I hope you’re enjoying the holidays, and I’d like to wish you all the very best for 2023. Thanks for continuing to follow our progress as we work towards creating something really special in Vale das Estrelas.
It’s been a tough year, but it’s been a fun year.
I’ve been looking back over the highlights (and the lowlights) of our life in 2022 and recorded a dozen despatches for your listening pleasure!
They’re bundled into a short podcast series you can access below, in the podcast section of the website, or wherever else you get your podcasts – just search for “Off-Grid and Ignorant in Portugal.”
A year of ups and downs compressed into 30 minutes...and an adventure ready to be shared with anyone you can think of!
Why do things only actually happen at that point when you’ve decided to give it all up?
When you’ve put everything into something, lost sleep but gained little: hit a brick wall just as the road ahead was opening up?
It’s almost as if losing hope is some kind of messed up right of passage.
This year, amid spiralling costs and mounting bureaucratic frustrations, we almost gave up our dream of building a tourism lodge and a new business in remote rural Portugal.
On a long drive to Porto we took turns arguing for and against abandoning the whole idea, but it was harder to give up than to carry on and so we gave it one last go, and suddenly the concrete started pouring and buildings began taking shape.
Just as we finally felt we were getting to grips with off-grid living we almost lost everything to fire: we were unlucky the flames burned our valley, but were far luckier not to lose our home and our dream.
We were blown away by the generosity of our friends and followers who are helping us to replant the valley, and every day we watch nature’s wonderful ability to rejuvenate, regrow and regreen our hillsides.
We end 2022 stronger and more determined, overwhelmed but encouraged, tearing through our savings, but knowing that what we do and how we do it in the next 12 months will determine our success or our failure...it’s up to us.
And we are grateful to so many friends – old and new – for supporting us, following us, visiting us, advising us and helping us on this new journey.
In 2022 we reconnected with so many wonderful souls we’d met over the years and the continents and met many new people generous with their time and sharing their knowledge.
We leaned on and learned from those facing familiar challenges while also battling to build new lives on this wild-west coast of Portugal.
I dived deep writing about cork and broadcasting about oak trees and amphorae, lost weight clearing brambles and put it all back on in a continuing immersion in Alentejo wine and food education (sometimes literally as you’ll see in the wine blog).
We gained a new member of the household (Val Kilmer the cat is settling in nicely), and spent wonderful time with the fabulous Oda.
And of course we sadly lost Ana’s dad Zé just before Christmas and he is hugely missed.
In 2023 we will be welcoming even more new people to the valley as we finally (hopefully) open up our guesthouse for public bookings. Watch this space!
We will plant our trees, landscape our valley, launch our wines podcast, design and finish our interiors, build our water and power infrastructure and finally (hopefully) understand heatpumps.
We (Ana) will spend hours on the phone trying to get anything done; there will be tears, there will be disagreements; there will be disappointments and there will be pleasant surprises.
We will continue to be firmly and frustratingly Off-grid and I will remain extremely Ignorant, only perhaps just a little less so in the knowledge that every year’s a school year.
It’s been amazing how many people have been finding and following this blog. Thank you!
What started out as a diary of our journey and an outlet for my expressions of ignorance and frustration has become our support community.
All your messages of encouragement, words of advice, and comments lift our spirits and give us the energy to keep carrying on...so please keep them coming and send us a hello!
I love writing these posts and recording the audio, so please help us expand the community by sharing this blog with friends who you think might enjoy following our journey as well.
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Well, I completely understand the frustrations of this year (we almost gave up our dream to move to Portugal, everything seemed so difficult) and I'm so glad you didn't and we didn't and all of us dreamers keep on moving forward. Thank you for sharing your story of resilience with all of us. It's much appreciated!