An island in the middle of the mountains

When you arrive to Nova Friburgo, in the State of Rio de Janeiro, and you ask people how to get to the rural neighbourhood of Cardinot, they answer: “Cardinot? It’s kind of far, you take a bus to get there, but I don’t know when it arrives or how long it will take to do so.” Others will say it’s a pretty isolated place.

In Portuguese the origin of the word “isolated” is related to “island”. Well, if we think of an island as being capable of providing food and energy and not being self-destructive, we could say that what we are trying to create in Cardinot is an island. And without a sea around it, there is no island: just as without interaction with neighbouring and other communities we would not be fulfilling a part of our goals, which is social development, the exchange of knowledge, experiences, and smiles.

Here at Eco Caminhos, that island in the mountains, we are making the way that is going to take us to those dreams day by day. We have the challenge of dealing with our own micro-community, the cultural and behavioural differences in it, understanding that the project can only advance if we see every possible conflict in a positive way and if we look for inner change instead of changing the other.

That’s one of the motivations to be working on a project that we ourselves have chosen. If I am uncomfortable with the amount of toxins and synthetic hormones that I eat per year, if my job does not contribute to society in a way I would want to and only takes a ton of hours of my life, leaving me without time for my dreams and somehow forcing me to consume pre-made products or services because I have to try to compensate for all the lost time that I could not dedicate to me, then why not instead just change myself?

What is the project that I want to help grow? That’s one of the questions everyone frequently asks around here. The idea of Eco Caminhos is to give the opportunity to people to develop the projects and ideas they like, to offer positive experiences to the community outside and that at the same time give them a chance to supply for their own needs, energetically, food wise, or economically, and always keeping the balance with whom provides all of this to us: planet earth. There is a ton of work to do around here, and the most important thing is that what you do and produce is in line with what you believe in, and that is beautiful!

Here we use a lot of our physical energy and that reconnects us to the earth; this might lead us to discover pains of long forgotten muscles and invites us to look at the things we do with care and attention. Once I was asking about how to plumb a cob wall (cob is a mixture of sand, clay, water and straw) and I was taught that we should leave is straight, but at the same time leave it with smooth and soft shapes. One of the volunteers here, Roger, said at the end of the lesson with his still-evolving Portuguese “Eu gosto de fazer isso! De trabalhar para que as coisas fiquem bonitas.”

Later on we’ll talk more about the people, the projects that will be coming next, and the knowledge and experiences here in our day to day life: sharing is caring, compartilhar é cuidar, compartir es cuidar, partager et proteger, delen is weten :)

Read more about the volunteer opportunities Eco Caminhos offers.