Volunteering in the Sierra… “to figure out who I am”

A life marked by Mother Nature’s rhythms, by the light of the sun and the moon. By long walks of over 15 kilometers a day. Ralf tells us about his experience in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, collaborating with Environomica as a volunteer.

Ralf is from Berlin and over there he uses to work as a tree keeper with several companies. When we asked him why he decided to spend a period in the Sierra Nevada, he said that he was looking for “an insightful and introspective experience”.

“I wanted to combine my support to Environomica with my personal idea of growing spiritually and getting to know a different culture. We can say that I was looking for a real adventure!”


Ralf walks up to 20 kilometers per day, up and down. When he is tired he walks “just” five or six. A distance that most of us don’t even drive throughout the day. He wakes up before dawn. He exercises to keep in shape and get ready for the physical work in the Sierra. Coffee and hearty breakfast to charge the batteries. He decided to follow the example of Wilson, Sandra, Ariel and Daniel, the family of local farmers who provide him with lodging.

“While the farmers go out to work in the field, with their livestock and agricultural production, I take a sack with six native seedlings and the tools to plant. I start walking and I look for spots to plant and put the trees back to their original site”, so that they are reconnected with Mother Earth.

At night it is time to talk a bit with the family and other volunteers, reflect and rest.

Before leaving, Ralf was in search of an “intense” experience and now, after three months, his expectation has been “intensively” fulfilled.

“Far away from home, into the wilderness, living with a local family… It is truly intense and different. I can say that the Sierra is even more intense than what I expected. But, at the same time, I was able to figure out more deeply who I am. Something profound happened to me out there… I was surprised and glad to realize that I was able not only to survive, but also to live like a local. My body and my mind gave me all I needed to be in there. I discovered things about myself that I did not know before”.

In the Sierra, volunteers have the possibility to overcome their own limitations. They have the opportunity to understand that everything depends simply on yourself, your mental and physical strengths. “You must take care your mind and body and understand that they are interconnected”.

Ralf’s recommendation for the next volunteers?

“If you think you feel ready for an intense and wonderful experience, leave your doubts, fear or insecurity and just go. And, of course, do not forget to take with you a couple of books and music”.

To experience a life at the rhythms of nature.