voluntourism rochester ny

Highlights from Valencia & Barcelona, Spain

There was a request for photos from our trip to Spain, and well, twist my arm!

Most of our trip was spent in Valencia - the Tancat de la Pipa to be exact. That’s where we volunteered, working to restore Lake Albufera and it’s surrounding areas. Our group was specifically working to clean up the lagoons, which supply lake with clean water.

Every day, we traveled down the bumpy dirt road to our project site. Each day we received a different assignment which brought us all around the lagoons. We moved plants, weeded, monitored water levels and waded in to plant aquatic grasses, and it felt great to be making a difference. There are only three full time staffers working this large area, and without volunteers, they simply wouldn’t be able to get it all done.

We weren’t alone. We met volunteers from California, and also local college students getting hands on experience. We traded stories about our cultures while we worked, learned new words and developed friendships. If we had traveled from place to place on a tour bus, we never would have made these genuine connections. This was by far my favorite part of the trip. We got to make an ecological difference while enjoying the sunshine and making friends.

While we were there, Valencia was celebrating Las Fallas. This festival, dedicated to St. Joseph, is several days long. While I had read about this in advance, I truly had no idea how BIG it was. Our volunteer hosts going out of town for the long weekend should have thrown up some red flags, but we had no idea.

Las Fallas is not just a four day festival like I had read - but a month long one. We arrived the week before the festival officially began and were greeted with daily fireworks in the streets. We saw hundreds of ninots (large sculptures) get assembled. And as the festival drew near, we were treated to concerts outside of our window from 12-4am. And on the last day, they burn down all the sculptures!

Despite the noise and festival crowds, I always felt safe. We walked or took the subway around the historic city. We saw mile-long parades of people in traditional dress, carrying flowers to a create a several story tall living monument. (Think Rose Bowl Parade.) We saw the holy grail, the beach, and the largest aquarium in Europe. In Valencia, we were both travelers and volunteers.

Leaving Valencia, we spent a weekend in Barcelona before coming home. Here, we did a 180 and became tourists, taking the open top bus to see all the city highlights. We took a day trip to Montserrat in the mountains and finished with a guided tour of La Sagrada Familia. If you aren’t familiar with Gaudi’s famous structure, go Google it right now. Seriously. I have been in the Vatican, and I would say this church is far more stunning.

We certainly enjoyed our time in Spain and the Tancat de la Pipa! If you have any questions, or would like to learn more about volunteering abroad, I highly recommend you check out Goat Volunteers. They have over 60 projects to choose from in 14 countries. And, if you mention my name when you apply, you can save $25!

So, if you have been to Spain, what was your favorite part? And if not, where should we go next!?

Talk to you soon,
Lori

Voluntourism: Why you won't see Lori in March

As I do the paperwork to validate our commitment to 1% for the Planet, I realize, we’re doing a heck of a lot more than donating 1% of our profits. We’re donating our time too! Lori here, and ya’ll know that the environment is important to me.

I’ve written about this before…once or twice.

So this year, we’re taking it one step further.

My husband and I will be taking a few weeks in March to volunteer at Albufera Natural Park, near Valencia, Spain via GOAT Volunteers.

The journey is the destination

The journey is the destination

València’s Albufera Natural Park is one of the most ecologically important areas in all of Spain.  Its biodiversity and economic impact on the region are significant reasons to preserve this incredible collection of wetlands.  It has been declared as a place of special protection by the European Union due to the wide range of wildlife; specifically water, wading, and migratory birds including several in danger of extinction.  Albufera also supports intense agricultural (cultivation of rice), industrial, hunting, and touristic uses whose consequences have resulted in significant pollution and encroachment on the wildlife’s natural habitat.

The Environmental Conservation in Spain project focuses on helping the local teams with their recovery plan and park management & maintenance activities.  Natural “green” filters were planted to clean the water of Lake Albufera to help improve water quality and promote growth of aquatic plant and animal life.  Your days will be spent either in the water or along the trails that run through the park.  You’ll be tasked with clearing waterways, eradicating invasive plants, picking up rubbish, planting various plants to increase biodiversity, and assisting with research tasks performed by the local teams. -GOAT Volunteers

Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park

So if you need anything photographed in March, Erin will be here to help you. And if you want to follow along on my and John’s adventure in Spain, find me on instagram @adventureswithlori

People I have mentioned this to have been really interested, so I asked to be an ambassador with GOAT. If you are interested in this type of voluntourism, use my name when you apply and save $25 on your application fee!

So what do you think? Is this something you would do, or are you happy to follow along from the comfort of your home? I’d love to hear your feedback now, and during the trip, so chime in on social or in the comments below!

Cheers!
-Lori