Some of my hosts have been friends, some friends of friends, others from Couchsurfing, and also from the HelpX website. Both Couchsurfing and HelpX allow guests to write reviews so you can get a general sense of who they are before you meet. For my next host, I had seen many positive reviews talking about the great location, the multitude of things you can learn, the fun atmosphere, and the amazing food. But there was this common thread of caution running throughout the comments.
|He can seem a bit strict at the beginning but he soon warms up and loves to tell a few puns and jokes.|
|Though at first everyone thinks he is so strict and sometimes speak mean words to me. After one week you will find him so nice and really take care about us.|
|One may think that K- San is a very serious person at the beginning, but the fact is that he is so kind and generous that he cares so much about the well-being of all volunteers.|
|He seemed a bit cold at the beginning, he was quickly more relax and funnier than he pretends ! 🙂|
Naturally, I was quite curious to meet him. Would I find him cold? Would I be offended?
After being first introduced, we traveled in the car to the Volunteer House. Along the way he pointed out different things around town, and explained what goes on on the farm. They grow cherries, apples, persimmons, peaches, grapes, and walnuts, and have one of the most successful you-pick fruit businesses in the area. And that’s saying something, as the local industry is flooded with you-pick orchards. He did seem quite serious, but I was too busy looking for the good qualities everyone had mentioned to be too concerned. In the first 10 minutes I realized what wealth of knowledge I had found in my host, and determined to ask to stay longer. In the end I spent most of November at the orchard and found him to be just as kind, funny, and considerate as others had said.
When we arrived at the volunteer house he began the introduction process. First, I met J, a Panamanian volunteer who only had a few days left before moving on. Next, I met the two cats who would be my daily companions (and pests). Then came the facilities introduction, which lasted just over an hour. It included how to open and lock the gate, how to properly wash one’s hands upon returning from work, how to and the necessity of gargling after returning “from town”, the proper use of the shower, taking off one’s shoes prior to entering the buildings, how to get the sliding doors to line up, the daily schedule, and the final, most serious matter that volunteers have had difficulty with: futons. He explained that they must be put out after 10am on winter days, and be taken in before 3pm so that there is no chance of the damp touching them. “Some volunteers have even tried washing the futon in the washing machine. Can you believe it? Clearly futon care is something that foreigners have a lot of trouble with,” he lamented. I couldn’t have agreed more.