Get involved in our eco-project, half-way up Portugal's highest mountain.
We're approximately 20 minutes from Seia, amid the stunning scenery, crystal clear lakes and rivers of the Serra da Estrela, and looking across the Alvoco, Mondego and Daõ valleys towards the Açor and Caramulo ranges.
The site is completely off-grid, with excellent year-round water supplies, impressive terraces, fruit trees, and a couple of buildings which we are currently renovating.
As well as simply looking after the land, the garden and the trees, our biggest tasks for 2020 are a new bathroom in the main building and continuing the restoration of the walls. But there's plenty of other stuff too, including upgrades to the solar power and hot water systems and the beginnings of our micro-hydro set-up.
The land area is reasonably large, and quite varied. There are flat, fertile terraces on the lower parts, along with fruit (apple, plum, quince, cherry, peach) trees and more sweet chestnut trees than you can count. Steep slopes and more open mountain terrain are found higher up - if you know what can be cultivated there, please come and show us!
Pratique d’une langue
Aide avec des éco-projets
Bricolage et projets de construction
Aide à la maison
We believe that Workaway should be much more than simply an offer of food and a place to sleep in exchange for a few hours of work. So as well as setting the world to rights (most nights), we like to organise trips to local sights and events, walks in the mountains, swimming, and we apparently have something of a reputation to maintain when it comes to football...
There is plenty to do in the local area, and if you are interested enough to get in touch we will send you links describing that, along with some further information about us and our project.
We're also very happy to pass on whatever odd bits of knowledge we can, and we're very open to learning from whoever passes by. We link-up fairly regularly with other similar projects nearby, and we get a surprising number and variety of visitors too. Never a dull day!
We also have a 'library' of probably a few hundred books ranging from top quality airport trash right down to worthy tomes on eco-building and self-sufficiency. If you bring a nice book that you'd like to leave with us, we might let you take one of ours away with you.
We're looking for help from positive and energetic people who are not scared to get their hands dirty. If you can bring some experience and skills, all the better - but tolerance, attitude, creativity and a willingness to join-in are also important.
Depending on what we need to get done, you'll be asked to help with general maintenance such as brush-cutting (and the rather less "glamorous" raking-up), weeding and watering the garden, chopping wood, digging and clearing drainage channels, pruning trees, checking on the cats, cleaning etc.
We also need help with our construction and renovation work. Carpenters and those with skills in construction and joinery are always welcome. But we know that's not everybody, and there are plenty of other things to get involved in.
At some point we'll be getting into construction of additional accommodation, so feel free to share your creative architectural ideas.
Everything slows-down over winter, and we concentrate on maintenance and cleaning of the land and the watercourses; cutting-back and training vines and fruit trees; repairing vulnerable spots on our road; burning-off scrub and vegetation that we've collected during the hot months (when fires are prohibited) - and a million more small but important tasks.
We also get busy with clearing the ground and preparing planting areas in order to grow more of our own veg. We don't claim to be expert or experienced cultivators - although we are less clueless than we were. We have our own ideas, but equally we welcome people who can help with this. And while we are completely off-grid, we are not purists; we make compromises all the time, like everyone else.
Cet hôte propose un échange linguistique
We are language geeks
You can bring your own tent if you want to have privacy (a few good tent spots in the shade are already flattened and prepared) or there are sleeping spaces inside, but until the partition walls are completed these are not very private...
Outdoor solar shower, bathroom with toilet with only cold water at the moment - but this will be upgraded soon.
We do have the luxury of a washing machine run by solar power and a 'proper' fridge.
If you are scared of: goats, sheep, dogs, the dark, kittens, spiders, nettles, ants, your own shadow, worms or flowers, this might not be the place for you.
We provide food, meaning breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus snacks. If you have any allergies please tell us in advance. Likewise, do tell us if you have special dietary requirements and, within reason, we'll do what we can.
The kitchen is generally full of veg and fruit, pasta, rice, bread, eggs, yogurt, milk, lots of spices and sometimes fish and meat. We don't buy much processed food - except for a few biscuits, crackers and jam. And, of course, chocolate (but that's just another fruit).
Depending on activities we can cook together or you can help yourself in the kitchen. What's for dinner depends mostly on who's home and what seems like a good plan. If you promise not to ritually incinerate garlic, not to scratch the living daylights out of the pans, and not to wantonly waste food, then you are welcome to cook - should you want to. And if you can't cook, no problem; there's always a need for people willing to chop, peel, and cut-up. And then there's always the pure delight of washing up for those who particularly like to contribute that way...
We are not vegetarian, but we have no trouble catering for those who are, and often go days without eating meat in any case. Vegans are perfectly welcome too, if that's your thing, and of course it's up to you which items from our vegetarian 'selection' you choose to eat.
We have a preference for non-smokers and there is no smoking inside the buildings. We have in the past made a 'safe smoking' outdoors area due to the extreme fire-risk. Anybody visiting the Portuguese countryside needs to be very aware of the fire danger of course, especially smokers, but we're not going to preach to you about (other!) health risks.
We don't have very fixed ideas about 'length of stay'; only that it has to work for everyone. We think a week is a reasonable minimum, and for those who would like to stay longer we propose taking stock of "where we all are" after a week, to be sure that everything is working out well for everyone.
Work hours are flexible and very reasonable. We're not clock-watchers, but there are things that we do need to get done, and we really appreciate people who can see that too, and can show some initiative.
WiFi is patchy (but improving), so if you are a complete internet-addict you can either join a rehab program, or save yourself the money and come to volunteer with us...;)
There is however a very nice cafe/bar/restaurant with wi-fi, good coffee and cheap beer just 10 minutes walking from the house, on the way to go to the river beach. We make it a point of principle to buy a coffee or a beer or at least something whenever we use the internet there and we ask volunteers to be sensitive to this too.
Please note that winter very definitely comes to the Estrela. From December to February, and even into March, we often get a dusting of snow overnight, and the mountain above us features Portugal's one-and-only ski resort. It doesn't get truly cold (by N. European standards, at least) and there can be beautiful warm days in any month of the year. But still, do bear in mind that this is not the Algarve!
Don't forget to bring a flashlight or head torch, working clothes, sun screen, swimsuit, towel, sturdy shoes, positive attitude, smiles and good humour.
Finally, a quick word about drugs: There is no preaching or moralising here, but recreational drugs are really not our thing, other than caffeine and the odd drop of alcohol. Our observations are that drugs generally make you slower and duller, so please, don't plan on bringing or using any to any great extent.
Er... that's about it! Feel free to get in contact for more information.
Accès Internet limité
Nous avons des animaux
Nous sommes fumeurs
Our access road is not fantastic*, but we've had many people park-up 'nearby' and stay with us. *It's a lot better than it was, and most vehicles can now manage OK, in most weather conditions
Plus de 2
Flexible... It's about quality, not quantity. Max 25 hours a week, of course.