By the day that we planned to leave Milfontes I had only heard back from one of the several permacultural initiatives that I had contacted. In so many words, they flipped me the bird and told me that they weren't interested in journalists. "I'm not a journalist," I said aloud to nobody, sitting alone at an outdoor cafe, the weight of a documentary on my mind. "My computer bag is a guitar case for christsake!" I sat listening for some fresh eureka to come.
THE GARDEN - Part 2 - HERE TODAY, GONE TAMERA
A towering German man named Sebastian wondered if he could share my table with me, as there were none available. We shared our stories, our projects and our predicaments, and a friendship was formed that would last longer than I could have expected. I told him about the frustration of the permacultural communities that didn't get back to me, one of which was Tamera.
"Tamera?" Asked Sebastian. "My girlfriend Sophie and I are leaving for Tamera tomorrow." Sophie's brother had lived there for 10 years.
After just a week in Milfontes with Felipe and Susana and all of our new friends in such a nurturing environment as Eco-surfcamp, it was tough to say goodbye. The next day, 10 of us gathered for a sunny last beer at the cafè in town before Karim and I were whisked away with Sebastian and Sophie.
As we putted up the final stretch of dusty Monte do Cerro, we were struck by the Eden-like beauty of Tamera's 140 hectares of lakes, gardens and Eco-friendly constructions.
One thing that separates Tamera from the other permacultural initiatives is that it is also a school that teaches alternative methods for psychological healing based on the life work and philosophy of Tamera's founders. As luck would have it, we were arriving on the first day of a two-week intensive course called "Thinking School," which focuses on understanding consciousness from a quantum perspective and delves into ideas for creating a world free from war, starting with ecological and educational initiatives like Tamera. Then there is their enthusiastic practice of free love and free sexuality, which has been a controversial point since their founding in 1995. I'll get further into this philosophy in a later blog post.
For us, the timing of our arrival meant a big decision. Tamera takes their intensive courses very seriously and we were told that if we wanted to stay and film, we would have to commit to a course. That would mean carving two weeks out of our itinerary and, at Tamera prices (higher relative to other initiatives in the area), demolishing our budget. They gave us one night to think about it. One amazing night of shooting stars, human connection and holy moly.
It was a tough sell, but we couldn't stay, as much as we wanted to. Up until now, our boot-strapped budget had not gotten in the way. But we felt that we had a lot of ground to cover and only so much time before Karim would have to be back in Rome for school.
So after some damn good hugs (a distinguishing characteristic of communities like Tamera) we clambered back down Monte do Cerro in a taxi, wondering if we had made the right decision. We both knew that there was so much more juice to squeeze from this Tamera lemon, for the sake of the documentary but also on a personal level. That thought would stick with me for a while.
The taxi-driver apologized that he could only take us halfway to our next destination because he couldn't be late for his daughter's birthday, and dropped us off at a café rest-stop located nowhere in particular. On the bright side, that meant that we were approximately equidistant to everywhere, making this slow, quiet world our oyster. "Where to?"
We went through the list of the other initiatives that Felipe had given us in Milfontes. "If you really want to learn about permacultural life," he had said, "you need to talk to the man who taught me." That man was Manu. Although he had never returned my email, we knew that his place was called Centro Ambiental de Cabaços. "But just ask for Manu," Felipe had advised, "everybody knows who he is."
So, after an impromptu fado jam with some locals, we asked if anybody at the café could take us to Cabaços.
"Cabaços?" They wondered.
"Manu?" We tried.
And we were off.
First Impressions of Tamera
Getting down on this... what is this thing? Seems to be tuned in Portuguese. Trading instruments for a jam while we wait for a ride at the café.
Love to our Milfontes crew