Newsletter February 2016

About us

The summer was nice and busy with guests in the holiday houses, caravans, and tents. In autumn and winter, there were painting and hiking weeks and a vision quest group. Some of our guests participated in the silent retreats of our neighbours at Monte Sahaja.

It was a coming and going of team members at Maravilhas. Sajan and Hannes left and we could welcome Mirjam from Holland and Anssi from Finland in our team. There was also a change with our animals: unfortunately our cats Pudi and Mango died. Our newly arrived cats are called Pingo and Iubi.

Maintenance jobs and olive harvest

All caravans have been provided with roofs and verandas for protection against sun and rain. In front of the caravans we made wooden verandas, so that the living space around the caravans became bigger and more comfortable.

In November we harvested olives again. This year we had a revenue of 622 kilos of olives. The majority went to the press to make olive oil, we kept a few buckets for eating. Freshly picked olives taste bitter. You cut them and keep them in salt water, which you regularly refresh. After 2 months they are ready to be eaten.

The land has been mowed and cleaned, this also to protect against fire in dry periods. On several steep locations we made steps, to make the paths more accessible.

We planted new trees on the hill near the Lakshmi kitchen. Oleanders and rhododendrons are placed around the Buddha platform. Further on, there were the necessary maintenance and painting jobs on stairs, railings and garden furniture.

Activity weeks in spring

Spring time is a wonderful season to be at Maravilhas. The green fields are full of wild flowers and nature is very refreshing and green. You can enjoy the colourful and scented blossom of the fruit trees.

In April the apple and orange trees are blooming. Temperature in daytime is around 20–25º Centigrade. June is the ideal time to combine your activity week with swimming in our salt-water pool and relaxing in the hammock. It is the time of cherry trees and peaches. Temperature in daytime is around 22–28º Centigrade.

During every activity week we make a trip to the Atlantic west coast. There will be very good tasting meals made for you, meditations are available and if you wish, you can book an individual massage.

In spring of 2016 you can choose the following activity weeks:

23-30 April    group hiking week with Monika
04-11 June    group hiking week with Monika
04-11 June    massage and meditation week with Prem
11-18 June    painting week with Rupa
11-18 June    yoga week with Atul

If you book for two activity weeks in a row, you will receive a € 50 discount.

Special flower at Monte Maravilhas

Monique, a participant of the painting week last October saw, while painting, a special plant near one of our wells. We did not know which plant it was. Back in Holland she asked Roel Vonk, head of the botanic gardens of the University of Utrecht.

It is a tuber from South Africa. It is very rare in Europe because it needs a very special habitat.

Roel Vonk: “The plant is Haemanthus crispus, order Asparagales, family Amaryllidaceae. It comes originally from the Kaap province of Sout Africa, in Namaqualand, between Steinkopf and Olifants River. Many of these tuber crops have been brought to Europe in the beginning of the last century. For example the Heamanthus albiflorus and the Clivia. They were doing fine in unheated but frost free rooms of grandmother, which were only used on Sundays. These rooms do not exist anymore, so the plants also got forgotten.”

Vision quest and sweat lodge

Monte Maravilhas is located in a beautiful silent area, and for 3 years vision quest groups have come regularly to our place. The vision quest is a universal ritual. Since ancient times, persons retreat in nature to receive answers to important questions.

This ritual still plays for example an important role in the tradition of the North-American Indians. For them it is a ritual that takes place with an important problem in the tribe, village or family or during an important transition in life.

The shaman climbs the hill with a blanket and does not return until he had a vision, in which the answer is found.

Participants of vision quests in Maravilhas stay during 24 hours or longer on a silent spot around Maravilhas to come to deeper insights. Alone, fasting (only drinking water), without telephone or watch.

The vision quest usually begins and ends in a sweat lodge: a tent/hut in which one or more persons sweat. In the tent/hut are hot stones and the tent/hut is closed, and it has the same working principle as a sauna. It has a cleansing effect for body and mind.

Guests about Maravilhas

Ruud and Lenie Hopma – Casa Azul

“What Monte Maravilhas means for us: coming home, hospitality, quietness, space, beautiful nature, fantastic star skies and nice contacts. This year we are for the fifth time in Casa Azul. This feels like being our own home. It is cosy, clean and fully equipped.

Usually we are here in February and March. It is great that Prem leaves us space to do what we like, but at the same time is always available to help us.

Regularly we go to see her for a cup of tea and a chat. We enjoy the beautiful hikes, blooming trees, lambs, storks and blue magpies, which if you feed them, come to visit every day. In the course of the years we have seen a lot of changes: an improved access road to Maravilhas, a new kitchen for camping guests, a space for group activities, new terraces near Casa Azul. But what did not change is the heartfulness of Prem and the quietness and beauty of Monte Maravilhas.”

Monique Hollands – participant painting week
“A full week of painting, intense, instructive and learning a lot of new things from Rupa. The group was very relaxed. I enjoyed everyone, made new friends, had special talks.

Also the lunch and dinners were delicious. You could feel the attention and love that was put into it. Beautiful atmosphere and feeling of welcome. Thank you. Love.”

Max Blaauwbroek – participant Vision Quest
“Lately I was a guest on your beautiful place in Portugal. I was there for my vision quest. Unfortunately there was during this journey not a lot of space to really meet you, your place and environment. But on day one I already knew that I will come back again. So I can catch up again.

I want to thank you for your enormous hospitality. The warmth and attention that you and your team put in this place, it is beaming and makes it to a very special place to be. Warm greetings. I hope to see you again.”

Friends of Maravilhas: Chicken Maria

Any guest of Maravilhas, no doubt knows them: Maria and Manuel. Their restaurant on the Monte da Rocha lake is called officially “Restaurante Monte da Rocha”, but is better known as ‘Chicken Maria’.

To eat here is an indescribable event, you have to experience it yourself. Maria’s grilled chicken is the best I have ever eaten, and her recipe is the secret of the cook. Manuel is grilling the chicken on the terrace outside, while Maria is peeling potatoes for the homemade French fries. Served with salad and while enjoying a glass of wine, it makes your evening. For vegetarians she makes an omelet, and fish and meat are also on the menu.

Sometimes you feel yourself in a Fellini movie, it all is very authentic. The spot is fantastically located with view on the lake. Sitting on the terrace the chickens are walking around you. In winter you sit inside and your meals are being served on old sewing tables. The Christmas decoration is hanging there all year around. Traditionally we have our dinner on the last evening of our activity weeks.

Tip: spring events

  • 25 April: feasts with fire works celebrating the Carnation revolution
  • 29 April–1 May: Festas de Maio, spring time feast in Amoreiras-Gare with decorated streets, music, food and a market
  • 9-11 May: big year market in Garvão

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