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BEFORE YOU READ ANY FURTHER, BEAR IN MIND THAT YOU WILL HAVE TO HAVE A NEGATIVE COVID TEST BEFORE FLYING TO ACORES THEN MAKE ANOTHER ONE (FREE OF CHARGE), 6 DAYS AFTER YOUR ARRIVAL.And may be another one on the 12th day.... Tests are free of charge.
Do you know what is a fajã? there is no other place in the world with fajã but Sao Jorge.It's a very specific and unique environement, micro climate, volcanic fertile soil , by the sea, remote and hidden place created by rare sismic activity.
I was incredibly lucky to come across this piece of land with a small wine cellar just by the ocean at the foot of a beautiful massive green mountain! One often dream of finding it's own paradise, well Faja do Sao Joao is my paradise.Will tell you more about how it happened and why and this and that when we meet as I like sharing stories but not that much writting emails and profils.
Everytime I had time and money ,I have been renovating that little stone house for the last 9 years.It now has hot water, a bathroom, a roof that's not leaking and an extra room with a deck overlooking the ocean and more beds to put up people.So far I worked for environnemental awareness programms, designed cycling tours, had a restaurant. Recently my interest and my time goes to making natural wine, growing fruit trees and experimenting living on an island!
I still have a few activities and commitments on the continent, like going to film festivals , sharing time with good friends and children so I am not permanently at faja but around 7/ 8 months per year.
My place is small but beautiful.It has 24 terrasses oriented south west where food and trees grow facing the ocean.We have sunset every night on either Pico or straight into the ocean depending on the season.
A fajã is a very unique scenery and social organisation as the climate is special and allows to grow tropical plants.But fajãs are hidden and difficult to access so it's a place with it's own community and social relations.Got to have your inner ressources and some sens of humour to go through the winter there. For those of us who like large open spaces, unspoiled calm and stong emotions, this is the place.
I know everybody there and I do lots of things with people. I forgot to mention I am french...I speak english and portuguese.
The project is humble as most of the building has been done already, but there is always some bits and pieces to refresh. It's more about sharing time and ideas, putting energy together when making the garden for the coming season.
Please bear in mind that I cannot welcome you when friends or family are around, so in the summer time I have only short period when I can host a volonteer.
Minimum and average stay is a week, we can discuss and make other arrangements after your have experienced fajã living!
DIY and building projects
Life in the " fajãs" is very special.In the winter time there is only 24 of us living at fajã do São João, in the summer more than 150!.If it was not for cars life looks like it was a hundred years ago here. People produce and make most of what they need. You can see how wine, aguardente ( brandy) is made, how to kill a pig, how to fish,grape harvest, how to bake bread and get a feeling of what life used to be in remote communities on even more remote islands (religious processions and huge rural parties every week end).
The stone work and landscape is amazing. People are proud of their work but shy but if you are curious to discover their life and "know how", they will show you things and tell you stories.
Sao jorge is still preserved from touristic projects so you will get a real experience of rural oceanic life.
Traditional music and dances are still very alive in Sao Jorge, old people dance until 4 in the morning!
But surely you will get a strong feeling of what it's like to live on an island in the middle of the atlantic.
Let's start with the heavy duty....For the first part of 2021, the plan is to knock down the old concrete block which used to be the porcs house (relax it's just some 7m2 without a roof ...) and turn it into a wood house which will host future guests, volonteers. We will also tear apart the old bread stove and use the stones to reinforce some walls.Stones are small to medium sizes.
Digging holes to plant " faias"some local specie, and create hedges to protect young fruit trees from the wind.
And a lightest activity...
There is young coffee plants and other fruit trees to be planted and wood to be collected to make barcebues in the summer, some pruning but not much.
Sowing seeds, sorting out stones from the ground, digging, planting veggie and flowers, you can be as creative as you want.
I try to practice natural gardening with some permaculture principles which sometime leads to surprises, or no surpise at all...
You will have your own bedroom, it is a typical stone house, bathroom is shared, as well as kitchen and living room. Nota bene = for couples...the bed is a small double bed, ancient style, people used to be shorter I guess. An opportunity to have a taste of ancient living and loving!
The place is small so it needs to be kept tidy at all time. There is a wood stove for the rainy winter days...
Another characteristic is that it's steep, stairs to climb up the land are made of big stones so you need to be fit or at least sure footed.
There is no shop at the fajã but a cafe that is the hot spot of the fajã. Bear in my that you will be 20 to 30 mn drive with a lift from a semi urban settelement with some services (pharmacy, supermarket, ATM)
We will prepare and eat food together most of the time but be happy to cook for yourself too if you want or if I am not around. Food is sometimes with meat or fish and sometimes vegetarian.
Please take into acount that their is almost no public transport in Sao Jorge, so that means hitch hiking which is easy.When I have a car I don't mind you using it, but I usually don't have a car.
There is daily connections to Faial and Pico, with akward time tables and the faja is 50 mn from Velas...More boats connections to other island from May to Sept but yeah getting around the archipel is not as easy as it should be. There is an airstrip connecting to all islands.
Sao Jorge is one of the most beautiful of all island and has some exceptional natural sites and many walking trails, 2 starts from the village.Places for swimming are many and amazing.From April to september, you can enjoy the best soups in the villages, free of charge, super friendly rural ambiance garantied.
You can borrow my maps and trekking guide book.I know most of the islands quite well.
The weather makes our day in Açores so be prepared to enjoy incredible lights and sunshine and face rain and strong winds.This mean that working hours as well as planed visits can be compromised. Be flexible...
Please notice that there is no internet in my house, but some neighbours do,enough to make video calls, check schedules or book flights.
For those interested of outdoor experiences, there is diving, sailing and canoying activities in São Jorge
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week