How did I end up here?
The community of The Awakened Life Project kept asking me that. Who knows? Two permaculture places I found on-line in Portugal didn’t need me but suggested this and and the Mount of Oaks. I had to cancel the Mount of Oaks because of needing to stay near wifi because of the hurricane and came here early instead.
It’s been an interesting experience, as intentional communities always are. It turns out that all the permaculture had been done and all I could do was some weeding of the vegetable beds. And of my own mind.
The primary focus is meditation and personal transformation – an Awakened Life. Mostly it is about exploring the non-dual state in which all is perfect, there is no problem, and no need for anxiety. The path to freedom. And then how to live in this world of illusion.
I’ll summarize the schedule as: meditation twice a day, lots of silence, work twice a day, vegan healthy meals, interesting people with very non-standard lives ... and terraces.
Ahh,,, the terraces.
If I had to draw the levels, stairs and paths they would resemble an Escher Diagram. Remember his drawings, described as multiple viewpoints and impossible stairs?
These ways to navigate up and down were mind-bending in the beginning and totally impossible for a beginner at night. Which is what I was faced in getting to my tent in the valley floor. It was lovely with the sound of the brook and not-too far off waterfalls.
But boy was it cold!
My lodging in the valley lasted two days. It was a good thing too or I could have fallen off the tall uneven slate stairs, multi-leveled of course, that led down – in the dark!! Unfortunately I caught a cold and they let me stay higher and warmer up the mountain. A room built into the rock!
I needed a map of this place, much less the rules!! And the terms. P and P meant something— where the dry food, brooms and dirty linens were stored. The Aquarium was where the old clothes and shoes – the thrift store—resided. It was above and past the meditation hall.
The washing machine was below and to the left down a dusty path. One shower was way up, to be used only if there was no water shortage, and the yurt shower, fueled by fire, was in the valley. And in the valley the hammocks were to the right, the waterfall on the left and the path to town up and over the raspberry patch.
And I’d rather forget discussing the pee and poo places.
OK, to get graphic, one had to reeducate one’s sphincters, because the various excretions were disposed of in different ways, all environmentally friendly. I had to ask my body parts, “OK who wants to open now?. And who can wait?” Pee was in bidet by the kitchen and poo in Casa de Banho down the terraces, where you were assured “Your deposit is safe with us.”
Peeing in bushes was OK but where to go at 5 AM from a sudden urge to poo from the incredibly high fiber diet? Outside, down tricky stairs with no railing, no lighting and me with contact lenses out? Quite a dlilemna.. But folks, actually it wasn’t that much worse than camping… For sure it was a meditation on body awareness!
Part of the discipline of self-reflection was to be off electronic devices.
That was fine unless I needed to post a blog or book a bus, hostel or plane ticket to Nepal.. Wifi required a 45 minute walk each way along a goat path with lovely views to a cafe in a tiny town.
There I admired a man cutting grapes from his vine canopy. I think I said “Bonito” which I think meant “nice.” He was confused until I touched my heart and lips, whereupon he motioned for me to wait, cut an enormous clump for me and would not let me eat from it until he went into his garage and washed it.
Like I said, the Portuguese are nice and generous! And in the cafe the villageers waved to my ipad whenever I got on Skype and showed my relatives the view!
I know this blog is a bit of a hodge-podge...
... like the terraces and physical and electronic challenges. But I’m glad I came here, however I got here, to this very sincere out-of-the ordinary place with special people and an awakened vision.
I left with hugs and inspiration from these dear ones.
Now, back back to Lisbon and onward to a finally booked ticket to Kathmandu!