One of the really nice things about Vale Da Lama is their beautiful compost toilets, built from clay and artistically designed they are actually quite inviting. The design has allowed for four cubicles and a hand wash area, each cubical has two compost toilets, however only one can be used, whilst the other is closed off, to allow time for it to complete it’s composting work. The other beautiful thing about these toilets is that you can do your number 1 and 2 at the same time as the toilets have been designed to capture number 1’s at the front and 2’s at the back. They do not smell, they are well maintained and each has a nice little window with a private view out towards the countryside. So not only does the fact that you are saving water and making compost lure you in, but the comfort factor ensures you will make your deposits here time and time again.
Today we had been assigned the task to weed the garden, not sure this was something we had signed up to as I do recall being told we were needed to harvest! We find ourselves by the slightly raised beds next to the green house, de-rooting all the grass that was growing here and there was lots of it, there were small clusters of thick wispy grass that was easy to remove, but the majority was the type of grass so common in the dryer climates, the grass that is harsh with thick roots that make a chain like connection that goes on and on and on and on…….in a word laborious, I have never heard Olof sigh so much in all the time we have been together. The 10 minute morning break couldn’t have arrived quick enough, but as the sun’s rays intensified the thought of returning to pulling grass was hellish. Then our saving grace, Luis arrived, we were on Lunch duty and apparently we should have been in the Kitchen by now, thank god.
So what to cook for 14+ people, this isn’t something we are shy of, we are used to preparing meals for large groups, but usually after some consideration and a trip to the supermarket. In the store cupboard there were onions, potatoes and pulses, in the kitchen trays of various squashes, tomatoes, Co-Rabi, cucumbers, radishes, courgettes, carrots and beans and in the fridge a whole tray of mushrooms. Quick thinking resulted in Olof frying up some Garlic mushrooms, Luis making curried beans and me concocting a Moroccan spiced ratatouille. We also reheated the left over couscous from yesterdays lunch and made a massive cucumber and tomato salad. Five dishes where carried through to the dining hall and it wasn’t long before everyone hurried to collect their portions. The food was yummy and group E where rather chuffed with themselves, enough to lay out a few quick Hi-5’s.
It’s funny how good food tends to lead onto good conversation, it seemed we had warmed stomachs and hearts and spent the first hour or so of the siesta getting to know more about some of the other volunteers here, we chatted at length with Mirka and Racquel, sharing our travel plans, ambitions and ideas. Jaya also shared her Yoga business plans and showed us an e-commerce project that her friends were working on in South America, they had set up a volunteering website which matched needs with skills, it looked exceptionally professional, plus they had managed to secure crowd funding for there business venture, which started to give Olof and I many many ideas.
It only felt right that during the siesta one should squeeze in a few winks, but this time I was more realistic with my alarm, after all I only needed 5 minutes to get up and put my shoes on.
At 4pm we were back down by the greenhouse to start the Pomegranate harvest. Gonçalo started by picking a Pomegranate from one of the trees, he sliced it open, examined the colour of the pips and had a quick taste, if the Pomegranate was ready the whole tree could be harvested, if not, the tree would be left. I started collecting the low hanging fruits whilst the guys climbed up the trees, or equally unsafe ladders to reach the higher branches. Apart from Olof’s scrape with the barbed wire it was a pretty uneventful harvest, we cleared most of the trees and I lost count of how many trays we filled, too many to carry back that’s for sure, so with very purple hands we hitched back to Lama Village on the tractor with the largest pomegranate from the harvest that we could find so we could take the seeds.
As we got back to the village the Yoga session had already started so we decided to make the most of the remaining daylight and head back to Aljezur, where Olof had had his camera’s delivered, not the best forward planning on his part as it would be over an hours round trip and an unnecessary consumption of petrol, going against our Eco quest and the budget, but the thought that we could take advantage of the trip by stopping off for a yummy pizza at the one and only Pizza Arte Bianca did stop me from moaning. We quickly swung by the hotel where we had spent our first night in Aljezur to pick up the parcel, Olof was very excited, the parcel contained two cameras, a rather hi-spec one for him from which he would be able to shoot video and thus start to make a documentary and a more rather budget camera, which was assigned to me. If i’m honest I didn’t want it, I really didn’t want to have to carry something else around and I’m quite happy taking snaps with my phone, but Olof insisted we needed two so that we could create better documentaries with multiple camera angel shots. OK can’t argue with that. So whilst waiting for our yummy yummy pizza’s Olof got very excited checking out his new piece of kit whilst I spent the best part of 30 minutes trying to replace the nano SIM in my phone, it had to be the most frustrating 30 minutes of our trip so far, why on earth anything needs to be made so small and fiddley is beyond me and whilst Olof was trying to get me as equally excited about my new camera all I could think of was shoving this Nano SIM up the creators ass, luckily the Pizza’s arrived just in time and as the long awaited cheese infused crust hit my stomach normality was regained and I even started to take a little bit of an interest in the new item that I would now have to lug around with me for the next 21 months. “Remind me again why we didn’t get a go-pro” I asked?