(With Recreated Photos)

Ok, I know I owe you a post from the Boom Festival, but I’ve had the strangest weekend, I just have to tell you about it… Right now!!!  Wouldn’t have thought I had another story that would trump Boom…

So, Siggy heard about this permaculture community here in Portugal from one of her new friends at Boom.. Oh, cool – permaculture… Solar energy, adobe clay buildings, seed harvesting, community spirit, etc.  We were exposed to many of these topics briefly through various workshops at Boom, so we were both interested to learn more.

We checked it out on the web and it turns out they have a weekend visitor program, so we signed up… Oh, and there’s a guy Siggy’s been talking to from Boom who was also supposed to be there this weekend, so she was hoping to get to know him a little better. So, off to the permaculture community we go! We take a train for a few hours and a taxi out into the dusty Portuguese countryside.

1920608_10152382138548095_4965708311736749783_nPeace, Love and Permaculture Happiness, here we come!!!!!

The check in is, at best, unorganized, and vague… We’re given almost no information about the community, or programs to join over the weekend… The woman checking us in is quiet and short with her answers. Huh, that’s kind of weird… No information about the community, no bulletin board to check out, no flyers to review… We sign a waiver that we’re not allowed to take pictures on property unless we get prior permission and that they’re not responsible for any psychological breakdowns that may occur while we’re there… Ummmm, Oooook. I take responsibility for my own breakdowns… LOL

10590425_10152382139098095_8678978433946637636_nHuh, that was kinda weird…

The woman tells us the dorms are full, so we’re back to tent camping for the weekend… Lovely…. “Dinner is at 7:00,” she says…  Dinner is delicious – Vegan meals are all they prepare at this sustainable farming community…  Yaaayyyyy healthy vegan food!!!  At dinner, I run into a friend, Steven, I had met at Boom lots of Boomers here and he tells us that everyone goes over the hill to an on property bar after dinner. Oh, cool we can get our permaculture groove on with some cool people and a few drinks… LOL

After dinner we get the tent set up and we mosey on down the dirt road and over to the bar. Hay bales are set up for seating, along with benches, tables and chairs. Despite the hay bales, it’s set up in a cool, funky, chic sort of way. There are a few people playing guitars and singing. Siggy and I each get a glass of wine and go find a table… Huh, something feels weird… Lots of eyes on us as we get our drinks…

We sit and chat for a bit sipping our wine and something just feels, well strange… We decide to take our wine out to the field and watch the starsSiggy and I discuss the strangeness we were feeling, relating it likely to the “free love” aspect of the community.  We had briefly scanned the page on their website about “free love”, but were suddenly feeling like we should’ve read it more thoroughly… Huh, free love… Ummmmm… Open relationships? Shared partners??  What exactly does that mean?? Are people going to hit on us? How do we know if they’re “free love” people or not? Are there any monogamous people here at all? Or should we assume everyone here is in full on, free love mode? Should we have a weekend permaculture visitor sticker on or something so they know we’re here for the permaculture and not free love?  Siggy and I have all questions and no answers… Shouldn’t they hand out a rules and regulations flyer at check in or something?  Ok, this is really weird…

After a while, more people are in the bar area, and we’re on the look out for Siggy’s friend, is he a free lover, so we go back and sit on a bench and assess the situation. I see Steven, my friend from Boom and notice he’s in a 3-person hug with a blond woman, presumably his girlfriend, and another man. Awww that’s sweet…. Or is that the beginning of a free love evening? Steven kisses the blond woman and then leaves her with the other man. Huh, did he just release his girlfriend to another man? Is that what’s happening here? Siggy and I continue to discuss like schoolgirls what may or may not be going on around us…

Before I know it, Steven comes over and plops down in the chair next to us and greets us with a big hug… He explains that he and his girlfriend (not the girl in the 3 person hug) have been attending the “Love School” all week… Huh, love school…. Ummmmm.  We talk for a bit about Boom and how crazy it was and chit chat about random topics… What the hell is going on here???

As if Steven read my mind, he tells us we can ask him 3 questions about the community. Ummm how do I prioritize my questions – only 3??? Basically he tells us that the social norms that the rest of the world follows don’t apply here. There’s another set of social norms that have been established and they are followed…  Ummmm ok, that kinda sounds like a cult… They operate on complete transparency of thoughts in any relationship. So, for example, he says, when you meet someone new and you’re attracted to them, you say, “Hey, I’m _____ and I’m attracted to you, would you like to go with me to one of the love areas?” He continues to explain that you go off to wherever the “love areas” are and have intense, passionate sex with someone you’ve literally just introduced yourself to…. And then you get up and say goodbye. Saaaaay what? That doesn’t sound like free love; that sounds like loveless sex with pleasure seeking whores… Ok, ok, and then if there are 150 residents, with new people coming in and out of the community for seed harvesting workshops, weekend visits, etc., they’re either all intermingled together within the 150 people OR us weekend visitors are like fresh meat… Or both!!!  That wasn’t the kind of seed harvesting we had in mind… LOL…  Ummmmm, no wonder we feel strange in this place!!!! Steven continues, “You will want to set an intention for what you will and won’t want to be a part of, because it can get out of hand really quickly.” Ummm, right… set an intention… I intend to NOT show interest in any man I meet here over the weekend!!

10534610_10152382139448095_8251072135598961063_nWTF kind of alternate universe are we in????

Steven makes his exit and there’s still no sign of Siggy’s friend… Siggy and I are looking at each other, processing what we’ve just learned and thinking of all the other questions we wanted to ask Steven. We make a B-line for the bar and get two huge chocolate bars and head back to the tent to binge eat our chocolate… What – chocolate brings comfort to any situation…. Siggy and I are processing everything we’ve just heard and discussing it round and round… Finally we fall asleep, exhausted from the long day and the mental fatigue that’s followed us learning this new information about this strange community we are suddenly immersed in.  We were happier when we were blissfully unaware of the strange free love happening all around us.

10521068_10152382140063095_3999306728379773152_nChocolate…. We need more chocolate!!!!!

The next morning it was like we were viewing everything with new eyes. We were looking at everyone differently. Observing the behavior of those we had met that were here for longer periods of time… Are they participating in the free love??  And we were really happy the seed-harvesting workshop had been fully booked and we didn’t get accepted for that 2-week program.

We met a few girls that had recently transitioned their long-term relationships with their boyfriends to “open” relationships and they were there to participate in the love school and learn how to live in this new way… The few women that talked to us expressed their uneasiness and wavering sadness about it.  It had seemed like a good idea at the time to them…  But now that they were in it, maybe not…

I’ve gotta say, the whole thing does seem like it’s weighted to please the man.  If my male friends reading this back home suddenly start booking trips to Portugal, I’ll know what’s up!!! LOL Naturally, I think most women are typically looking for longer term partners and men (some of them) are more looking to spread the seed, so the thought that women would agree to this just doesn’t make sense to me…. Maybe it is a cult and they’ve been manipulated into thinking this is a good idea… Who am I to say what’s a good idea for them?  Maybe they are really into it…

We never felt unsafe or that anything would be done against our will. Everyone really was all smiles and hugs – peace, love, happiness, etc., as we comingled at mealtimes with the residents and long term visitors… but something definitely felt weird there – to us… I’m not sure I want to go so far as to call it a cult, as that tends to lend such a sinister connotation…  Although we were in a private compound in the desert… Waco Texas, anyone? Siggy is too young to know about that…  So, I can’t decide if the word cult fits or not… But there were children in the community, which does sort of add another element of creepiness to it when you think of children being raised in an environment of such an alternative lifestyle.  Do the moms even know who the fathers are?? 

10612630_10152382140938095_7523584378978473206_nAhhh, so what if you have 5 regular partners and don’t know who the fathers of your children are…

Even with our brief conversation with Steven, he expressed that there was more we didn’t know and he didn’t even have it all figured out yet, having been there only a week. There seemed to be a massive unspoken “something” in the air around the whole place.  I guess we’ll never really know the full truth of this strange free love permaculture community, as I don’t plan on returning to investigate further – Although my mind has wandered down all possible paths of strangeness that might be.

Maybe they are happy in their community so different from any life we would know in America, and as long as they are willing participants and happy, then go on you free love people – be happy, be free, be sexed!!!  As for me and Siggy though, this place just wasn’t for us…  I don’t care how sustainable they are!  We enjoyed our last vegan meal with them Sunday and got the hell out of there…

10592961_10152382141193095_2354049387321677310_nWe’re done here…. No more poly communities for us…

Siggy’s two cents

Hi Eryn’s people! Well basically we are two days out of the community and I still can’t make my mind up on what I felt there. I like to see myself as a free-loving hippie, however I am typically just as ‘conventional’ as the person next to me despite some of the crazy things Eryn and I have gotten into ;)…  I felt at times uncertain on how to interact with the men there. I didn’t want to put out ‘come-hither’ vibes. It was also a great weekend for me personally as this experience made me determined to be ‘men-free’ and ‘romantic-free’ at the moment so I can focus on my own spiritual and personal development. I set off from Australia late February with the intention of not letting men distract me as they have in the past, however of course they did and with my constantly-wavering mind being continually distracted by men on top of everything else I decided to call it quits after our interesting weekend. The guy I was hoping to see there, I did see, however he was clearly just interested in a short fling nothing more. I like depth- emotional, spiritual and intellectual. While a long-term relationship is not what I am after being a vagabond gypsy and all, I am after authentic communication, honesty and a degree of care that for the most parts comes from a guy who would hope to date you not just have a weekend fling. A new wave of female empowerment also came over me after making this decision. After the decision to be men-free I read tarot for a fellow sister who was having troubles, gave caring advice to a girl in a new polygamous relationship and struggling with jealousy and insecurities and made a sister connection with a sound healer. These connections affirm to me the power of the femme, the need to be whole within ourselves before we seek a relationship and how really at this stage in my life being ‘celibate’ allows me greater freedom and creativity in my goal of self growth. I hope you find your bliss and are also able to sit in truth as this decision has allowed me to. Namaste.

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