Into the Wild Algarve
Sept 2016 | Sofia Simeonidou
Sonya is a city girl who went south. A dreamer and a big believer in living in a sustainable way. Sonya doesn’t like humid houses, rude people, and greasy pans. She finds power and inspiration in May and middays. A stylist, a hairdresser, an inspirational cook, and most of all a sustainable living guru.
Who are you?
I follow my heart. I believe that if you set your mind on something and feel a big flow of inspiration, everything is possible. But you need this flow of inspiration. I’m a practical person, a dreamer, a bit of a romantic and an idealist. I don’t have answers straight away or strong opinions. I always look at both sides of the coin. If I have a good idea I make it work with my two hands, head and the people around me. I like people and I love the stories people tell me. I learn. I love freedom and being self-employed. I believe in self-responsibility, I like traveling, caring for people and nature, cooking.
When did you realise you wanted to become Sonya?
When I was in high school I changed the way I was writing my name: from Sonja to Sonya. It made me feel more special, not so common. I liked that. That’s when I decided who I am today I guess.
How many friends do you really have?
I believe I have 5 really good friends whom I can call in the middle of the night. Not sure if they will always pick up the phone though.
What do you eat on a daily basis? Are you a vegetarian?
Oat porridge, bread, cookies, fruit, vegetables, and grains. I avoid sugar. I try to replace white sugar with rice syrup or maple syrup (YUM!). I’m also a vegetarian. I don’t like meat, which is the main reason I don’t eat it. I can’t digest meat that well.
Visit my blog to see what’s cooking: http://www.foodoo.info/
All the choices I made were because of things I liked.
Not because of things I was good at.
Tell me about your working choices.
I was never a mathematical genious but I loved to draw, create, and design. All the choices I made were because of things I liked, not because of things I was good at. All the choices I made were from my heart and all came down to ‘designing’. Hairdressing, fashion styling, graphic design, cooking: are all very intuitive that need the right ingredients like color, shape and taste.
I want to know more about Into the wild Algarve. How did you guys choose this paradise?
This paradise was always there, we just had to imagine it the way we wanted. And we saw the potential and what this piece of land had to offer. So we rolled up our sleeves and worked to create our own little paradise in plain nature. It wasn’t always easy. We lived in the city for over 15 years. We were city people in the middle of a very rural, raw natural environment.
This last year we joined forces with another couple. And that’s how Into the wild Algarve was born; an off the grid, eco glamping. We created 3 private dwellings with their own private outside shower, dry toilet, and nicely decorated bell tents with comfortable beds. There’s a lake to swim in and a thousand billion stars to look at when the night falls, quiet and remote. Try to imagine.
Portugal was a lucky shot although after arriving we immediately knew this was the place for us. There is a big alternative community with many foreigners and local people trying to build or live another lifestyle.
I always felt a bit unsatisfied when living the city life. As a child, I always felt great compassion for the earth. I wrote poems on how I cried about trees and animals getting killed. I even asked to parent a foster child as a birthday present. When I got to know the DIY and permaculture movement I felt very inspired to try it out. After a point, I couldn’t be honest to myself anymore. I had to do something. So when Portugal came our way, it was time to practice what I preached. There’s no other way to live in a sustainable way. It’s logical to me and less harmful for all.
How is it to raise a family “in an open air dream place”?
I would say it’s fairly easy. We’re here 3 years now and we managed to create a nice home with just enough luxury to live a beautiful life. Think of electricity from the sun, running water from the wells, a hot shower in the winter.
We live outside for most of the day. My daughter is 6 years old and loves to explore, make which-brews, and swim in the lake. I love the sight of her running through the vegetable garden to show her dad a drawing she made. My son is 3 months old and naps in the open air. The summer heat is a challenge but we created nice shady places to chill and hang out from 12pm till 16pm.
I want to say that I’m thankful I can raise my kids here. There is zero sound pollution, only fresh air, wind, trees, and animals. I hope this upbringing gives them a piece of silence in their hearts that they can relate to when they grow up. I don’t want to alienate them from society (with ITWA they meet people from all over the world and they also visit the Netherlands often). I wish them to understand we are a part of this nature.
Challenges: before, after, and for the days to come.
Yes there are challenges. For instance coping with the summer heat, growing bigger organically, earning enough money to live nicely…also during the winter (laughing). We wish to make ITWA the place we dream it to be. Still lots to do to make it better.
What are the first 3 things you think about when you wake up in this paradise of a place?
Usually I feel and sense the smell of pine eucalyptus, and lavender; the silence, and the sun on a blue sky. Although lately it’s more like hearing my kids waking up, thinking of which tent I need to prepare, or what needs renovation (laughing).
What can a visitor expect when arriving at ITWA?
Nature, silence, frogs, smells of eucalyptus pine and lavender; a trillion stars up in the sky; hang out with other guests.
At our communal kitchen we organise pizza nights and diners with music from Dj Aardvarck. You should check the reviews at our Facebook or our Airbnb page! You are welcome!