It is Good Friday (Sexta-feira Santa, Karfreitag) 2023 as I write this, the day where they killed Jesus. And like a crucifixion it felt indeed what happened here. A worthy scapegoat was chosen. I hope it was worth it.
After Jan’s heavy accident, when we came back to Graciosa and after some weeks (I remember it well, it was on my birthday in January) started to leave the house again (Jan had to stay completely in the Quinta, for there are no steps (or rocks) to climb to reach the bed or toilet) we managed to look after the clay house and his little garden again.
It hit us like a shock. The land owner had cleared a lot of the wild trees around the clay house! We were walking over bare rocks, the ugly electricity poles suddenly visible. Piles of burned and smoking wood around us everywhere, wasteland. I felt something in my psyche rip open. I´m sure Jan and I have spent a past life in the jungle together as carefree teenagers and here on Graciosa we were somehow linked to this time, and now we suddenly felt like these native people who are chased away from their jungle lands so that someone can create agricultural land there.
Jan´s little forest clearing was untouched, but things didn´t feel the same anymore. Through the much thinner layer of trees we could now very clearly see the lights of the village shining into the windows in the night. An unsafe feeling and unease crept into our sanctuary.
We spoke with the land owner several times. „Please, don´t cut the trees. See it from our side.“ „Please, don´t cut more trees. They are an essential part of what Jan was dreaming of, what he has built up here.“ The land owner assured us he would not cut more, he owned many hectares of land in different other places (we later even found out that he had bought the land that Jan had tried to buy in the beginning behind Jan´s back), he had just needed a bit more space for his new sweet potato field and other reasons, but in general laughed about our worries.
Jan told me that a man with whom he made good friendship here on Graciosa, a very spiritual man with a clear sight, had written him a long letter before Jan had started the building. To warn him to not make an alliance with this land owner. That he had betrayed others before him already. To not be too naive. Jan started to share more and more things that I felt he had kept bottled up deeply inside him, where the land owner had taken advantage of Jan, was bold and rude against him and tried to keep Jan down. I had witnessed it myself. Jan got a lot from these people, but he also had to swallow a lot for it and I never had the impression that they really understood him and his relationship to nature.
Nothing changed for the better. We witnessed lots of tension on the side of the land owners, life just happens. The wife´s father died (the Covid rules made it tenfold traumatic), she fell into chronic fatigue and lost her employment, the son got into troubles and some other things of bad fortune. They made some deal with people from the continent who have a very solitary house here on the island and who have a reputation as being extremely unpleasant characters, and built a big garage on their land for them, a stressful endeavor for everybody. I saw lots of anger in the man building up, depression and anxiety in the woman. We tried to restore some balance and offered our help, but mostly tried to stay out of the way and keep our life going after Jan´s accident, and other blows of fate, like my own father dying.
The land owner kept cutting a little bit here and there and started to plant bananas and fruit trees, but always assured us that this was it – until in March he made another big clearing action. He also planted some of these very spiky Azorian pineapple plants on one of the paths in Jan´s zone and installed a big gate for which he didn´t give Jan the key.
The tension between Jan and him was now really graspable, me and also the wife could almost not bear it anymore. It was like a silent fight, an unspoken discussion between the two men, a power struggle, a teasing how far he could step over Jan´s boundaries. It´s like a law of physics. The pressure must release at the softest, weakest spot. Like inflammation in a body or tension in a family or community.
I was urging Jan to really sit down with this man and have a serious talk. I couldn´t bear it anymore how Jan was obviously just swallowing and swallowing. I saw that he had given up his sanctuary and heart project already. I just couldn´t accept it. It was so painful to witness.
It ended up in a big explosion. A typical dynamic between an egocentric narcissist and a very empathic person. Jan showed the slightest emotions, demand to be seen and heard and sign of „it´s enough“… And the hell broke lose upon us. There was no room for a dialogue. First all the stored emotions were thrown out on Jan. He was suddenly responsible for everything that went wrong in these people´s lives the last months. Where Jan had helped, for example had tried to save the engine of the man´s boat and what stories he was suddenly drawing out.
Jan was also accused of having let other people (me) and Alet enter the place and sleep in the clay house, which he ostensibly was forbidden to do (I know firsthand that the man is still texting Alet… He was extremely pleased to get to know her back then… And to me he had even offered to use a room of his house as an office to work on the internet in the time when my (Ex)husband was occupying the Quinta). And other absurd stories.
The owners of the now finished big garage came suddenly into the picture, too (I suspect they had used the chance of Jan being out of the picture after his accident and poisoned these people´s minds in Jan´s absence. There was some strange interest in Jan from their side when he had just arrived on Graciosa) and we got an ultimatum. They were suddenly behaving like the owners of this place. For me it was the first real encounter with them. They named us a day where they would open the gate for us and gave us time until sunset. What we couldn´t take out of the clay house and garden until then they would keep. They treated us like some stranger idiots and worthless scum who will just draw in our horns and leave the country.
There was a real show down where I thought they will beat us up or provoke Jan into doing something stupid. My throat still gets tight and I feel dizzy after all these years when I think of that moment. I still cannot understand how Jan could keep up so much outside calm and willpower. They were also coming at me when I started to defend Jan verbally. It was a timeless moment. I felt like having stared the devil in the eye. Until then I had truly believed that there is something good in every person.
I could just be there, watching what they were doing. Like they had nailed my beloved Jan to the cross. This was what hell felt like.
I remember falling badly to the ground while working like crazy in the garden to dig out some of our beloved plants because I lost the feeling in my feet. Jan had to do the whole action on his still not entirely healed leg. But no mercy for us.
I thought this is it, how can somebody ingest so much hate and pain? Jan is gonna leave Graciosa for good.
While these people were literally staying for hours in the garden like prison guards watching every move of us, we ran back and forth to bring our possessions to the car, driving them up to the Quinta.
Suddenly we had an encounter that ripped us open again. A quite big fat super sweet Graciosa Senhora with an even sweeter tiny little dog, going for a walk down the path to the ocean that we have run down in the morning sun uncountable times. I cannot describe it in words, it was more this angelic feeling that was radiated in that meeting. She was so calm, so friendly, so innocent, so curious, just so happy about us being here on Graciosa. I knew she was heaven-sent. The forces were fighting for our souls.
We remembered… Nobody can steal our heart, our joy, our happiness, our feeling of being at home. Our love. For each other, for this island, for all the correct people here. For our way of living. For our vision for our future.
Jan and I had many conversations in the long hours, much processing, and we let go more and more. Shifted the energy during these hours. We could have tried to take down the roof tiles, the expensive rocket mass heater oven pipes, the big water tank. Jan had already started to empty it, which takes hours. Everything was full, also the pond, all wonderfully filled, we had waited almost a year for that. In the beginning Jan was even speaking about tearing the whole clay house down.
Now he closed the water tank. We came to an end, a few hours before sunset. We knew about the wealth we had inside our souls, which nobody can take from us. It will just naturally manifest in a new place from our energetic fields.
We tried our best to leave everything orderly and tidy, just a couple, moving together into a bigger place. A new chapter of life.
Jan would leave everything for these people. His young fruit trees he had all planted with his own hands, some of which where just starting to make the first blossoms. The dark rich fertile soil he had created. The unique view, the sound of the birds and the ocean.
In the end I held a peaceful ritual that would only allow people with good hearts and pure intentions to enter and enjoy the clay house and the harvest of the garden.
Part of me was still believing till the end that it was all just a big misunderstanding, that the people just had had too much stress recently, and we should have communicated in a better way, that we could maybe still talk it out (yes, I am also VERY naive), when after our last tour, having just unloaded the last things from the car in the Quinta, Jan received the final strike. A phone call, where he was accused of having stolen something and if he wouldn´t give „it“ back, they would send the police. After repeatedly asking for what they were asking for he just hung up with „then send the police!“ (they didn´t.)
I remember how the next day all we could do was drive down to the swimming place in Carapacho. It was beautiful weather, and we just dragged ourselves down and lay in the sun for hours in some strange half-conscious state. Like two badly beaten up people. We couldn´t make it into the water. We felt cold to the bones. We had no energy for even talking. We just lay there, with deep invisible wounds and tortured souls. Cast out of the Garden of Eden.
Trying to find the energy to drive back up to the Quinta. We had to take care of the plants so they would survive. Jan´s Moringa tree unfortunately was a casualty to this war.
The next week, we were fasting for some days and performing a deep cleanse with herbal remedies, we passed by the place and saw that part of the wall had come down. The man had been so worried that people could spot the clay house and he could get trouble (then why did he cut the trees around it?..) and now it felt like in the story after Jesus‘ unjust crucifixion, the curtains of the temple had been ripped open by an invisible force for everybody to see the holy room. I still get a chill when I remember it.
We still had some trials before us. The man was blackmailing Jan and playing dirty games. It was about the small solar panel that Jan was using on his sailing boat Henrietta for over a year already to keep the bilge pump running. This was the thing that he claimed Jan had stolen. The truth is that it was a super old thing that a mutual friend from Graciosa, an old french lady and former sailor, had just lying around at her place and asked the man if he could make use of it. Which he couldn´t, his fishing boat relies completely on diesel. So she gave it to Jan to use while Henrietta was being unused for a few years. I heard her confirm it on the phone (she was unfortunately in France in this moment for some months).
Now the man didn´t hand out Jan´s sails (worth around 10.000€) that he had stored for Jan. It just brought more pain, difficulties and stress for us, he asked for a ridiculous exchange via a third person, etc. Jan and I were really speaking about going to the police now. In the end Jan got his sails back.
I can just see so much egoism, greed, pride, jealousy and incapability for honest and open communication, not to say deceit, sadism and racism that we had to face.
Yes, we have to be careful when we step out into the big world. Flying high demands also solid grounding, newly born precious dreams safe guarding, for predators sniff out their victims 10km against the wind.
After layer after layer of the physical shock fell from us over the months and people (also someone who works at the court) who heard the story gave us their honest feedback, we went through regret that we let these people get away so unscathed with what they have done to us, what this has cost us on so many levels (by far not only the several thousands of Euros that Jan had put into the house, the pond, the garden..). We are also surprised and disappointed that so many people heard from it, also direct neighbors and relatives from this family who were clearly sympathizing with us, but nobody was stepping in for us and confronting them, setting limits.
Still, I feel in the end, this family has hurt themselves way way deeper than they have hurt us. I feel that this was an enormous sacrifice and loss. For them. May this sacrifice have given them something that they were so hoping for.
I don´t know if this story is entirely over. I know for certain that this was a huge wake up call for us. We have better instincts, we are nowadays very diligent with paperwork and only surrounded by good people (no matter what nationality) with who we can communicate on eye level, who are honest with us and respect us. We definitely know our worth more and embody much more respect for our boundaries. We don´t give our help and friendship lightly anymore, but who has earned our trust, there we are building flourishing and for all sides beneficial relations on this island and beyond.
We painfully miss the clay house and the little sanctuary, but we look back with so much gratitude in our hearts to have been allowed to experience this. Transformed pain and grief will finally turn into the soil for even greater creativity. If the Universe takes something precious from us, then only to purify us and bring us even more into alignment with our true soul path. Because there is something far better meant for us.
So finally, our „Quinta Cheia“ was born. We are now putting all our love and strengths into our own place. I know, we are guided and this is just the beginning.
Naiveté is not knowing anything and being attracted to the good. Innocence is knowing everything, and still being attracted to the good.~Clarissa Pinkola-Estes