September 2023

Dear friends,

I can hardly believe summer is almost at its end. I know some time has passed since I wrote a news letter. James took over the last one wonderfully, yet honestly that was not the only reason I have been silent for a while.

It is said that in relationships three years is often a kind of boundary, in which many people see their feelings change, grow into something more mature or overall fade out. Something similar happened to me in relation to Puyuelo this spring. We are a bit more than three years in this project. I have spent three winters on this hill. For a while, I honestly felt a bit low on inspiration. I began to see what we have not yet achieved, the challenges ahead of us, and spiraled down in critical thinking about the future. I still enjoyed my daily life a lot, but there were moments where I failed to frame it into something bigger. And believe me, if you decide to do something outside society, you are constantly pushed to justify that for yourself, as you see 99% of people going into a radically different direction, many of them thinking you have fully lost it.

On top of that, it quickly became clear that we were facing a different summer. The big waves of visits we had seen the past two years declined, giving way to smaller and more intimate circles. This spring Puyuelo stretched open. We have our own places, spent more time there, and vigorously keep on searching how to relate to each other in this constellation. Out of my doubts, I decided to push the experiment of organizing a festival in July.

Too many times I heard adults telling me when I was young that that revolutionary spirit would dwindle away as I’d be confronted with the hardship of “real life”. I hated to hear such things, yet never knew what to respond. Now that I am an adult myself, I understand that those words often came out of disappointment and incapacity. (“Scratch a cynic and you’ll find a disappointed idealist” – George Carlin). As I grow older, I also realize that the world is vast and its dynamics far out power my little human capacity.

With 23 years old I wanted to change the world. Now at 31 my aim is more humble, yet I will never tell a young person to tune down, for the following reasons:

1) I deeply enjoy being rebellious. I find life energy in going against the grain, in eating ethically, in an attempt of living a life according to my own ideals. Ever more I come to see self-sufficiency as an ideal in both its physical and mental aspect. Physical self-sufficiency as a small network of people co-creating their means of subsistence along the ethical code they have chosen themselves. Mental self-sufficiency as a constant struggle towards freedom; the search for a way of genuine being, not the mindless assumption of systems that were there before you.

2) I refuse to join in the typically white European attitude of passivity. I know and have seen there is people who do not have a choice but to fight for their survival and rights, and I prefer to live on their side. It is usually a lot less comfortable but also a lot less boring.

3) Even though I now look at young idealistic people and think ‘you’ll tune down a little when your older’, I think it is a capital crime to project your own adult disillusions on the sacredness of youth. We ought to shut our adult mouths and trust young people to be independent enough to find their own way. Who knows if they actually come up with different answers than we did? Maybe we even ought to hope so.

Well. I am sorry. The reason why I explain all of this is because our festival was an attempt to spark up a bit of rebellious fire in our village. For two days we offered a program of lectures, physical workshops, cinema, and music. The accent was on activism. Climate change, feminism, 21st century life on the countryside. I did not count the crowd, but all in all about fifty people passed through. Half of them were people we knew, the other ones showed up after having seen the leaflet. And the rebellious spirit did not lack. We saw Puyuelo changing once more into an island. A big playground where we can have people meet, enjoy life in nature and interact with each other and with the content that is offered. All of us unanimously decided there will be a second edition next year. In my case, my rebellious spirit rekindled and I started dreaming again of what else we could do with this place. Up to us now to decide together how much and what we want to do. The news will most certainly reach you when it’s there, and winter is again around the corner to digest old ideas and shape new ones.

For me personally, this third year in Puyuelo has been a very intense year as well. Most of you know how last year I met Carmen, on a summer day on the shore of the river Ara. For a while we formed something like a couple. She moved into a village close by and we have been central on the stage of each other’s lives for the entire year. She has been one of the bigger gifts Puyuelo has brought me personally, and although I am incredibly grateful for the year we shared, we recently had to confront the fact that we do not have the same horizon in front of us for now. Reality was tough, especially since a lot of love remained between us. We know there will be other, different chapters for us one day. Puyuelo’s flag flew half mast for a while, as the village lost its first hope of another woman moving in. Everybody who met her has seen what a wonderful human being she is, and I don’t doubt there is much more to come. She left to explore the world and I am sure that will be a very fertile expedition.

I admit that the past months I have not always seen the beauty of what we built up in Puyuelo. Too often that translated in not acknowledging the impressive work we have done between the five of us. It has not always been easy. We have laughed, fought, mourned and celebrated together.
Even the word ‘community’ is still contested between us, since we still do not fully understand what the best way will be for us to sustainably live here together. Yet none of us denies that that friction has brought us all a lot of lessons. Working so close together shows you all sides of yourself, forces you to communicate, and to face your own demons. Time after time, we see the old wisdom confirmed that what does not kill us, makes us stronger.

M. Scott Peck defines community as the coming together of a group of individuals “who have learned how to communicate honestly with each other, whose relationships go deeper than their masks of composure, and who have developed some significant commitment to ‘rejoice together, mourn together,’ and to ‘delight in each other, and make other’s conditions our own.”

In the hardest moments this summer, I have seen the work we have done so far to form community according to that definition. I have appreciated all of my friends here as the wonderful people they actually are, even if I am sometimes the first one to forget to see that. We have an incredible journey behind us. The future is sometimes still frighteningly uncertain, we keep on moving away from anything that could be considered normal, but there is enough days where it also seems pregnant with the promise of adventure and potential. When I was most in need not so long ago, they all stood for me with patience and empathy, giving me the feeling I stand far from alone.

As summer comes to an end, I am grateful to have a home that is so flexible. A home where I can pause when all things seem to fall apart, take the time to reflect on what is happening and reorient myself towards the future. The doubt of spring has been replaced by pride and contentment, as I increasingly see a home arising that reflects who we are and what we stand for.

Soon Moritz and Aly will finish their house, the fifth and so far last house that really turns this place into a village again. We have succeeded in our wicked plan to build up a bunch of ruins in the mountains, now awaits the task of deciding what the hell we want do to with them.

And so, as I write these words, uncertainty goes hand in hand with a calm feeling of gratitude for the wonderful three years behind me. The past days I found solace in the words of Rebecca Solnit:

When you recognize uncertainty, you recognize that you may be able to influence the outcomes – you alone or you in concert with a few dozen or several million others. Hope is an embrace of the unknown and knowable, a alternative to the certainty of both optimists and pessimists. Optimists think it will all be fine without our involvement; pessimists take the opposite position; both excuse themselves from acting. It’s the belief that what we do matters even though how and when it may matter, who and what is may impact, are not things we can know beforehand. We may not, in fact, know them afterward either, but they matter all the same, and history is full of people whose influence was most powerful after they were gone.

With love,
Pablo, Aly, Moritz, James and Felix

14th of September, 2023

Aly and Moritz’s house in the making

As the humans move in, the birds unfortunately will have to go

Felix tries not to hit his fingers. Knowing his own clumsiness he only uses a rubber hammer lately

Farmer walking his donkeys through the lush clover fields of Puyuelo

Ara knowing she’s dog magazine material in the lush clover fields of Puyuelo

Aly and Moritz, beacon of light on the neorural horizon of relationships

Some footage of the long awaited Puyuelo calendar, Adonis edition

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