Los Portales is the last stop of my Andalucia tour and the first and only place where I will actually do some volunteering. My deal is to work at the finca for 3-4 hours in the morning and dedicate myself to my internet day job in the afternoon. That was my plan, but it turned out that neither the satellite-based internet, nor my health was up to scratch, so I ended up beginning my visit with a five-day flu break, during which my only contact with the outside world was the 5(!) meals per day and gathering wood for the oven in our shared volunteers accommodation.
At the beginning of the second week I was ready to be put into a team and help prepare olives for the mill
Los Portales are one of the oldest, longest standing communities in Spain, although they did start as an ‘intentional community’ rather than an eco village. The common thread is an interest in Jungian-psychology and interpretation of dreams. Over the last decade the project has taken on a more ecological vision and they now create most of their own electricity and food. (Self sufficiency used to be more of a necessity due to the very remote location rather than eco-motivated)
It is quite impressive to keep a community going for more than 30 years, with many of the original members still living and working here. A good governance system has been put in place, with roles assigned to various departments. The most important issue facing the community today is to attract younger members (not just temporary wwoofers). Although many children were born at Los Portales over the years, most of them seem to have left the community in their twenties. While I was one of the oldest people in all the other eco villages I visited, the higher average age at Los Portales meant I was one of the younger ones here.
Although I like fact that this community provides so much stability, I am personally missing a sense of pioneering spirit – it seems most problems have already been solved and most houses have been built. I would find it hard to think of new ideas to contribute to this very settled community.