Living and working on an island, our Sardinian Workaway

After a good nights sleep on the ferry, we arrived in Cagliari the Sardinian capitol. Like always we visited the local market full of fresh fish, meat, bread, fruit and vegetables. The atmosphere is very relaxed.
We would stay just outside Cagliari for a week and than we would move to Crastu for our second Workaway.
In and around Cagliari there is plenty to see and do. Just outside the city there’s a huge colony of flamingos that come there to lay eggs. It’s quit impressive and there are also other interesting birds to watch like the spoonbill and bittern.
There’s also Monte Cresia Natural Reserve, a beautiful area in the Sardinian mountains where there are plenty of hiking possibilities.
And at the southeast side of the island there are beautiful beaches like Costa Rei.

Again some fishing was done and again it was a bit disappointing and again jumping tunas raised the adrenaline to higher levels. I had to find me a boat. First I asked a random guy who was doing some maintenance, he talked to the owner of the apartment who told me he knew a guy with a boat and before I knew it I was on a boat ready for action. I should mention that it was a huge sailboat, which isn’t the best choice when it comes to fishing for tuna (or sea bass or dorade or swordfish) but I might get lucky again with some fish that got close enough.
They didn’t, or not the ones I was fishing for anyway. I did spot a few dolphins very close to the boat, which is always a treat.
After a few hours of casting lures in every direction it was time to throw in the towel and to start fishing like the locals do.
I was instantly successful and caught a nice gurnard and lots of other bottom fish. At least I could bring home something to eat this time.

Fishing-wise the Mediterranean was a bit disappointing if you look at the actual results. On the other hand I learned that the potential of the Mediterranean is not to be underestimated.
If you can completely focus on fishing for a few weeks and have a boat to use where and whenever you want… I’m sure very cool things will happen. So, one thing’s for sure. I’ll be back to do some serious fishing.

After another week in an apartment at the seaside (Life’s a bitch, no?) we wanted something completely different. We already had a good Workaway experience, so we contacted Elias and Sara where some extra helping hands are much appreciated.
They live in a very rural part of the island with plenty of hiking possibilities. One afternoon we drove to the nearby Giari Di Gesturi, a natural reserve where you find wild horses that roam freely between the many fens and corktrees. The road from Villanova Tulo to Suelo is also an absolute must. In Villanova there’s a sign that says the road is closed, but just ignore that. The road is just fine except for the bridge of which a small part collapsed. The views are amazing. It’s one of the most beautiful roads we’ve driven on. It led us to Su Stampu de su Turrunu, another beautiful nature reserve where we hiked through the valley and hoped to find the treasure behind the waterfall. We didn’t. Now back to the real reason why we where in Crestu, Workaway.

Most of the time we pruned the eucalyptus trees and planted almonds, thyme and rosemary. But we also went out with Sara’s family to cut down trees in their family forest. Elias showed us how he washes, dries and mills grain that he uses to bake bread, pancakes, Moroccan breakfast cookies or to make polenta. Guust and Jule loved making dough or baking pancakes all by themselves. Sara is a weaver and beekeeper and she taught Jule and Katrien how to use the weaving loom and gave me some important insights on how to start keeping bees. Jep, you read well, next year we’ll be adding a swarm of bees to our family.

Our children were really happy. Jule loved the weaving and working in the field and Guust want’s to be a baker or a farmer now. Living a self-sustainable life in a small Sardinian village is very peaceful and fulfilling. It made us very happy and rich people. That’s because we only saw the romantic side of it. For Elias and Sara it’s very different. They miss the feeling of living in a community very hard. The village they live in was built by the government decades ago and was abandoned by most. Now there are only forty people living there and no children of the same age as Fabrizio and Julia, Sara and Elias’ children. Also, the revival of the village, which they hoped for, didn’t happen, so they feel very isolated. Now they are facing some necessary changes like moving to the seaside where there’s a better future for their children and themselves. It’s a difficult but brave decision and lots of questions remain unanswered. Who knows what the future will bring.

We often fantasize about how it would be to abandon our busy city life, quit our jobs and move to the Ardennes or even abroad to start a more sustainable and peaceful life in the countryside where we can grow our own vegetables, keep bees, pigs, chickens and a cow. We tend to see only the romantic part of it. But reality thought us that hard work and perseverance alone are not enough. There are plenty of other factors that influence your chance on success and happiness.
The key element is not to be afraid to make choices, even if they turn your life upside down and inside out. The road lies ahead and if you keep looking over your shoulder, you’ll only hit your head.

We had two Sardinian days left. We decided to drive to Bosa, a small and beautiful city in the north west of the island. From there we drove further north following the beautiful coastal road that lead us to Alghero where we only had lunch.

Our last stop was Porto Torres where we took the boat for Barcelona, Spain. The next episode of our adventure awaits us there, the Iberian Peninsula.

A special thanks for those who made our trip even more special;

We would like to thank Elias, Sara, Fabrizio and Julia for the wonderful stay at their house, casa verde. Strong and creative people with te hart in the right place.
May your dreams come true and maybe we see each other again.


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copy by Jan Bergs
pictures by Katrien de Troch, Studio Gloria

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