I've discovered muscles I didn't even know existed. And they're currently screaming out at me in pain.
Went for an archaeological dig with the Conservation Volunteers yesterday at The Rocks, one of the oldest part of Sydney. It was a dream come true, considering I've always wanted to be an archaeologist, but it certainly was hard work.
All the shovelling, lifting, tipping and bending brought out muscles that have long gone into hiding. It was a brilliant experience though, especially when I managed to pick up broken pieces of pottery and feel like the archaeologist I've always dreamt I'd be. Except of course, I've taken the life of a wimpy city girl, and so was hardly strong or fit enough for the yesterday's activities.
The day started off pretty horribly though. And for anyone who ever wishes to volunteer with Conservation Volunteers, make sure you check and check again where the meeting point and venue would be. Don't make the mistake that I did, and assume that an organisation like theirs actually know what they are doing.
When I first signed up for the project, I was sent an email with information on where and when to meet. It said a van would be there to pick me up at 8am sharp from the Central Station taxi stand. Fair enough.
I arrived yesterday morning at 8.02am because my train was late and although I tried and tried to call the number I was told to call if I was running late, nobody picked up the phone. Seems like I was calling the Conservation Volunteers office, and their working hours were 9am-5pm, and so I couldn't tell anybody I would be all of 2 minutes late.
Showed up at the taxi stand and there was nobody in sight. Not believing that they could actually be that punctual and have left at 8am sharp, I waited around for 15 minutes hoping that maybe the van was late. No such luck.
Finally, I called the number again and left a phone message, thinking they'd call me back at 9am when they actually started work and let me know where I could join the group. And considering I had 45 minutes to kill, decided to take a slow rock down to The Rocks.
Arrived at The Rocks right on 9am and received a phone call. It was Tom, the team leader of the project wondering if I was planning to join them for the day. Now, I thought he called me because someone in the office had received my phone message and got in touch with Tom so that Tom could track me down and have me rejoin the group. This was not so.
Upon further chatting with Tom, I realised that nobody from Conservation Volunteers had called him and that Tom was calling me on his own initiative because he thought I may be running late. Running late to meet them at 9am at Circular Quay train station.
The meeting point for the project was 9am at Circular Quay train station, not 8am at Central train station as I was told.
So from thinking I was late for my project, I ended up being early for it. It was ridiculous! What upset me even more was the fact that nobody from Conservation Volunteers even bothered to return my call from 8.15am! If Tom hadn't called, I would probably have just went home wondering whatever happened!
Actually, I lied, they did call me back. They returned my call at about 2.30pm, six hours after I left my phone message, five hours after the project started, to tell me that, "The meeting time was actually 9am."
If it was 9am, why did you send me an email saying that it would be at 8am? And why did you take six hours to let me know that? What was I supposed to do with the rest of my day? A day that I specially took off from my full-time job to work for you for free?
Just because you don't pay me doesn't mean that you can take me for granted like that.
If it weren't for the fact that I did eventually find the group (no thanks to the folks back at the Conservation Volunteers office), if it weren't for the fact that I had a really great experience immersing myself in the history of the place and digging out a cellar built in the 1800s, I would really have advised everybody to never volunteer with Conservation Volunteers.
Now all I can say is that if you ever do volunteer with them, confirm and reconfirm that they have got their facts right. Otherwise, you may end up in Melbourne waiting for them to meet you at 8am, when you were actually meant to be in Cairns at 10am.
And they would possibly leave you high and dry, returning your phone call the next day, when it is all too late.