What do they say about the best laid plans? Or life happens when you're making other plans. Yikes! Only a few days on the road and so many of my expectations and concepts began to unravel.
My whole decision to take this leap was based on a seemingly good set of options for cheap places to stay. After hours of research, I send out a half dozen applications and numerous posts on the top work exchange websites. After getting accepted to a couple in California, I thought this would be a piece of cake.
Was I ever wrong.!
Just out of the gate I learned that just because something sounds good on paper and looks good in photos doesn't mean it will be a good fit. I also learned to do my homework!
After an uneventful and restful trip with leisurely stops in Portland, Ashland and Ukiah (so nice because I hadn't had a real vacation in years), we arrived in Fort Bragg for our first work exchange at a high end bed and breakfast near the ocean. The place got top ratings on Yelp and Trip Advisor so how bad could it be? Ha!
We met the owner, whom I will chose to leave anonymous, and the four other work exchangers. She gave us the grand tour of this gorgeous place with it's beautiful antiques, hand-painted tiles, water tower and grand ballroom on the top floor and then showed us our room. To her credit, she put us in one of the nicest rooms because it was during slow season.
We were invited to a home-cooked dinner of quiche and salad the first night, giving us a false sense that all was well. The next day, very quickly we learned that one of the work exchangers was leaving because as he put it, "he spoke up" about how disorganized things were and she asked him to leave.
I was assigned to do some marketing for the place and laundry, while A (my traveling companion) set to work on cleaning the constantly messy kitchen and repairing a broken dishwasher and washing machine.
We stayed a week and without laboring through the details since this is a blog not a book, and the situation just never felt right. Though there were lots of people in the household, including the owner's 95 year-old mother and her 13 year-old son, plus her boyfriend, there was something dry and cold about the energy there and no real sense of community or deep connection. Add to that the fact that behind the scenes, the place was total chaos with piles of stuff everywhere and no system to deal with it, especially in the kitchen and laundry room, where it mattered. Nothing ever felt clean. Garbage was overflowing and the owner could never find anything. There's more having to do with the way people were treated, but I'll stop here. I did learn the story of how the owner came to being a bed and breakfast owner and her story was a difficult one and certainly one that made me feel compassion for her, but continue to live there, I could not.
I learned my lesson! Be careful what you wish for! During this time, we also learned that the founder of one of the spiritual communities we applied for had had charges filed against him by eight of his women students for sexual assault. It had happened a number of years ago, but the community still has his photo on their website and all their promotional material. We withdrew our applications.
Upon further investigation of another program where we planned to spend 12 weeks, I learned that I would not be allowed to work on my business at all during that time. We withdrew our applications.
I suspect that this whole idea of having these arrangements to begin with was only in place to get me out the door and immersed into the unknown. My higher Self kind of tricked me, so to speak, into jumping into the void of uncertainty by luring me into believing that there were warm and fuzzy (and healthy) scenarios out there that would fit my needs and allow me to thrive. Perhaps there are and we will manage to find them.
In the meantime, the props were gone and now we were truly flying without a net.