If you zoom in to the giant country that is Brazil, nestled in the mountains between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro you’ll find the tiny town of Bairro do Monjolo (closest town to that is Cunha). The locals here speak a country version of Portuguese that even the Brazilian city folk struggle to understand.
So how did we end up in this random, off the beaten-path spot in the countryside of Brazil?
We choose to spend the last two weeks of our year long adventure with 8 other travelers volunteering at the Source Temple.
Crew of awesome volunteers from all around the world
And you could say our time at Source Temple was a unique way to close our journey…
Source Temple has about 40 residents from all over the world, the main language spoken is English, and everyone is here because they follow a spiritual teaching called “A Course in Miracles”. The environment is very peaceful and the people extremely welcoming, their goal in life is to cultivate true and meaningful relationships.
Magical sunsets at Source Temple
In our short time here, we noticed some details that made Source Temple a rare experience for us. The residents have interesting ways of expressing themselves, for example saying “Thank You” under their breath in almost every conversation you have with them.
They like to give very long hugs at all times of the day. Everyone that joins the community chooses their own new name, some of my favorites being Beloved, Phoenix, and Freedom. Residents have small houses and switch every few months to avoid getting attached to unnecessary things.
They also believe in Karma Yoga which is the process of achieving perfection through selfless action. So that’s where our jobs came in. Our days were spent alongside the residents and other volunteers doing 4 hours of hard work (karma yoga) in the mornings followed by a delicious vegetarian lunch (chopped by volunteers & cooked by ST residents) then lots of time to chill.
The early morning walk to our jobs for that day
After our morning duties were fulfilled, many of the residents would fill their afternoons with prayer, meditation, and yoga while the volunteers went hiking, swimming in local waterfalls, sometimes exercising and if not hanging in hammocks.
Awesome Vaughn (from NZ) after a refreshing dip in the waterfall
With the inspiring Sarah and Vaughn (couple in their 50’s decided to travel the world! See their blog) exploring waterfalls near ST
Andres has never met a waterfall he didn’t swim in
When we finally made it to the top of this hike we noticed the dark clouds rolling in towards us and ended up getting soaked by the rain storm!
Oh yea, there was that one Friday night we drank (too many) caipirinhas at the local bar and danced samba with the villagers.
Getting wild at the town bar
There were some awesome perks to volunteering here. In past volunteering experiences we were usually sharing a room with all the other volunteers, in our sleeping bags on the floor. But here as a couple we had our own room! With a real bed!
Most of the bathrooms at ST were split, one for pee and another for poo. Yes you have to somehow train your mind to make it work. Lucky us, you were allowed to do both in the toilet at our room
Andres and I woke up for free yoga almost every morning at 5am! The best part was seeing the stars and the warm fresh bread ready for us to eat with butter and guava jelly. The bread was so freaking good.
Learning to make the amazing bread
Our house was situated near one of local villagers, Jilmar, who had horses, dogs, cows, and my favorite, a goat! Every time we walked back to our room there was always a new animal waiting for us. And at night on our walk home was always guided by fireflies lighting the way.
Junior, the crazy baby goat
Typical afternoon surrounded by Jilmar’s horses on a walk back to our room
Junior playing with my boots
Junior hiding from the rain and pooping all over our shoe rack
A 1 day old baby horse!!
Like in every experience there are good takeaways and learning moments. Unfortunately I can’t say I loved everything about Source Temple. The men’s jobs consisted of gardening, lawn mowing, and carpentry. Andres learnt how to build windows, doors and use the infamous rosadera.
Andres proudly working the dreaded rosadera
On the other hand, the women were always cleaning toilets, organizing houses, chopping veggies, or raking. I spent many days raking leaves for 4 hours non-stop. I don’t mind these tasks at all, but was more bothered by the stark division between jobs assigned to men versus women.
Getting ready to rake leaves for 4 hours
My favorite day was when I had to clean the lavender bush
It took some time for us to adapt to the different lifestyle we discovered at Source Temple. We faced certain barriers in connecting with people throughout this trip which is common in any new situation. Most times it was language and we had to get creative with our communication!
But our time at Source Temple was different. Because here instead of language being an obstacle, our specific purpose of being in this place had core differences. The residents are seeking to delve further into their unique spiritual practice while the volunteers were mostly looking for a travel break, a way to save money, and an opportunity to connect with other like minded travelers.
In the end, we connected much more with the volunteers than with the residents. I guess you can never truly predict what life moments will bring us closer together with people. Just another beautiful lesson learned on the road of adventure.
Celebrating our 3 year wedding anniversary with wildflowers