Destinations Spain

Workaway # 1: Colmenar

Mikel and I had no idea what to expect with our first workaway. We only had a few pictures and a couple of reviews from other workawayers to base it off of. We were pleasantly surprised when we met Denise and Gabriel, they were so welcoming and sweet. Denise is from Southern London and Gabriel is from Catalonia. It is quite a unique blend of cultures in one house. Gabriel speaks pretty good English and Denise speaks both English and Spanish. It makes for the perfect environment to learn Spanish. Only problem is all the regions of Spain speak a different type of Spanish, and Andalusian Spanish vs. Catalan are completely different. Either way, we are enjoying learning the basics. Dee and Gabriel are very active for their 60’s, I’d say. They go shopping nearly everyday to get supplies/food (45 mins-60 mins away), go Salsa dancing twice a week (30 mins away), go to the British karaoke bar once a week (45 mins away). They have been gracious enough to take us everywhere with them. It’s been a lot of fun to meet their friends and see how they live. No one knows what Oregon is, some people did if you described it as being above California. For the most part we just say we are from America, and so far, everyone we have met is really nice.

They took us to their Salsa class

The food the cook is mostly Spanish, because Gabriel complains that English food it boring. He says “Mediterranean food very rich, English food has only one solution for everything- gravy.” The food and the schedule of meals has been a huge adjustment, in fact I don’t know if I will adjust. An example of our day: 8-10 am- Wake up and have coffee and breakfast. Breakfast here is pastries, cookies, croissants, Magdalena’s… it’s ridiculous really. I can get behind waking up later in the day, but sugar for breakfast? No. We asked for some eggs, which I know she thought was strange because they eat eggs for dinner. Work from 9 or 10 ish to 2pm. It is all very relaxed. Dee doesn’t care what days we work or when we start as long we get our 25 hours in. 2-3 pm- Lunch. Yes, that’s right. I get a cookie for breakfast and I can’t eat again for 5 hours- hah! It only took a couple of days to realize that I need to eat as much as humanly possible during lunch because we wouldn’t get the next meal until after siesta. 4-8 pm- Siesta. The first few days I’d actually sleep because of the jet lag, and I could barely bring myself to wake back up. Now I just use the time to blog/read. 8-9 pm- Dinner. I’d say out of the week we have been here we have had 4 proper dinners. Last night I had nuts for dinner. And it’s not like the hosts are eating and not feeding us…this is just how they eat. We at the mercy of their schedule and we aren’t even walking distance to a bus, so I do feel a bit weird having to rely on them for everything. 10-2am- The hosts are either out late or up watching television. As you can see, this is much different from a typical American schedule, but I must say they are fabulous cooks. The first night Gabriel made a chicken and pork paella (next week he will make a seafood one!) Dee has made us Italian stew, chili, Pasta with Bolognese, curry, and much more.

Mushroom and Yucca Soup

I cook for them once a week, they wanted me to cook Italian so I made them a pasta dish. Dee had never had mozzarella before, and said “This is definitely going on the menu.” Gabriel said “very different flavors than I am used to, but very good.” I love that a very simple tomato, white wine, garlic sauce was so interesting to them! The market and the grocery stores in the village have a limited selection of ingredients but they are fresh, local, and only what is in season. Lastly, WINE. Gabriel loves his wine. He nearly insists we drink a bottle with each meal. I learned to say “bastante” (enough) very soon, because “I’m okay” doesn’t translate correctly, he thought we were saying “more.” As far as the working goes, the work is fine with me. The only issue is the weather is unusually cold, so we haven’t been working outside as much. I have just been painting rooms that are white with white again to make them brighter. This means my painting skills don’t have to be excellent because you can hardly tell a difference after I’m done. Mikel has been working on the camper van. The electrics seem to be fine. They thought there was an electrical problem but he thinks the battery just needed charging, it hadn’t been turned on since May. He is sanding rust spots and painting it, Dee just wants to fix it cosmetically, mainly. They only want to use it for one more trip to the North of Spain and then get rid of it.

Painting the Kitchen

That’s all for now! I’ll be posting about our trip to Ronda shortly, and more photo’s to come.



  1. I love that they would keep pouring you guys wine! Sounds a lot like the Japanese culture. And they have never had mozzarella?! Blowing my mind… Austen says in Italy they wouldn’t stop pouring limoncello. “No” isn’t in their vocabulary.


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