Interview with Ignacio Otaiza – Traveling and working
Well, I started traveling through the agronomy career. The truth is that I was quite lucky that agronomy, and that specifically the enology that was what I specialized in was what opened the door of traveling for me. Since finishing my degree, through the university I was able to get an internship for wine harvest, in Spain and France, where I worked in some wine cellars.
Then, when I finished my career, I worked for a few months and I saved some money in Chile and then I traveled with a working holiday visa to New Zealand. I was lucky to be one of the last to enter this process when it was somewhat easier since it is now practically a lottery.
So since I knew that there was an important wine market there, I always had it as an option within that year, since the season lasts only 2 to 3 months, I knew that I could work on it there at the time.
Initially what I wanted to study was landscaping, but since in Chile it is not a good career to work in, I finally studied agronomy. And when I got to New Zealand, where I imagined that the gardens thing worked, I started looking at this, and I was very lucky. You know what, folks. If you are working happily, things return and everything turns out well. Everything turns out, you have to arm yourself with good energy and positivity because it is real. We came to this life to be happy and to love the rest, and that’s what it’s all about. We did not come to work, we came to love, to be happy and free. And working like this you realize that you can acquire in some way, true freedom, freedom of life that is the opposite of having a permanent job and a life at the expense of money and consumption.
Upon arriving in New Zealand, I met a kiwi, who had a close friend who worked as a landscaper. My boss turned out to be very cool, and that job was everything I wanted. The job of my dreams after leaving school ended up coming true in New Zealand.
Well, I worked in Auckland for quite some time, and when the harvest season came, I went to work on it. And well, it is a strong job, but it is very well paid in countries like New Zealand because unlike Chile, it is paid by the hour, and at a higher rate, even if it’s the minimum wage. Since it is a job that is done for many hours, it turns out to be a great opportunity if you want to save some money. There are other countries like Australia or the USA where they even pay you overtime, which increases your salary even more. So since it is 12 hours working 6 or 7 days a week, it becomes a physically heavy job, but in which you meet many people from all over the world. You have a good time while working and best of all is that as I said before, it allows you to save money in order to continue traveling, especially because you almost don’t spend on anything. So it was logical for me to work on it because in addition to being working in my profession, it was the ideal job.
And after that, the pruning came, and since I was hanging out with some friends who were also agronomists, we decided to stay, since this is a job that is paid per plant, so if it is done quickly, you can earn a lot of money.
And well, that’s how I kept making wine harvests since once I got some experience I met some people, so more options appeared. A friend who owns a winery in France, the husband of a friend who has a grape harvest in Germany, and so on. Sometimes while working you meet other people who recommend a place where he worked for the quality of the bosses or the experience he had, and contacts are shared.
After New Zealand, I went 4 months to visit Southeast Asia, then I went to Chile, and since I knew that you could get a visa to go to work in the US warehouse, I took advantage of that, and I went there.
In Australia, I worked in the wine season, but the rest of the year I was doing Housekeeping, waitering, and landscaping.
After that, I have been going back to New Zealand on a work visa that they give me by having a contract and the experience on wine harvests. To obtain this visa you only need one harvest experience plus what you need to pay for the application. In this sense, New Zealand is a great country to get your first harvest. I have known a lot of working Holidays, professionals from all areas who come to New Zealand without any experience, then they work on wine harvests, obtain the experience and finally apply for that visa later. After that, you can use Working Holidays visas in different parts of the world like Germany, France, Canada, and you can work in the same, which allows you to save much more than working in something else, in a short period of time.
After I did the Working Holiday in France and Germany, I have returned to New Zealand and the USA several times, and in between, I’ve had some vacations in cheap places, or not so cheap but always saving and spending as little as possible.
What are your favorite places in the world?
My favorite places have always been the least touristy places because it has allowed them to be less capitalized places, purer places, where people live in a much simpler way, so you can feel that vibe that has to do with a different way of living, a free life, balanced with nature and the environment. Not depending on a job that allows you to pay the bills, but rather working interacting with nature, living things, where people are fishing, making crafts, trading and interacting as a community. I feel like this should be the way I would like to live.
Among my favorite destinations, I can mention Sri Lanka, which is on the way of becoming more touristy, and which is gradually losing a lot. Little by little, there are more hotels, and with it the tourists and everything that comes with it. In southeast Asia, I liked a lot Myanmar and Laos, for the same reason.
Thailand, for example, is also beautiful, but it is full of garbage, full of tourists buying souvenirs, tours, which ultimately results in an interaction-based only on money that ends up contaminating the interaction that one may have not only with the place, but also their people.
Another topic related to this that I question a lot, is the great cost that it has for the planet to take an airplane because in the end, it is another way of consumption. I like the idea of traveling and living the lifestyle of the place. I would love that on my next trips, beyond looking for a photo or visiting tourist spots, I would be much more interested in spending a season of several months in a place like Sri Lanka, using Work Away, for example.
On the other hand, Denmark is a country totally different from Sri Lanka, but where development was taken to another level. Where there is no corruption or very little, there is a lot of respect for the human and living conditions of each one, that’s why I loved Denmark. You also feel and see the people walking free. In a country like Denmark, you work and with the money you earn, you can do whatever you want, you can live happily, having the basic conditions as a basis, unlike many of the places where we all live, where work is a way of surviving.
What advice would you give to travelers who want to travel but are not sure or have doubts about whether or not to do so?
Let it be. Flowing is the best advice I can give to anyone. Just lose the fears, get a visa and go to travel. But don’t travel for a few weeks, fast and moving from one place to another after a day or two. It seems to me that this is a vicious type of trip that does not deliver anything.
Trust me, it’s not worth it. In the end, it is all so simple, we just need to eat and sleep, and for that, there are many visas that allow us to be in different places, and thereby learning from other people, from other cultures. As I said, not to travel just to enjoy but to learn. Take cooking lessons, meditation or yoga courses. Learn something that allows you to develop some more freedom, to feel what it means to be living in a place without looking for anything, to learn an instrument. I also believe that it is important to get out of our comfort zone that in the end is slavery. Getting out of the comfort zone makes us grow a lot, and it gives us freedom, and happiness is freedom.