Me

It feels a bit like a monastery here. Lizards run away from me when I try to walk the path from the down-house to the upper-house, where the community-room, music-room and kitchen is. The intense smell of Linden penetrates my body. All nature is big here. It flows, as I flow. My day consists of meditation, eating – collected from the garden, cleaning and sleeping. I am not in the hotel anymore.

Food from the Garden

In two weeks it will be three years ago that I left for a landtrip and break from work and study for a couple of months. I hitchhiked to Mongolia, after that to Iran – and started cycling which made me ending up in Bulgaria with injuries in my knees. So if you want to know why Bulgaria, this is why Bulgaria. I kept making new plans for hitchhiking new continents, crossing the ocean by hitchhiking but every time when went into the plan-thinking, my body hurt. It kept telling me: Rein, you have to go inside. I shared a lot about meditation in my video’s and blogs while I didn’t truly know what meditation is. That’s no problem, I was on my way to where I am now. .

One month ago I stopped the hotel-project. Busy with helping people, I was avoiding going to the core of my restlessness. I will try to describe in some short sentences what it gives me now: Being one with everything, close to nature, being with people that have the same knowledge, drives and plans and a little amount of chemicals, sweets and electricity. I am diving, deeper and deeper. Going trough fears, embracing, living. The restlessness is fading away and I feel that I am going to a place that I didn’t visit for a long time.

Thinking about bringing Merope a visit? Visit our website

Spring

”Of course you have terrible soil problems in your country. What do you expect when you call it dirt?” (Hemenway, 2009)

Backyard

The whole forest turns green and becomes a big permaculture garden when the first sunbeam of spring shines trough the forest. Every day we pick great amounts of wild garlic from the forest where we make pesto from. The first workawayers left and new workawayers came. From Yekaterinburg, a city in the middle of Russia that I crossed, hitchhiking – three years ago. It is interesting to share each others stories and I think about how heavy it was for me, hitchhiking from Mongolia back to the Netherlands.

Full of energy, I am working on getting European attention for the project. With the help of friends in The Netherlands, we try to attract funding and visitors. Soon, the first guests – a big archeologists group that will stay for over a month will come and every day is cleaning and preparing,

Entrance

It’s great to see that Itso and Ana really want to make their hotel more ecological and are starting to seperate their trash more and more and even telling me sometimes to be aware of my ecological footprint. I must say, it’s still quite a struggle in Bulgaria to make clear to people what it means to minimize the ecological footprint, mainly because many give up and think that it will never change. It looks like there is a mindset that has to be broken trough. Being here for longer time, it sometimes makes me sad when people are constantly pointing with their finger to others, saying how stupid they are instead of taking initiative themselves to change something.

My house

Which amount of my time do I waste with changing others instead of being happy with me and working on myself? How can I change the mentality of people when I point at them instead of changing myself? I am laying in front of the caravan after sunset and it starts to be cold. Let’s go and have a shower. Amazing, I can just walk every day to a shower, lift the handle and warm water comes out. Birds whistle and the forest prepares for the night…

Starite Borove (Old Pines)

For almost a month, I didn’t write a blog. A new project emerged out of the growing friendship with my Bulgarian friend who has a rest-house, deep in the Bozoritsa forest.

Kyra

When I sit in front of the house, catching the first sunbeams of the spring – I hear the small river, down in the valley. On my left, twenty meters from me, there is the natural spring that gives access to a continuous stream of living water. Taking some rest from Vrav, I am realizing myself that for this period of my life I have to allow myself to have some basic facilities. Being in and around the rest-house – seeing it’s great potential to put my gathered knowledge of the past years into practice, I offered my help. This is how my life goes from being a nomad with a backpack/bicycle towards a sort of rest-house coordinator, taking the lead in a team of four people, including me. I feel honoured that my friend trusts me and my knowledge with his property to make the place self sustainable. The compost-bin is realized, we are working on the first small permaculture fundament together with Merope and the total garden is being cleaned by the hard working work-awayers that learn me how to be a better manager. I’ve made some short/mid/long term goals. If you have questions or suggestions, let me know.

Forest and camper place

Short-term goals (1/2 months)
– One permaculture garden
– At least one compost toilet outside
– Functional kitchen compost system
– Separating the trash so the only garbage will be plastic
Mid-term goals (between now and 12 months)
– The whole property as permaculture garden
– Connecting the rest-house with the water from the well
– Find an alternative for electricity (Probably propeller on hill)
– Start creating home made cleaning products instead of chemicals used for cleaning – and after that a proper water filter system (Aquaponics)
– A mindset change from consumerism towards a holistic conscious view and transformation from mainstream tourism towards ecotourism
Long-term goals (1/2 years)
– The whole property designed according to the permaculture philosophy
– Only Eco-tourism
– A place full of creativity and light that can shine into the villages and cities around and being an example for Eco-tourism
– ZERO WASTE

First foundation of the Permaculture garden (background compost bin)

The ‘fix it yourself’ culture

A lot of electronics is thrown away every second, even in the economically poorest region in Bulgaria. There is too much garbage to be properly processed. A documentary about our waste-society made me discover Ifixit, an open source platform where everyone can learn how to repair electronics themselves and where you can upload your repair manual. At the repair cafe you can repair your stuff without the need to buy your own tools. 3500 now exist worldwide. Often people help you there or you can help them. It will reduce the need for buying your own tools, will minimize production CO2 emission and makes you able to do more things yourself.

Together with Freddy, we started the WeTheFuture project. The project emerged out of an already existing platform named “Rent without Rent” , a way to let people live for free in your house in exchange for keeping the house beautiful or doing some reparations with the purpose to revive the village and get people out of the city. We will plant trees and upcoming weeks we will clean, renovate the house so it will be livable – and finally we can build on what we have learned the last years. I am so happy and honored. I will be able to give back that what I have received the last years and be a host instead of a guest. There will be a repair cafe as well together with a bike workshop and a tool library. We have to exchange more instead of throwing away and buying new. Learning how the machines actually work that we use will make our brains working better.

Elderly and insulation

No one is younger than seventy in the bus from Vrav to Vidin. They left to a ‘better’ world, their children and grandchildren. Most of the houses are empty around the villages and small city’s. Lot’s of Balkan villages are right now elderly villages that saw most of youngsters leaving and their houses crumble.

We started our project in the most North-West corner of Bulgaria in a village with 200 people in winter. The villagers know us better every day by visiting the local pub and church to get to speak to the people. We insulated one room in the 1939 and moved in three days ago. There is no running water, but we take drinking water from the neighbors and for the water to do the dishes/laundry/shower we melt the snow. The stove is working, after Freddy cleaned the chimney. That is necessary because it will be -20 in January. The focus is now on wood, insulating and making contact with the village. Feel welcome to come by!