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A Full Year at the Quinta

Aug 8th was our year anniversary of moving onto the quinta and what a year it’s been! Sometimes it’s difficult to appreciate what has been accomplished when there is still so much to be done but all one has to do is look back. I was amazed to think of all that has changed over the last year and how many people we have met.

Quinta before

How the quinta looked when we bought it- Dec 2007

Quinta Now

Quinta now complete with donkey!

So if you have a few minutes please take a walk down memory lane with me…

In the Spring of 2008 we just started making our first beds for the veggies!

Pete working on our first veggie patch

Pete working on our first veggie patch

The yurt was just a thought and hadn’t been ordered yet. Our fancy compost loo didn’t exist. We had a less than stylish hole in the ground with a not so sturdy enclosure for privacy!

Old loo in the forground and new loo in the backgroud.  Literally a step up!

Old loo in the forground and new loo in the backgroud. Literally a step up!

Loo in process, Danny at the top and Anna keeping him up there!

Loo in process, Danny at the top and Anna keeping him up there!

There were no donkeys! Sammy the big dog hadn’t been born yet and now he weighs 45 kg!

Sammy at 2 months old

Sammy at 2 months old

Sammy growing out of his bed!

Sammy growing out of his bed!

Our house was barely getting started.

Before

Our house as it was...

The big house hadn’t been touched.

Spring 2009

Looks a bit different in the Spring 2009

There were no pathways, no donkey bridge, no donkey house, no solar equipment, no Ram pump, no water tank, no track to the lower part of the land, no turn around.

The finished loo!

The finished compost loo!

Quinta 2008

Spring 2008 - No paths, no house, no donkeys, no...

Once the tank got finished we were buying water from the Bombeiros (fire dept) for months and months as we hadn’t gotten the ram pump going yet! (Very important infrastructure hint: Build your water tank, get your pump running before one plants a bunch of veggies that one has to first haul water out of the stream with buckets and then after the stream dries up ends up using the water from the Bombeiros. A tomato could end up costing you a bad back or 25 euros!)

The Water Tank in Process

The Water Tank in Process

Ram Pump - Doesn´t look like much but ahhhhh what it can do!

Ram Pump - Doesn´t look like much but ahhhhh what it can do!

A litle trickle goes a long way!

A litle trickle goes a long way!

We lived 40 minutes away from our beloved quinta and were spending a ton of money on fuel! And very important part of life here – there were no hammocks! The land was covered in brambles, many of the trees hadn’t seen daylight for years and many wonderful relationships with friends had not been made yet.

18 friends showed up last November to help us plant over 700 trees on the hillside where we had the fire.

What a day!

What a day!

We’ve had so many wonderful volunteers and friends that have all left their mark – Andrea, our first volunteer who made the first pathways,

Andrea and Cynthia taking a break on the new yurt deck.

Andrea and Cynthia taking a break on the new yurt deck.

River who made steps to the loo,

River and his steps - all paths lead to the loo!

River and his steps - all paths lead to the loo!

Emma for planting flowers and squash,

Emma and the beginnings of the loo garden

Emma and the beginnings of the loo garden

Andy who made a beautiful path outside, again to the loo (funny how all the paths seem to go to the loo, hmmmm does this mean something?) and of course being our yoga teacher!,

Andy and the path

Andy and the path

The path and the goal are one!

The path and the goal are one!

Andy and Cynthia

Yoganandy correcting Cynthia´s pose

Pavlik and Andy for building the donkey bridge, Pavlik who put in super highways, dug ponds, became a plumber and did so many other things, Pavlik and River who perfected the water system,

Donkey bridge & Andy

Andy working on the donkey bridge

Pete and Nuno in an unsuccessful crossing!

Pete and Nuno in an unsuccessful crossing!

Mike who made 17 rows that now are full of corn, cabbage, sunflowers and more,

Row 14, keep going Mike only 3 more!

Row 14, keep going Mike only 3 more!

A little music and a bbq to celebrate the completion!

A little music and a bbq to celebrate the completion!

Peter who came for a weekend and couldn’t get enough of making raised beds, Danny who made the compost loo and donkey house, Danny and Ana for bringing our clay paint from the UK and then helping us paint, Donald and Kath for helping us move in, Ian for clearing land and planting our first trees, Nathan, Paul, Danny, Anna and Andrea for helping to put up the yurt, and finally Rich for spending many hours cleaning land, making paths, planting trees, being one of the founding members of the Mizarela Waterworks and being a regular reflection of how much we had accomplished!

Danny in paint mode

Danny in paint mode

Peter and Pete making raised beds

Peter and Pete making raised beds

Donald and Kath at the first jam in the new house

Donald and Kath at the first jam in the new house

Rich

Rich, Ricardo or also known as the Mayor of Esculca City

Andrea and I both wonder if the roof will stay up!

Andrea and I both wonder if the roof will stay up!

Nathan, Pete and Paul

Nathan, Pete and Paul putting on the layers

Beautiful without covers, a bit drafty though!

Beautiful without covers, a bit drafty though!

Spontaneous band emerges

Spontaneous band emerges

The finished product - home sweet home for 3 months.

The finished product - home sweet home for 3 months.

Antonio the spoonmaker and his wife Fernanda finally showed us our borders a year after we bought the land. It was well worth the weight as we found out we bought a lot more than we thought, even a lot of land by the waterfalls.

Thank you Antonio and Fernanda!

Antonio, Fernanda showing us the borders

Antonio, Fernanda showing us the borders

Antonio the Spoonmaker hard at work

Antonio the Spoonmaker hard at work

Speaking of locals, we have been welcomed into a community here in the most beautiful way. Many of the locals have become dear friends. They are always interested in what we are doing and welcome us with big smiles every time we see them. After they say hello, ask how we are, the next statement usually is “your big dog was here today, he comes everyday and I feed him.” Now don’t forget that almost everyone we meet says this so it seems that Sammy has a lot of friends and it would also explain why he never eats when he comes home!

Friends from Benfeita

Friends from Benfeita

Pete and Lisette (from Pardeiros)

Pete and Lisette (from Pardeiros)

Alice - the Queen of Benfeita

Alice - the Queen of Benfeita

Eduardo at Cynthia´s birthday party

Eduardo at Cynthia´s birthday party

One very sweet person that is dear to our hearts is Dorinda. Dorinda is the grandmother of Elsa and it was Elsa and Dorinda who sold us a big chunk of our quinta. Dorinda was 80+ years old and she would walk here from Pardeiors. She loved the land and she loved what we were doing here. Every time I saw her she would embrace me with such love. She passed away in May this year. I have never met someone with so much spirit and heart and I miss her.

Dorinda and Cynthia on her last visit to the quinta.

One person I havent mentioned yet who has helped us in many ways is Eusebio.  He built our house, he helped us after the fire and has been a very good friend. Thank you Eusebio and thank you all of Eusebios guys!

Eusebio

Eusebio

As I sit here after finishing the nights watering I really can’t believe it. I just got done watering with hoses (which hopefully will be a drip system next year), with water happily being pumped uphill using only the power of the water itself. What a joy to see the water flying everywhere, the land soaking it up after a hot day and the trees and plants breathing a sign of relief!

Kuma the cat is sitting on the couch (that didn’t exist a year ago), the doors are open and the crickets are singing outside. The evening is warm after a hot day. Nina is outside barking at shadows, Sammy is in Benfeita hanging out with the locals, Lucky is snoozing on her favourite place on the veranda, Tux is off doing cat things and the donkeys are tucked away in their house for the night. Pete is out showing a video on Evolutionary Enlightenment and I am here in the bliss of what is. What could be better?

So many people have come into our orbit this year and so many people have helped us.   There are too many to mention, which in and of itself tells one how blessed we have been. So thank you everyone for all of your love and support over our first year!

Love,

Cynthia, Pete, Nina, Sammy, Kuma, Lucky, Tux, Mingo and Nuno

Pete and Cynthia

Pete and Cynthia

Nina

Nina

Sammy

Sammy

Kuma

Kuma

Lucky

Lucky

Tux

Tux

Mingo and Nuno

Mingo and Nuno

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