I came across this website called workaway where users can trade skills (physical labour, web development etc) in return for food and accommodation. This idea appealed to me quite a lot as a way of travelling on the cheap and getting to experience new cultures. After a couple of days of being on the site I was contacted asking if I would like to go out to Hungary to build a website for a dog and horse ranch. Yes Please! I’d been to Budapest a couple of time already knew I loved the city so was excited at the prospect of visiting the more rural parts of Hungary.
The ranch was gorgeous. A stretch of land with woods and a little house and lot’s of grounds for the animals. Speaking of which, there were 40 dogs plus pups, 10 horses, 10 goats, some cats, some birds and a rescued terrapin who’d just layed eggs! The animals weren’t worked in a typical farm sense, but some of the dogs are going to be trained up in search and rescue which sounds pretty awesome.
The ranch was being set up to be a centre for people do have animal related therapy as well as participate in dog training and other workshops. My role was initially to develop a website to promote this as a non-profit organisation to get sponsorship to help set up the ranch fully. However, there wasn’t very good wifi signal which made it hard to devote time to the site. I did venture out into the little town a couple of times to use a cafe to start the process but the world was conspiring against me and just as I was making progress my laptop charger broke and nowhere in the town sold them.
Putting the website to one side I got stuck in with the more physical work – from building fences to picking cherries and making jam, from cooking to walking the dogs. It was brilliant. Such a vast change from sitting here at my desk looking out at a busy roundabout working on at a screen all day! The trip was made even more of an ‘experience’ by the lack of drinking water on the farm (we had to fill up as many water bottles as possible on the bi-weekly shopping trip to town, but we could use a pump on the farm to get non-drinking water) the lack of electricity and the heatwave (36 degrees most days!). It felt so good to get back to nature (even if it was far more primitive than we had expected).
My friend, the other workawayer, the host and myself quickly formed a little family – the four of us and the animals. It was fab. Made even better by being able to see the stars each night, which was definitely one of the most incredible sights I have ever seen. I’m planning on finishing the website as soon as I can and hoping to go back out and visit in the not too distant future.