Reviving Fund for the ALP!

€14,258 of €45,000 goal

Raised by 126 people in 4 months

We are Pete and Cynthia Bampton, the co-founders of the Awakened Life Project  in Portugal.  We had a vision 10 years ago to create Heaven on Earth and this vision has started to manifest not only with the amazing people that have joined us but the creation of what is now the physical heart of the project – Quinta da Mizarela.  We are located in the mountains of Central Portugal. If you would like to read more about us please click here to go to our website.

On Sunday Oct 15th over 200 fires were burning in Portugal.  One of those was a fire surrounding the Quinta.  We had threat of fire just 10 days earlier and that fire was almost out.  As the winds picked up the fire re-lit and the wind spread it very quickly.  Fire was everywhere, roads were closing, there were no planes or firemen as there were so many fires. We escaped with some belongings with members of the community to a small town about 40 minutes away where we again were surrounded by fire. The next morning the wind was mild. By the end of Monday we got message that the Quinta was on fire and very close to the buildings. By Monday night we heard the buildings were spared but there didn’t seem to be much hope for anything else. 


Below is a description Cynthia wrote on our community FB page:

« …These last days in all their intensity has brought so much to all of us. I have no words right now to describe what we have been through, the fear, the love, the togetherness, the pain, the relief, the sadness, the joy.

Today we went to the quinta. Pete and I were prepared for the worse as there is so much devastation everywhere. We knew the buildings were safe but we had no idea if they would be surrounded by blackened land.

We drove up the road, everything burned, the Quinta da Mizarela sign was burned, everything black. The caravans are gone, the bus and home of David and Raquel gone, firewood so neatly stacked just weeks ago gone, cork for our roof - gone, forest burned everywhere BUT then I heard some birds signing. We walked on the upper path by the caravans to prepare ourselves for the worse by looking down at the quinta. But we didn't see only black, we saw green! We saw colors of some of the big chestnut trees, we say sections of the valley floor unburned. I couldn't believe it.

We walked down the rest of the way, everything black on each side but when we got to the bottom so much was still beautiful. As we walked around it was very clear that much of this sacred place had been spared and there was also a lot to take in as so much of the land and structures are devasted.

A year or so ago Esteban and Adam made a big heart out of stone on the opposite side of the valley. We had forgotten about it as we couldn't see it anymore with the grass covering it. The grass burned and the heart re-emerged but even though the grass burned and was black all around the heart there is no blackness. I was speechless as it was obvious that we are blessed, deeply blessed by a higher force that wants this project to not only continue but to go to another level, to create an even more beautiful expression of Love, Intimacy, Truth and Commitment…. »

Much was spared and much was burned.  We are thrilled that some of the beauty survived and devastated by how much land was blackened.  Our hearts break as we see the once lush surroundings blackened.  We feel the pain of the land, the animals, the whole surrounding area.

In the end 3 caravans burned, many out buildings, a big deck, compost toilets, fences, solar hot water system, hydro system, cables for the solar system, hundreds of meters of tubes carrying water to the tank melted.  One of the ruins between complete buildings is at risk of collapsing as wooden beams burned.

At this point there is no power or water.  There are burned tools, broken bricks, burned metal from roofs, burned plastic from tubes, burned barrels.  The smell of burned compost, burned everything, ash is in the air.
It is very intense to experience all of this.   

Some of our residents lost their homes, tools, chain saws, food, wood burners, workshops, wood for construction, cork for roof insulation. The list is quite long.

We are asking for help to do the following

- Restore infrastructure to repair water and solar power systems
- Buy a new solar hot water system
- Buy a new hydro electric power system
- Build living quarters to replace yurts and caravans
- Replace tools that have been destroyed
- Replace 20 cubic meters of firewood needed for the winter
- Replace building materials lost in the fire
- Replace the burned irrigation system
- Hire the help we need to clear the forest of dead wood and reforest with fire resistant indigenous trees

We who have been through the fire are shocked and dealing with waves of sadness, fear, anger and grief.  This amazing place has been our home and given so much to so many who have visited.  

We as a community are challenged and stretched in ways we have never experienced and we are together in facing the financial and emotional situations that are arising.  

There is a lot to do so we ask for your financial help so we can get started. Any amount will be greatly appreciated and much needed. Sometimes people think 5 or 10 euros is not enough to bother with but it all adds up and any help is a gesture of support that is happily received.

Thank you very much and Love from,
Cynthia, Pete, and all the Awakened Life Project Family

This is a photo of the quinta a few years ago.  I can't find my harddrive with more recent photos but it's nice to see it green and flourishing as it will again. :)

What the quinta looks like now.

The ALP community members

Marco's caravan burned.

What's left of a caravan

The bottom of the valley

The 'Palace" which was the tool shed and also the donkey house.

David and Raquels home - the bus

Smoke as the fires started.

The fire came right up to all the buildings.  It was a miracle they survived.
What is left of the Bank of Mizarela - one of our compost toilets.
So strange to have the courtyard in tact even with a blooming rose!
Old donkey shed
The bus
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Hello Everyone,
Happy New Year! I hope 2018 will be an amazing year for everyone.

The situation here is we are kind of in damage control more then rebuilding mode.

The fires have taken away all the growth on the mountainsides and we are dealing with massive flooding almost every time it rains moderately. There are 3 watershed areas and this is where we are getting major waterfalls when it rains. There is nothing to stop the water so it rushes down the mountainsides eroding the land, taking out paths and flooding the valley below.

The track down to the buildings was badly damaged in one storm but since then we have been diligently cleaning out the trenches and adding new ones. In fact that is what we did again today! So even though there was another storm where we had a lot of water the track didn't sustain anymore damage so our efforts are paying off.

The garden below is washing away bit but bit so I am not sure what will be left in the Spring. We mostly have a variety of berries down there so I think they will survive. And the trees are holding their own.

Mud is everywhere and has gotten into the yurt a bit. I haven't been down there in a couple of days. I think I am avoiding it as there really isn't anything we can do other then take what we can out of the yurt.

It will be interesting to see what the landscape looks like when the rains stops in the Spring.

I have attached videos of the most recent storm on Dec 30th to give you an understanding of what I am talking about. And also a photo of Tux the cat happily cozy inside. So even though a lot is going on outside we are warm and cozy inside!

The hydro system is ready for pick up but because of the flooding situation it will be impossible to put it in until the Spring which is ok. It just means we are on very limited power using only the solar system. When there is little sun there is little power so we are supplementing with the generator when needed. Solar panels pick up some sun even in cloudy situations but it is not very much.

So really all we are doing now is cleaning trenches and monitoring the situation. Tomorrow we will put up some corrugated plastic on the yurt shower below which will help to keep the water and mud out. And we are taking the damaged plastic that burned on the shower and using it for keeping the water out of the wood shed. The wood shed lost a few planks of wood in the fire so this will help keep the wood dry. After that it is really just wait until Spring and see what is left.

Our lives have changed drastically since the fires. We are facing the reality of impermanence and insecurity as never before. It is becoming clear that it will take years to recover from what has happened. We grieve for the land, for lives lost, for the suffering of it all and we embrace what is on our plate. This project is about transformation and liberation so we continue to give ourselves to the process we find ourselves in and we will see where it will take us.

I have been alone here at the quinta for a few days as Pete is teaching the New Years Retreat. It has stretched me physically, emotionally and spiritually. I had a moment where I felt like I couldn't take anymore, that I was being broken and it was in this moment that I realized that Life was trying to break me and why not just allow myself to be broken? I understood that broken is not the same as collapsed, far from it. So I finally received more fully what was being given by this situation. The fear and anxiety, the deep ached that has been in my heart since Oct 15th faded to the background, and was replaced with a deep sense of peace and ease.

It was the next morning that the storm hit. Instead of being fearful I grabbed my phone and went outside to experience the power of nature in all it's glory and that is when I took the attached videos. In the last days I understand that the fear that is arising in me is really the fear of not knowing, not knowing what the water will do, not knowing how we will function in the next year, not knowing if I can physically live here, pretty much not knowing anything. And as insecure as this sometimes feels what is emerging is a blank slate of choice and potential and 'unstuckness' in all aspects.

I will keep the campaign open as some people have said they will donate later but for now I will put my attention elsewhere. One can only say so much about rain and trench digging!

Writing these updates has been like a therapy for me so thank you everyone for reading my words and responding with your comments.

And thank you for all of your love and support and we all wish you a very happy 2018!

Cynthia and Pete and the ALP Family
A view of the waterfalls from the storm
Water flowing on the valley floor
Tux cozy in his blanket
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Hello Everyone,
It is one week after a very big storm came through here. There was a lot of damage in the area but we were relatively lucky. We had waterfalls coming off the mountains in places we had never seen before. It was bringing down a lot of soil and rocks, breaking some of the stone walls. The mountains here are very rocky so we are not afraid of massive mudslides but it is possible for walls to give way. I've attached a couple of videos. A word of warning on one of them I sound very frightened and I was. I was filming as I was seeing the situation for the first time and I was frankly quite shocked as this has never happened before.

We ended up mud in the wood shed by the yurt, some walls came down, the veranda cover torn to pieces, a big limb of a bay tree broke off, some pines came down but didn't hit any buildings, the courtyard full of mud but other than that it was ok. The yurt crown cover blew off and some things got wet but not too bad. The stream that had been dry (and normally flowing this time of year) began to flow so now we can hear the beautiful sound of running water from every part of the quinta.

So now here we are one week later. It rained softly for a few days after the storm and the last days have been sunny and quite warm. We are getting about 4 hours of sun as we approach the solstice. It is very cold at night but the upside is clear, starry skies that seem almost unreal.

So the courtyard is cleaned up and we will have a women's group tomorrow. The women will come 1 hour early to give some help before we start the group. So that will be fantastic!

Sara from our community is here to help out and just to be with us and the place. It's amazing how just being together here (even though we don't always spend time together) is so soothing.

No rain scheduled for the next days and very little for the next week so this will give us time to put some log dams on the hillsides. I don't know if we will but we can think about it.

So in the meantime we are in retreat winter mode with the fire in the fireplace, cats snoozing in front of the fire and Sam the big dog joining us when he feels like it. He seems to enjoy sleeping on a bed of pine needles at the top of the track but when it gets too cold he gives his little bark at the front door to let us know he would like to join us inside. Don't worry he does have a regular bed up in the workshop so he is well taken care of.

So we wish you all a very happy holiday season. We are very grateful for all of you that have supported us through donations and loving messages, our beautiful family here, this stunning place and all the potential of what may happen in the coming days.

Big hugs to everyone!

Cynthia and Pete
Storm damage up by the buildings
Storm damage in the garden area
Fallen Bay Tree
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Dear Friends,
I haven't posted an update for quite a while. Part of that is due to bad internet connection and partly because it's been a difficult couple of weeks.

We are in the darkest time of the year as the soltice is on December 21. We only get about 3.5 hours of sun on the houses and solar panels so we have very limited power. The hydro system still hasn't arrived so we have to use the generator almost everyday when there are cloudy days and be very careful even when it's sunny. Just like the old days, it's like off-grid bootcamp.

The hydro should be available for pick up in a week or so. It will be a big job to lay the 250 meters of tubing, install the turbine at the bottom of the valley and run the cable up to the power shed which is high above. We have a couple people available to help with this when it arrives after the first of the year.

So there have been high points and low points since my last update.

One high point was that Pete and I were able to get away for a few days to a beautiful apartment of a friend near Lisbon. It was a relief to be by the ocean and to be in a safe, clean and beautiful space. Thank you Pedro for your generosity and care.

The day after we returned from Pedro's Filipa from our community came to be with us for a few days, not only to help on the land but just to support us with her presence.

We cut more dead brambles and broom down and added all of this to the burn pile that Edy and Pete had created. It's hard work as we are standing on a steep slope. I joked with Filipa as she did the jobs for a 35 year old and I did the jobs for a 59 year old with a bad knee. Teresa joined us for a while to help plant some oak trees and then went to make lunch. Pete and Ricardo were in another place on the mountainside cutting more trees down. All was going well until Teresa almost cut the tip of her thumb off and Filipa and Teresa were off to the hospital. For your information her thumb is now healing and all is well.

The next day Filipa and I tackled the big burn pile at the bottom of the valley. Rain was scheduled for the next day so we wanted to get as much done as we could before it rained. Filipa used a hand saw and cut small pines and broom up into manageable pieces and I moved them and took care of the burn pile. After 3 days of hard work we were ready for a day off.

There is so much to do it is quite overwhelming. And we are still dealing with the effects of the trauma from the fire. It's very strange as usually one can be overwhelmed and push through and function. The experience of many of us is the overwhelm comes and there just isn't a capacity to push through so one just stops. The mind also doesn't seem to function as well as it could as many of us find we can't remember words or what happened earlier in the day. Deep waves of sadness and grief continue to come and go and the only response is it one step at a time and give ourselves a lot of space to just be. There is a lot of fear and insecurity arising and we are all facing the impermanence of life as life is always changing even when we don't notice this truth. In the experience of the fire it brought home that everything can change in an instant, one minute life is like this and the next it drastically changes. It's not just the physical, all of us are changed by this event.

Sometimes it hard to remember what the area looked like before the fire and this is a bit strange. We see photos and are shocked at the difference as we are getting more and more used to the present situation.

This is a time for purification as our deepest fears arise and we make the choice to not deny what is happening while not indulging in the drama of the situation.

We had a women's group on Saturday and it was very beautiful to be with all the women of our community.

On Sunday night a big storm hit and this is one of downs that I mentioned at the beginning of this update. I will make a new update about the storm as I am limited on how many videos and photos I can post on each update.

So yes we are still here. It is 2 months today that the quinta burned. It seems like a lifetime!

We are grateful for the process that we are in. It is the most challenging time of my and Pete's lives and it is also pushing us to go deeper into the reality of what is and transcend attachments and ideas that cause us to suffer.

We are aware a healing is occurring. This knowing feels like it if far away much of the time as all the intensity of the situation is in the forefront but we are aware of this and that makes all the difference.

Thank you for your support and love. Please continue to share the campaign as this is helpful to us. There are a lot of people in need with the fires here and the fires in my American home in California. I feel for all of the people who are dealing with the grief and anxiety that fire provokes. Please send love and healing to all of them. Sometimes when we see things in the news it's easy to be distanced as it doesn't affect you personally. Many of our community recognized this in themselves until this place that they loved was burned. We all need to open our hearts no matter if we are affected or not. As we do this we feel the pain, but it is that willing to feel pain that opens ones heart and this is really what Life is about.

Cynthia and Pete

PS: I also attach a photo of some amazing cookies that Margarida (a member of our community) made with her sister. They made these and sold them as a fund raiser for the campaign. They sold out and people wanted more. All in all they made 258 euros! Thank you Margarida for your creativity!
Teresa, Filipa and Me on the Mountain
Filipa and Cynthia working on burn pile
Cookies made by Margarida & her Sister
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Hello Everyone,
It's Monday here which is known as the day of the wall as it is our major focus today and over the last 5 days as we were hoping the wall wouldn't collapse before Eusebio and his team came to take it down today.

At 7:55 they came and started chainsawing beams and taking down the shade structure between the ruin and the mediation room. Eusebio looked worried and that makes me worried as not much bothers him.

They put the scaffolding inside and started. We watched for a while and left to have breakfast. I have to say that I was eating while listening intently for the sound of falling rock but none came!

The have taken a lot of stone down and then the stone above the window which is also above the door that is already collapsing started to move a bit. They used a crowbar to pull in back and it held for that moment which was a good thing as I was in the courtyard filming. One of the guys looked at me and very gently let me know that I should move!

Later though part of it gave way and a bunch of stone came down. It's amazing how big and heavy these stones are. But the amount that came down was minimal compared to what could have happened so we feel very blessed.

So the stressful bit is over! These guys are courageous, they know what they are doing but it's still dangerous. They have all been here before as they have built many of the buildings over the last 10 years. I really enjoy having them here.

Also we have been put into contact with an organization that could help us financially to replace and reconstruct some of what was destroyed or damaged. Since the ruin is collapsing from fire damage and the caravans all burned in the fire there is an opportunity to not replace the caravans (for accommodation) and instead use the money to rebuild the ruin that is collapsing. This is fantastic as we wanted to renovate the back ruins for a while now. And the fire has proven that stone buildings are much more fire resistant then caravans so we prefer to put money into something that doesn't burn so easily.

Sometimes these programs end up sounding better then they are but we will apply and see what happens. I spoke with the woman Helena on the phone today and she seems very kind and easy to work with and also sounds like she knows what she is doing. So we shall see!

We also got the quote for the hydro turbine which is 1588 euros. We are making a transfer (thanks to your donations!) and they will have it shipped to Vigo Spain where we will pick it up once it arrives. It will be quite a job to install it as the cement base is damaged BUT the hydro and the installation can be included in the financial help I mentioned above. We do so much on volunteer basis that its nice to be able to pay someone to do these bigger jobs and this one in particular needs someone that knows what they are doing.

So today has been a very good day in the revitalization of the quinta! Thank you all for your love, support, money, sharing of the campaign.

We all feel like we are coming out of the fog of trauma which is a very good thing. I think the remedies from Frances is helping!

Love and gratitude to you all,
Cynthia, Pete, Alp Family
A view of the wall
The team saving the wall
View of the window that collapsed
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€14,258 of €45,000 goal

Raised by 126 people in 4 months
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