South America & The Middle East, July 2014 to March 2015
In 2014, I finished grad school, declined job offers and decided to work my way across the world. My career trajectory since has been the envy of my peers.
Arambepe, Brasil – July 2014 – A bit of everything at a holistic ranch
One of my favorite jobs ever. The work was nothing special, mostly construction and prepping for events at a holistic site, but everyone there was incredible. I worked with a crew of fellow backpackers for an eccentric German-Brasilian with 16 dogs. I slept in a hammock every night, in a hut that I shared with a soap-hungry rat.
Most afternoons featured a beach siesta.
Salvador, Brasil – August 2014 – Host at a hostel
I worked at a hostel in downtown Salvador. An incredible boss and group of coworkers made the job impossible to hate. I was technically there to handle check-ins, laundry, and online bookings, but bossman’s main focus was “setting the vibe” so I spent most of my work hours dancing and hanging out with new people from all over the world.
Shushufindi, Ecuador – September 2014 – Renovation at a hotel
They can’t all be good. I was there stripping rotted wood from one wall and attaching it to another with rusty nails. Prostitution paid the bills at the hotel and I quickly realized that Spanish and Portuguese were more different than I thought. A learning experience.
Pucón, Chile – October 2014 – Renovation at a hostel.
Similar work to Ecuador, this time creating new lockers and cabinets out of old doors and running out of paint halfway through a wall. The city was full of the least friendly people I’ve ever met, but I worked with an awesome Spaniard and we remain good friends.
Trujillo, Peru – November 2014 – English teacher
The woman who I worked with also had a secret side job of dressing like a teddy bear and delivering birthday gifts to people. I talked her into letting me do it one day, but the gift-giver had her grandmother selfishly die that day and canceled the order.
Morada Qasa, Bolivia – December 2014 – Spanish teacher at a library
It’s hard to put in one line exactly what I did as it varied from day to day. My main jobs were to read to/with the kids and to make sure they are washing their hands and brushing their teeth. It was in a very impoverished area and many of the adults were illiterate, with some not knowing Spanish, so reading to the children and getting them interested in reading and literacy was the main goal of the organization. Hot water was somewhat uncommon and many of the children did not have toothbrushes at home so we decided to make washing hands and brushing teeth mandatory to enter the library so that the kids would establish good habits.
Kas, Turkey – January 19th, 2015 – Construction at a campground
I arrived in the evening, stayed awake until 4:00 AM because it was too cold to sleep, and left the next morning before starting work. I hate quitting early, but giving me a room that doesn’t block the wind or have a heater in the middle of winter told me the boss wouldn’t be considerate about other things either.
Amman, Jordan – February 2015 – Chef at a hotel
Chef is actually a pretty generous title. The only things I cooked were eggs and omelets. The main reason for my being there seemed to be giving the European tourists a familiar face and clean accent while trying to convince them to take tours and leave online reviews for the hotel. Cynics aside, fun place to work and great crew.
And this guy hung around the lobby.
Mitzpe Ramon, Israel – March 2015 – Handyman at an alpaca farm
Easy and unchallenging work, mostly weatherproofing fences and plastering walls. Boring. Fortunately, management was good, the crew was mostly good, and it was an interesting area, making my time there pleasant.
The thing they don’t warn you about with alpaca farms? They smell like alpacas!
Santiago, Chile – April 2015 – Chef at a restaurant
A real chef this time, cooking entrees and pastries from scratch. Still getting my feet under me, but so far, so good.