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  • Writer's pictureMax Walsh

Accidentally finding paradise in Portugal.

Time really is such an odd phenomenon.

I left England well over a month ago now, but I cannot feel that.

I do not feel displaced or like I am due to return anywhere,

or even that I am due to head on anywhere from here.

I feel like I have arrived.

Germany was not somewhere I had wanted to go.

Maybe at some point I will explain what happened there,

but for now I will just say that it was a necessary stepping stone on the road.

My first week in Portugal was ok.

I stayed with a friend on someone's land, watering trees and plants,

helping with other chores in exchange for my place to sleep, but it felt temporary.

Both Germany and this first place in Portugal felt like they were not my choices.

They were not places I had chosen to go to,

but rather places that were convenient in the process of my journey.

But now. I am at Quinta Alma.

An ecological retreat farm.

Somewhere that I chose to go.

An option that I selected.

And it has everything that I was

searching for,

in a way far better than I could

have imagined.

I now live off-grid.

All the electricity that I use comes from solar energy,

acquired here, harvested out of thin air.

The water here is sourced from the land.

It feels soft on my skin, and light

on my tongue.

The toilets we use are compost toilets.

The 'flush' is a scoop of sawdust,

and the whole toilet is far cleaner than you would imagine.

There is no smell either.

I live here in Aljezur, not paying for the food I am provided with,

or the accomodation in which I am staying.

I receive these in exchange for my services.

Five hours a day, five days a week, I serve breakfast to the guests.

Guests are on holiday, waking up, excited for their day ahead of them,

each greeting me with a smile and a "Bom Dia!"

Of the various jobs that I have worked at since I was 13 years old,

these few hours sharing breakfast can hardly be called work.

With my food and accomodation covered,

I have no expenses, and little necessity to be spending money on much.

My free time is spent on a beach, playing around in the sea and the sand.

This really is the life I could never have dreamed of.

Living in my car, lost in my own insanity,

seems like a some fiction story I read a long, long time ago.

I managed a little achievement the

other day.

I accompanied someone on their run, suggesting we make it to the sea.

I have never ran more than 4/5 km, and this run was to be an 8 km run.

Arriving at the ocean after 1 hour and 25 minutes,

I was informed we had just completed a 12.5 km run.

I was intending to stay here for a month and move on to somewhere new,

but I am starting to wonder, why would I?

From what I have been told,

other volunteering situations are nowhere near the level they are here.

I am told that for my first choice, I have hit the jackpot.

This area has perfect beaches,

ready for surfing,

and the local atmosphere allows hitchhikers to stick out their thumbs along any road.

But then I heard mentions of a Vision Quest.

Something I have never heard of before.

A ten day retreat that consists of four days preparation using Temazcal,

a handmade sweat lodge shelter, using hot rocks that scorch the earth.

The fourth day involves a Peyote ceremony,

the plant medicine of the cactus, used by the native Americans.

Whilst the Peyote is in the system, you ascend the mountain.

The next four days are spent alone, sitting inside a circle of your own prayers and blessings.

You do not eat or drink at all.

After this time you return down the mountain,

rejoining the others who have been praying for you at the bottom of the mountain.

Finishing the final days in the closing ceremonies,

the ten days come to an end.

I just need to figure out how to stay in europe for longer than the allocated three months allowed, thanks to Brexit.

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