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Any bad experiences?

topic posted Wed, April 11, 2007 - 7:47 PM by  Kitty
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I don't want to bring any unnecessary negativity to this board, but I have been wondering if anyone has any bad experiences--particularly those of you that are young and female. I am a newbie wwoofer who is (still) thinking about wwoofing this summer, but I am a little wary of traveling alone, and especially being totally dependent on hosts in what will likely be remote areas. I am sure that most hosts are really great people, but I am just curious if anyone has had any problems.

Kitty
posted by:
Kitty
Albany
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  • Re: Any bad experiences?

    Sat, June 28, 2008 - 6:39 AM
    Hi,
    I'm a 32 year old guy and I'm scared as well. ;0) I'm looking for someone to partner up with when I begin wwoofing next April 2009. If you'd like to partner up or know of anyone else then by all means let me know. I live in Massachusetts and plan to wwoof across country and then go overseas. Let me know and have a great day.
    Curtis.
  • Re: Any bad experiences?

    Sun, July 6, 2008 - 9:07 PM
    i had a few weird experiences.
    one was trying to get to a wwoof farm that was on the current list but didn't actually exist- it was shut down years prior (just make sure you call ahead- we were in the area anyway, so it wasn't such a great loss.) also make sure that they don't intend to charge you for being there- this kind of crazy german in costa rica at 'raw treat/ casa smigarniga (sp?)' (who really wasn't providing us with any food) told us that he wanted rent on the aluminum roof that we were staying under, and charged us if we wanted to take his beat up bike into town. (we left there in less than a week). also tashirat in southern mexico is an honest to god, living deity on the property, cult. still had a good time in tepotzlan, but wouldn't want to be there alone.
    also had great experiences, but if i did it again i would visit farms on recommendation.
    • Re: Any bad experiences?

      Sun, November 23, 2008 - 5:52 PM
      @ Kidblank

      I have volunteered at Tashirat many times and I just did a little search on tribe to see if I could connect with others who have done the same. I stumbled on to two posts from you about the orphanage I love. I am a little confused since they seem to be very conflicting view points!

      First you wrote this comment in 2005:

      Re: Working on an organic yoga farm
      Mon, November 21, 2005 - 10:37 AM
      "Have you heard about Tashirat in Tepoztlan, Mexico? It's a farm / ashram / orphanage and I had a really good experience there this September. "

      ... and then three years later you list it here as a bad experience and call it a cult?!?!

      I have had only the most positive experiences and impressions every time I have volunteered. A few of my friends have also volunteered (one even attended a Yoga Teacher Training Course there) and have also been so deeply inspired by the incredible community they have created and the amazing work they are doing with the children in their care. I think it is careless and ignorant to call something a cult because you may not understand it. You wouldn't want to be there alone?!?! Why on Earth would you be concerned about living with a few young female Yoga teachers and 20 beautiful children in a paradise? A place that promotes self-discovery, free expression, service to humanity, health, spirituality and ecology is the last thing I would call a cult! Please be more careful with your words in the future.
      • Re: Any bad experiences?

        Sat, December 6, 2008 - 9:17 PM
        @ Claudia

        I had fun despite the cult. The unaffiliated gate keeper and my girlfriend were really great. However, they do worship a living god on site. Ignorance? For real, this is not an exaggeration. They also have loud shouting matches at their meetings with great frequency, and rather than promoting free expression acted to create homogeneity within the community through strict hierarchy and bizarre punishment (for community members only). They were incredibly standoffish with one exception, and I stand by my warning- I would not have had a good time there if I was alone. To boot, they screwed over a community organizer from LA while I was there, who raised money to stay and work there (which is a clear violation of the WWOOF rules) with the children, and then was denied all contact with them because she was on a light dose of antidepressants.

        So Claudia, I respect your conflicting opinion about the compound- that's the great thing about having a forum open to all, but please, while demanding respect from others be a model of respect yourself.
        • Re: Any bad experiences?

          Wed, December 24, 2008 - 6:23 AM
          @ Kidblank

          Here are some answers to your (with all due respect) bazaar accusations. All I can tell you is from my many visits and personal experience. I can't pretend to know everything about Tashirat, but I do believe I am a better source of accurate information than you since I have visited multiple times, have read their books and teachings, studied at their learning center and asked many questions during my stays. As I said in my last post, I have various normal and educated friends who have been there and would echo my praise of Tashirat.

          First - they absolutely DON'T worship their teacher. Their entire teachings is about each person becoming as healthy, balanced and spiritually centered in order to connect with his / her inner teacher / guide. Of course they have a teacher that directs the ashram - all ashrams and spiritual centers (and religions) do, but she is NOT worshiped. I have been to a few ashrams and I have never met a more down to Earth and likable teacher. I only had the pleasure of meeting her once because she is very busy working with the staff members and her medical patients but she was quite lovely and eager to hear about my ideas for the project. Every decision is made by a democratic vote of those involved. I know this first hand since I was running one of the smaller side projects when I extended my stay last time. I was quite impressed with the community structure and dynamics.

          Second - You should have asked about whatever you overheard. They do emotional release work and expressive therapy. Staff members that want to work out old emotional issues can ask for help doing regression type work and if they request, others can also help by playing the roles of people from their past etc. so they can role play and get out old aggressions, hurts etc. It's very deep and personal work. I heard a lot about this when I was there because the staff member I worked closest with was going through a period of a lot of personal work.

          Third - I've never seen or heard of anything that even remotely resembled a homogeneity, hierarchy or punishment. Again, if I believed such stuff was going on in a place I was volunteering I would have asked what the hell was going on and if I still believed things were bad, unfair and cult-like - the way you are saying, I would have left immediately.

          Forth - As far as the "screwed over girl from LA" I am sure you only heard her side of the story. Did you ask the staff what the deal was? If there is one thing I have learned in life it's that it's best to heard both sides before deciding what to believe.

          The first time I went to volunteer was through an organization that acted as an "agent " of sorts - they charged me more than $2,000 and they bought my flight, travel insurance etc. etc. etc. with it and connected me to the orphanage. That must have been the same type of thing the girl that you are talking about did. The orphanage was only given a couple hundred bucks out of that $2,000 I paid and it was a donation from the agency on my behalf. There were WWOOFers there when I was there and they had obviously arrived without an "agency" so they paid their own way instead of getting it all done for them. My "agency" gave the orphanage money for my food and the orphanage gave that money to me when I arrived so I could buy what I wanted to eat. Since then I have always gone on my own - it's cheaper to get my own flights and now that I feel more secure in Mexico I know I don't need travel insurance and all the rest the agency provided.

          Before being accepted I had to fill out a large questionnaire so I would be approved to work with kids. Medical questions as well as many others were asked. I know the orphanage has rules from the government that they have to abide by - including strict rules about volunteers that can work with the kids. They can get into trouble for not abiding by the guidelines given. I have no idea what the deal with the other girl was but I can imagine that if she said in her questionnaire that she was not on antidepressants and then got there an was, there would be an issue. Also, do you know for sure that that is what she was on and that that is what happened or is that what she told you? Again, should have asked for the other side of the story before judging so harshly.

          Anyway, my point is - I think it is ONLY fair to ask questions and get both sides of any story before deciding what you believe. My life has been affected in beautiful and wondrous ways by Tashirat, it's staff and children. I have no doubt that other volunteers who want to experience it for themselves will have incredible things to say about the Yoga School and Orphanage as well.
        • Re: Any bad experiences?

          Tue, June 16, 2009 - 10:46 PM
          LOL @ the Bohemian Grove-like Wwoofing farm. WTF?? Careful planning is imperative in any wwoofing situation I would say. I wouldn't go anywhere without doing thorough research and checking references. Gotta be smart and safe out there! Also, the friends I have who have wwoofed have only mentioned one negative experience and that was with some roaches where they were sleeping. I can't imagine cults. I'll be sure to pack plenty of garlic and holy water or whatever. O.o
          I'd like to hear more stories though. I'm sure all info will be helpful to make the best choices when planning the trip.
          Thanks and be safe!
    • Re: Any bad experiences?

      Fri, January 23, 2009 - 9:53 PM
      WOW. that German nman didnt pull any of that shite with a young black man that we met in southern CA who had just been there. interrrrrestinggg... yeah, be sure sure SURE that you have the terms right BEFORE you show up someplace. Be able ands ready to leave if t seems scetchy - they need YOU you dont need any abuse. you have a rtight to have fun and be FED SAFE and HEALTHY on the road with WWOOF. Call or write to the address in your WWOOF book, and post comments to WWOOF international if a place really scares or abuses you. Be safe out there. Peace
  • Re: Any bad experiences?

    Mon, December 1, 2008 - 11:01 PM
    Had a bad experience wwoofing in a hostel in Cambria, California.
    Our situation was a little different from most travelers, and we were told we could stay through December--crucial for us. We worked very hard doing odd jobs around the hostel and during the second week, the person in charge told us she wanted us to leave, giving us no reason. This was days after she'd offered us paid work. For the remainder of our stay, they stopped providing us with food but still expected us to work 20-30 hours per week for board in a small cabin without electricity or running water. We weren't allowed in the main house and were pretty much treated like "the help"--shunned to the back, keep your head down, don't let anyone know you're there. I

    Also the first farm I went to (also on the Central Coast of California) took advantage of hours. First they said 20 hrs per week, if you work extra, you get paid. Then they expected us to work 40-52 hrs per week, no pay for extra labor, stopped providing food after awhile. Learned a lot there and overall it was a good experience, but they certainly weren't honest in what they said they wanted from wwoofers.
    • Re: Any bad experiences?

      Fri, January 23, 2009 - 9:58 PM
      those two places should be reported officially to WWOOF if you were told there was food and room, then denied food, thats not right. call or write to your WWOOF contacts (listed in the front of your book. Tell the WWOOF website iof a place denys you food, and for all our sakes tell otehrs not to go there if they are hurtful or abusive. sheesh. that's very sad.
  • Re: Any bad experiences?

    Fri, January 23, 2009 - 9:50 PM
    sothern cali. avoid freaky man who runs a hotsprings near the salton sea. seriously, a wierdo. eats raw eggs, wouldnt let us cook (our own food in our own pan? not ok with this sad man. you will starve. you'll know who i mean if you call. he's detectibly paranoid and doesnt want americans, prefers europeans.

    I advise you not to travel with men that you do not know ;) sorry charlie, singel grrls gotta look out for themselves. try finging a boyfrirend or girlfriend to travel with. Otherwise, MOST f the WWOOF sites are wonderful people trying to stay afloat in this economy. The farms in MD and in Northern Ca are really sweet, as well as OR and WA... good luck and goddess/ God protect and keep ya safe on the road. We love WWOOFing!
  • Re: Any bad experiences?

    Fri, February 20, 2009 - 12:11 PM
    I've set up an online map that is publically editable (like wikipedia) for wwoofers to rate their wwoof hosts. Please don't put phone numbers or full addresses of wwoof hosts on to respect privacy. Just farm title and their names.
    maps.google.com/maps/ms

    Link above.
    A handful of farms have been added. Please forward this link to as many wwoofers as you know. Then soon the map will be complete. Please add a farm you have been to, and then write a comment (do this by clicking "edit" and then add a placemark - blue thing in a circle)
    Thanks
  • Re: Any bad experiences?

    Thu, June 11, 2009 - 1:23 PM
    I am a 24 year old female from Dublin and just got back from woofing in Italy.I was meant to be going with a friend but she dropped out at the last minute.I absolutely hated it from the moment I set foot on the farm.I discovered pretty much straight away there was no other woofers there and none were expected till late August.Only very few people spoke English and they were not really great at speaking it or understanding me.I was left on my own a lot to do really mundane tasks like putting logs in a wheelbarrow then the back of a van.I was left for four hours on my own to do that and it honestly felt like unpaid manual labour.The food for the most part was really awful but I think that was just because I am not used to that type of food.The farm itself was situated up a mountain and down in a valley surrounded by forests on all sides which really had the psycholical effect of being trapped and isolated.I really didn't like it at all.Also everyone there was in their forties and fifties and they all spoke Italian to each other over the dinner.I felt really uncomfortable as I couldn't join in the conversation.I just felt like a duck out of water the whole time I was there.When I did attempt to throw off some phrases in Italian noone understood me.I couldn't get out of the place quick enough and left after just 3 days.
    • Re: Any bad experiences?

      Tue, June 16, 2009 - 10:57 PM
      Debs,
      Sounds like you had a crappy time, I'm sorry to hear that. Although I have to say you are very brave to be a single female wwoofing alone. I just couldn't do it I don't think, unless it was like a second time going back with a postitive stay the first time. And what about the single woman traveling with her 9 month son? Wow, very brave. I am curious if you had any other info, pos or neg experiences to share. I am looking into my first trip wwoofing this summer. Any info would be helpful. I wish you safety and good luck with your wwoofing. Thanks, Lita Els
    • Re: Any bad experiences?

      Fri, August 28, 2009 - 1:15 PM
      Hi!

      My 19 yr old daughter is taking a year off of college to woof, probably in Italy. Your story really caught my attention, and I wonder whether you could share more...like, much contact did you have w/the host prior to arriving, and were there any "warning signs" or tips you might share with someone else to avoid this negative type of experience? Also, could you tell us the name/region of the farm? Did you woof anywhere else?

      Thanks so much for your input!!!

      Best wishes,

      Betty
      • Re: Any bad experiences?

        Mon, April 11, 2011 - 1:14 PM
        hi,
        my daughter is about to go woofing for three weeks in the los portales farm in south spain; as she is travelling alone i wnated to know any reviews on anyone having been there already regarding safety, the people there...any information would be useful
        many thanks
        michela
  • Re: Any bad experiences?

    Thu, March 22, 2012 - 10:49 AM
    This was an email that I sent to the woof-USA organization. Right up front, you should know that this organization does not function as the typical social networking website. It is very conservative with regards to what sorts of dialogue it allows to occur in response to people's experiences. I submitted the following comments to their website in response to my traumatic wwoofing experience with Portland Boys Farm, in Portland, OR. My comment was denied. I pressed them for more details on how I can make the comment "more appropriate" (the response I received was that my comment was inappropriate) and was asked to censor myself. In the end, I asked for a refund of my $30 member fee and that my profile be removed from the site. I will no longer be using wwoof-USA because my traumatic experience is being asked to be swept under the rug. This is tantamount to an abuser bullying his or her victim into silence.

    Here is what I wrote:

    Hello,

    It is with great regret that I have to send this email.

    I am writing to let you know about my experience with the Portland Boys, Shawn and Al. Here's what my comment said:

    A few things that you should know before wwoofing with these guys (because they likely will not tell you up front):

    1-(this is the most important) THEY ARE NOT LOOKING FOR A WWOOFER. They are looking for a houseboy. They did not fully disclose that they expected me to clean up their messes in the kitchen (which piled up daily) until I had already moved in and then it became a battle because I had no intentions of being a housekeeper. I made several attempts at asserting that I was there to learn and contribute to a community, not clean up after other people. I explained that I did not mind housework as an equal component to the community but not if it was a main part of my duties. I requested that there be some formal document, outlining my responsibilities and description of the position but that went ignored and there was no formal delivery of their expectations. In the end, I was berated and asked to leave over text message—even after suggesting that it would be important for us to have that conversation in person. I was told that they would not talk to me in person because I "argued too much," which from my perspective was not arguing. Rather it was me asserting my needs and willingness. I did do a lot of outdoor farm work—but every single moment of it was spent alone! There was very little on-site learning.

    2- The guy you will be working under is a TYRANT. When he wasn't barking orders and demanding things of me he was yelling and complaining loudly about all of the little annoyances in life. He demands that you listen and don't dare disagree with him or you will feel his wrath. I would not hesitate to say that he was abusive. There were constant conflict and failed relationships with other farmers and business people—to which I was privy only because they needed an audience for their complaining.

    3- They drink a lot and do drugs... much more than they will admit. They will also claim that it does not impact the environment but it absolutely does. Do not wwoof here if you don't do drugs and/or drink.

    4- They talk a lot about community and wanting people to be involved with their operation but they are very standoffish, angry and uninviting when it comes to actual communal living. Don't expect to be part of their "family." They already have one and don't want others joining in. It's very strange because they claim to be inclusive and open to others but their behavior and demeanor couldn't be farther from that.

    5- It is always absolutely their way or the highway. DO NOT wwoof here if you have any sort of independent nature or free spiritedness. If you're a smart person with ideas and thoughts, they will not be welcome here.

    6- To give context to all of this, when it finally came time for me to decide that this wasn't a healthy situation for me, instead of giving me time to arrange for another situation, they kicked me out THAT VERY SAME DAY. I am currently writing this from a hotel room after a very long and grueling day of moving all of my belongings into a storage space. These guys have no empathy for others. They are only concerned with protecting their own, selfish and closed way of life.

    Perhaps there is a fit somewhere out in the world for this farm but I cannot imagine it. It baffles me that people who claim to be one with the earth can be so callous and uncaring about other people. In any case, I warned you. Take heed.

    (this paragraph was not part of my original comment—It has just come to me now) Perhaps my wrongdoing was in not insisting on a more formal agreement earlier (prior to moving in). But I was giving them the benefit of the doubt, as this was the first time taking on a wwoofing endeavor for all of us . I certainly know now that it is important to have a formal agreement beforehand (though how one goes about formally agreeing to tolerate drug-use and abusive behavior is beyond me).

    Thank you for your time. I am open to a dialogue with anyone from the wwoof-USA organization. I am not willing to communicate directly with the Portland Boys as this has been a very traumatic experience.

    Best,

    Scott LaForce
    Portland, OR