Secastilla Huesca Aragon
All Year: Yes
Area (ha): 40
Host ID: 11347
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Last Updated: September 20, 2019
SORRY, BUT WE NO LONGER ACCEPT VOLUNTEERS!
Come stay with us in the beautiful foothills of the Pyrenees!!!
Currently doing lots of tree and vineyard pruning, firewood, garden work, and construction.
PLEASE read the entire description, as it will answer most questions you may have, and it will save us both time. I know it`s long, but it`s worth it! First, if you`d like, check out our extensive reviews, and if you like them, take the time to read our description. Thanks!
Dedicated to self-sufficiency, organic agriculture, making bad-ass wine and olive oil, and traditional construction. This is a fully operational volunteer program, with over 6 years of experience, plenty of reviews, and numerous volunteers who have decided to stay and live in our lovely village.
Behind our operation is also the goal of developing community and repopulating an area of the pyrenees that sees its rural villages disappearing.
We want fun and hardworking folk, ideally with good social character and work ethic, open-minded eaters, clean, independent, respectful, with plenty of initiative, and free of problems (mental, physical, and emotional).
Skills are highly prized! There is also always space for carpenters, electricians, builders, welders, musicians, painters, and masseuses, as well as artisans and craftsman of all sorts. Legal drivers (in Spain, with manual) are also appreciated.
Folk are welcome year-round. However, we do not accept minors under the age of 18, nor families with children. Nor do we generally accept dogs or other animals, unless it comes with folk in campers and caravans, and can be tied or leashed.
Aside from work, there is abundant homegrown food, parties, adventures, and general fun. Often, when guests work well and we all get along, we invite folk on various trips, festivals, fiestas, feasts, concerts, etc.
I am an English and music professor by profession, and my wife is a civil servant in the town hall, as well as an English teacher, translator, and tour guide. She is Spanish, from the area, and I am from the US (North Carolina).
Casa Luisa, our home, is not a farmhouse off in the middle of our fields. We live in a centuries old Spanish home in a small hilltop village, and folk come in and out often. The fields and gardens are all around the village, as is the tradition in much of Spain.
Secastilla is a tiny village, less than 100 people. Be ready for a true rural experience. In the village there are no stores, no banks, no post offices, but there is a bar/restaurant, a bakery, an olive mill, and a commercial winery. However, we are only a 10 minute drive from a larger town with everything one needs, and we go often.
It is a great place to practice languages. My wife and I are both language teachers. Here one can learn or practice Spanish with us and the village folk, or practice English in an immersed environment with us and other guests, and if you are interested in minority languages, we also maintain a very distinct form of the old aragonese dialect, which we use often in the house and in the village. French, Catalan, German, and Portuguese are also spoken.
There is no internet in the house, but there is free public wi-fi in the bar, and there is a telecenter with computers available.
In the valley you can find castle ruins, an old roman bathhouse, two lakes, abandoned villages, and lots of hikes. We also have two bikes.
Here we work hard, but it`s real rewarding. Tasks here often include planting, pruning, harvesting, weeding, firewood, cooking, preserving, cleaning, and various construction (sometimes heavy, but only I do the dangerous things). There is lots of work with tools, such as hoes, axes, handsaws, trowels, chisels, ect., and also machines, such as chain saws, tillers, strimmers, cement mixers, tractors, water pumps, and more. Sometimes it can be very strenuous work, that often includes hours in the sun, as well as heavy lifting, but usually it`s pretty moderate.
It can be dirty, dusty, great, sweaty, heavy, satisfying, loud, long and/or awesome work. It depends on the day and the task. Be ready for everything.
We provide protective equipment, and don`t require everyone to use heavy machinery (chainsaws, tractors, etc.).
Please realize that work is seasonal and in its time, so don`t come in the middle of summer expecting to work olive trees. And when its the season, we often have to do the same tasks many days in a row (pruning, firewood, ect). Be ready, positive, and open to any task the needs doing.
The main house is very old, but beautiful and restored. Everything is functional a comfortable. There are individual beds and double beds. At times we have had campers and caravaners. In Casa Luisa, sometimes you will have to share rooms.
People who stay in their own caravan, or camp, and are more independent in terms of meals, will not be required to work as long. Everything in balance. However, this will be communicated and clarified beforehand via email.
We work 4-6 hours a day, 5 days a week (more or less). Work can be heavy. If you come in spring or summer, PLEASE be ready for heat and sun. We will wake up early to beat the heat, then eat and have siesta. Then we often get back to work when it gets cooler, sometimes as late as 6 or 7 pm, and sometimes work till 10 at night. In between, we often eat big meals, or go to the lake for swimming and beer drinking. Winter it may be cold, be during the day it`s often sunny, and we have a great woodstove that we use to heat the house and cook meals. We understand not everyone has experience, but we must work hard and at a good pace.
My wife or I will almost always be working with the guests. Strong backs are a big plus.
The days off don`t always come at the same time, so don`t always expect Saturday and Sundays free. It depends on weather, everyone`s schedule, and what needs to get done at any time. In addition, on the days off, we will not always provide all the meals (although often we can provide the ingredients). Sometimes we have things to do as well. If you do eat with us on days off, be prepared to help out with preparations or clean-up.
Nor is it a factory time-clock punching type of work. Things are flexible and go on a day-by-day basis. We may start at different times, work shifts of varied lengths, work early, work late, work short days, work long days, and we can`t always eat at the same time every day. But when we eat, we eat well.
I`m sorry to say that we no longer accept vegans, and rarely accept vegetarians. It takes all beauty and flavor from good traditional cooking, and during wintertime there`s not as much coming from the garden. If you are vegetarian, please be skilled, and an independent cook, otherwise you will not be considered.
This also goes for folk under 22 years of age. We have had problems with very young guests.
We kill animals to eat. Also, we eat VERY traditional meals at times, especially after we do slaughters, which include delicious preparations of innards, blood, head, feet, tail, stuffed stomach, ect., that all are very good and healthy, providing an opportunity to learn about the full process and use of most parts of the animal, as well as a chance to try great rural cuisine. No one is required to eat these delicacies.
There are lots of organic garden goodness. However, we don`t like to buy much, so be ready to eat from the garden, and sometimes the same vegetables daily (salads, chard, etc). Rice and pasta, as well. Fresh baked bread daily. Please, no picky eaters. And good cooks are HIGHLY regarded. My wife an I are both capable cooks (as described in the reviews), and here we eat well.
We are young, love fiestas, drink plenty of wine (that`s why I make it), and smoke (in the house as well, but only the kitchen and salon, and we`re not absurd chainsmokers). We are also very social, so be prepared for folk passing through, and lots of different languages.
We do not always have alot of people in the house. Normally, there are 1-6 guests in Casa Luisa, consisting of volunteers as well as friends that may be visiting. In summer we have more folk (around 4 or 5, for more work), and in winter we have less (sometimes 1 or 2). Don`t come expecting a party-filled house full of hip young people year round. Please come ready to help and learn, and be able to entertain yourself.
It`s great if you`re here to practice Spanish, but we also often speak the local Aragonese dialect, and when it`s work time, it`s not language school time. During work, the goal is to be understood. We can usually explain tasks and discuss the work in English, Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese, or French, but it all depends on what is understood best.
We also get occasional surprise visits from long-time friends, and although its rare, we reserve the right to cancel planned guests, but we`ll always due it with at advanced notice. Sorry, but sometimes it happens. Rarely.
Ideally, we look for people who can be here for two weeks or more, so people can adjust to the rhythm and flow of this place. And we really dig folk who want to stay for extended periods of time, although we generally establish a trial period before confirming long stays.
Positive co-existing is very important.
We like to have a good time, but we expect everyone to be responsible and know their limits and not get out of control. Nearly everyone within a 100 kilometer radius knows either us, or the family (especially my father-in-law), so self-control is a must.
Please, no complainers. Keep it to yourself, and if you don`t like it, you are free to leave. We`re not here to bend over backwards in accommodating guests.
During most works, we don't want ipods or portable music devices, unless you are off by yourself. We can`t always communicate over earbuds and headphones.
If you do not have valid european health insurance, we HIGHLY recommend obtaining international volunteer insurance. Nothing serious has ever happened, but it is necessary to be prepared. Also, if a volunteer gets sick, such as a cold, we hope that they can work through it, and not ask for extra days off. We are flexible, but if someone can`t work, they may have to go stay at a nearby hostel until they get well. We`re not a hospital, and we don`t like to expose the people in the house to contagions.
Please, do not come if you are addicted to internet devices, such as computers and phones. We really don`t like them when they are abused in our house.
Also, please don`t come broke. We`ve had many moments of "oh i forgot my wallet" or people who go to the village bar to use internet, and can`t even buy a coffee. Come with some spending cash, and at least enough to get around. Above all, have enough resources to leave if you don`t like it in Casa Luisa. We can`t have people just trying to finish out a trip cheaply. Folk come here to work, help, and learn, and we all need to do it with enthusiasm.
We do reserve the right to ask people to leave if they are making problems with us, with other guests, in the house, or with anyone in the village. And if they are not working their share. We have had plenty problematic guest.
In general, if you do not enjoy olives, wine, traditional food, speaking or learning spanish (and other languages), or being sociable, this may not be the place for you.
Here, WE WORK HARD!!! This is no hostel or vacation destination. It is a self-sufficient homestead that demands hard labour and love of work.
We also offer classes of spanish, aragonese, or english, as well as music (guitar, bass, harmonica, ukelele, banjo, mandolin, and piano) for a nominal fee (when we have the time and energy). However, with interest, you`ll learn plenty of languages and music when with us just be being here.
Please do not apply if you have serious mental or physical health issues or addiction problems (drugs, as well as technological).
I recommend that you contact us in advance if possible, as we often fill up quick, especially in the summertime. In wintertime we are usually more flexible. However, last minute requests sometimes work out.
And please, don`t just show up at our house unexpected. We don`t like it at all.
We won`t accept folk using someone else`s helpx account.
Lastly, every guest is required to sign an injury waiver. No one has ever been hurt or injured with us, but we prefer that folk have insurance and that people come prepared. You never know when someone will trip down some stairs after drinking our tasty wine, and we don`t want to have to pay for that the rest of our lives.
When you send a request, please answer a few questions-
Have you volunteered before? Helpx?
Any dietary restrictions? Vegetarian?
Any health issues? Will you have valid health insurance?
Any machine experience?
Can you drive a manual vehicle? Legally in Spain?
Any particular skills or abilities that would help in our projects?
Can you speak any spanish?
And that`s it. Thanks for reading our description.
Overall, here one could learn just about anything. It`s a real beautiful place.