Organic Design (blog)

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Two weeks became three months!

Posted by Nad on 14 de novembro de 2014 at 16h33min
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 07h31min
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 16h24min
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 08h37min
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 16h31min
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 13h02min
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.

PVC pipe doesn't cut it out here in the wilderness!

Posted by Nad on 2 de agosto de 2014 at 10h57min
This post has the following tags: Our second year on the land
When we first laid our LAN and power cables between the house and the antenna on the hill for our rural net connection, we just had them naked and hammered in to trees with U-nails through the forest area, then held overhead on some strong fencing wire across the open areas. It wasn't long before the cables became worn and chewed, so we decided to lay the whole distance on the ground within a strong PVC pipe. This worked very well for a year or more, but in the last few weeks connectivity problems have begun again! I thought the problem must be due to the various cable joins at the ends and at the hub at the mid-point, but after checking, re-checking and even re-soldering them all, the problems remained :-( I could tell by the fact that I could connect without trouble from the mid-way hub, that the problem must be in the first hundred metre segment between the house and the mid-point, but I couldn't figure out where the problem was. It was Beth who eventually found the problem; after carefully examining the PVC pipe through the thickest part of the swamp she discovered that some animal has chewed many holes right through it exposing and chewing the cables within! It seems from the damage that whatever animal this is doesn't like to leave the thick cover of the forest and swamp, because there's no damage at all in the open areas or even under the house. It looks like we're going to have to use metal pipe for the fifty or so metres of forest and swamp!
Pvc net pipe chewed.jpg Damaged power cable.jpg

It's not just me with these problems though, even Google have trouble protecting their cables under the sea from shark bites.

Mouse attack!

Posted by Nad on 22 de julho de 2014 at 13h01min
This post has the following tags: Our second year on the land
Out here in the wilderness the mice are relentless! there's no point trapping them and taking them away or even killing them, because within hours of their absence others quickly replace them. We've been having a lot of trouble with them over the last few weeks, perhaps because it's nesting time or something. Every night many of them are scuttling all over the house looking for any slightest hole they can gnaw away at to get in.

A few nights ago one of them finally made it into the ceiling. We tried putting a trap up there, but country mice seem to be smarter than city ones and they're able to remove the food from the trap carefully without setting it off. We quickly set about sealing up any holes in the ceiling that it would be able to enter the main living area through, but unfortunately we were too late! It managed to get out of the ceiling onto the top storage shelf, and when we started removing items from the shelf to reveal it and trap it, it made a huge two metre jump onto the kitchen bench and disappeared amongst all the bits and bobs. It took an hour or two, but we eventually managed to corner it and get it into a mouse-transportation jar.

We tried to seal everything up as best we could by nailing bits of wood around the suspicious looking parts of the exterior, but then last night we heard another one scampering around in the ceiling! We eventually discovered that they were getting into the capping and entering from in there. So today I went up there and pulled it all off to put concrete in all the holes, so that firstly they won't be able to get into the capping, and secondly if they did manage to get in there's no entrance into the ceiling from there. Here's a picture after I got started with the job.

Concrete under capping.jpg

The lesson learned from all this is when you build a house in the forest, it has to be made without any holes at all, especially in the foundations or roof which often are left with some small holes such as under corrugations. It's best to seal any holes up with concrete during construction, because it's a major hassle doing it after everything's built! Concrete, metal or hard wood is best because the mice will eat through anything softer given enough time.

Cycling back home from Caxias

Posted by Nad on 14 de julho de 2014 at 08h43min
This post has the following tags: Our second year on the land
Since we both now have decent bikes, we decided to try riding all the way back from Caxias! Normally this would be about 80km (60km to Lageado Grande, and then the usual 20 from there back home). Eduardo, Beth and I all cycled to Max and Lucy's the evening before for dinner and stayed the night there which is about 20km along the highway towards Lageado Grande, which made the trip a bit shorter :-) The first photo below is taken at Max and Lucy's as we're just about to leave at 10am.

Also Eduardo showed us a way we could go that meant we only needed to travel about 17km on the highway to a small town called Apanhador, at which point we could have some Pastels for lunch and then turn off and travel through the country side from there. The total distance is about 5km shorter this way, and the country tracks are a much nicer ride - also this stretch of highway is really dangerous, and you have to cycle on the rough gravel shoulder to avoid being hit by trucks!

After turning off onto the dirt road, it's about 12km to another small town called Juá which has just a school and a wood yard. We stopped at the wood yard to get their phone number as they may have better prices than our place in Canela, and they would be able to deliver to our place very cheaply. From there it was another 15km to Lava Pés, and we were starting to get really tired by this time - we started to think that Eduardo's instructions were way out, as it felt like it had been more than 30km from Juá by the time we finally saw Lava Pés!!! But when we checked the map later it was only about 15km, so we must have been really tired! The second photo below shows our first view of Lava Pés coming from Juá which was a great relief indeed! We knew would could make it the last 12km home when we were in familiar territory, so we slowly carried on.

Four cars passed us on the road home from Lava Pés and three of them were people we knew who stopped to talk, which really made us feel like we're proper locals here now :-)

We finally arrived home at about 5:30pm, so we had taken about seven and a half hours in total - but we had stopped for half an hour for lunch in Apanhador, another half hour just before Juá to fix a puncture, and another half hour or so for various conversations and bites to eat along the way. The total distance we cycled that day was 56km, which is the longest ride we've done so far. It was a very hard ride for us, and we were both really glad we hadn't also had to do the extra 20km we'd done the day before to get as far as Max and Lucy's!

Leaving Caxias on our new bikes.jpg Lava Pes coming from Jua.jpg

Apanhador to Lava Pes.jpg

Beth's new bike

Posted by Nad on 11 de julho de 2014 at 08h41min
This post has the following tags: Our second year on the land
We've been in Caxias for a few days again to get some supplies and hook up with some new contacts. We cycled to Lageado Grande and then got the bus from there again, this time we took the bikes with us on the bus so we could cycle around while we're here. As luck would have it, Eduardo heard about a bike for sale that would be suitable for Beth (having a slightly smaller frame and closer handlebars), so they went and checked it out while I stayed back at Eduardo's to deal with some server issues. Beth really liked it and paid for it right then and there, so on the way back, Beth will be riding her new one and I'll be riding my new one that she's been riding - oba!!!

Beth's new bike.jpg