“Anyone who genuinely and consistently with both hands looks for something, will find it. In each moment the fire rages, it will burn away a hundred veils. And carry you a thousand steps toward your goal” Rumi
Life after the fire was undeniably difficult. It was difficult to live day to day in a space that reminds you by sight and smell of what you had and what was lost. It was difficult to know what the future would hold; would the community and the magic that existed before the fire come back? Or would it be lost to memory. It was difficult to navigate a forest that had altered so much in appearance that it was difficult to recognize in parts. I cannot imagine how difficult it was for Sofee to stay alone in the caravan in this environment in the early stages of growing a little bean inside her belly. It was surreal to welcome rabbit back to London with only the clothes on his back and I felt so silly when I asked him “where is your bag?” (the fire..duh)
However, since these first difficult moments, the community of Monchique and the Toca Do Coelho family encountered so many kind souls seeking to support those who had been affected by the wildfire back in August. These beautiful souls donated in so many ways. Some financially, some physically but most spiritually and mentally sending love and energy to give hope that Toca is not just a house that burnt down, or a land that was charred, but an international community of energy that thrives despite tragic loss.
One of these incredible souls was a man who came from Germany knowing only that a fire had struck, a house was lost and his aim was to do what he could to start to rebuild a home for those (who he did not yet know) who had suffered. Upon arrival, he found a community of very confused people, some with tears in their eyes, wandering around a mountain that still smelled of fire and yet, despite this sorry scene, he stayed.
I last visited Toca on the day that he arrived and I must say that I was one of those lost and worried people, sad and confused about what the future would bring for Toca. I left wondering what would happen next and admittedly, fearful about how drastically the place I loved would change.
Four months later, I arrived on the day that Fabian was leaving; passing like ships in the night.
The place I returned to was, to my absolute delight, totally different than those tragedy stained scenes and in a way, it was not different at all. It was like going back in time to before the fire in some fleeting moments!
In four months, an almost finished new house stands proudly in the arms of one of our remaining cork trees. Many new and smiling faces greeted me, and the only tears I see are those of laughter at Rabbit when, sitting around the fire, he launches into a loud and raucous rendition of “I’ve got a horse outside” (google it)
Since then it has been a constant flow of understanding what Toca is after the fire. Without a house for everyone to sleep together in, without a decking to do yoga on or many of the plants we used to sustain ourselves before the fire and currently without the two people who were a constant every time I had visited Toca in the past.
What I have come to understand (knowing full well that this is still a journey with potentially many twists and turns) is that Toca is magic. Yes ok, we all knew toca was magic probably from day one. However, this magic is created not only from the mystical happenings and miraculous moments. This magic is formed of the strength of an idea. It is a character that belongs to a land that does not fade even when all the other physical elements do. It is a concept that brings people from all over the world to come and stay at a place where the reception is “Hello, we lost everything in a fire last August but if you’re up for staying in a tent and building things, we’re really happy to have you!” (Even if you don’t feel like building things you’re welcome too ;))
Actually we’ve been busy doing much more than building. We’ve been planting all sorts of wonderful trees and plants. We have a nursery for all the beautiful baby sprogs. We have a magnolia tree called Gail. We have discussions about the difference between a vagina and a vulva (again, google it) We play endless games, eat delicious food and we have a LOT of excitement about the coming bunny who will return to us later in spring…! Since I’ve been here already we have welcomed incredibly inspiring people bringing banging poetry from New Zealand, Lemons from Tavira, Dragon Dreaming from Belgium, Another New Zealander who brought with her Virginia Wolf and a Chinese medicine man from London who brought us the delights of home made soda and the art of foraging, a Canadian-Israeli Goddess of Goats AND ***pause for breath here*** most recently a gorgeous couple from Germany who braved the sun and were the first this year to hike 3 hours from Monchique to Toca to join us in putting finishing touches on the cob house and transplant our baby plants from nursery to pot!
Horable mention to the incredibly community of Monchiqueros who we see on a pretty regular basis for pizza parties too 😉 nothing can defeat these powerful peeps. Also special mention to Martinho the Portuguese wizard of weaving
Currently we have five crazy dogs including Anu, Yuki, a lion, a bear and a wolf. Twins is still queen of the castle. In human terms we have four beautiful souls staying long term at Toca, one French tree-climbing magician, one Portuguese smoky-toned singing fairy, one Australian who has the ability to open her heart and bring people in with incredible ease and me, a former London city girl whose life was changed forever when she found Toca Do Coehlo.
Oh damn, I realize this ended like a Carry Bradshaw article. OK, off to roll in some mud. Come and visit us soon! Lots of love,
The Toca Family <3
Written by Lizi Fleur on the night of the spring equinox and full moon.
Posted moments before we form a women’s circle to send energies to Sofee and rabbit for a safe healthy and extatic birth of their little bunny.