Living ‘Off the Grid’ to Develop Something Better. An Excerpt from a ‘Work Away’ Experience in Patagonia, Argentina.

I’m writing this post as we take a break from a hard day’s work on our first ‘Work Away’ experience, about an hours’ drive from Bariloche in a tiny village (if even you could say that) called Confluencia Traful, Neuquén. Nestled by the river at the foot of the mountains, in short; this place is paradise.

Disconnected from the world, our meals are prepared on the fire, light sources and hot water are solar generated, hot showers are sporadic, home is a tent pitched beneath the pines, and worries are few. After several months of travelling, slowing down to this welcomed change of pace is pure bliss.

Right now, as I sit on a piece of driftwood to escape the sun, the only sounds surrounding is the river surface rippling in the light breeze, the horse flies (annoyingly) buzzing around, and myself tapping away on the keyboard. There are definitely worse places to be.

A family’s piece of Patagonia that went unused for several generations, until Hernan, – the grandson of the owner had a dream; that this place could also be a paradise, for others too to enjoy.

Our work away is a beautiful space on what started out as no more than desolate bush land. A family’s piece of Patagonia that went unused for several generations, until Hernan, – the grandson of the owner had a dream; that this place could also be a paradise, for others too to enjoy.

The project is now in its seventh year. In seeing the surroundings, as well, learning the history of the land; for example, earth laden with ash from a volcanic eruption some years ago, it’s not at all difficult to envisage the hours of work that’s gone into this place to get it to the stage that it is today. Hard work by many, and particularly one, – Hernan.

This is day 5 of our 2.5-week adventure. Our project is to build an ecological filtering and drainage system for human waste, from start to finish. It’s fair to say that I’ve not previously done this before, so it’s exciting to learn along the way. Between the many spades of dirt, throws of the pick and chats about food.

On our first evening, after arriving by bus to the middle of nowhere and life off-the-grid, Hernan welcomed us. A fellow ‘work-awayer’ – Steffie, had already spent a week on the property and showed us the ropes and what her jobs so far entailed. Watering the fruit trees, managing the green house, assisting with dinners and cleaning up after an extended family of 10, who are holidaying from Buenos Aires, to better understand the progress of the land.

The following day, and until now, we’ve each been working towards the installation of the eco septic system, from start to finish.

Being here and engaging in this work, as well enjoying the magnificence of the land makes you appreciate the many luxuries that ‘living on the grid’ offers.

Digging a small crater to house a PVC tank, as well twin trenches for filtering and drainage, and earth moving with our bare hands has filled the majority of days in addition to the aforementioned tasks. The work is dirty, it’s honest and it’s tough on the body (if I don’t have abs before I leave this place then goodness knows what will help!), and mealtimes are most definitely looked forward to. Being here and engaging in this work, as well enjoying the magnificence of the land makes you appreciate the many luxuries that ‘living on the grid’ offers. To boil a kettle with a flick of the switch, to sleep indoors away from the elements, to enjoy light after the sun’s down and to be connected. What a privilege.

To know that you’re working with nature to develop something bigger, and contribute to the building of someone’s dream; if nothing else, this is worth being here for.

But even more so, to build a fire to heat water for a coffee, (or mate’) and to toast bread on the flames, as well all of your meals for that matter, and to know that you’re working with nature to develop something bigger, and contribute to the building of someone’s dream; if nothing else, this is worth being here for. The simplicity of tasks, yet patience required to live simply everyday is incredibly beautiful.

How Lucky Are We!

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I’m a creative, I’m organised chaos, I'm a water baby, and I’m a wanderer. Keeping fit and active is a lifestyle.

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