Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Garbage never tasted this good!

It's been a while since I blogged, in this time I transformed into a experienced urban hunter gatherer. I have been in the community for a while now. And it's a very good and interesting experience. I'm grateful for the people who live here and opened up their heart to me and excepted this stranger that hardly speaks Spanish in their group.
Let me first tell you something about the place. On the terrain of the "cuidad universitaria" there are 2 foundations of huge ugly 70's concrete monsters that were never build. One of these construction sites is now overgrown with vegetation and trees, giving it a kind of 70's post nuclear war sci fi feeling with plants growing over the concrete floor and pillars. Together with the hippie graffiti on the pillars this picture is complete. It's all very symbolic with nature reclaiming the space.

Come fly with us

The people who live here build a shack out of adobe and thrown away material. It has a nice outdoor kitchen attached to it. They don't sleep in the shack though, most people sleep in their tents which are dotted around the place and some in constructed domes. They practice organic farming, but most food is provided by recycling e.g. dumpster diving. Now when I say dumpster diving I guess some people will frown and I admit I also had to turn a mental switch with recollections of seeing homeless people eating out of trash bins. This is different however. The food is collected by going at specific hours past grocery shops just after they put out all the food that has lost their economic value but which is, if treated, still eatable.
You have to be quick though because he garbage truck (our natural enemy) is there roaming the street to collect it. The food is of course cleaned and all the bad parts are cut away. You won't believe how much is collected every time. We easily collect 3 crates every time. It seems stupid to pay for food here with the relative high prices of it. Why work in order to pay for something that you can also get by just picking it up from the street? That is the general thought here. And it fits in the recycling spirit.

The profits of a normal day dumpster dive

It's good to meet people who think about this here because in general the people are to ignorant or apathetic about the state of the environment. In supermarkets you always have to say you don't want a plastic bag and you can notice that the cassiere is not used to this. Sometimes they, being on automatic pilot, get confused when their work rhythm is broken by somebody who doesn't want 5 plastic bags for his shopping. The state of the buses makes it more polluting to take a bus then driving a car I think. The number of bicycles is growing but still very small, it's more used for recreation then for going to work. And of course most people eat meat, lot's of it.
So I learn a lot about sustainable living, recycling and different permaculture techniques, one which involves making "balls of life", a technique developed by mr. Fukuoka. Here you put seeds in a ball of earth which you throw everywhere and then you let nature do it's job. Since permaculture is all about making as little change as possible to he environment it also fits in my philosophy of being a lazy ass. It's nice to plant seeds and see the plant starting to grow after a few days. It's nice to chop wood, making a fire, make bread, being freed from the work - consume cycle.

Testing a bike construction

The people who live here are all very nice, interesting people. The only thing in which I differ from them is that I'm a typical down to earth Dutch guy and most of them are into the Maya calender, mysticism and more of that. Ah well, live and let live.
So I'm really excited to live here and be part of this unique place, to only thing which I don't agree with is the mosquitos, there are so many of them. But it's gonna get winter here soon so they will be gone to come back in spring.

A slideshow of the place can be seen here

Candomble on the beach

While in Montevideo there was also a candomble ceremony. Candomble is a Brazilian religion with African roots but it is also mixed with Catholicism. About 10 percent of the people of Uruguay practice it. I don't know much about it, but it seems that there are people who act as priests who get possessed by spirits and they can cleans people by whipping with their hands over their bodies and snapping their fingers. A lot of people think that they can get cleansed and are lining up for this. One guy who was possessed had a really ugly expression on his face with the corners of his mouth curled down all the time. The cool thing about is that they drink alcohol and smoke cigars or cigarettes to get in a more spiritual mood. That usually works for me too. On the second of February they make small boats out of foam in which they place offers for some sea goddess. I was walking from amazement to amazement on the beach. One guy that really got my attention was getting attacks every 15 minutes or so and in between the attacks he was blathering away.

The guy with the attacks

Standing in line to get cleansed

I did some healing myself

Elvis was also there

The guy with the ugly grin

Getting ready for another attack

More pictures of candomble can be seen here