Last year Jeroen and I left Holland in search of a simpler life closer to nature. We left with two suitcases and a handful of dreams and moved to a small town in the Brazilian mountains.
Somewhere during our very first week here, a brand new friend offered to rent out his hostel to us as a joke. Apparently, we took it way too serious. :)
We decided that if this was the perfect chance to integrate all those dreams we had into our work. This is why the hostel is going to be an experiment in how to run a hostel in a way that is as environmentally and socially sustainable as possible.
It is going to be a stage for all the amazing ideas and practices related to sustainability that we can find around here, combing it with knowledge from other places. There will be workshops, education programs, lectures. We want to create a place that inspires people to live more balanced and positive lives while contributing to their communities.
The house is amazing and the garden even more so.
We opened in November just 6 weeks after moving in and started to receive guests right away. It was a success from the start; everyone seems to love it. But there is still lots to improve too. One of the largest projects for the coming months is trying to make the hostel more environmentally sustainable in terms of water and energy use.
A bit more about us:
Jeroen is an architect, but prefers building over designing and teaching over building. He gets really excited when he thinks about the first project he wants to do in the garden: making hotels for insects with kids.
I am Silvia and I'm an anthropologist, but the last three years the kitchen has been my field. I also love to teach. My favourite teacher in the world is my aunt who was the only one we knew when we moved to this town. I'm half Brazilian, which is why I have an aunt here. Jeroen is as Dutch as they come.
Cooking / shopping
Help with Eco project
Helping with Tourists
A serra da Mantiqueira - the mountains we live in - are so special in so many ways. They used to be covered by the Mata Atlantica (the Atlantic rainforest) which has partially been turned into grasslands and villages, but luckily there are still parts left. Thanks to the height we have a very special climate where coffee, confers, raspberries and banana trees are all able to thrive next to each other. The variety of birds is spectacular too.
The area has been popular amongst Paulista's mainly because of its nature and cooler whether during the winter (to do all the things one would do in Europe in the winter, like eating cheese fondue or reading a book by the fire place). Recently it has developed into a region that is famous for its gastronomy, which is attracting more tourists. There are lots of organic farmers markets and food related festivals and the products are great.
Here in our Hostel we expect to have mostly Brazilian guests in the beginning, but as we are in one of the best areas in Brazil for climbing we also hope to be able to attract climbers from all over the world.
One thing we are both not really good at is marketing. But it is really important for us to reach a different public than just the tourists that are already used to coming to our little town (almost only Paulistas/people from São Paulo). Especially now that we are going to be launching our crowdfunding campaign to make the hostel more sustainable in terms of energy and water.
Green fingers would be really welcome in the garden (which is almost 1000 square meters). We started our first vegetable garden where we use different permaculture techniques. The climate is great, almost anything will grow here, and we are doing okay. But our knowledge of gardening is quite basic, so we could definitely use help!
With a lot of help from workawayers and friends, we have built lots of things for the hostel, including most of the furniture. We still have a couple of projects that we could use extra hands for, like the hot tub, things like structures for hammocks, new raised garden beds, a house for the ducks. So it would be great to have extra hands that are eager to pick up a hammer and a saw.
The kitchen will be open for the public (both for guests/tourists and locals) at least once a week. If you like to cook, you are super welcome in the kitchen. Cooking is one of my passions. I used to have a catering business and a food truck, so hopefully, I would even be able to teach you something.
If you are not particularly good at any of those things but would like to help with the general maintenance or with running the hostel (serving breakfast, cleaning rooms and reception-work) that is also really welcome.
English, Portuguese and Dutch
We usually offer a place in our dorm with two bunkbeds to our workawayers. It has a bathroom with hot water.
Another thing we can guarantee is good food every day. We always cook vegetarian food, but you are also free to prepare your own if you prefer to.
Not only the kitchen, but the living room, the washing machine, and actually everything in the house is free for you to use.
There is WiFi
There area is great for hiking, mountain-biking and climbing. There are also lots of waterfalls (Serra Mantiqueira means the crying mountains in Tupi-Guarani).
Our hostel is located in the centre of São Bento do Sapucaí - which is tiny - so you can do everything by foot.
There are buses from and to São Paulo twice a day. The bus stops at the town's entrance where we would go pick you up.
Public transport is not great around here, but we have bikes you can borrow and when there is time we can take you to sights in the area.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
More than two
Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week