Low tech

Shakespeare wrote.  He’s from Gambia.  Wants to Woof (volunteer).  T’is the season.

“I want to come help……….. and……..I have five lovely children.”

Sheesh.  I don’t think we can accommodate six people even if five of them are lovely.

Plus kids – if any are under 6 – tend to tip over and, with our slopes, they also tend to keep on rolling and/or sliding after the initial tipping.  Some roll all the way to the sea.  This is not a good thing.  Parents get upset.  Kids usually bounce back up.  But not always.  Parents never do.

Truth is, this is not a good place for little kids.  Portuguese Water dogs, goats, athletes, acrobats and yoga practitioners are best.  Heavy drinkers, little kids, people with poor balance or walking aids……not so good.  We are definitely not wheel-chair friendly.

Well, we are friendly just not very accommodating.

Up until a couple of years ago the only access to our place from the dock was a heavy rope slung over a steep (but short) cliff and the person needing to get to our place had to pull themselves up hand over hand.  More than a few older folks had my shoulder jammed under their rump as they struggled to get up with me providing that little extra push.

Old, bumply-cheeked rumps plunked heavily on my shoulder while I also climb-lifted me and their luggage up about ten feet straight up.  Less than enchanting.  So, I eventually built stairs.  Necessity.  Mother.  Invention.

The thing with Woofers is that they all need something.  And that is only fair.  We all do.  Sometimes it is just vegetarian meals.  Sometimes it is as simple as Internet.  Usually it is something made known to us only after the Woofer has arrived.  “Oh, you are allergic to dairy?” “Only eat gluten-free?” “Hate sea food, eh?”

Often, tho, the Woofer is ‘accepting of whatever is going down’ excepting, sometimes, the actual work.  They usually have a good attitude (the continental French are sometimes a little too far out of their natural element, tho) but it is not uncommon to have to teach a young man or woman how a hammer works.  Virtually everyone needs to learn how an axe works.  Well, a splitting maul, anyway.  We don’t trust them with axes.  Too sharp.

Chainsaw?  Power winch?  Rock-drill?  Not a chance.  Maybe the small outboard.  Someday.  Maybe.

I am not kidding.  Shovels are a mystery tool to some.  I’d say only the wheelbarrow is a concept readily grasped by all.  How the hell these people got from their home country all the way to our island is a question I often ponder after seeing them try to work the garden hose or use a screwdriver.

“So, Francine….?  What did you do in France?  You know?  Before coming here?”

“Oooooh………….ah teaze de onglais, eh?  Ah am a On-glaize teazer fo zen ‘eers. eh?” 

“Wow!  Interesting.  What is the name for that utensil in French?”

“Ah ‘ave nezer zeen zat tsing bee-fore.  Wha di zat?”

“We call it a shovel.”

Now don’t get me wrong.  I love the Woofers.  I really do.  They just add to the experience of being out here and they are usually very grateful for the hospitality, the activities and of the surroundings we offer.  It is good.  All good.

But it is not a great deal as such.  True, the labour is free.  But only four hours a day and, typically, it is unskilled in the extreme.  The best woofers are those who can cook, clean and are willing to do the dishes.  That actually helps a great deal. If I have to explain how a nail-puller works, I may as well do it myself.  Plus I limit any blood loss to my own.

Last year we had a lovely woofer from Switzerland and she was great.  She couldn’t do anything but she was a keen cleaner.  She was excited to help Sal spring clean.  We all washed and scrubbed and vacuumed every surface and our place was Swiss-clean after a week.  She has an open invitation to return anytime.

I am gonna have to disappoint Shakespeare, I am afraid.  Right now the house is pretty clean and the only stuff I have planned is heavy, sharp and has motors involved.  This ain’t BCIT, ya know.


4 thoughts on “Low tech

  1. Hey! Just noticed the time of your comment – 6:53pm. That’s 6 hours ahead of me?! Isn’t that just a smidge west of Ireland? You a lighthouse keeper in the middle of the North Atlantic?


  2. Ascension Island actually ‘the rock of the Atlantic’ virtually impenetrable except electronically. But seriously mate I posted at 6:52 AM PDT but the post time says PM so it’s a time warp or something. Or am I grasping?


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