There is nothing like leaving a huge city
and knowing that your next destination will consist of about three people in total.
|Just a stroll down Valerie's driveway...|
I can typically only take about four days in a big city before I begin to feel like my head is slowly collapsing in on itself. My eyes miss seeing open landscape. You know, with things like land.
In the interim before meeting up with John's parents, grandmother, sister, and brother-in-law (whew!) for eight days in Southern Spain, I found a midway point in El Perelló using helpx.net
where we could volunteer for a couple weeks, see the Spanish countryside, and generally reboot after eating ourselves silly in Barcelona
|Casa Valerosa: Valerie's house which sits at the forefront of the campground.|
I have to say, I did a preeeetty good job.
Netherlands-born Valerie decided about six years ago that she was ready to leave the craziness that is Amsterdam. So, she packed her bags, moved to the Spanish campo, and started a campground. Just like that. While she lacked experience, what she did have was creativity. An artist and sculptor, she turned her two acres into a small camping wonderland where people could come to escape and discover their own artistic muses.
|"From Amsterdam" reads the bike's basket||
|Just looking at this somehow makes me feel calm|
Apart from visiting the nearby beach (2 miles), numerous backyard mountain hikes, or the cute town of El Perelló
(which has a honey factory!), campers can stay on-site for the art workshops held by Valerie herself. Or they can stay on-site to follow their own imagination in the studio where art supplies are abundant. Ooor just keep the kids on-site and go get lost in the breathtaking landscape that makes up Spain's Northeastern coast.
|The workshop! One of Valerie's activities is mosaic-ing child mannequins. Although I would probably be terrified of them if they came alive, they are pretty awesome as non-sentient beings.|
|Another example of some of the work campers can do. Gaudí ain't got nothin' on Valerie. ||
|Looking out of the workshop. One of Valerie's sculptures is on the windowsill at right.|
In short, Valerie is on to something.
|Like most things, the playground is homemade.||
|The main outdoor kitchen that campers can use|
As volunteers staying in one of the campervans, it's been hard for John and I not to feel like we, too, are campers on a vacation. But work we must.
|One of the three static campervans on the grounds. Most of the clientele brings 5th wheels or tents.||
|Somehow, camouflage furniture covers in a mobile home just works|
Yet the work doesn't feel like work. We wake up, make breakfast (Valerie gives us 50 euro a week so that we can prepare breakfast and lunch for ourselves), decide which project we want to work on for the day, work for about five hours, and then have the rest of the day to do as we please (and two free days per week).
|And by "doing what we please," I mean making Spanish Iberican bacon, hand-picked wild asparagus, and poached eggs for breakfast. Whenever. we. want.|
To date, we've built a rabbit tunnel and faux burrow for five bunnies (who share a happy home with five chickens and four rambunctious goats), we've made a 20x15-foot garden, we've weeded, built a chicken house, we've gone on walks with goats, we've pruned...
|The finished product, made completely from scratch!|
|Our little chicken house (under the other wooden house), made with plastic shelving we found in a junkyard that we put into a wooden frame John made ||
|Using big metal tubes we found in junk yard, |we John made a trench and fitted the tubes to make a tunnel that lead into a covered burrow-esque tire
|The family: 4 goats, 5 bunnies, and 5 chickens. And oddly enough, whenever we took them on walks, they couldn't wait to get back in the enclosure. Once you take food worries away, I guess animals can be pretty lazy.|
And in our free time we've relaxed. We've relived our asparagus days.
We've hiked through olive groves.
I could get used to this.
|John the forager picking wild parsley and asparagus||
|Nothing more fashionable than a side pocket of asparagus. |
|El Perelló is surrounded by olive groves, mountains, and ocean. Damn visas.||
|Two of Valerie's three dogs excitedly took us on this ocean-vista walk|
We've loved getting to know Valerie and being inspired by her brave decision to move to Spain (without speaking any Spanish) and let her resourcefulness guide her into creating an original and successful lifestyle made from scratch. Now, she has a full-time job for only about three months a year, and during the rest she is allowed to keep up the grounds, work on her art, pick olives from her 100-or-so trees, and simply live the way she feels like living.
|And if the way she feels like living involves making calcots and Romesco sauce with local wine on the side, who am I to judge?|
Campground? Learning workshops? Dealing with people only three months out of the year?
I smell a future job idea...
The Spanish coast with a touch of Amsterdam, there you have it.
Does Spain have free healthcare? If so, this way of life is perfect for some. While I think healthcare shouldnt be free, it's still screwed up in the U.S. which makes it hard for people to live like this for fear of coming down with a disease that cut-rate insurance doesnt pay for.ReplyDelete
Very true. I'm not sure if Spanish health care is free, but it is close. At any rate, it's supposed to be very good. I know Valerie still stayed on with her Dutch insurance for some reason, which sounds as expensive as American insurance.Delete
While I understand the fear of living elsewhere for fear of coming down with an account-draining disease, I think it's a very "first world" worry, and to those people I might say they're much more likely to lose everything in a car crash...something like that. Anyway, what Valerie has going on, at least, is worth the risk!
I feel so nice to read about this interesting post or know various things about spain..So thanks to you for this kind of sharing..!!
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