I got suggested to do a work away on a vineyard in Bolivia. Well I had two weeks to spare, so I signed up to WorkAway which is a cultural exchange for travellers to immerse themselves in another country, get accommodation, learn new language and skills – usually its free accommodation for work. There is a Membership fee with this but if you are travelling around and want to stay somewhere for free, well this is a good option where you an enlist to stay at some hostels, cabins etc where you will work for free stay. You can work on different farms around the world, vineyards and even a find a travel buddy.
I chose to work on an organic vineyard in Tarija. The person I was communicating was messaging me on Whatsapp (this is a frequent way to book tours etc in South America), anyway, they were advising on how to get from the airport to the vineyard which was reassuring for me as it’s still the middle of nowhere.
Upon arriving, they were having a party so A LOT OF WINE flowing, I met my friend and the owner of the vineyard (who LOOKS JUST LIKE SANTA).
I arranged to stay two weeks here so I could learn how an organic farm runs and plan my next move.
I went to Tarija when it had the COLDEST WINTER EVER!!! Santa who happened to called Jesus said it has not snowed in Tarija since he was a child in the 70’s. Now, this place is built for hot climate where the building is built to circulate and cool the air down. Meaning it does not trap heat. It was frikkin cold where I wore 3 layers of clothing but yet my fingers and toes were still cold.
Although, a vineyard covered in a snow is a pretty sight – I hope you can agree with my photos as it looked like Christmas! I did learn a lot about wine making and drank a lot of wine…. one thing they will say to you whilst travelling Bolivia is to drink wine.
In this vineyard, they provided a tasty high carb breakfast and a big lunch (trust me, you need this if you are doing hard manual labour – you need all the carbs).
There is a big language barrier if you don’t speak Spanish, luckily, there was my friend who spoke it fluently. Tarija is a small town so there isn’t too much to do besides from wonder the cemetery (very interesting head stones, watch a local horse race, visit other vineyards and taste other wines.
There was a holy day which meant a lot of the locals took stalls in the streets of Tarija making and selling tasty treats and gifts to celebrate this holy day. Everyone was positive and happy to celebrate this holy day (which I cannot remember) but the food they were serving was delish!!
I find it very interesting to visit cemeteries in different countries and it was normal for people to come and chill in the cemetery so we took a stroll through the one in Tarija and found it fascinating how they lay out their graves as well as try to cater to all budgets. If you don’t have a lot of money then they will pile you up above ground (see images) but if you were wealthy then a plot would be purchased but there is not a specific direction on how the coffin or tombstone should be. In this cemetery, it seems they squeeze you in a space whereas over in the UK or Western countries, there a guidelines of the direction and space between the graves. It also makes me wonder if and when they place a new grave in that is tightly close to another grave.. will they knock it?
This was definitely a cool experience and from here I moved onto Salar de Uyuni and crossed the border to Chile.
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