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You are invited to a natural and wild valley in Central Portugal. There are ancient stone staircases covered in moss, waterfalls and wild flourishing forests. The area is steep and uneven and twisting walking paths mark the way.
For me, the Valley is a place to return to the basics of life and to connect to nature. It’s a place where I try to limit my impact on the planet. Right now I am focused on cleaning and landscaping the land, beekeeping and renovating a house in the village. Basic facilities like electricity, running water, vegetable garden, field-kitchen and toilet have already been made. I use mostly hand tools, some electrical power tools, and as much local materials as possible. Most of the work is (very) physical and makes you dirty (or wet). I choose to settle in this valley because of the clean air, pure water and wild nature and wish to share the experience of being here with others.
My name is Haico and I am originally from the Netherlands. Before I moved to Portugal, I have managed an organic supermarket and a restaurant. I am looking for people who enjoy pioneering, learning and exploring together with me here.
There are two super cats on the land, Chomsky and Baixinha (little one), who love to cuddle, play and make you laugh.
Cooking / shopping
Help with Eco project
I am not the only immigrant close to Benfeita. A community of people from different backgrounds and various countries have moved to this area to live in harmony with nature. There is a communal kitchen every Friday, a monthly market, a women's circle at new moon, a yoga class every week, and we often help each other out at our Quintas (farms). If you are staying with me for a while you will surely get to know these people and their ways. You will be inspired about all the ways in which you can build your live outside of the prescriptive path by 'normal' society.
In the mountain villages close to my valley (Benfeita, Pai das Donas and Luadas) there are still a few older Portuguese people living a traditional life. You will see people herding their sheep and goats and in summer you can enjoy local food en dances at the annual summer feasts. The local café has delicious sandwiches and in the afternoons you can always find someone there to share a beer or a wine with (or a cup of coffee/tea).
Please be aware though that my valley is 20 minutes walking from these places. Most of the time you will be with just a few people or alone (although we try to have at least 2 volunteers at the same time). If you are used to a life in the city and a lot of social interactions, this aloneness can be deeply nurturing, but also extremely confronting. Without all the city distractions, most people are faced with their longings, fears, expectations and boundaries. Moving through these you have the chance to come to a place of deep surrender and wonder, and to a connection with yourself and nature that feels extremely alive. This can be a difficult process though, and I ask people only to come if they feel ready to accept this challenge and are able to carry themselves in this process.
The help at hand in this phase of the project is very physical and basic. I like to say it is what you did when you were playing outside as a kid (at least if you are from my generation). We are digging in the sand and in the mud, playing with water and tubes in the river, making ‘huts’ from wood and building walls with stones.
Cleaning the land at this moment means cutting down, chopping and stacking up a lot of burnt trees. In august I hope to start renovating an old house in the village. To begin with insolating the roof with wood and cork. This together with a traditional Portuguese builder.
I have also started a vegetable garden, so there is planting and harvesting and weeding to do. Pulling out brambles is a continues task for the coming years.
During the summer / autumn 2019 I will be installing a few apiaries (clusters of bee hives) in and around the land, with which you are very welcome to help.
If you come to my place it is important that you can work independently and also enjoy time alone in nature. The nearest villages are a 20 minutes hike away.
An open mindset and a good physical condition is more important than your skills. You are very welcome to come learn with me.
English, Portuguese, Dutch
Very back to basic! I can offer a tent with nearby a compost toilet and a basic field kitchen. There is also a shed with storage/space, a hammock to be chilled in, and my yurt is at the top of the land. Showering is done in the river and you can give me your clothes to wash in the machine we can use in the village. There is basic electricity (enough to charge phone and a laptop).
I offer a place in a private tent and 3 meals a day (a porridge & fruit breakfast, a cooked lunch and ingredients to make your own dinner snack). We cook in turns. I cook vegetarian, and don't mind to make that vegan if a volunteer would prefer it.
There is also space to put your own tent, although that might involve leveling the ground a bit beforehand ;)
I want to invite you to slowly get used to these mountains and to the life here. Most people find it challenging to adapt to the weather, the steep slopes, the culture and the lack of the comforts from back home.
The area I live in burned during the fires in October 2017. Although my valley is still very green, the long term effects of the fire are still present and you can see areas with burned trees around.
If you want to visit my place, please send me a personal message with the answers to the following questions.
What attracts you to spending time in nature?
What is your experience with camping and back-to-basic living? (please be specific)
What is your experience with spending time alone? (please be specific)
What do you think you will gain from being in our valley?
What do you think will be challenging for you?
When would you like to come and how long are you planning to stay?
What kind of work do you look forward to?
Are you coming by car/van/hitch-hiking, or would you like a pickup from the bus station?
Do you bring your own tent, or would you like to use one of ours?
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
More than two
Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week