Woke up in the morning and my host made me his trademark ham and cheese toast. Packed up and left Porto towards Pontevedra. After arriving in Pontevedra bus station I went around looking to top up my Spanish lebara number but unfortunately people in the shop either didn’t have Lebara, didn’t do credits top up or didn’t understand me. Finally I got to a grocery that had an Asian woman handling the till, after speaking Spanish to me for a while, I asked her in Mandarin if she can speak Mandarin, and when she said ‘yes, I’m Chinese.’ I was quite relieved. Not so much because I’m meeting a fellow Asian but finally someone who understands me. We didn’t get to top up my lebara because I forgot my number but I got another sim card from her. I managed to finally got hold of someone from Anares Environmental Project and told them I’m on my way. In the evening, I catch the bus to Berducido, we had to change to a smaller bus (which is a van) halfway up as the road got smaller. Emma from the eco-village met me at the bus stop and took me to this new home. I met Barney, whom I talked to on the phone earlier, and we had a lovely vegan supper and roast squash is now my favourite new fruit/vegetable.
I was planning to wake up early and live the farmed life. But it was so cool and quiet that I slept in till half past 10. After a late breakfast of homemade bread, we went for a tour around the eco-village while cutting off new sprouts of eucalyptis trees. Apparently this tree is commonly grown for paper and it burn easily, it’s now indigenous to this region and is a fire hazard for the project, so it must be cleared. We also cleared a big eucalyptis that has fallen from their land to the communal land. It was 1 hour or more of lugging logs, sticks and branches. I am impressed that I managed to stick with it till the job was done and not faint from exhaustion. I am even more impressed that Emma and Barney (the only two people running this project) are in their 50s and are amazingly strong. After a late long lunch of yummy spaghetti with Barney’s homemade bolaginaise sauce with brinjal(need to get recipe!) and fruit cake for dessert, I learnt to saw (badly) and chop woods (with axe, which I have yet to manage to chop any successfully) hehe then we lugged more woods from the house below (also known as the visitor’s house) to the communal’s house where the woods (chopped up oaks this time) would be dry under the balcony. After oak is dried for a year, they can be used as firewood. Eucalyptis need to be dried for 2 years before it can be used as firewood. Then another volunteer, Ruben, who is a local Spaniard arrived. We had dinner, conversations and off to bed. Although I was physically tired, I was spiritually refresh by being up here in the mountains, surrounded by forest and working the land. Farmed life indeed. J
Woke up earlier then yesterday to a drizzle, quickly moved my laundry to a dry place then off to breakfast. Before I could sit down and eat, everyone went to move some broom woods that was out to dry into a place away from the rain so I helped out as well. Emma and Barney are very kind in the sense that they never direct the volunteers on what to do but rather ask if we can help or more often, I offer to help and then they tell me what I can do. And also a few times mentioned that I should tell them if there’s something I don’t feel comfortable in doing or am tired. All in all, a truly communal spirit. I told emma last night that if my farm project doesn’t work out in 10 years, I’m coming here to stay. Then we made lemon cheese(tofu)cake and it was yummy (rico in Spanish)! Then I cleared some weeds and planted strawberries which will bear fruit next spring, it feels really good to be growing things, I feel connected with the earth and I want to come back to taste the berries!! We had dinner and played a card game called Tichu, mui bien! (very good!)
After breakfast, we went in Ruben’s car to the nearest town for Barney to check on his aching tooth and Emma to get her documents fixed. I walked around the small market and stroll down the river next to the market. Then we went to another small town to get some organic food stuff for the pantry, as well as spaghetti, sesame oil and tempeh (it’s crazy that I can find such things, and organic too, at a small village up a mountain) for me to cook something Asian for everyone. In the afternoon, we went for a picnic by the river/waterfall nearby, it was Buena vista! (nice view) I was tempted to swim but the water was icy cold, I told the river I will be back when it’s warmer. I’ve been to quite a few places on this trip but never had I felt such a strong urge to come back to a place.
The last 2 weeks went by a blur, not because everything happen in a frenzy but rather because life has taken on a simple back to nature pace, where most of the work is done outdoor in the woods when it is sunny or rebuilding a house when it is rainy. After work in the morning, it was always followed by a long hearty lunch (comida) with rest or siesta, then work in the late afternoon, with a little time to ourselves before dinner at 9pm, usually followed by homemade wine and a game of cards. So I hardly see my netbook but only for the need to go online and make sure I have a host for the next part of my trip on couchsurfing. On top of my head, the things I remembered doing were weeding the veg plot to plant strawberries, making a human chain with a lovely family with 2 teenage kids to bring down some chopped eucalyptis logs, plastering the roof with clay, picking apples and then peeling tons of them to make apple puree, learning lots of yummy vegan recipes from emma and barney, learning to cook Asian food using vegan ingredients (namely sweet and sour chestnut) and taking long walks in the forest. Life aka Sustainable Living is good, we really don’t need governments or big corporations for a decent meaningful living, actually good living is only possible without them. I’ve also become really good friends with Ruben and after saying goodbye to Emma and Barney, I went with Ruben to see his grandfather’s farm somewhere not far. I already miss both of them and hope to come back next summer.