WELCOME TO ALDEIA
Where do we start? Aldeia was a crazy, fun, and completely new experience for us! Daniel and I have never done a WorkAway before, but after our 3-week experience we highly recommended it! We had no idea what to expect upon arriving and in our minds we wanted to meet some new people, do a little work, and see the Brazilian culture. However, what we discovered was so much more than that! We learned how to do many interesting tasks, which we will talk about later and also how to reflect back on our lives. How? To live simple, love others, and most importantly to live happy!
Sam founded Aldeia about two and a half years ago when he purchased an old cocoa farm outside of Itacare. He had a life long dream to create a self-sustainable village and a place to raise his family. When he bought the property he envisioned many families coming to live the life they wanted without being told what to do or how to live and simply create a great place to call home. There are currently 4 wonderful families living in Aldeia and have with the intentions of expanding the village when the right people come along. There are always plenty of volunteers coming and going and to this day, Sam welcomes everybody who wants to share ideas, gain a new perspective on eco-friendly and a self-sustainable living, play music, and share good company. It is truly an amazing place with amazing people.
MORE ABOUT THE PROPERTY
The property sits right along the river named Rio de Contas, which isn’t too far from the ocean. Since we are so close to the mouth of the river, the river actually flows both ways depending on the high and low tides throughout the day. The first two days we were so confused! A little mind blown to be honest! Since the property also sits within the Mata Atlantica do Brasil (Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest) it usually rains everyday, early in the morning and in small patches throughout that day! I guess that’s why they call it the Rainforest, but it really isn’t too bad! Since the village is an old cocoa farm there are a few existing structures. Well, in structures I mean cement pillars. Two and a half years later those pillars were transformed into awesome living quarters. There’s the main volunteer house, Sam and the other families houses, and some clay houses in progress. Yes! The houses are completely made from clay and other natural resources from the premises.
Since we are in the jungle there’s also plenty of critters, small animals, birds, and my least favorite… mosquitos. The one great thing that to look forward to are the peaceful sounds of the rainforest. They are truly relaxing!
Well, we wake up to the early morning sunrise and to the peaceful sounds of the jungle and start preparing breakfast. Since the volunteers range from 5-10 people many people help cutting fruit, making outmeal, and other goodies. After and/or before breakfast we enjoy some morning stretches and of course a cup of coffee. We clean up the kitchen and get ready to meet Sam at 8 am sharp to discuss our daily jobs and get our butts to work. We typically work from 8am to noon unless we have a beach trip planned! On beach trips we get off at 11! Anyways, lunch is prepared for the whole community by the lovely Maria and her fabulous Bahian cooking skills. After over indulging we have the entire day to ourselves to do whatever we would like. I typically took a siesta for a couple hours I would wake up and begin to read, draw, write in my journal, or try to play Ping-Pong, volleyball, soccer, or go kayaking. Once we released some competitive energy we tend to relax in the evenings and catch the sunset around 6:00 PM. It starts to go down towards the end of the river where is starts to bend right over the jungle. Truly breathtaking… Dinner is typically prepared around 8ish, but it’s pretty simple because we use our leftovers from lunch, so we really don’t need a cook much. After dinner when everyone is winding down the musicians bring out their guitars and drums to play some music. This is one of my favorite times of the day because everyone is together hanging out discussing all kinds of topics and enjoying each other’s company.
6:00 AM Wake up to the forest
6:30 AM Start preparing breakfast
7:15 AM Eat our wonderful Café de Amanha
7:45 AM Clean-up and get ready for work
8:00 AM Meet Sam and get our butts to work
12:00 PM Yes! Works over
12:30 PM Lunch
1:30 PM Uncomfortably Full and time for a siesta
1:45 PM Nap time
3:45 PM Personal time
5:00 PM Games, Sports, & Music
6:00 PM Sunsets and Music
8:00 PM Leftovers for Dinner
8:30 PM Chit Chatting and long nights listening to music
9-10:00 PM Bedtime!
So, work can vary between the volunteers and the specific tasks that need to be completed around the community. Sam does a great job finding tasks for each individual, which makes work a little more enjoyable. Volunteers have the opportunity to work in the garden that produces lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, and many spices. Volunteers may also help families prepare and build clay walls for their new homes, help Maria in the kitchen to prepare lunch, work in food production for Sam’s upcoming project, do landscaping, and many other odd jobs like graphic designing and shit that needs to get done! My Favorite job was kickstarting Sam’s food production project – I learned how to make organic coconut oil, nutella, peanut butter, cashew butter, Tahine, and of course, chocolate! He provided organic cocoa that he harvested from the property and other ingredients that were local and/or organic products.
One thing that everyone participated in was building clay walls for one of the families! It was a fun project to see how the houses were constructed and it felt great working as a team and seeing the progress being made day by day. It was also a chance to get a little dirty and enjoy a mud fight or two! One of our least favorite jobs was gathering cow poop on the pasture! We gathered the poop to creat the clay mixture for the walls with soil, hay, and clay. Not the most pleasant smell, but hey, I have to get a little dirty ;).
Danny and a few others helped create the mandala garden that was started from scratch. He was lucky enough to see the projects from start to finish. On our last day everyone helped plant the organic heirloom seeds that have been collected amongst many other farms to help preserve their existence. Danny also does a lot of the yard care and maintenance because that is almost a daily job here! He likes it because it reminds him of home and his dad. 🙂
Since Daniel and I arrived people were coming and going. Sam mentioned that he was booked up for the next few months with a combination of friends, families, and volunteers visiting.
These people come from all corners of the world and come for many different reasons. Others like us, found this opportunity through Workaway.info where it gives individuals the opportunity to travel and allow hosts to find volunteers for various projects for a short amount of time. Others, simply embrace and practice the permaculture lifestyle and they tend to stay for a longer time frame.
All of these wonderful volunteers bring various traits to to the community adding diverse entertainment and learning opportunities. Musicians of course are one of the traits that are most appreciated. It’s wonderful when volunteers and other members of the community grab their instruments and jam out as your looking out into the jungle. It’s an everyday occurrence for a musical circle with drums, guitars, tambourines, berimbau (traditional Brazilian instrument used during capoeira gatherings) and a few other musical instruments.
– It makes me want to pick up an instrument and learn how to play! –
Music makes people so happy and feel so good, I know it makes me feel a little out of this world, and I would love to share that feeling with others. Other volunteers have different passions; this could be yoga, cooking, and even massage therapists! There were a few occurrences of people getting together for group yoga and massage circles.
One of my favorite nights was when 20 of us played group bonding games! It made feel like I was a kid at camp again! It was so much fun! For some of the activities we split into groups of 6 or 7 as one person would lay on their backs with their eyes closed as the others grabbed their legs, arms, and head and began to move the body in different directions. The key to this exercise was to be completely relaxed. This literally made me feel like I was flying, so insane!
So the community happened to be a vegetarian community, which I have never been in my entire life! It was an awesome experience and it was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be. Breakfast is usually the same and pretty simple. We start with coffee because that is a staple! After our primary need for caffeine we move towards the food; everyday we start by peeling fresh mangos, pineapple, watermelon, bananas, and sometimes apples for our fruit salad. This is either accompanied with granola, yogurt, oatmeal, occasional eggs or tapioca (a Brazilian staple often eaten with butter, some greens, and tomato… Yumm!!). The tapioca itself is a round, white, and flat sort of like a tortilla that doesn’t have a whole lot of flavor, but is typically used with other ingredients like the ones I mentioned. There are many combinations for tapioca yet, Danny’s fruit, granola, and yogurt tapioca is not a common Brazilian method…
Lunchtime is the big meal that is prepared by Maria for the whole community because we all eat together for this meal. Everyday she prepares some sort of beans and rice, a salad, and maybe some potatoes, fried squash, or anything else she wants to create. I specifically remember for one lunch Maria made lasagna without NOODLES!! You ask yourself how can that be?? Well she used zucchini and beets as a substitution. Holy shit I had to go back for thirds that day!
The beans are usually one of my favorites! One typical Bahian bean dish she prepares is feijoada. Our favorite! A traditional feijoada however does come with beef and pork, but in substitution she adds many more vegetables and sometimes even a little banana to sweeten things up!
Since dinner is left overs that sort of sums it up. As you can see we eat plenty of fruits and vegetables throughout the day. On the weekends Sam tends to do barbecues for the community and other surrounding neighbors. This is the one chance for us to eat meat! 🙂
On our last weekend we made homemade pizza! Hallelujah! Sam had some previous volunteers build a brick oven especially for pizza! We gathered ham, cheese, tomatoes and other fresh veggies! I think we’re all in the mood for a little non-vegetarian meal.
THE PERKS OF LIVING AT ALDEIA
Not only do we get to enjoy this wonderful paradise that is included with numerous amounts of fruit trees, a river, wonderful people, but we get to enjoy a few other bonuses. Some of these include a beach trip here or there, a small walk to the waterfall, movie night, enjoying homemade pizza, hunting for coconuts and bananas, sports and plenty of games.
One of my favorites includes the beach trips. Daniel and I were able to attend two separate beach trips. One was just for the afternoon, but the other trip we ended up camping on the beach. Sam not only provided us with a ride, food, a few beers, but also some spare surfboards.
This was my second attempt surfing, the first was when I was 16 so I don’t know if that really counts… anyways I definitely got my ass handed to me a few times! I didn’t really try to stand up at first, I only tried to get past the wave break, practice my paddling, and then riding the wave on my stomach. Well the hardest part was definitely getting past the wave. It took my a few too many attempts to realize that in order for me to ride a descent wave, I did NOT have to fight with water! I could have saved a little more energy.. hmm oh well, lesson learned.
I luckily was able to catch a few good waves just riding them into the beach. it was a wild ride! 😉 Our second return to the beach however, I did find myself catching on a little better, I could sort of read the waves and I knew when it was time to turn around to try and catch one. I even stood up once! I was pretty excited!! And then I turned the board in and relaxed. I had enough of surfing for the next few days. The surfers make it look so easy, but that shit is hard work. I spent most of my energy trying to get over the waves without drowning!
The rest of camping was great! Since we were the only people on the beach after 6pm we had the whole beach to ourselves. After the sunset, my favorite part was star gazing on the beach. It was absolutely amazing to lay peacefully in the sand.. one of my favorite past times.
For dinner one of the volunteers prepared some delicious Tapiocas with cheese, spinach, and tomato! That is just what we needed after a long day of surfing on the beach. After dinner we sat around the fire, drinking skols, listening to music, and enjoying this quiet remote location.
So overall our experience with workaway and Aldeia community has been more that we could have imagined. We met several wonderful people that we hope to remain in contact with! We will miss everybody and thanks everybody for this amazing experience!
I admire the eco-friendly and self-sustainable way of living and would like to adopt many practices and integrate them in my life. I want to be more aware about how we are damaging our wonderful world and how we can make a small change to make our world a better place. I’ve learned that if I do want to make a life style change, it doesn’t have to be a drastic change. Anyways, that’s enough for now and I hope you enjoyed and thanks for sticking with me on this long post… it was well over due!!