Happinez: about letting go and arrive

Article published in the German mind style magazine Happinez, text Marietta Duscher-Miehlich and Sylvia Nause-Meier


Is there a place where our soul is reinventing itself? Where our view is more open? Ykje and Durk leave their lives behind in the Netherlands. They move with their sons to Portugal, to the quiet hilly countryside of the Algarve. They are considering the essentials: on themselves and the magic of nature.

There are moments when it just “clicks”. This was one of those: in the morning, in the softly curved green hills of the Serra de Monchique. The fragrance of the Eucalyptus trees competes with the wild Lavender, with Rockrose and Mimosa, with Rosemary.

The leaves of the olives shine like silver angels. On the trees oranges are shining. Surrounded by silence. Peaceful silence. Before our head could think at all, our heart had long said Yes to this wonderland, a few kilometers north of Lagos and Portimão, with its hotels, bars, souvenir shops and asphalt roads. Yes, here we wanted to make our dream of a holistic life come true: to live in a yurt. It is both a house and a tent at the same time, is easy to set up and transport. We would be well protected and yet in the middle of nature – with our sons Pier, Bjirk and Ave. But we could also move on at any time. After all, we did not know how it would feel. Will we endure? To want something and then actually do it – these are two different things …

More time, more peace

We were doing quite well. Both of us, as a scenographer and costume designer, had jobs in which we flourished, we had experienced success and confirmation. Two houses, two cars, chic vacation trips: we had everything we wanted. But the more we had, the more we realized that something important was missing. We wished for more time, more peace, more freedom. A feeling that grew stronger when the children came into the world. We had to decide. The two parties could not be reconciled. At least not for us. In the sunshine in this rural part of the Algarve our decision was made. We felt that we had to think again about the essentials: on us, on our children. Less possessions. Less stress. More autonomy. To rediscover and appreciate the simple things. The yurt should help us. Through the fabric planes we see the sun shimmer, hear frogs, birds, the rustling sound of leaves. The wooden floor flatters our bare feet. In the center stands a cast-iron wood-burning stove, the pipe of which rises through a small opening into the sky. An antique mirror chest of drawers, our beds, a few willow baskets. At the table we all meet again and again: eating, playing, talking. Living, reduced to the most necessary. We teach the children ourselves. Without compulsion, without pressure. Cooking and baking is done with the solar oven. We do not miss a TV: we prefer to be in movement.


Every day an adventure

Beyond this, the dream beaches seduce to bathe: Amado, Arrifana and Odeceixe. Soft, light sand. A fine spray curtain swings in the wind. We gradually understand the beach ABC, which is: in the west are rugged cliffs, mysterious grottoes, secluded rocky coves and wild waves. To the east, behind Faro, the beaches are endlessly wide with dunes, sandbanks and lagoons. The most popular flag of the European Union is fluttering over almost all: the blue one for clean water. Our three boys experience each day as a new adventure. In front of the yurt, their self-made swings hang in the trees: a rope, a branch as a crossbar – finished. They help to collect firewood. Crafting bracelets, climb, build a tree house. Or play with the donkeys.

From the art of contentment

We like this untroubled, friendly, helpful cooperation in the countryside. What counts is the Now; that one preserves the curiosity and joy of existence.

And in this grandiose nature! Anyone who has visited Ria Formosa will understand our enthusiasm: 18,000 hectares of marshes and watts, extensive lagoons, reed grasses and mussels fields characterize the national park. Home to 180 different bird species, including the very rare purple grouse, wild geese, flamingos, eagle and purple swamphen. There are also idyllic beaches. One moment: bathe in the national park ?! Correct. Here it is expressly allowed. Ferries with colorful pennants regularly sail from Olhao to the outlying islands – to Farol and Culatra.

Today the goal is no longer important, but the way

Later we sit in front of the yurt, see the twinkling starry sky. Crickets chirping. Three years have passed since that sunny morning. This enchanted Algarve has changed us. In the Netherlands we always felt tension somehow. We wanted to achieve this and that, we worked on it, we tried to make it happen. It is exhaustive.

Only in the Algarve we could let go; our gaze widened. More open. Everything we meet here is welcome. No longer the goal counts, but the way. How long will we stay? No idea. We have become balanced and relaxed. Satisfied. Because we have created a place where we love to be; where we discover nature. And ourselves – a miracle called life.


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