Immerse yourself in the life of exiles
A guest contribution by Carolin Frühauf
The small streets of São Luís in the southwest of Portugal are still full of life when we visit the small town hall on Friday evening. The doors are wide open and around 70 people sit at long rows of tables in the festival hall and listen to the closing speech by Ana, who concludes the fourth meeting of eco-projects in South Alentejo and calls on people to stay in the courtyard for the jam session.
Young and old sit next to each other and talk lively. A group of children run after a small dog. For dessert there is Natas do Ceu sky cream. You can hear jingling silver jewelry, see colorfully patterned dresses, Birkenstocks and dreadlocks. Dropouts, farmers, locals and creative people got together today to discuss possible forms of cooperation - including a food cooperative that will soon be launched.
One of the most popular self-sufficiency concepts is permaculture cultivation. The idea of permaculture is to use already existing ecosystems of a landscape directly or to imitate them in newly created cycles. A permaculture farm is therefore designed to supply many more generations without harming the environment.
If you are interested in more detail, you can visit some of the projects in the Alentejo - Das Vida Pura project offers workshops and day visits, for example.
Before 1970, the Alentejo was considered one of the poorest regions in Portugal. Large landowners determined the life of the locals, who mainly consisted of cork peelers, farm laborers and harvest workers. Today only 5% of the Portuguese still live in the region. Wheat fields, cork oaks, olive trees and flocks of sheep make the landscape look wild and somewhat enchanted. The motto of the locals can still be seen on many house walls:
'A terra a quem a trabalha' – 'The land of those who work it'.
Hordes of tourists are not to be seen in the Alentejo even in the high season and one or the other beach section can often be enjoyed to yourself. More and more foreigners have been settling in the region since the 80s. Among them are people who prefer a life in the rhythm of nature to the lively city life and who come together here to farm collectives and communities in order to lead a self-determined but sometimes hard life.
The residents of the Alentejo don't seem to have a lot of money, but they have leased another great treasure for themselves: time. Time to talk to the neighbor for hours in front of the house. Time for a Galão (Portuguese white coffee) and a cigarette in the cafe until the midday heat is over. Time not to complain about the late bus from Lisbon because it always comes late.
Time as a great treasure
Joke and Peter are also at the farm collective meeting. The native Dutch have been living in Troviscais near São Luís for nine years and run a little Glamping resort with safari tents and yurts, where you can enjoy the cool summer nights of Portugal and hear the birds chirping in the morning.
This offers a mixture of both, farm life and glamping Eco Glamping Resort Aterra a little further south of Troviscais and São Luís. Claudia and Francisco have created a place there that enchants and gives a lot of peace and relaxation. Next to the Asian-style reception is a small wooden bridge, surrounded by colorful exotic flowers and if you go a little further, you will discover the small fruit and vegetable garden, in which a group of peacocks pecks grass and maybe one or the other strawberry in summer. For its guests and day visitors, Aterra offers yoga courses, Reiki, Ayurvedic massages and much more.
Every now and then a few hikers end up in this little paradise. You are on the move Rota Vicentina , a 350-kilometer hiking trail. It leads along picturesque villages, dunes and cliffs. Portugal shows one of its most pristine sides on the Rota Vicentina. If you are brave and curious and happen to be in the right place at the right time, you can discover many small and large secrets on this hiking trail.
(Praia do Malhão)