So, today was officially the first day of our Eco-quest and if truth be told, we didn’t exactly get off to a flying start as far as the ethics of our mission was concerned. We woke up in a hotel that did little for the environment or it’s guests diet. We opted for a late check out in order to make good use of the internet and finalised some last minute arrangements, oh and I took advantage of the hairdryer, probably the last time i’ll be using one of those for a while.
We managed to get hold of Chris and confirmed our arrival for later in the afternoon to give ourselves time to check out the town a little, but we didn’t need much time as Aljezur was fairly small.
The castle looming above the town attracts a few tourists and the nearby beaches has created a “Surfer Style” hostel, but all in all the town services mainly the locals and boasts several typical Portuguese restaurants, a couple of grocery stores, a daily food market, not to forget, the amazing pizza take-away. It was nice to note that the town was really conscious about organic and locally sourced produce which we took full advantage of.
After having lunch at restaurant Primavera, we stocked up on a few fresh organic goods and made our way back to Varzea Da Goncala. This time upon arrival the farm was buzzing with people, we had just missed a tomato harvest following which some tomatoes were left drying in the sun and others jarred.
First we met with Daphna and her family who gave us a very warm welcome, Daphna would be running the Medicinal Herb workshop in three days time. Then we met with Chris the owner of the land who asked that we settle in and make ourselves comfortable, either in the teepee or to set up camp under the fig tree.
The offer of the teepee was a really nice surprise as it was much spacier than little tent our friends had given us before we left, so we didn’t hesitate to accept the offer.
We collected our backpacks, sleeping bags and blow up mattress and settled into our new home.
Soon we met Anthony and Katie who had been renting for several months now a small cottage on the farm with their young daughter, we chatted for a short while over the strumming of guitar strings before we set off to explore the farm.
Following the river trail signs through the farm we passed the vegetable garden, goose compound, chicken coup and even met george the pig, who acted more like a dog. We fell for George instantly and it wasn’t long before he fell for us, hook line and sinker on his back with his legs in the air!!
The riverside walk was delightful, many wild flowers grew along the path and a wide variety of wildlife was attracted to this area. A Spanish family had set up camp by the river and were enjoying a bathe in the waters.
The days work on the farm was done and everyone was winding down, there was nothing we could help with for the rest of the day, so a day of relaxation then? With nothing to do we kicked back in the hammock and I became fascinated, if not slightly uneased by a nest of Daddy Long Legs. I’d only ever seen them individually before, seeing them together in a big group, knitted closely together, swaying up and down/back and forth, hypnotised and freaked me out at the same time. Olof seemed intent in trying to rock me to sleep, but there was a part of me trying to fight off the relaxation, I felt like I needed to be doing something, we were here to volunteer not have a holiday. However, we must have rocked the time away as before we knew it the sun was starting to set and my best friend the mosquito was making an appearance.
We made our way to the “outside kitchen” in an attempt to cook something up before the sky turned black when Daphna shouted and invited us over for dinner with Arturo and her children.
Over a delicious bean soup and fresh bread we learn about each others backgrounds under a star lit sky.
We went to bed not sure what kind of an impression we had left and for some reason we self reflected on the walk back to the teepee, with Olof thinking he had come across like a complete permaculture, raving, lunatic. For years Olof has been waiting to visit his first permaculture farm and the excitement of the day had erupted out of his mouth over dinner like some kind of huge permacutlure verbal-jackulation.
Just before we settle down onto our blow up mattress to watch a bit of Bill Mollison’s 72 hour pemaculture course, the toilet visit beckons, only the toilet nearby is a dry compost toilet! Sweet Dreams.
FACT OF THE DAY:
If you have never seen a Daddy Long Legs nest before, or if you weren’t away of the fun you can apparently have by poking one, look at this;