We spent a weekend in the Sierra Maestra project, a place that invites you to heal the soul in connection with nature and the teachings that the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta (SNSM) brings.

Since we arrived in Colombia, every day new people with an interesting story to tell cross paths in our adventure. But last weekend, meeting and sharing a home with the family of Sierra Maestra has been especially inspiring and beautiful for us. What is Sierra Maestra? Join us in this journey to discover it.

PERSEVERANCE: that’s what is most required to find balance in nature“.

Leandro, neighbor of Sierra Maestra

Sierra Maestra is a project of life and decision that we took three years ago, when we as partners and teamwork, thought to take advantage of the process of building our home to teach about bio-construction and permaculture”. She is Zara, who together with her husband Juan and their little son Andrei, share and live in a community with other four families in a five-hectare nature reserve at the foothills of the SNSM.

Zara is also an integral therapist and psychologist with experience in herbal medicine, group work, art and theater, therefore, one of the main objectives of Sierra Maestra is “to offer a place where people who are in a spiritual search, in a healing process” or just looking for a simple rest, can find support or guidance “to process some emotion” at the time that enjoys all the possibilities that SNSM offers.

In a colorful tour around their garden, Zara and Juan explained to us all the crops they grow, since one of their bases, like permaculture, is food self-sustainability, always in accordance with the crop cycles that the land needs. “When one lives in this way, learn how to conserve the food in different ways in order to have a stock and ensure a good diet”, Juan explains. Even it’s not easy to live 100% from a garden, their objective is to keep increasing food safety and self-sufficiency. “The food that we do not produce, we exchange or buy it with a nearby producer to strengthen a local economy, which is more important than buying it in a supermarket”, he says.

As the food, they built all their home with bio-construction technics, which means that “all the materials come directly from the earth and under the condition that you do not move too much for those materials and no fossil fuels are used in those displacements”, Juan says. 

From the official side, biocunstruction was dismissed as dangerous, not very durable or poor. According to Juan, “this was spread because it has no commercial benefit in the system. You don’t need to go and buy a kilo of clay to make a block, you just need to work it. And in capitalist terms, it has no social benefit either because if you don’t consume you are not a profitable member of society”. 

But as their neighbor Leandro explained to us, living in nature is something that requires a lot of perseverance and SNSM is not an easy environment for the newcomer, who has to get used to the wet winter weather, insects and animals. So why did they choose this lifestyle? We wanted to know more what’s their vision.

“We chose this more self-sustainable way of living because we were tired of the dynamics of the city: working long hours without a project that was meaningful to our life”, Juan explains. Living in the countryside was always an ideal for them, but Zara adds that for her that’s just a return, a reconnection. She explains that living in the countryside is a choice that her parents had already made, “so I always saw this as a return, obviously with different tools that are provided by education in the city, which all girls and boys from the countryside should have the opportunity too: To be able to get the awareness that the training in the city gives you to return to strengthen and improve the quality of life in the countryside”, she states.

As Juan describes, the system is designed to produce and get aligned “in things that are not really very important, like making money, and it makes people forget about their capabilities and strengths. There will be people who feel fulfilled in that lifestyle, and that’s not bad, but the vast majority do not feel good there”.  Everyone must find their own way of living well but definitely, we would have a healthier society if people started to look “more for their happiness, rather than just job or career fulfillment”, Juan declares.

For their part, the Sierra Maestra family found that in a way of living, sharing and learning more connected and respectful to nature together with the holistic healing vision. They are just amazing. If one day you have the opportunity to meet them, do not hesitate to do so, because the experience is well worth it.