Thursday, 29 October 2009

at 07:52 Labels: Posted by WanderingFamily 0 comments

An overnight ferry from Barcelona has shipped us to Ibiza, an island 120km away from the mainland of Spain and about the same distance from Africa.
We arrived a week ago and have since been experiencing an ecovillage named Falcon Blanco.
Laura greeted us at the port of Eivissa City and drove us through the somewhat familiar scenery. Pines, Oaks, Fig, Carob, Loquat (shesek) trees, very similar to Palestine's hilly areas, yet farm houses are scattered around and it is less populated (70,000 locals and 12,000 foreigners).

We ended up in one of the farm estates somewhere in the middle of the island - our new home for the next few weeks.

Prior to our arrival, Ramon, the founder said that all the rooms were full of volunteers/guests, but then recalled that he has all the parts for an Ineepee (Teepee is a cone and an Ineepee is more like a dome) and we can build it in no-time. Until the Ineepee is up, we had the choice between the meditation dome - a big sky lighted dome where every word you say echoes all around for some time (quite fun to sing, clap, and play a recorder all at the same time), or a big tent.
We chose the tent and went with Laura to find a spot for it in the woods while she gave us a small tour of the place.

Over the years, the people at FB collected an amazing amount of stuff that was destined, mostly without much thought, to landfills. By bringing it here, it might end up somewhere else. Piles of broken wood pallets are everywhere, thousands of them, most waiting to be repaired, or cut into firewood. Refrigerators and other big appliances, ceramic tiles, old cars, windows and mirrors, scrap metal, furniture, the list goes on and on. It is quite overwhelming. There are also big compost heaps and several unfinished projects in various locations.

There's also a swimming pool that seems to always be partly filled and mainly used by nude female mosquitoes and their many descendants who later party in our room. And last, a sweat lodge that we never used.

Friday, 23 October 2009

at 07:38 Labels: Posted by WanderingFamily 0 comments

After 3 days of walking up and down five flights of stairs it was time to move on to new accommodation.

We found a cheaper 'hostal,' on only the third floor, above a small shopping mall. The lady of the house always greeted us in a high-pitch shrill voice, "Hola, Moma, hola!". Below us, in the mall, there were many stores for babies, and every time we went in and out, Omo would see the toy stores and start to jump up and down with joy, and force us to stop and look through the windows. But it is the whole display window, or toy store she likes, since she gets tired of individual toys after a few minutes.

Over the next week we did a very slow and thorough tour of Barcelona. It was such a wonderful city full of pedestrian-only areas.
The metro system was spectacular, so clean and quiet, stations everywhere, very clear smart signs telling you when to get off, a live timer that tells you when the next train is, butt-seats to lean on while standing and we never had to wait for more than 4 minutes.

First on our walking tour we did the Modernism Route and saw all of Gaudi's buildings. They gave us great inspiration for our future plans. And of course, each day, we had to set aside a couple hours that had to be spent in a grassy park in order for Omo to get her crawling and cigarette-butt-eating time.

Of course one of our favorite joys of traveling is checking out the restaurant options. Because we had no kitchen we ate out everyday and it turned out actually cheaper to eat organically out than buy organic produce. Our favorite restaurant was BioCenter, an organic vegetarian restaurant where we could get an entree and all-you-can-eat salad bar for less than $5. And on top of that, they had a baby chair that fit right onto our table! Our strategy was to eat there at 4pm and then we would be full until bedtime. Our other favorite was Juicy Jones. Though it was not organic, it was all vegan and very inventive and tasty. We were definitely one of their frequent customers.

We also found a few good natural food stores where we could load up on produce and a few goodies. There was a huge market where we could get cheap avocados, mangoes, and bananas.

One day we visited a modern art museum. The exhibit was very 'modern' (ie. I never 'get it') made almost entirely from recycled materials and slide projectors with lesbian/feminist messages. Omo practiced her stair climbing and avant-garde listening skills.

We also went to a museum of musical instruments. Each floor had a different family of instruments, some very old and unique. We really wanted to try out all the different shaped keyboard instruments, but this was one of those look-don't-touch museums, so had a go when the warden wasn't looking...
We found a playground inside the big city park designed for young children, though we may have enjoyed it more than omo as we pushed her super-fast on the 4 wheeler entertaining all the mothers with scared look on their faces.

Monday, 12 October 2009

at 07:29 Labels: Posted by WanderingFamily 0 comments

We pulled into port and went straight off to hunt for a room. It was Saturday, and we had some difficulty finding a vacant hotel. Finally we just went to a no-name pension that was closest to us, on the fifth floor (no elevator), and got a decent room with recycled newspaper in our trash basket, pictured below.

This is a good idea for guesthouse owners that would eliminate the need for bags for trash baskets and while shopping. We relaxed for the rest of the night.

Today we were out on the town. We went up Mont Juic by funicular and cable car took in the view of Barcelona and the sea below and soaked up the sun we had missed for so long. Momo got a chance to play with her Dad's spring-smelling sandals.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

at 07:22 Labels: Posted by WanderingFamily 0 comments

Arriving in Genova, we tried a few of the lodging options in our book.

While waiting to find a place to stay in a semi-residential area, off in a corner, we watched Omo crawl along the sidewalk when a police car pulled up and two policemen approached us.
They asked 'where are you from?' and 'what are you doing?' and then they got down to the real point of why they stopped:
"You should not put baby on ground here."
"Oh it's okay," We said
"No it's not," they replied with serious faces.

We stayed for a day and decided that this is just another city designed for cars, not people and went to the port to see if there were any boats to Spain.
There was one leaving that night so we made the instant decision to leave and took a few buses across the city to the natural food store to buy some supplies for the 19-hour-long ride.

We found ourselves on a quite fancy ferry to Barcelona which even had a children's room full of plastic kid furniture, and Omo played for a while with 16 month old Mara.

Monday, 5 October 2009

at 07:14 Labels: Posted by WanderingFamily 0 comments

We ended our Italian travels in Cinque Terre, a string of 5 villages along the beautiful rocky northern coast. Though usually packed with tourists, it was still off-season so it was nice and quiet.

While in Sienna there were still resident's cars that were making noise and polluting the air, here, 4 of the villages (the nicest, too) were completely without automobiles, only connected by a train and foot trails and there you could sense the overwhelming quality of life not too long ago.

It was clean and silent, just hearing the train every once in a while. We were impressed with the amazing vineyards and gardens along the steep mountainside terraces, the way the houses blend with each other, and how we were still able to see an old lady sorting potatoes next door to a touristy hotel.

The visit was enhanced with vegan foccacia, and a good off-season deal for a room with a view. It rained the last day, so we only did the walk between the last 2 villages (the hardest according to the book), but it was a great experience, seeing the gardens from close, getting lost for a while, and observing some really great property, too bad the owners weren't wwoof hosts...

Out of the 5 villages, we chose the only one who had a hostel, Manarola and while we were waiting for it to open Omo entertained 3 local ladies.

It turned out that the rooms were single-sex,so the manager referred us to a bed-breakfast just across the way.

There, the cross-eyed manager and architect gave the vegan couple waiting in line next to us a good deal for 3 nights in a room with just a bunk-bed. Out our door we had a view of the sea. After seeing the rest of the villages (which are quite similar except the one with cars - Monterosso), we decided that Manarola was our favorite.

Friday, 2 October 2009

at 07:04 Labels: Posted by WanderingFamily 0 comments

Andrea, a German women who over the past 5 years had been visiting Rosa and Valerio, and had recently decided to move in with them, invited us to come with her to visit the commune she had been living on for 2 years - Avalon - for a few days.

We rode there in her van, which has plenty of items hanging everywhere, pots, clothes, musical instruments, she has everything in there, and Omo was mesmerized by all of them on the way.

Avalon is part of a network of 6 eco-communes with over 200 members all in the same area. All the other communes are accessible only by walking for a few hours (or a day). Their goal is to be completely self-sufficient, with some of the communes using solar panels.

At Avalon there were 6 members and about 15 'guests' living in a two story house on a mountain with a beautiful view. The hillside below they was all terraced and so they had a different garden on each terrace, each with a different vegetable. They also had many olive trees and so they produced oil for all the other communes. To make money the members of all the communes travel the festival circuit in the summers and sell pizza.
You learn to appreciate things while being there - there is no gas for cooking or heating, if you want to take a warm shower, you need to chop wood and feed the boiler, same goes for laundry; there was no electricity; and the W.C. is a shovel and a bottle of water outside.
We slept in a loft in the room of the oldest member, the founder, on the second floor of the house.There was also another baby there, 5-month-old Nina, and she and Omo enjoyed each other's company.
The commune was a bit too 'shantipi' (grungy, stoned on couch, 'back from India') for us, but Andrea said the other communes are more serious, with mainly hard working families, but they were farther up in the mountains and we decided it was too far to go.

When we got back to Rosa's and Valerio's the ground was covered in snow (first such snow in 10 years), so we had a few days where it was just too cold to do any work besides chopping wood.
Today is our last day with Valerio and Rosa and tomorrow we are heading North to Cinque Terre.