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400 Day LETS Odyssey
Copyright � James Taris

JAMES TARIS around the World- (2003-4)

Stripping paint off staircase with a heat gun.

CANADA - Kitchener (Wk.9 of 16 weeks)
Week 42 of World Tour


It’s All About Caring And Sharing

Yesterday, Kit, my LETS host in Kitchener (Ontario, Canada) asked, “Can you paint a room for me?”

Now, you’ve got to keep this in perspective.

My stay in Kitchener was originally supposed to be for only one week, January 11-18. But 9 and a half weeks later, I’m still here! And apart from a couple of weeks spent in Welland, Brantford, Montreal, Granby, Ottawa and Toronto, I’ve spent the rest of my time here. And it looks like I’ll be here for another 7 weeks. That’ll make it over 3 months!

Now I’m not in the habit of staying in the same place for such a long time. My average stay with a host is about one week. But things just turned out that way when my plans to visit South America fell through a couple of months ago.

You can read the whole story in my e-book, My 400 Day LETS Odyssey,
Wk 36- Everything Turns Out For The Best (or more fondly known as Shit Happens)

Not only that, but my host also organized 2 performances of my play in Kitchener, 3 speaking engagements with local Toastmasters groups, a Murder-Mystery night, a winter camping weekend with 37 other crazy Canadians, a visit to an Emu farm, a lift to Montreal (6 hour drive!), 2 lifts to Toronto and back, cross-country skiing and an ice-hockey game. PLUS, my day-to-day needs, as was originally requested when I first made contact with KW Barterworks, the LETS group Kit belongs to.

My commitment with KW Barterworks ended after my first week, so all of these ‘extras’ have been provided by my host.

And when my next couple of hosts cancelled my visits with them, Kit immediately offered to host me a while longer, because I was the ideal travel guest!

I washed the dishes every day.
I regularly shoveled snow from the paths and driveway around the house.
I registered a domain name for a business web site.
I also provided the web hosting.
I gave web page design tuition.
And I was good company to have around, always having something positive to say.

And the more I did for my host, the more my host did for me.

You see, it’s all about caring and sharing.

And having said that, I’m not going to paint a room. I’m going to paint the entire freakin' ground floor! That’s 4 rooms and a staircase. Stripping paint off all the woodwork (doors, windows, skirting boards, and staircase), filling in cracks in the plaster, then painting the ceilings and floors.

I mean, why wouldn’t I?

Painting the kitchen wall.

Obviously I can’t relate all the times I’ve ‘given more’ and ‘received more’ while being hosted, but here’s a few occasions during my European LETS Speaking Tour in 2002 where this occurred.

In Bristol, England, I had use of a bicycle for a week and repaid the favour by doing a few hours of house renovating for another member.
For full story, see UNITED KINGDOM - First Stop Bristol at

Also in Bristol, England, I cleaned a kitchen, bathroom and toilet. I got no extras in return. But I knew my host was expecting a visitor for the next couple of days, and because he was working all day, he wouldn’t have time to clean his place. So I did it for him! And when he got back home, he couldn't believe his eyes!

In Sa Tuna, Spain, I washed the dishes one morning while my hosts were sleeping in. I just wanted to be helpful.

In Aas, Norway, I got a Polynesian Massage and repaid the favour by being a dance partner for another member.
For full story, see NORWAY - Polynesian Massage and also "The Week In Aas Festival" at

In Cape Town, South Africa, I got my first taste of working my butt off for LETS. I was giving upto 3 presentations each day for 4 days, and by the 5th day I’d lost my voice!
For full story, see SOUTH AFRICA - LETS Groups In South Africa & THE BAT JOKE

This article is taken from the ebook,
400-Day LETS Odyssey

About the book

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