Saturday, January 11, 2014

Beloved Earth

SMC Amazon: Day Four

Special note:  Four blog entries are (hopefully) going up right now.  It might be best to scroll back and see what went on during Days 1-3 before starting here.  We will continue to try to backfill pics and videos whenever we have more time and solid internet access.

Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow!  We are at the most incredible place of residence that most of us have ever seen.  We rode the bus in the opposite direction from where we usually go to join a community cooperative that is developing collective gardening, sport and recreation options to elevate the quality of life of local residents.  The entry to the space is hard to find but for us it was easy:  our host, Indios, stood by the side of the road and waved a Brazilian flag to stop our bus.  (Sorry: no video!)

This place is a rain forest paradise of simple living in nature.  We are there now posting old blogs, strangely enough. More text will follow soon . . .

Here's the followup on our day in TerrAmor:

SMC Amazon 2014: Day 4  Beloved Earth

Our friends at Saude e Alegría hooked us up with a local community garden steward, Fabiano, who helps people with projects around a beautiful somewhat tourist-y area called Alter do Chão.  We expected to work at one of his community gardens in the main town, but he diverted us to help with a somewhat related project in a plot of land called TerrAmor. 

TerrAmor would literally translate out of Portuguese as “Earth Love,” but the founders of this community cooperative translate it a bit more poetically as “Beloved Earth.”  TerrAmor is owned by two native Brazilians who are experts in indigenous practices and several other people from all over the world who would like to help support those traditions and keep them alive.

This place is a fantasy for anyone who is into green politics, community gardening (or any other kind of gardening), simple living, back-to-nature movements, indigenous rituals or just the Great Outdoors.  The main structure is a treehouse-like shelter with huge solid beams, a partially thatched (and otherwise fiberglass?) roof, beautiful hard wood floors, a sleeping/vista loft, a kitchen with a refrigerator and no walls at all.  It looks out onto a vast rain forest and then onto a huge clear lake. 

In the forest out around the main structure are several other structures, all of which are almost impossible to see from the main path into the community.  Some of those other structures are dwellings of the people who live there, some are collectively shared (a toolshed and outhouse with composting toilet, for example) and some would be available for visitors or other members of the public to use. 

Behind the main building, the property owners wanted to clear a space for a community garden to be used by them and their neighbors.  They also wanted a new compost container, a greenhouse and some seedlings transplanted.  We took on all of those jobs.  The ground clearers knocked themselves out with pickaxes shovels, taking out roots and building raised bed just from earth.  The compost container specialists made a BEAUTIFUL 3-chamber box for future compost and the greenhouse team built one of the most creative (and inexpensive) structures of all time.  The planters followed the lead of the community members and talked to, danced among, and sang to the seedlings to help make them happy. 

At the end of the day we all walked down a long path to that not-so-faraway lake we could see from the top, then walked back up above the main building to catch the sunset from the highest point.  We got the full impact of this property and of the devotion of its stewards to its continuation.

We were all VERY tired and sore at the end of the day and slept HARD.  We had to wake up early, though, because we knew that some kids would be waiting for us on a beach in a neighborhood called Mapirí . . .

 Working at the Terr Amor garden with our Irish buddy Morris. In this picture, we captured the completion of the gardening bed. Although it was hard work, it was rewarding once we finished.

The folks at TerrAmor welcomed us with open arms and hearts. We began
the day with introductions in a circle to symbolize the unity between us.

While potting plants a tarantula stops by to say hello.

After hours of hard work the group paused for some lunch. Shawny and
Megan get comfortable in the TerrAmor bungalow

Irish native Ian shares his knowledge and background in sustainable construction with Jaclyn and Jessie as they work together to build a raised planter box.

Queen Agony and her girls. Agony shared her warm spirit and smile with us
the whole the whole day.

 The bus ride home from TerrAmor was so crowded.

Victoria planting watermelon seeds.

 Jaclyn and Lupe building a planter box.

 Sunset at the top of the TerrAmor.

 Inside of the bungalow at TerrAmor.

 An amazing view of the Brazilian landscape and skyscape.


  1. Hey DIRT People, Bryan Navarro here. The fact that you're having some difficulty connecting to the internet is a wonderful thing. It tells me that you're getting closer to that elusive authentic experience, even if you'd prefer to connect back home. It's bringing me spells of flashback to read about all the places you're going, people you're seeing, foods you're eating. I wish they sold avocado popsicles here!
    Enjoy the little moments, keep searching for the genuine Brazil, and we'll keep checking back here on the blog!
    -Bryan Navarro, '10; DIRT '07, '08, '10

  2. From Happy Hollow:

    We just have seen the first four post and are playing catch up.
    What is the strangest animal you have seen so far?
    How does removing trees help a forest?
    Do you find any scorpions?