We’re alive and well, though you may not know from our lack of communication. We’ve been busy, busy, busy with visitors and working to open the hotel. See the recap below.
Jeff and I have two weeks until we depart from Brazil and head to Argentina. Though we’ve already sent much of our stuff home (thanks to the Joneses and Jonathan), we still feel unaware of the fact that we leave so soon with no certain plans of returning. We’ll spend two weeks in Argentina, including a quick trip to Uruguay, before heading back to the states. You can be sure our blogging won’t discontinue once we arrive in the states – we’ll be continuing our journeys and explorations within the states. We’re currently working on plans to obtain some touring bikes and explore some small-scale, sustainable farms. Agro-tourism is on our brains.
Recap of the past month and a half . . .
At the end of January our friend from San Francisco, Candice, came to visit us in Picinguaba toward the end of her 4-week journey through Brazil. We had a wonderful time with her and took advantage of the opportunity to hang out with some locals. We also met a French guy biking across the world – yes, across the world (he even hitch-hiked a sailboat ride across the Atlantic) – who joined us for a sausage at Linguiça do Zé at the border of Rio and São Paulo states.
Following our three weeks on the farm, holding down the fort while Manu was in Spain, we had a visit from Jamie – our good friend from Duke, who has become a chef and is now spending two months at Fazenda Alfheim. She bounced back and forth from Picinguaba and the Fazenda with us merrily until we met up with the Joneses. We had a very hot, but lovely time in Picinguaba for a few days. We hiked to Ponta Negra, which is a hike starting from Laranjeiras that takes you past 4 beaches, inaccessible to cars, ending in Ponta Negra, a little village where we caught a boat ride back to Laranjeiras. We, of course, stopped for a sausage sandwich at Linguiça do Zé on the way back. After we parted ways with Jamie we spent a few wonderful days at the Fazenda with Liz and Bruce, integrating some work as the project continues. It was a wonderful trip with the Joneses and though it felt very short we were thrilled to be able to show them a bit of our life here!
The next week, after a jaunt in São Paulo for work, Patty and Jonathan visited. They had a similar itinerary as our other visitors – starting off in Rio, taking the bus to Paraty and then making their way to us in Picinguaba. In Picinguaba we trekked to Praia da Puruba, which is a beautiful, secluded beach 20 minutes from Picinguaba. We took the local buses, and also made our way back to Zé’s for some sausage – walking the 10 km back to Picinguaba. Patty and Jonathan made use of our camping hammocks, trying to escape the heat for better sleeping. We then spent a night at Fazenda Catuçaba and made our way to Fazenda Alfheim to enjoy 24 hours with the crew, which now includes Jamie. They cooked up many delicious feasts while we were there (thanks to the hard work of the Fazenda Alfheim farmers and chef Jamie) – we felt privileged to eat piglet and their chickens – delicioso! (Not to mention Lone’s bread and honey.) We took a walk in the rainforest and dipped in the crisp river water, and as always, enjoyed the company of our friends.
Since our string of visitors we’ve done a bit of bouncing back and forth, but primarily have stayed on the Fazenda to help finalize the works for the hotel. Most of the furniture has arrived (beds are still missing though, so don’t come running to stay just yet). We’re working on the landscape – Jeff and I took a trip to Taubaté to scope out plants and pots – and we’re doing final touches to the rooms. Our first guests arrive on March 24th, so sadly Jeff and I will miss the opening, but we’re confident they’ll enjoy their stay. Over the next two weeks, we’ll continue with the final touches, arrange the rooms, work out a menu using our farm-fresh produce, and bring on a few extra staff members.
Throughout the past few months we’ve also been working hard to develop a master plan along with the architecture (with Marcio Kogan) for the 20 for-sale villas planned on 100 hectares (250 acres) of the property. This has been an interesting process to go through with a lot of lessons learned already, before even coming close to breaking ground). Currently, we’re taking a step back and re-assessing the development plan. The team will focus on the farm and hotel for the next few months – providing a great base to market the villas while also giving the team time to follow through with the villas project more wisely. The concept is spectacular – you can check out our website, which should be working soon: www.villascatucaba.com. But at this point, we need flexibility in our timeline to bring in some experts and possibly a partner to help us through the process. We’ll follow the progress even after we leave Brazil and keep you posted. As part of the villas project, Pasha Ra* has created an incredible landscape installation throughout the villa sites. It’s a truly spectacular art project and well worth a trip to see if you’re in São Paulo. If not, enjoy a few pictures below.