chaam uitzicht
Travel stories

Week 6 – Slowing down in Brabant

This weekend we were still in Boekel and on Saturday we helped out with plasterboard and door-frame combinations. When we left, we were given a jar of delicious homemade granola. We said goodbye and cycled on in the sunshine through North Brabant. While cycling, we also evaluated what we took away from 5 days of volunteering in Boekel. How does it fit in with the other initiatives we visited? What common theme are we beginning to notice (and is there one at all?). We can say a few things about it:

  • Because there is such intensive cooperation from the start, a community almost automatically develops. That is great to see, and is also experienced as valuable, for some it is even the main reason for wanting to live here. 
  • Helping to build it yourself results in cheaper housing and a lot of influence, but it also asks a lot from people. Because people are so involved in the Ecovillage, there is a risk that they ask too much of themselves for too long. 
  • Together seems to be a key concept that we keep coming across during our journey. Doing things together, with each other, with nature. But also together in the sense of trying to combine different aspects in one project. In the Ecovillage in Boekel, ecological homes are being built to avoid too much impact on the planet, but also because this ensures a healthier living environment. The focus is on affordability so that as many people as possible can participate, they think about growing their own food and of course they plan, work, build and live together. 

This week we also spent a lot of time in North-Brabant. Among other things, we cycled 40 km along a canal, which was a lot more fun than it might sound now because it was quite sheltered and no cars were driving. We spent the night in a beautiful hiker’s hut on a nature campsite in Chaam, where Pim’s mother even dropped by. 

In between, we made a quick visit to Antwerp to talk to Joren Hofman of the municipality of Antwerp in the New South district about the Circular South project (blog & podcast to follow, although it may take a while ;)). Our visit to Antwerp could not last too long because of the corona measures. So we went back to Brabant, finally with the wind (or almost a storm!) with us. What a relief!

We also went to the Efteling for the day, with friends who have a season ticket. It was the second day that the Efteling was open again and all indoor attractions were closed, but it was so nice to be able to do something like that again. It was very quiet so we could ride the roller coaster twice in a row. We really enjoyed it!

Now we are at another nature campsite, near Alphen. Because of the bad weather forecast for the Whitsun weekend, some places were cancelled and we now have a super-deluxe spot. The wind was very strong, so the tarp broke the first time we put it up… That is a pity, but fortunately it is still usable. Again a campsite on an estate, where we had a really nice walk on Friday night.

We do notice that it’s a lot, being on the road, volunteering, restlessness about following rules, interviews and blogs that need to be worked on, work that sometimes gets in the way… and still not really nice weather. So, coming week, we’ll take it easy and consider a new plan with (even) more rest/hiking/computer days, maybe staying in a hiker’s hut a bit more often and see if, when and how we will enter Germany. 

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