staying and working here weeks or months longer than intended, drinking on the cheap, day and night.  It’s like a vortex that sucks you in.  Call us old, but we just don’t feel the need to stay out until the sun rises!  We did it one time to say we had, but most nights we were the first in bed, around 2:30am.  Ha.

Also, everyone who works at Loki is always just a little bit sick.  That’s because the staff room is usually in a general state of disarray and filth, and you don’t tend to take care of yourself very well living this lifestyle.  As of now, everyone has this horrible cough that gets worse and worse.  And there is no chance of getting better when you sleep no more than 10 feet away from the next sick person.  We’re hoping that we will be magically cured soon now that we are far away from Loki!

Loki is also not what we would consider an “authentic” South American experience.  It is made up almost completely of Europeans, Australians, North Americans, and other English speakers.  We think our Spanish actually suffered due to lack of use while here.  Some of the foreign staff members who’ve been here for over one year don’t even speak Spanish because they never leave Loki so they don’t have to learn!  The Loki vortex…it doesn’t really encourage you to get out there and immerse yourself in the wonderful culture of Cuzco.  It just tells you that it’s about time for another Blood Bomb.

There is one last thing that I have to complain about.  If you stay in a hostel, it is inappropriate to have floor-shaking sex in a dorm room.  I can’t tell you how many times I was woken by strange sounds from one of the beds next to me.  Like we said, it really is kind of like a freshman dormitory, full of drunk and horny travelers.

All in all, we did have a good time a Loki.  But we were SO EXCITED to get as far away from that place as possible.  Maybe we are too old, or maybe we are just a little more mature than you should be to be a proper Loki employee.  I guess Loki did make us realize how much we have grown up since college.  If you want to spend some time in Cuzco, live for free and have fun, I’d say to do it.  Just don’t expect anything about it to be relaxing.

We Love Loki

'80s Night at the Loki bar

“LOKI LOKI LOKI!” someone shouts as we all raise our glasses.

“Oi oi oi!” we respond in Aussie fashion, slam our glasses down on the bar, and proceed to chug our Blood Bombs.  A Blood Bomb consists of a shot of mostly vodka with a few drops of grenadine dropped into a half-glass of Red Bull.  Totally beneficial for your heart and brain; it’s the signature drink of Loki Hostel.

We first heard of Loki from a Couchsurfing host in Ecuador who recommended we stay at the Máncora location.  We ended up staying elsewhere, but we remembered him raving about Loki as an awesomely fun party hostel with opportunities to work and stay for free.  We wanted to try a different volunteer (not WWOOFing) opportunity, so we decided to give Loki Cuzco a try.  As soon as we walked into the bar and offered our help to the manager, we were given bartending jobs and asked to start the next night!

The weekly activities board.

Loki Cuzco is the original of the four Loki Hostels (the others are located in Máncora, Lima, and La Paz, Bolivia) and was opened in 2005 by a group of backpacker friends.  It’s a HUGE hostel (capacity over 200) in a 500-year-old amazing historic building.  The owner and staff are all friendly and bilingual, and the hostel includes free breakfast, a book exchange, a full restaurant and bar, a tour booking office, and daily activities and parties.  It basically has everything you could ever need so that you don’t even have to venture outside if you don’t want to!

Dancing it up on Zach's birthday night

All of the bartenders are volunteers at Loki.  We worked four shifts a week (either 1-7pm or 7pm-2am) in exchange for a free dormitory bed, one free meal a day, and 40% off on everything at the bar/restaurant.  It was definitely an awesome deal, and we had a lot of fun.  The bar staff during the four weeks we worked at Loki consisted of travelers from Ireland, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and a few more of us from the U.S.  We all got along great and every night was a party.  Working behind the bar is not really work; it’s more like serving some drinks while drinking some drinks.  By the end of the night there were always people dancing on the bar, and most of the staff usually went out dancing until the wee hours after our bar closed.  Highlights of our time at Loki included dancing like crazy on the bar at Groove Nightclub, going out for pizza for Zach’s birthday, and all the random hilarious conversations in the staff room.  Being at Loki was kind of like living in a college dorm again, except with the added fun of people from all different countries and none of the hassle of class!

Before you judge us as nonsstop-partying alcoholics, please wait for tomorrow’s other-side-of-the-coin post:  WE HATE LOKI

The South America Tourist feature

Our awesome announcement for the new year is that we are now official contributors on The South America Tourist website.  We’re writing hostel reviews for the site as we travel and our first post went up today!  It’s about our great experience at Laguna Surf Camp, in Máncora, Perú and you can find it here!  Writing for this popular backpacker’s resource is an awesome opportunity and we’re pretty psyched about it!  Thanks for checking it out!

That's us!

Tungurahua Tea Room

After leaving Baños, I think that now is a good time to write about the second WWOOFing experience of our journey, which occurred there… 

Carol's house with the volcano in the background

We arrived in the afternoon on a bus and took a quick taxi ride to the edge of town.  The farm is really only a 10-15min walk from central Baños, but with all our stuff it would have been a long hike.  The owner of the farm, Carol, a talkative Canadian ex-pat, warmly greeted us and gave us a quick tour.  The property is a skinny pieces of land located on a hill with a front wall of sugarcane and Carol’s house resting on the top. The Volcán Tungurahua looks down upon it and is usually snow-covered in the mornings.  Near the front there is a citrus garden with several very nice lemon trees and about a dozen others that grow small tangerines of sorts.  As you walk further in you will find a small volunteers’ room with a bed, a tool shed, and a locked storage room.   Following these are an open air kitchen with sink, stove, and table, then a bathroom with toilet, sink and shower.  Near the kitchen is a very nice spice and tea garden containing basil, oregano, cilantro, rosemary, thyme, lemongrass, and other lemony things used to make delicious teas.  Past the herbs there is a “spiritual circle” surrounded by flowers and such with a fire pit in the center.  If you walk even further there are two shade structures with hammocks and between them a garden of large cactus.  Under one of these we placed our tent, with another tent already under the other.  Between our tents and Carol’s house we could also find anise, lettuce, green peas, spinach, and some red potatoes once we knew what the plants looked like.  Other than that there were a few plantain trees and several avocado trees (only available if you could beat the dogs to them).

Segundo, the gardener, and Zach, cooking lunch

The Work:

Usually we would wake up around 7am and make breakfast.  There are two other yard workers that Carol employs whom would show up around 7:30.  Carol also has two large dogs who need walking so one of the workers takes them on a hike up the volcano every morning.  The hike is very nice and terminates at a natural spring with amazing carbonated mineral water produced by volcanic pressure.  Probably the best hike you will find in Baños.  After 2 hours of dog walking we had tea from the garden and sometimes a snack then after tea we went to work on Carol’s projects around the yard.  This work almost always involved randoms projects such as assisting in building walls, or sweeping dirt sidewalks, or weeding around the pathways.  Sometimes we felt like we were fighting the jungle for superficial reasons and I’m sad to report that at no time during our stay did we actually do any farming.  The work was really easy though, and no one was ever looking over your shoulder telling you to try harder.  It just wasn’t farming, and we weren’t really there to push rocks around.

Our "home"...we put our tent on top of that platform.

Overall:

We loved the location, and the work was generally easy and laid back.  However, food was not included.  Yes, whatever you could find on the farm was yours (unlimited tea, herbs, and lemonade) but most our food came from money from our pocket.  This probably contributed to our underachievement, and eventual departure when our housesitting opportunity arose.  But the property is extremely beautiful and we had a whole lot of fun there.   Just know before you go that it’s not your “normal” WWOOF experience.  After working on only two farms, we will continue searching for exactly what that “normal” experience is!

House-sitting/dog-sitting in Baños!

Staying in one place for a few weeks rather than a few days is something we really hoped to do a lot on our trip.  The first place we planned to stay for awhile was Baños, Ecuador.  We started off WWOOFing at the Tungurahua Tea Room, where the Canadian owner, Carol, introduced us to a few other expats around town.  Sticking around for awhile and getting to know people led us to the best opportunity we’ve had yet on this trip:  house-sitting!

Our temporary home!

How we got this gig: In our first few days of WWOOFing we did some work on the property of one of Carol’s tenants, an American expat named Patricia.  Patricia was really cool and helped us find all the awesome things to do in Baños!  Then, after we had been in town for a couple weeks, Patricia got called away for a last-minute business trip.  She needed someone to stay in her house (expats are big targets for robbery) and take care of Oso, the dog.  So she asked us!  We happily obliged and moved from living in a tent to living in a nice house with a refrigerator, hot water, and Internet (hence the reason we’ve been able to post every day and get caught up recently)!  Oso did require a lot of work (long hikes, playing, bathing, feeding, etc.) but other than that our only real job was to keep an eye on things!  It was a great, relaxing 10 days!

Relaxation!

I think this experience exemplifies the great opportunities you can stumble upon while traveling if you’re flexible!  If our schedule and plans had been more rigid, we never would have been able to do this.  We had such a great time that now we’re thinking that more house-sitting might be a great option for us as we travel.  I’ve heard good reviews about sites such as www.MindMyHouse.com, but I’m not sure there are enough listings in South America to make the $20 membership fee worth it.  Anyone have any tips on this???  Or other ideas for us to get more house-sitting gigs?

This whole house was made from recycled building materials!

Lofted bedroom

Beautiful view off the side yard

¿podemos seguir adelante con ella?

My pack

Because my Spanish is still really bad, google translate helps me out.  What I think I am saying is CAN WE JUST GET ON WITH IT?  I am ready to get out of here.  Not that Arizona is not an amazing place, but after a year of planning, it is time to get this show on the road.  I already have my backpack set and almost everything I need to survive for 1 year is in it.  These next few months are going to be very long.