I hadn’t actually decided to WWOOF in Portugal until the month before when I thought it would be a good idea to not only visit Portugal (I was just planning on visiting Lisbon and Porto) but to live there for a short time, learn about the land and agriculture and practice my Portuguese. This came to be the best decision ever because of all that followed and the memories I made.
The process was super simple — paying the membership fee of 15 euros, messaging a total of 3 hosts and accepting the first offer that came my way. My host, Maria, was an INCREDIBLE person with a pension for horoscopes, a knack for herbalism and alternative medicine, and a super green thumb. We sent a couple of messages and emails between each other and before I knew it we were meeting up at the bus station and traveling together to Montijo. I didn’t really know what to expect other than a relaxing time, some sunshine (and an eventual tan) and flamingos.
It turned out I had a roommate, Tina, who was Kurdish-German, 35, and a free spirit. We got along great from the get-go and she was never shy in helping me navigate the town, grabbing a coffee with me and marveling in our sweet summer. Together, we make some awesome creations, did our best with work, and really took advantage of our wonderful time in this paradise of a town. Generally our work was around 2-4 hours a day depending on what needed to be done but when the heavy construction work began it was closer to 6-8 hours.
My absolute favorite part of the whole experience (or at least in my top 3) was our colorful flat where I had my own corner room and a beautiful living room with pink, yellow and green carpets, red sofas and wooden rocking seats! I probably spent most of my time on those red sofas where I ate my meals, wrote in my journal, blogged and just did nothing. This was especially true during my first week in Montijo because my host gave us the week off!
Throughout, I had all-access to her garden which I helped clean. I also made sure to grab some oranges from the tree to make fresh-squeezed orange juice that was the best I’d ever had! I even gifted my host in Lisbon a jar of it because it was so good I just had to make sure others knew about it.
I also loved that the town was in such a prime location within walking distance from several parks, a library and cinema, grocery stores and markets and the sea. By bike (or bus) I could make it to some lovely beaches with flamingos and by bus I could reach towns like Setubal, Lisbon and Palmela.
Regarding the work, it mainly included renovating the flat (adding cork board to the floors, painting and designing) as well as maintaining the garden and doing little artistic projects like painting chairs. Overall it was very relaxed and I was able to take my time with these projects, doing them as I pleased and saw fit since we didn’t have set deadlines or worked under strict supervision. For most of the work I dressed casually, in sandals and wearing sunglasses and that was basically all I needed (as well as a water bottle). It was a pleasure to live simply with a gas on-the-floor stove, no refrigerator and cold showers. I really appreciated what we were given because it made me more conscious of the things I was doing like cooking and when showering which we tend to brush off as trivialities. However, when I come back I’ll be sure to bring some bug spray because that sure would have been handy.
A special thanks to Maria for making this summer adventure possible!