Organic Design (blog)

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Collecting rain water

Posted by Nad on 11 de dezembro de 2014 at 11h15min
This post has the following tags: Our second year on the land
Beth bought some large diameter PVC pipe that we could chop in half and use as a gutter and was much cheaper than buying the proper material. Last week I installed it on the south side of the roof so it all pours into a tank. We were quite surprised at how much water can be collected in this way. After only an hour of very light rain we collected about 100 Litres!
Gutter.jpg Gutter close.jpg Gutter inside.jpg

Tank filling from south gutter 1.jpg

A visitor who found us on

Posted by Nad on 21 de novembro de 2014 at 13h42min
This post has the following tags: Our second year on the land
We got a contact message from the site a couple of days ago from an Australian women named Anna who came across our blog from this thread about our adventure here on the land :-) She's staying with some friends on a horse fazenda down near Barragem do Salto which is only a couple of hours ride from here, so she was keen to meet us and check out our place here.

Anna's an extremely independent hardcore cyclist, and has been cycling all around the continent by herself for the past five years. Here's some pictures of Anna and her bike which has done over forty five thousand kilometres and been across the Andes fifteen times!

Anna's bike.jpg Anna with her bike.jpg
Anna's got a blog about her adventures called a thousand turns.

Our new panniers

Posted by Nad on 19 de novembro de 2014 at 16h01min
This post has the following tags: Our second year on the land
We went to Canela yesterday to get some groceries and this time I took some photos of our side panniers. We cycled to Lava Pes and then left our bikes at the church and got the bus in to Canela. We took a large backpack to carry the groceries in until we got back to the bikes at Lava Pes. The backpack was on the limit of being carryable, in fact it was past the limit because one of the straps broke on it! I'd estimate it was about 30-35Kg. When we got the bus back to Lava Pes we transferred all the groceries from the backpack into the panniers.
Panniers 1.jpg Panniers 2.jpg

Amazingly, cycling with all that weight was very easy! It would be practical to cycle 60km with at least 50% more weight! It really is an excellent example of the rule that having the right tool for the job makes life a lot easier. We'll have to pick up another pair for Beth's bike soon :-)

Getting to know the land again

Posted by Nad on 16 de novembro de 2014 at 16h33min
This post has the following tags: Our second year on the land
After being away for so long we almost feel like strangers here! After lunch our local lizard Leelee turned up for a visit which made us feel a lot more at home :-) he was very curious with all the changes that have happened over the last few days since we arrived and was looking through everything.
Leelee and jandals.jpg Leelee with head in towel 1.jpg Leelee with head in towel 2.jpg

We went for a bit of a walk around our small forest today to try and get reacquainted again, and got a couple of nice photos.

Natural rope bridge 2.jpg Forest canopy by the beach.jpg

As we came out of the forest along the beach path, Beth noticed that our grape-archway has got its first signs of fruit appearing on it :-)

Beth looking at new grapez.jpg New grape.jpg

Two weeks became three months!

Posted by Nad on 14 de novembro de 2014 at 19h33min
This post has the following tags: Our second year on the land
I had my court hearing on October 6th which turned out to be nothing more than both Tiago and I agreeing that we both wanted the whole thing over and done with, so the mediator said that we could opt for reconciliation which simply involved me apologising to Tiago for attacking him and us all signing a statement saying as much, and that was it! The mediator women didn't even know what it was actually about as she had a million other disputes to deal with and hadn't even read the report!

So the next day we got straight on a bus and set off for Caxias, we stayed one night with our friends Fabrício and Eliane at their mother's place, and then set off early the next morning on a bus for Lageado Grande to get our bikes (which we'd left at our old neighbours who moved there) and cycle back to the land. We had a huge load, but thanks to our new side panniers we were able to cycle with all of it no problem! We finally arrived back in the afternoon on November 10th, just in time for our 3rd anniversary of moving to Brazil on the 11th :-)

We originally only intended to be away for two weeks for Beth to do the Dito e Feito play, and then we were to return straight after that. But then Beth ended up doing another week of the play, and then helping Del with some translation work, so two weeks became a month, and then there was the ill-fated incident in the park which took another two months to resolve! When we finally got back everything was really overgrown, here's a couple of shots of what it's like now followed by one of how it was before we left.

Overgrown house 2.jpg Overgrown house.jpg Non-overgrown house.jpg

The few vegetables that have survived are very strong though which is good to see - there is a big courgette, a few cauliflowers and cabbages, chia, spinach and lots of mint. Most of the fruit trees along the northern fence are doing well too, the oranges are flowering and a peach even has some small fruit on it!

Del and Helder gave us some nice German liqueur chocolates that they got in Portugal (they got back from a trip to Portugal just the day before we left their place). We had some of them on the bus to Caxias, but unfortunately the rest of them all melted in the sun when we cycled back, so we let the wasps and bees have them. They loved them, but were getting really drunk from the alcohol in them :-D

Bees drinking liqueur chocolate 1.jpg Wasp drinking liqueur chocolate.jpg

I couldn't post this item when I wrote it a couple of days ago because the net cable was still damaged from the giant swamp rat bites, but today on the 14th the weather was finally good enough to go about replacing the bad cable in the pipe with a good segment. It took most of the day, but it's finally done and the net seems to be going well - whew!

Eu sou quase um verdadeiro brasileiro!

Posted by Nad on 17 de outubro de 2014 at 10h31min
This post has the following tags: Our second year on the land
The residency process became a lot easier on September 1st 2014, where now you can just get it all completed in one day after filling in this form, and making an appointment with the federal police. So one good thing about getting shot on September 3rd was that it made us quickly decide to get the residency process under way again, and we were one of the first in line for the new process :-) They're still very busy though so the appointment was set for October 16th, but at least this ridiculous procedure of effectively being under house arrest for a month has finally been done away with!

Today we went to my appointment and everything went smoothly and I got my new ID on the spot! Unfortunately I had to pay the R$800 illegal over-stayers fine for the second time! The girl told us that if I had written in within three months of being declined last time and said I was going to try again then I wouldn't have had to pay the fine again, but nobody told us that! This ID is much better than the last one because it's a permanent one and I can leave the country any time and re-enter without any problems, and I can use this ID for travelling within Brazil instead of my passport :-) Oba!!!

Aran holding new 2014 ID.jpg Aran ID 2014 photo.jpg

Unfortunately the photo on my ID is pretty bad! The guy who took my finger prints mentioned that I looked really different with short hair, and I said that I should have taken the photo after I got my hair cut - he said "yes you really should have" :-D

BitcoinToYou in Curitiba

Posted by Nad on 9 de outubro de 2014 at 19h24min
This post has the following tags: Our second year on the land
BitcoinToYou in Curitiba.jpg
Today we went to the BitcoinToYou store in Curitiba to sell some Bitcoins that I had bought on the BitNZ exchange site yesterday. By buying the bitcoins on an exchange which is in the same country as your bank account, you don't have to pay any fees to transfer the money into the exchange. Bitcoin's finally starting to take off here in Brazil which is really good news :-)

This is a way for me to transfer funds from my NZ bank account into Brazilian Reals, but without having to be robbed by the banks in the process! In fact the price of Bitcoin in Brazil is a little higher than the international price since it's still very new here, so I actually made about R$80 in the process. If I had used an ATM to do this I would have lost about 5% on the currency exchange, and then had another R$12 cash advance fee added on top of that, which means this simple operation of transferring my own money would have cost me around R$100!!!

Bitcoin allows people to transact with one another independently without needing to trust the banking system which deserves no trust at all since it engages in secrecy, extortion and fraud as an integral part of its actual systemic core.

Back to Curitiba

Posted by Nad on 9 de outubro de 2014 at 11h37min
This post has the following tags: Our second year on the land
I'm a bit late posting this, we got back to Curitiba a week ago! We had a nice relaxing time in Brasília staying with Beth's parents and I'm fully recovered now, the entry and exit wounds from the bullet are just smooth pink areas on my skin and there's no internal pain now even when I do strenuous exercises like pull-ups or sit-ups.

A week before we left I put some olives into the Pimenta (chiles in oil) so that Beth's Dad and I could eat them the night before we left, unfortunately they weren't very hot though so it was a bit of a let-down, but the photos Beth took captured the expectation and disappointment perfectly! Later Nelson arrived and tried one too, but he looked a little less certain about them not being hot enough :-)

HotOlive1.jpg HotOlive2.jpg HotOlive3.jpg
HotOlive4.jpg HotOlive5.jpg HotOlive6.jpg

Adventure almost comes to a sudden end!

Posted by Nad on 4 de setembro de 2014 at 19h31min
This post has the following tags: Our second year on the land
We've been in Curitiba for the last few weeks because Beth's been acting in a play called Dito e Feito. Yesterday was a very nice sunny day, so we decided to take our computers to the botanical gardens to do some work and reading in a more peaceful environment than inside. But since I hadn't had any breakfast we decided to go via the supermarket around the corner and get some pão de queijo. We sat on a bench in a small park across the road and ate the pão de queijo, then Beth decided to pop back across the road and get some chocolate to take with us, and I waited in the park with our bags.

As I was sitting there a red car pulled up behind me, and then two tough looking guys with tatoos and matching medallions got out with guns pointed at me and told me to raise my hands then started looking through our bags. They seemed to think that I would have money and drugs and they were getting angry when they couldn't find anything! I thought due to the matching medallions that they must be from a local gang, and started to panic since even gangsters in New Zealand often kill people with little reason, and this is Brazil! So I thought I had better do something even though the situation seemed completely futile.

So I kicked the closest guy under the chin and tried to grab his gun staying close to him as he retreated back across the park hoping that the other guy wouldn't shoot since he might hit his mate. My general idea was to try and get across to the supermarket where there were lots of people, so they wouldn't want to shoot or anything.

Unfortunately I couldn't get hold of the gun properly and after some grappling he fired it and I got shot! The grappling resulted in quite an odd trajectory, the bullet entered near my waist on my left side at the back, and came out just under my left arm pit next to my chest and also grazed my arm. It was only a centimetre or so from my lung and heart, but luckily it just went through muscle and didn't hit anything serious. I noticed that he was panicking then and so I made a run for it across the road into the supermarket.

To my surprise the guys ran in after me with their guns, even with a large crowd of people forming! Then the horrible truth became apparent!!! they were plain-clothes police and the medallions had "policia" on them! I hadn't seen these medallions before and neither had Beth, or any of the people we've talked to since. So then they arrested me in a pool of blood on the supermarket floor, and we never made it to the botanical gardens - we've been a few times before though. Here's me on the floor in the supermarket with handcuffs on and my first (and hopefully last) gunshot wound!

I've hidden the pictures by default in this item because Beth hates having to explain the story to people when we're showing them the blog and they see these pictures scroll past!

Click to see the pics

I spent the day being stitched up in the hospital handcuffed to my bed with armed guards all around me! It didn't hurt that much for the first few hours, probably since nothing serious had been damaged, but then after the swelling and bruising started it became very painful to move or breathe deeply. In the evening I was transported to the police station in the boot of a police car.

I was sure that I would be deported and our adventure on the land in Brazil had come to an end :-( But luckily Beth had taken my documents there and been explaining the situation, and the guys we're staying with Del and Helder were really supportive and had stayed with Beth there too. The guy who shot me was actually very nice, and he only shot because he was scared that I would get his gun. The police chief was very down to earth too and could see it was an honest mistake (sadly, most of the others were just gung-ho dick heads though). Del's assertive attitude and his friend who's an excellent lawyer helped a lot too, and we all ended up going back to Del and Helder's that night without any deportings, prisons or convictions - something I had dared not even hope for a few hours earlier!

So anyway everything's ok and I'm famous in the local neighbourhood now! Everyone was on my side and agreed that the police looked like gangsters and it was an easy mistake to make, especially for a foreigner. The next day a short news item was published here about the incident (containing numerous factual errors as is usual for the news), which implies that I'd had the horrible misfortune to be at the place where a drug deal was going down at that time!

Ai ai ai :-/

Posted by Nad on 8 de agosto de 2014 at 16h02min
This post has the following tags: Our second year on the land
"Ai ai ai" is "Oiyoiyoi" in Portuguese. Beth talked to our neighbour Ziza about our chewed pipe and cables in the swamp and she said it's most likely a Ratão (Coypu in Enlgish) which is like a semi-aquatic giant rat (which is exactly what Ratão means in Portuguese) that lives in swamp regions. It could be many weeks before we can get better pipes and more cable delivered, so I decided to try and repair our current PVC pipe and cables and install it in a better way first. First I spent the morning fixing the LAN cable and patching up the PVC pipe to make it usable again.
Repairing net cable 1.jpg Repairing net cable 2.jpg Repairing net cable 3.jpg Repairing net cable 4.jpg

Next I cleared a path all the way through with the weed-eater and installed fencing wire that I could attach the pipe to so that it's not easily accessible from the ground or by climbing any trees. This way the entire pipe is in the clear and easily accessible by us but not by the swamp creatures!

Raised net pipe first section 1.jpg Raised net pipe first section 2.jpg Raised net pipe from box.jpg

Unfortunately this repaired cable only worked for about a day, and then the net started failing again! probably due to water entering the repaired parts or perhaps entering some areas of the cable that I had missed. At the moment I'm connected via another couple of lengths of spare cable which were in fairly good condition, but it's just loosely tied onto the pipe so tomorrow we'll have to pull the old cables out with strong string attached to the far end so that gets pulled in at the same time. Then we can use the string to pull the new cables through. I'm going to use the net for a while first so I can be sure that the cable is definitely working first.