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'The Arsehole of the World" Is a Dreamy Spanish Eco-Village Where Ex-Pat Hippies Live

  1. Beenthere2Hippie
    "Welcome to the arsehole of the world," says Robert* as we row down the Guadiana River in a little dinghy toward his farm. He's in his late 40s, wearing a faded black wife-beater and dark sunglasses, with graying Elvis sideburns and half a cigarette hanging out of his mouth.

    I look around and see eucalyptus trees lining the bank of the river, rolling hills surrounding white-wall and orange-roof villages. Portugal on one side, Spain on the other. Blue skies, nearly 100 degrees. It's a pretty nice looking arsehole, really, but it's smack in the middle of nowhere. Just two little villages on either side of the river and a lot of disused land around them.

    Robert has had an exciting life so far. He's been through the squat and free party scene in London in the late 1980s, done the rock-n-roll thing with a German punk band, hung with Fela Kuti in the Kalkuta Republic, ran hash from Lebanon into Israeli Kibbitzim, and now he's here in Sanlucar de Guadiana in Andalusia, Spain—population: 500—a haven for British expats.

    Spain in general is popular among UK residents looking for an escape. There are an estimated one million British citizens living in the country, mostly centered around Valencia, Malaga, Marbella, Torremolinos—places where you can get Heinz Beans for breakfast and no one bats an eyelid at socks-in-sandals. They buy their villas, sit on the beach, go shopping, and play golf. But the little expat community in Sanlucar is a different scene altogether.


    Drift down the river and you'll see them on the banks: topless in straw hats, hunched over veg-plots, herding sheep, or sanding timber, all tending to their fincas—small farms built on disused land. They grow fruit and vegetables, keep livestock, and build their own houses.

    It might sound simple enough—move onto a piece of land, build a house, farm crops, keep a few animals—but to a useless Digital Age kid like me, raised in an economy where those fundamental human skills are superfluous and long forgotten, these people are courageous.

    The finca I stayed on was almost self-sufficient. The residents grow most of their own food, and keep chickens and a few sheep for meat. They generate all their electricity from solar panels and wind generators. A simple irrigation system pumps water up from the river, and everything that drains from the shower or the sink goes to the plants and the fruit trees.

    I've been to a few eco-villages in the UK, and none of them have it half as good as these guys. Try to live off the land in the English climate, and you inevitably spend most of the year collecting wood for warmth in the winter, then most of winter cursing the fact that you're sleeping in a shed made of recycled Jewson palettes instead of an electrically-heated and professionally-insulated house. Or you're fighting bailiffs.

    Over in Spain they have cheap land, planning permission, and can grow their own weed. They're laughing.

    "Back at home, you can't cut down a tree, you can't even paint your house without the authorities and their paperwork," says Peggy. "We're secluded here, we can do what we like."




    By Tim Romain - Vice/Aug. 26, 2015
    http://www.vice.com/read/british-expat-hippies-working-the-land-in-spain-894
    Newshawk Crew

    Author Bio

    Beenthere2Hippie
    BT2H is a retired news editor and writer from the NYC area who, for health reasons, retired to a southern US state early, and where BT2H continues to write and to post drug-related news to DF.

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