So its day 8, and lets recap everything!
We went from strangers to friends in a matter of minutes as we met at the airport and took the long three hour journey to IPEC. over the next few days we bonded over things like waterfalls, horseback riding, class, gamba night activities fires, and capoeira.
Making adobe and learning about all its uses and different ways to create walls with or without trash was a lot of fun. we had mud wars and dirt wars and were all a mess by the end of the day. We also planted a garden and hope to see results before we all leave this wondrous place. Next to our garden we learned about swales and planted trees, beans, wheat, and soy.
It has been a week that we’ve stayed here and I’ve pretty much enjoyed my time here!
Time flies and I couldn’t believe that we’ve gone through a third of our program. A week went by so quickly.
On Friday the 7th, we had our first classes; but to me, the most memorable time was our first bonfire. We had so much fun going to the waterfall on Saturday, some people jumped off the waterfall and climbed all the way up to see the amazing view.
We visited Pirenopolis for the first time to see a real Brazilian city. With the apparent effect of Global Warming, there was a random downpour in the afternoon during our walk. It’s the dry season and everybody did not expect any rain at this time of the year. However, the rain didn’t turn out so bad after all; we saw a clear rainbow
The days after the weekend went a little less relaxing. The week started with some intensive classes and practicum where we would get into the field and started our hands-on activities. However, despite being totally preoccupied with so many activities, there was not one day where I found myself getting bored; I learn a copious amount of new things by getting into practice. So this is the highlight of our week:
Monday: Learned how to make compost. I was so careful not to chop a finger off when I attempted to chop some banana leaves with a machete.
Tuesday: Intensive classes the whole day, capoeira!
Wednesday: Finished our designs and presented it in the morning. Learned about reforestation and applied it literally (about) an hour later. Had so much fun planting trees!
Thursday: Being pigs playing in the mud. Just kidding. We did some serious construction work. Made bricks, worked with super adobe and clay the whole day, made sand bags, got my first huge Brazilian scar. At the end of the day, I realized the line for the showers had never been as long as today.
I’m looking forward to next week where it will be full of other new things to experience. Having other people to share the experience with makes it so much better. I have a better glimpse of South America now that I’ve stayed here for a week. Learned Portuguese, met many Brazilians, made some new friends, and having the time of my life
I can’t believe we’re already over a week in. While I feel as though I’ve learned so much (more than I can even process at this point), and am already feeling at home here, at the same time I feel like I just got here yesterday and time is going by so fast. So far we’ve learned about ethics, and patterns, and the basic principles of permaculture. And then got a chance to do some practicum work by planting a food forest, making adobe bricks and building with them, as well as with superadobe and urban cob. This week, we’ve also begun designing the area we will be working on. I was pretty apprehensive about this at first since I’ve never done any type of design work, but I surprised myself by how many ideas I had and really enjoyed working with other classmates to create a concept for the space. In addition to the permaculture work that we’ve been learning and doing, we’ve also gotten to experience Brazilian culture – through Portuguese lessons and capoeira classes. Capoeira has been one of my favorite activities that we’ve done. Although I haven’t participated in every classes physically, as I’m not the most flexible/agile person and sometimes too tired, I’ve enjoyed at least observing the classes and playing music. It’s an interesting sport because its supposed to imitate war, with the moves either protecting yourself from your opponent, or attacking them. However it requires harmony and cooperation with your opponent – you have to work together to read each other’s motions and respond accordingly. And when things get a little chaotic, you step back and regroup before engaging each other again. It’s really beautiful to watch (especially the professionals), and I find it to be somewhat symbolic of all the work we’re doing here within the community. I’m excited to continue working and learning here, and especially excited for the upcoming weekend and getting to visit another waterfall!
Walking up the hill behind ecocentro, all I could see were dense trees surrounded by small farms nestled in the valley. From where I was standing, I could not even see a small hint of the village of IPEC that we are living and breathing in. Hidden in lush trees, its a sneaky place.
From here I can’t see the giant brick dome where we hold our classes in, and occasionally fall asleep in to see the night stars through the perfect open air circle at the top. Or our amoeba shaped dorms we are living in, where the ants seem to like to share my room with me (not to eat any of my goodies, just to come in and die in the middle of the floor… I think the stench of my shoes is killing them off). Or all the beautiful adobe houses, or the kitchen and dining room that is always complete with happy people, delicious tea and salad from the garden. Or the garden itself! Its amazing looking at the ‘day one’ photo of IPEC, a small building surrounded by a few little trees and a deserted grassy field, compared to the lush forest I feel like I am living in. The amount of change in scenery that has taken place is amazing. Not just development, but a complete regrowth of the land and an attitude towards living in it.
So this is what makes being here so exciting. Learning how this whole place came about, and how it can be so productive while staying humble enough to grow with the forest around it. Learning from everyone in the community, their mistakes and successes, ideas, processes, and finished pieces. Its truly an amazing thing. Im excited, and excited that Im excited because I feel like this was the whole point in coming here. But its only been a week, so who knows. Maybe by the end I’ll be ready to sneak pesticides into our acai and destroy the whole place.
My time spent here so far has been well worth the effort it took to get here. The change in scenery/weather has been really up lifting. Being surrounded by nature and creative, happy people on a mission to save the Earth is a welcome shift in perspective. The food is also amazing. It’s really nice to get a glimpse of Brazilian culture and learn about the applications of ecological design at the same time. It kind of forces the mind open, in a food way.
PS: I plan on trying as many acai/fruit combinations available in Pirenopolis as possible.
It’s been a week into the program and in that little amount of time I feel I’ve done so much! We’ve learned about the ethics of permaculture, patterns, zones and design all preparing us to create our own design for the entrance here at IPEC. Aside from the course I’ve met some amazing people, full of energy and working together for the betterment of the community. It hasn’t been that difficult to communicate with them because Portuguese is very similar to Spanish so I’ve been holding up pretty good and the Portuguese lessons help of course! So here are some pictures of IPEC my home for the moment!
No more good mornings, afternoons, or nights here! It’s bom dia, boa tarde and boa noite!!! I think they have a better ring to them anyway. Knowing this little bit of Portuguese here at IPEC is absolutely essential. This is because of the extremely strong sense of community that is created here by every community member. Community members have welcomed us with open arms and I am so grateful for this. I really started getting to know community members during our first weekend here. A large group of us headed off to the waterfalls and had an amazing day. This was also the first time I rode a horse!
There’s a lot of “firsts” happening here for me. Today was a blast with no shortage of hands on learning. It was the first time I have ever attempted to make adobe bricks. Not knowing what I was in for, I asked at our morning meeting what type of shoes to wear. THERE ARE NO SHOES IN ADOBE BRICK MAKING. I know this now. We all spent the day covered in mud from the simultaneous brick making and mud fight.
Then there’s class. I’m used to classrooms with no windows, so when I can look up and see the sky from the cupla (roofless dome) it feels a bit surreal. Andre and Lucy are incredible lecturers and I’m leaning more and more every day. The other day we had lecture about agroforestry, the we got up and started an agroforest. Such an awesome way to learn.
We’ve now been at IPEC for just over a week, and this place is rather wonderful. The food is excellent, the people are all warm and welcoming, and I love the atmosphere. The bats here are everywhere at night and I’ve become extremely attached to a small group of bats who regularly roost in the entryway to my room. In general, I’m very interested in the wildlife here, and I’d like to go exploring to find a bit more. Most of what we see on a daily basis are ants and lizards (they’re everywhere!). At any given time you can look down at the path and watch a parade of small leaves marching along. I’m always thoroughly impressed by the amount the ants are able to carry.
I’m finally starting to feel as though I’m understanding a little of the Portuguese spoken all around us, but for the most part I’m still fairly lost in the language. I get encouraged when I see it written, but I can’t seem to get the hang of the accent in hearing it spoken. So frustrating! Anyway, today we’ve been working on different building methods. We started with adobe, and then worked with cob up until lunch. I’m absolutely covered in mud and mildly exhausted, but it was so much fun! For both methods, you use your feet to mix together the elements, and with some music playing in the background, we were all dancing around in a circle. It really exemplified what Andre has been saying about the differences between work and play, and how unnatural it is for them to be so separate. After our short break we still have super adobe to learn and more practicals, so it’ll be a long day yet, but very productive!
By this time I’m almost sure that all of you have known me already. Well, this is Naila trying to introduce myself on the blog because apparently I just realized,, the blog I tried to post a week ago failed to be posted here.
So most of you know that I go to UMass Boston as a sophomore majoring in Economics and minoring in Environmental Science. I’m originally from Indonesia and have been living in the States for 2 years. I currently live in Newton, Massachusetts (A suburb west of Boston),
As I have introduced myself during our first Roda on the 6th, I am totally new to Permaculture but I’m sure I’ll be learning a lot this 3 weeks.
One of the main reasons why I’m here is to walk the talk about living sustainably. All this time I’ve learned how to live sustainably through classes without actually applying it to my real life. So this is my chance to actually do it!
So, pardon me for my late introduction I know it’s a little bit silly, but I (somehow) blamed the sucky server at the airport a week ago. Hahaha,
It’s hard to believe we have been here a week already. We have learned a lot about patterns, the environment, and permaculture but the learning has just begun. Today, we started our design process for the visitors entrance. There are 3 groups of 4 of us and it needs to be done by lunch tomorrow! We have quite a bit of space to work with. They are trying something new with our group and picking a little bit from each design and adding altogether for one bog design later this week. I am very excited about how the 4 of us in my group have brought together our ideas to make one design.
We are here with 3 very amazing artist and well over a dozen other great thinkers and designers. Some do not speak the same language as I do and I am struggling a lot to learn Portuguese. Although we do not communicate through words perfectly, we understand each other and understand our love for the planet.
We have seen a number both large and small waterfalls since we have been here so far. They are sooo beautiful! Compared to the waterfalls that can practically be jumped over in Colorado these are breath-taking. This has been such an amazing trip so far and the fun is just beginning. Adobe, super adobe, cob, and ferrous cement are soon to come.
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