Thursday, 28 June 2007

Tout, autour de la Terre

We were flying between the clouds. The lights of our van disappeared just in front of us. A dreamland of mists and fogs. Small, turning roads. A red fox crossing our path. Old, abandoned stonehouses with a glimpse of ancient, celtic times. Turns and turns and turns. We had to find an old phoneboot in a village called Ars. We entered another world.

Tout, autour de la Terre is the name of a project in La Creuse, a small, rural region in middle France. Cecilia had been wwoofing here years ago, and now we came for a visit. One woman is living at this place over years, other people come and go, transforming the place with their presence.
The garden was designed according to principles of permaculture, with bees and fruit trees, vegetables and flowers merely growing together, and a lot to weed ass well. This place was also a pottery with beautiful art work, exposed in a handmade greenhouse in the garthen. Next to the old farmhouse a large, gracious tower was built the last years in the old style of the region. The woman who lived here built her own house with recycled materials, old car tires, glass bottles and wood, half underground, but with a great view over the surrounding hills.

We helped with weeding the garden and insolating the roof of the house with kley and hay. We enjoyed the music making and singing, the sweatlodge and the lovely home made pies, cakes, chutneys and strawberry icecreams. There was a good atmosphere and it was very learnsome, though it was not easy for us to adjust to the working and living rithm here. Long working days, late dinners, and a sleepy Gaya, somehow we did not succeed finding the right balance here. After almost a week we had enough of it. We wanted to have time for our own projects, and focus on these. One evening we left for The Netherlands, our last destination before going back (or forth) to Berlin.

Torri Superiore

The omens where not too good. A low bridge with a roadsign saying 2.20 max. while our bus counts 2.60 high was a first warning, though we managed to get across. Just behind the bridge we were stopped by a road construction, not allowing cars to pass untill six p.m. After some hours of waiting, we took the mountain road to Torri Superiore, an ecovillage made in an old, abandoned mountain village. Arriving there, thunderstorms welcomed there and we had to wait in the van until the weather allowed us.

The village is built steeply against the mountain rocks and coming from the valley it looks untakable. We had contacted the ecovillage longer in advance and were welcomed to come as volunteers. As we did not succeed phoning them, just left a message to announce our arrival. When we came there, they told us that they did not needed volunteers, but we could stay in their guest room and pay about 100 Euro per night. Allright.
The woman managing these matters had a very unwelcome attitude towards us, totally misplaced and not suiting a beautifull ecovillage like this. We realized how lucky we have been with all projects we visited so far, with all the hospitality, their relaxed way of coordinating their volunteers, all these good, inspiring visits. Now we found ourselves to be on a same kind of place, but with a totally different attitude, where people with fancy new cars could stay a night and eat with the ecocommunity. A strange matter of difference within a community we did not feel right about. A power difference one can trace back to its name?
On the other hand we met nice and friendly people, there was an open and welcoming athmosphere, and it was a beautiful village surrounded by steep mountains. In other circumstances it could have been just perfect.

Monday, 4 June 2007

Retour / Detour

Since we moved upwards through Italy we feel that our journey is getting closer to it's end. Meanwhile we recognized that this way of living hjas been very valuable to us, and we hope that we will be able to travel more often like this and work while we travel. We promised ourselves not to stick to the ordinary citylife too long. When we come back, we will have some projects to do, such as starting up the Pamoyo clothing label, which we have been preparing a bit during our trip. It is not easy to work while traveling the way we do, with a small child and intensive travel experiences and work visits. The travelling blessed us with inspiration and imput, and we look forward putting our ideas into practice!

We have had a bit of a break seeing Klaas en Riki, though the start was a sort of strange nightmare with a cursed house in a village called Spello. We calmed down from our negative experiences on the lovely Renaissance landhouse La Fratta. Here we celebrated Gaya's birthday. It is special to celebrate your first childs first birhtday. A wonderful day! Now we are a few days in the Riviera, close to Cinque Terre. Soon we will visit another ecovillage in Italy and then visit some in France, before we go to Holland.


Mostly they hide in places far from civilization, close to nature and basicly every place is different. We have been visiting some projects that we found through the Global Ecovillage Network. It is an interesting way of travelling, visiting alternative forms of living and community forming. Not every place was really a village, often projects did not exist anymore or it was the wrong time to visit them. We discovered that it is better to visit a few places and have more time there so one has really the time getting to k now the place and the people, often it needs time also to find out what one can help with. So better stay a week minimum. Also most places want to hear from you in advance, and the best way is phoning them.