Please forgive me for the long time it has been since I have written an update of my family's slow life!
Recently our days have been spent enjoying a new place in Australia - cleaning, painting, gardening, exploring and enjoying a country life. Pacha, Yani and
I now live in Ayr, in far north Queensland in Australia, where we will be based for the next year or two before returning to Ecuador. Ayr is a small town of about 10 000 people at the delta of a massive and bountiful river system (the Burdekin), about one hour south of Townsville. It is famous for its water sources, including underground water - that ensures the sugar cane, mango and other agricultural crops are successful. We are close (20km) to the sea and to the incredible Great Barrier Reef. It is hot and tropical at the moment - but we escape the worst of the heat sitting in a little wading pool in the shade. We are living in a slow, relaxed town where people have time to smile and time to talk about all kinds of things. You meet the same people most days and get to know your neighbours well (ours are very helpful too).
Despite living just 10 minutes walk to town, nature is deliciously abundant - every morning a chorus of Australian birds from Kookaburras to Cockatoos, in the afternoons groups of local geese fly over head. A lady down the road feeds the whistling kites (a special bird for me) and we can revel in 20 to 30 birds swooping to feed on the meat scraps she has for them each day. Pacha insists that we have a daily visit to a couple of horses 5 minutes down the road.
We live in a big old house with a huge backyard where we are slowly starting to transform into a permaculture garden. It is a place where we can be a little closer to a slow lifestyle despite being far away from the cloud forest in Ecuador. That's the main reason we have chosen to live here rather than the Gold Coast. My family, though a little further away, have already made plans to visit and we will visit them every few months too.
There are other reasons too. I would prefer to pay off a house that we will have as an option in the long term (even though it means going into debt with a bank for the first time in my life!). On the Gold Coast, we would only be able to rent a small, expensive flat to live in. And we love having our own place - knocking out walls and building decks and gardening to our hearts content and playing in a huge back yard! Because there is more 'time' in Ayr (no traffic jams, parking queues or other distractions) I hope soon to be able to help more with the ongoing projects and campaigns in Ecuador by email. (We are always in need of volunteers for the Cotacachi, El Milagro and other projects in Ecuador - the longer the better).
We have had a very busy time over the past two months. In January we joined the Peace Boat for a week from New Zealand to Sydney. Although I had been dreaming of
joining the Peace Boat for the past fifteen years, we had to cut the trip short because I was running as a candidate in a local election campaign. However,
during the week we were on board we had a great time and made many new friends. I think Pacha and Yani were more popular than me - there were very few other
children on board! Volunteers, workers and guests helped us so much looking after the children - so my fears of them falling over the side were unfounded. It
was also great to feel the Sloth network making links and connections with the Peace Boat - who seem to have a similar vision in many areas. I met many people who
had been inspired by Nakamura-san (who was an earlier leg of the same journey) and who were excited by the idea of having a regular Peace Boat day at Cafe Slow.
I couldn't help to mention again my idea of a weekly or fortnightly Slow Mother Club at Caf_ Slow - for Sloth minded Mothers to bring their children along to be looked after while they enjoy a Slow cup of organic coffeeÅcI am sure that one day this will happen!
Coming back to the Gold Coast after the Peace Boat, I had a few days before election day. I was the Greens party candidate for a local by-election in Currumbin (the place I grew up) raising environmental, participatory democracy and quality of life issues.
There were 14 candidates running in total that gave us an important opportunity to raise the profile of the Greens. The final result, thanks to wonderful support by other local Greens members, was that we came 3rd out of 14 candidates with around 12% of the vote going to us. We felt it was a fantastic outcome and reflects the shift in attitude of a growing number of people. I still feel it is vital for there to be a 'Green' choice for the public in every election - so am looking forward to running again sometime in the future.
So, that's more or less my update for the past few months. I am helping organise my Mother's art exhibition on the Gold Coast,that will be exciting and empowering for the local environment network. It is the first time she had an exhibition, despite wonderful talent and artwork for the past 45 years.
The theme of the exhibition is love for Life and Art and we will include mounted news clippings of some of our environmental campaigns over the years.
From around mid July this year Pacha, Yani and I plan to visit Japan once again. We will join the Global Citizen's Initiative at the Aichi Expo on August 1st and hope also to visit some other parts of Japan with music and inspiration. If you are interested in organising event, let the Sloth Club know!
Finally, let me know if you would like to visit Australia. I know it's not the same as Ecuador - but it is at least a little closer to Japan and there are amazingly beautiful natural places to visit. The alternative lifestyle here is well developed and very inspiring. Ayr, where I live, is an ideal place for an experience in a homestay, studying (Slow) English, or for helping design and create a magnificent permaculture garden - while being so close to the amazing wonder of the world, the Great Barrier Reef(and who knows how long it will still be here with the impact of global warming...).
I can't finish this report without expressing my joy and congratulations to Naoko and her family - the latest Sloth babies to be born. Life continues with exuberance and abundance!
Anja, Pacha and Yani