Volunteering in a Spanish village that even Google can’t find

What is “Agres”? Do you mean “Sagres”? No, Mr. Google, it’s Agres, trust me.

A village is resting on a peaceful mountain that is ever so present in the narrow streets that feel more vertical than horizontal. A bundle of houses squashed together – a place where everything is close, and the people are even closer.

So how did a Macedonian girl find herself in a place like this?

I would say that it all began with the end for me. The end of my life as I knew it. And that would be the year 2021. It was an interesting year for me. I could say that I have a love-hate opinion of this period of my life. It was filled with many ups and downs, stressful times, times of happiness, and even times of sickness – it was enough to shake my comfy world a little bit. After this so-called “Quarter-life crisis” of mine, the beginning of 2022 seemed to promise a relaxing breath of fresh air. That was until I got sick. Again…

But this time, I decided to use my mandatory time- off in a constructive way. So while I was at home, I started looking for ways to change something in my current life. And in my search, I discovered this Erasmus project looking for volunteers in Agres. A… What??? Nowhere near the beach and hidden between olive trees, with its beautiful tiny houses and picturesque mountain views. This was the place for me! After some searches on Google, I found the most exciting village that reminded me of the movie “Mama Mia.”

Coming from the capital city of my country, I always wanted to experience life in a small mountain village. The project was also a perfect opportunity for me to try to work with children because, at one point, I was considering being a teacher. The language part seemed like a challenge, but where else can I better learn Spanish than in this tiny non-English speaking place?

Challenge accepted!

I applied for this peculiar project that caught my eye so intensely. And I was chosen as one of their volunteers! With no time to waste, I managed to get ready in two weeks, and off I went into the unknown.

I arrived in Valencia and met the other volunteer – a cool Italian girl who was the best flatmate I could ever ask for. We set out to find the hidden village of Agres and, after traveling for 2 hours, the train left us in the middle of nowhere. With a lonely but cool-looking train stop on our side of the tracks and an abandoned building on the other side, we couldn’t help but wonder what was in store.

But, our doubts were quickly settled when we arrived in the village, and we met the friendly people living there. Not letting the language barrier keep us estranged, they welcomed us into their tiny town with open arms and smiles on their faces.

So what IS Agres?

I have come to find out that Agres is the fresh mountain air I breathe every day and the joyful chirping of birds that follow me wherever I go. Agres is the peace that I haven’t felt in a long time. Agres is a diverse community where everyone helps each other. Agres is my home away from home.

Marija Marinkovikj

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