Nance and me

by KalaLea on March 24, 2012 • Posted in News Personal Connections Travel

Hola WDIET Family! Hope you are feeling light and bright. The weather is smiling on ALL of us these days. Lovely.

I’ve been on the road for the past three weeks, hiking and swimming nearly every day after work exchange. Now I’m back in Salvador for just a few days until I make my way south to Itacaré to spend some time with a friend.

Let’s rewind to my last days at the farm in Seabra because I really want to share these notes and images with you.

Day 4: For the past four days I’ve been cooking like a base-head. Each morning, I look forward to Nance, the housekeeper and farmhand, coming by to sweep the grounds. With the help of the chickens and dogs, I awake at 6am to prepare breakfast for Nance and me. She is the first face I see on days when there is work. I am overjoyed after nearly 20 hours of alone-time. In my neon green composition notebook, I write questions then inquire as she eats. How do you say ..? What is the word for frog in Portuguese? How do you spell ..? She grins and chews then responds with the care of an elementary school teacher. Sapo is the word for frog. There is always one in the toilet when I use the bathroom. We eat, chew, and smile at each other. A spinach and potato omelet on Monday. Oatmeal with dried plums, walnuts and honey on Tuesday. A Cucumber, tomato salad with rice n’ beans on Wednesday. Once again, cooking has saved my life. Or at least that’s what it feels like. Nance has never eaten so well. We are both happy.

Day 5: Nance invited me to her house in the afternoon — a 45 minute walk from the farm. She thinks it’s bad (ruim) that I’m staying alone. She wonders why I don’t live at home with my mother. Her mother lives three minutes from her house and her mother-in-law lives next door. She has never lived any where else. Her hobbies include walking and buying products from Avon reps in the area.


Day 6: A change occurred in me last night. I no longer feel the desire to leave the farm. My routine is working. Make breakfast. Clean. Wash something (dishes, clothes, my hair). Read. Write. Prepare Lunch. Make Photos. Yoga. Practice Capoeira. Shower. Make dinner. Read. Write. Record a Video. Try to Sleep. Listen to Music. Sleep.


Why wasn’t taking a Portuguese class at a community college enough? What’s wrong with doing community gardening in Brooklyn? Why am I here in Bahia, Brazil?

1) to be warm — actually HOT!
2) to be closer to nature
3) to understand and learn to speak Brazilian Portuguese fluently
4) to learn how to grow fruits and veggies (and my own food)
5) to meet new people, visit new places
6) to write, make photos, share stories
7) to practice being self-reliant

Day 7: Despite feeling more at ease with my situation, I’ve decided to leave the farm today. I packed most of my things last night just in case João shows up for work today. I’m doing all of the above at a bare minimum and it’s not enough. I haven’t prepared our breakfast; there’s no time. Nance knows that I’m leaving; she is sweeping with her head hanging low. I called her over towards me and whispered (as if we’re indentured servents). There is a lot of food in the fridge; take it home with you today, okay. And more rice and beans in the cabinet. She has five kids; they eat rice, beans, farina, and meat for lunch and dinner every day. They have one loud-mouth dog, some chickens, and a feisty parrot. Nance won’t drink tea without lots of sugar in it and she has never eaten pizza in her forty-two years of living.


Love to you and your family!
Happy Spring.


p.s. Nance is pronounced Nan-cee. Most of the images were taken at her house or in the homes of her neighbors and family members. I posted the images of the farm grounds in the previous post, sozinha.

Fazenda Prato


My time alone was perfect. It’s amazing what a bit of silence will do for the mind and spirit. Giving thanks for being alive, for new experiences — fun and fresh, dull and lonesome alike.

One day while on the farm, a song by the Rolling Stones popped in my head. Listen and sing-along with me.

You can’t always get what you want but if you try sometimes you just may find … you get what you need.


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  1. j.R.

    It looks like a great place. Simple and serene. And the garden looks awesome from what I can see!

  2. Anny

    Beauty, I have a quote here from Rumi if I may…

    Loneliness and solitude are two different things. When you are lonely, it is easy to delude yourself into believing that you are on the right path. Solitude is better for us, as it means being alone without feeling lonely. But eventually it is best to find a person, the person who will be your mirror. Remember, only in another person’s heart can you truly see yourself and the presence of God within you.

    Great to remind yourself why you are there and not in your own neighborhood …. :-)

    Grace & Peace xxx

  3. Lauri

    The images you posted are a good reminder of how simply people live in other parts of the world and are happy. Americans have too much stuff. Don’t worry about the solitude, you will have lots of unbelievably wild and loud adventures on your journey, so enjoy the quiet time when it comes. How has the actual farming been for you?

  4. Paparoxi

    Thanks for sharing your experience. This is awesome. I cant really sense the energy and epic-ness of your trip from this post. Keep shining!

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