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Living the Dream

Adventures in Brazils Atlantic Rainforest

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Sustainable Tourism

The Amazon – Trying to See the Wood for the Trees!

Amazon Fires 2019

Thousands of fires are ravaging the Amazon rainforest in Brazil – the most intense blazes for almost a decade. However, images purported to be of the fires – including some shared under the hashtag #PrayforAmazonas – have been shown to be decades old or not even in Brazil.

So what’s actually happening and how bad are the fires?

The National Institute for Space Research (Inpe) says its satellite data shows an 85% increase on the same period in 2018. The US space agency, Nasa, has on the other hand said that overall fire activity in the Amazon basin is slightly below average this year.

Amazon fires

The Amazon is home to about three million species of plants and animals, and one million indigenous people.The fires in the region are terrible and a tragedy for our planet but with so much misinformation and fake news it’s very difficult to get a true picture of just how much of an increase there has been.

What is clear is that deforestation is a huge problem which has depressingly broken new records of increase consistently for the last 30 years. Loggers and miners are long term offenders but the biggest culprits are undoubtedly the cattle farmers. A long established way of increasing grazing land has been to set illegal fires to clear the forest – once cleared it is no longer protected and can be used for cattle.

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Trying to get a clear balanced picture is very difficult; much of the world’s news comes from Brasilian NGO’s and the News Channel Globo – all of which are politically aligned against the current government which has cut the funding and subsidies granted to them by the previous regime. Bolsanaro is a self styled Trump prone to ill informed and populist rhetoric and remarks – such as the now infamous ‘poop ever other day’. His lack of diplomacy has alienated both the world’s press and many of the world’s leaders.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has suggested that non-governmental organisations had started fires in the rainforest, but admitted he had no evidence for this claim and this morning he tweeted ‘So, if you are wondering who is going to save the Amazon, here’s a very straightforward answer for you: it’s not the empty, hysterical and misleading rhetoric of the mainstream media, transnational bureaucrats and NGO’s, but the sovereign action of Brazil.’

My personal hope is that whilst the focus of the world is on the Amazon that we can take hold and actually address this very real, but depressingly old problem. The world is watching and the time to act is now, before the focus of the world moves onto a topic of fashionable outrage. If this opportunity is wasted I fear that my children will live in a world where the Amazon is reduced to a couple of small National Parks. Lets not forget that Brazil’s Atlantic Rainforest is now only 8% of the size it was 100 years ago.

Sources: BBC News, Rainforest Alliance, Washington Post

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Freguesia do Livro

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We’re very happy to have received our first box of books from Freguesia do Livro and believe that our ‘reading station’ in the heart of the Atlantic Rainforest is the perfect setting to enjoy a good read!

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Freguesia do Livro is an organization based in Curitiba who’s goal is to ‘encourage reading through free literary circulation’. The initiative encourages reading for everyone everywhere. Since 2011 they have been collecting books and creating ‘reading stations, aswell as assisting in the creation and maintenance of community libraries.

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We’re also very excited that we are about to start work building our eco-library – the plan is to make the walls with tyres and bottle bricks and to cover it with a ‘green roof’.

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Breakfast with Rosana

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Just across  the Rio Marumbi from Pousada Serra Verde you will find Rosana Conservas. It is here in a small kitchen that Rosana makes her  famous preserves and jams.

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Rosana uses locally sourced fruit and vegetables (if you look out the window at breakfast here you can see where the Xu Xu is grown!). Her products are tasty, natural, have no added colourings, preservatives and a low carbon footprint. You can visit the kitchen, small shop and meet  Rosana most days between 8am and 6pm.

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Here at Pousada Serra Verde we love serving Rosana’s products with our breakfast – our favourites are Abacaxi com Gengibre, Mimosa and Doce de Goiaba. We are sure that you will love them too!

‘What if…’

In December 2002 I headed into the Bolivian Yungas to visit the remote mountain town of Chulumani. One morning I sat drinking coffee looking out over the forested mountains, listening to Strauss and thinking…what if ????

The Yungas

Six months later my trip was over and I returned to work in England. ‘What if…’ remained with me, though as routine and everyday life took over it got pushed further and further to the back of my mind.

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In December 2017 we changed ‘What if…’ to ‘Oh my God we’re doing this!’ We bought a disused pupunha plantation in the Brasilian Atlantic Rainforest and set about building our Pousada. Living the Dream isn’t easy; very long days, few days off, battling the elements, the forest and wildlife whilst coming to terms with a different culture and language all have presented huge challenges over the last 16 months. However last Sunday I sat in the sun, drinking coffee, listening to Strauss in our Pousada in the Brasilian rainforest; no longer thinking ‘What if…’

What if

Finally Open!!!!

It’s been a long year with it’s fair share of ups and downs but on 28th December Pousada Serra Verde opened!

We have 2 family chalets, an accessible chalet & a hostel which sleeps groups of upto 7. 

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The pool and Fairy Trail have been real hits and we have been delighted that our guests seem to love Serra Verde as much as we do!

IMG-20181226-WA0000.jpgThere’s no time to rest though with our 2019 projects including 2 glamping pitches and the construction of a library from tyres and bottles with a green roof! #livingthedream #pousadaserraverde

One Year On…

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We’ve now been in Brasil for a year. As was to be expected it has been a challenging but rewarding time. We arrived to find our house half eaten by cupim, the roof leaking badly, the water tower about to collapse, much of the land badly overgrown and then faced endless beaurocracy whilst trying to sort things out.

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However we have risen to all the challenges thrown at us and amongst other things built 5 chalets, 2 fossa’s, a water tower, a swimming pool, endless walls and fences, re-roofed the house, replaced cupim riddled house walls and windows, built paths, opened an English school, become part of the community and rescued Luna (our dog).

 

We’ve had the opportunity to learn a lot of new skills including: how to manage the forest, how to handle snakes, endless building skills, gambiarra, how to open an English school, the children have both become fluent in Portuguese, how  not to get too frustrated with how long it takes to get anything done, how to live with frequent and long power cuts and how  to really enjoy a much simpler and more basic lifestyle.

Our English school in Morretes opened this week and our Pousada – Pousada Serra Verde   

will be opening at the end of this month.

So we are pleased with our progress thus far and are really looking forward to year 2!!!

Wildlife at Serra Verde

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One of the things I love about living at Serra Verde is that you never quite know what you’re going to meet as you wander through the garden.

We’ve not been here a year yet and have met monkeys, iguana’s, an ocelot, snakes, a huge array of butterflies, toucans, woodpeckers and numerous other birds of all shapes, colours and sizes!FB_IMG_1540403190949

The Atlantic Rainforest has incredible biodiversity and we feel blessed to be able to live here. Once Pousada Serra Verde opens in December we look forward to sharing this wonderful place with you!

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Real Ale in the Rainforest!

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ThePorto de Cima Brewing  Company is to be found in the shadow of the Marumbi mountains on the banks of the Rio Nhundiaquara.

In this tranquil setting Curt uses the flavours and aromas of the Floresta Atlantica to create some truly memorable beers.

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With more than 17 labels there is a beer for all tastes – my new personal favourite being ‘Joao De Barro’, which is an English style bitter ale! The brewery terrace looks out over a stunning mountain vista and is a truly special place to enjoy a beer.

The brewery and beer garden are open Friday – Sundays, 2pm -6pm and are well worth a visit.

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The 3 F’s – Fossa’s, Frustration & Flowers!

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It’s been a hard couple of months at Serra Verde. Of all the problems we expected to have; I never dreamt that a hole that you put what the locals call ‘coco’ into would cause us so much headache! We need 3 and by all accounts have suffered from doing things correctly and so have been at the mercy of the local council, architects, engineers and not to mention the elements! We have even found an underground river flowing through one of our regulation 2 metre deep holes!

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The beaurocracy surrounding the septic tanks has also rather frustratingly meant we’ve had to build something the size of a nuclear bunker in concrete rather than the car tyre and banana tree eco option we had planned.

We’ve finally got one signed off, connected and working and hope the others will now be not far behind!

We’ve been told that we could drink the water at the end of the process – I’m all for recycling, but that’s a step too far!!! I’ll leave that for the orchids which are now starting to bloom.

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