Helllloooo and WOW!!!!! Phew! I feel renewed and as if I had just returned from the dead, or better say, the zombies. Last week was full on and before that I have clearly been restructuring my brain and my soul. Now, where do I start…
I have not mentioned this before because I was still digesting it I think. But last year ended a bit tragically regarding my farming plans as the group or organic farmers that I was part of suffered from poor management from the administration and the technical specialists that were supposed to help us. We were a few families forming a group of organic farmers aiming to produce veggies and sell our produce in a differentiated manner. I say differentiated because what happens is that the little organic produce that gets to the markets is normally sold together with the rest of the vegetables, which is a shame. Apparently the Uruguayan government wanted to do something about this as well as about the exodus towards the cities (farmers are leaving the countryside and this is worrying them). This resulted in a money grant, an organization applied and got the funds and my family (with me as the farmer, mind you) was included as one of the rural families that were going to be given help to put their produce on the shelves with a clear sign and distinction in price AND, hopefully, value. Well, it all went down some obscure drain greased by personal interests, bad management and dishonesty from those who were pulling the strings. That is of course if you ask me and the other families that were left empty-handed (or full, since some were stuck with significant harvests and nowhere to place them) last minute. I am sure the authorities have some kind of different explanation. But, enough of them, I don’t really care anymore and politics is definitely not my thing.
What matters here is that it took me quite a while to recover from this slap in the face, which was mainly a huge disappointment in the organization and the technician I had trusted, which is what hurt the most. And I would then go to the rather large field that was specifically created for this project only to get super stressed by seeing the imminent advance of weeds and neither knowing what, nor how to do things. I had no help, no idea what to do and the area was way too big for just one person to manage. I went on holidays, came back, kept trying to keep things minimally under control and sort of managed to continue. But help was on its way…
In March-April, my cousin Leandro whom I had not seen for many, many years decided to stop by on his way home after his own holidays on the Uruguayan coast. He and his girlfriend Cora came along and I think I can mark that time as the start of my recovery. Leandro and I talked a lot about our childhood at my grandmothers house in Cordoba and how we love the earth, plants, good food, animals, natural building (he is also an architect) and life in general. It was WHAM! back to my roots and to why I was here doing this altogether. Cora made an amazing job weeding and literally saved half the area in the back and I started to be able to breathe again. She also thinks pretty much like us and has in addition such a shanti-yogi way of approaching life that she also eased me back into business without me even knowing it.
Parallel to this, I continued, and still do, working and learning a lot with my friend Pocho, the experienced quintero (http://offgridlivinginuruguay.com/?p=668). And we also sort of empowered ourselves (he was also in the group mentioned earlier and was quite shaken about what happened) as well as having fun and learning a lot together. And everything is so much nicer when you are two, It can get a bit lonely otherwise. Anyway, things started to look brighter, potatoes kept growing and future plans as well. All good.
Then last week-end I attended a course with a friend who is also into organic farming. She tipped me off about it and we decided to drive there together. The course was about organic agriculture and soil regeneration. It was all about “Feeding the soil instead of the plants” something that makes total sense to me and I have been talking and thinking about how to improve the soil here since I started working with it, so it was totally spot-on. The course was really good, I met very nice people as is usual in these kind of gatherings, learned a lot and came back home inspired and even more convinced that I am doing the right thing. Particularly nice was a talk given by a couple, Remo and Irina, who are managing a biodynamic farm in northern Santa Fe province, Argentina (Naturaleza Viva). The place looks amazing. They have a very lush food forest, a giant pond, green pastures and what I really liked: local fauna is starting to find its way to the property, and now they even have a few monkey species living there. Seeing that someone managed to achieve what I want to achieve (at least partly because I will do things differently of course) is just simply super inspiring. And Remo’s way of talking, telling us about his mistakes, somehow warning us and making it all about what it really is about, which is watching, feeling, learning and flowing instead of forcing, changing and twisting to our advantage…
I also recently read “Feral” by George Monbiot which has also helped me shape my thoughts and put what I have been aiming to and want to achieve on our land into words and the term “rewilding”. You see, almost 90% of the people coming here who are not weirdos like us, tell me I should get rid of all the bushes and “mugre”, which can sadly only be translated into “shit”, growing around here and EXPLOIT the land. That it is such a waste to leave it like this, to its own devices, not doing anything on it, not USING it. Well, I don’t want to. I don’t need to. And I want to leave it alone to see what it turns into, and I want life to find its way here and surprise me. Practically no one understands what I am talking about and George Monbiot handed it away to me. Now I can just tell them to read the book if they really want to know, otherwise leave me alone. Ha!
As if this wasn’t not enough, when I got back from this course we were flattered to receive visitors from Europe who wanted to have an insight on our way of approaching life and make a little documentary about it. How inspiring is that! All the way from Europe!!! It was just going to be the host of the show and the cameraman who would come so we thought they could stay at home with us, plus that would give them a clearer idea of us and our daily life. They were both very nice. We enjoyed a lot having them here and we had extremely interesting talks day and night. Those were very intense three days I must say, and rather unusual since we are not used to being “observed” in that way, and you of course want to do a good job by not misleading the people who are potentially going to be watching the documentary later on. So this visit got me thinking a lot because I really wanted to be prepared and give good straight answers (my previous experiences taught me this of course. It did not come by itself). So my little brainy was on full locomotion.
We get it a lot you know: “Why on earth did you do this?” (move to Uruguay, leave the good life we had, etc, etc.). And one tries to summarize the facts, and the pros, and the cons, and all that. Try to bring it down to earth. Not sound like a hippie-wannabe-walking-cliche-clueless-dreamer-whatever. And the environment, and the excuses, and explanations “no, I don’t want to save anybody”, “yes, having a huge petrol driven car sucks”, “yes, I try to have a plant based diet but hey, I am not judging your dietary preferences”, etc, etc. It never ends. Sometimes you feel attacked in some strange way, others you want to satisfy peoples curiousness. We were bound to get these questions and I really wanted to get the answers right. I did not get as far as to formulate one either but I had been thinking about it a lot lately and it ended up coming out by itself during a talk. It is rather simple really. I just want to live my life in a way that is true to me and to who I want to be. Get closer to who I want to become and that my life and the choices I make make sense with that, which in turn gives me contentment (yes there are some compromises of course, it is not all pink). I see now how the decisions I took along the way led me to this. To confront myself and my fears, push myself, improve myself, learn how to solve my own conflicts and discover closer and closer who I wanted to be and how I wanted to live my life and relate to the rest of the world and its inhabitants. I believe the seed was in me all along and that it germinated during those long hot summers in Cordoba playing in the river and being totally wild and free. I was lucky and very privileged to get to travel and see other parts of the world, other realities, from an early age and that also has contributed to shape me of course. But I am not on any mission. I do not expect to save the world or anyone for that matter. One has to and can only save oneself, with or without help but no one can save anyone 100%. I will be more than happy to help anyone interested in any of the aspects of our life and share whatever knowledge I might have in me and I am for sure very flattered if I inspire others, but the rest is up to each and everyone of you guys.
I leave you to the usual daily-life pics. Lots of furry creatures this time too.