What does a monk eat for breakfast?

Here in Namo Buddha a young prince broke the cycle of life and rebirth about six-thousand years ago. The ultimate act of kindness that led there was a special one: The prince fed his own body to a hungry tiger and her young to save them from starvation. That's what I call selfless.

The contrast between the high pace of Kathmandu and the tranquillity we've found on this hill couldn't be any bigger. Valleys full of rice patty's spread as far as the eye can see and when the clouds pull away for a moment the snowy peaks of the distant Himalayas show themselves. The air we breath here feels pure and clear, it feels like it cleans our lungs from the smoggy fumes of Kathmandu where wearing a mouth-cloth has become fashionable, they come in the most amazing variety of prints and colours.

Namo Buddha is characterized by the monastery that shines on the highest part of it's hill. Beautiful gilded rooftops contrast against the green valleys and dramatic cloudscapes. Tibetan prayer flags are everywhere. Not just a few here and there but literally thousands of them, guiding distant walkers to the sacred stupa.

When we heard about the possibility of staying at Thrangu Tashi Yangtse Monastery we jumped onto the bus. Nothing could tempt us more than tranquillity, nature and fresh air after two days of city-chaos. The four o'clock Puja ceremony is open for visitors and contrary to the expected serene mindfulness it's a cosy mess of ancient instruments, chanting, tea and cupcakes. This monastery is buzzing!

Guests get a small, tidy room and are invited to eat in the dining hall with the monks. For dinner: fried rice with vegetables and a bowl of soup. 

And for breakfast? White bread with peanut butter. Daar wordt je groot en sterk van, as we say in Dutch. With it we enjoyed a cup of salted butter tea. Apparently that helps to keep warm, something we can use after three months in sunny Africa...

 

Hout Bay and it's Market

So after our amazing weekend at Vortex Parallel Universe we've based ourselves in Hout Bay, a small harbour town on the other side of Table Mountain. Away from the crazy inner city life the inhabitants of Hout Bay seem to be enjoying living here a LOT!

The hospitality that we encountered all over South Africa also follows us here, at the time of writing we're lying in a beautiful double bed with en-suite bathroom, for free. 

Creative Hotspot

That Hout Bay is an artists paradise became clear to us when our host showed us around in The Workspace. The Workspace is an old industrial building where artists and craftsmen can rent a fully equipped workshop for a small fee. And fully equipped it is, there is a wood workshop, welding and metalworks can be done, there are tools to do jewellery, cabinets full of normal and power tools. This enables the artist to focus on the process of creation instead of spending money on tools that sometimes will be used only once or twice.

Apart from workplaces The Workspace has a Maker Library, expositions of work and an extremely inspired program where local kids can trade recyclable trash for use of a computer with internet. Creating Knowledge out of trash, amazing!

The best market we would ever see in our life

In the evening we were invited to go the the Bay Harbour Market, according to our host the best market we would ever see in our lives. We took this opportunity with both hands, we love markets and never say no to a local recommendation. This marked turned out to be half food and drinks and the other half crafts and fashion.  The foodcourt was centred by a podium on which a local band was playing. The different foods were incredible, some local or healthy, others exotic. Most was well prices and we indulged in nacho's, creative chillipoppers, an alcoholic ginger beer, a cheesy breadstick and a disappointing chocolate brownie.

The non-food section was a good mix of creative crafts, some re purposed woodwork, original clothing mixed in with a little bit of African bead work and other souvenirs. Most of these products quite painful in the wallet...

The market attracted a huge crowd on the Friday night we were there. Hout Bay locals, Capetonians from further away mixed with just a few tourists. This market seems to be a hidden treasure for marked lovers and we highly recommend it to anyone staying in Cape town for a while.

What's in our backpack?

Technology

Camping gear

  • Coleman Tent, 3 pers. Way to heavy to carry while hitch-hiking....
  • Two sleeping bags that zip together for cuddling comfort
  • 2 blow up mattresses
  • 1 Spork
  • No plates, cups or pots. In reality we are never away from other people that will lend us these things
  • 1 washing line, used once
  • 1 Leatherman knife. Beautiful tool, never used.
  • 1 Simple first aid kit. ( Plasters, bandages, pincer, ORS, Anti-diarrhoea, Antihistamines, alcohol wipes, paracetamol, throat pastilles, Altitude-sickness medicine because of Nepal, Arnica, Rescue remedy)
  • Needle and thread

Other things, collected in our "hippybag"

  • 1 pouch of herbal tobacco mixture, we gave up smoking in November but don't want to miss out on some of the more social smoking habits
  • Palo Santo 
  • Incense and an incense-holder
  • Pretty shells, rocks and crystals
  • Jewellery making stuff like copper wire, putty, cord, feathers and earring-hooks

 

Toiletries

  • 1 Travel toiletries bag for us together
  • 1 Razor
  • 2 toothbrushes
  • 1 full sized toothpaste, travel sized ones last about two weeks....
  • 1 bar of biodegradable soap for body, hair and face. We keep it in a zip lock and break off a little piece each time we shower.
  • 1 small deodorant by Weleda, alcohol based, these are smaller than gas powered ones.
  • Toothpicks
  • Cotton tips for ears, you can't go for long without these before you turn into a crusty dirty person.
  • Waterless hand wash, more often referred to as prprsshp
  • Safety pins

Office supplies

  • 20 sheets of Groeipapier
  • 1 Seeds for change stamp for making business cards
  • 1 Notebook and pen

Food Bag

  • This changes all the time but we try to keep a little of:
  • Dates
  • Oats
  • Fruits like banana's and apples
  • Tea, usually herbal and local. In South Africa we drank Moringa or Honeybush Sceletium
  • Nuts of any kind as healthy snack or for salads
  • Vegetables: Butternut and sweet potato. They last for a long time and combine with a lot of other things in delicious curry's
  • Canned chickpeas, for salad curry or humus
  • Superfoods like Spirulina, Chaga and Raw cacao to make healthy drinks, teas and smoothies.
  • Garam massala 
  • Some fresh seasonal vegetables

Job's clothes

The best invention of this trip is a roll up vacuum bag to keep clothes in, it compacts all of these clothes in a roll about 20 cm diameter that fits in the bottom compartment of my backpack.

  • 1 pair of shorts
  • 1 pair of harem-pants
  • 1 breathing long sleeve
  • 3 t-shirts
  • 2 tank tops
  • 1 wind stopper jacket
  • 5 pairs of underwear
  • 2 pairs of socks
  • Flip-flips
  • Low hiking shoes 
  • 1 All purpose piece of cloth, it functions as towel, shawl and picnic blanket. "Always know where your towel is."
  • hip pouch

Hannelore's clothes

  • 1 Bra, but two would've been better
  • 1 Bikini
  • 5 pairs of underwear
  • 2 pairs of socks, one would've been enough..
  • 1 pair of harem-pants
  • 1 short skirt
  • 1 long skirt
  • 1 dress/long shirt
  • 2 leggings
  • 2 tops
  • 1 T shirt
  • 1 sleeping shirt
  • 1 long-sleeve
  • 1 Warm jacket
  • Shawl
  • Flip flops
  • Hiking boots

 

Building a compost heap

While we were staying on the Heartland School of Self-Sufficiency in Knysna, South Africa we learned how to build a "hot compost heap". A heap like this is at least one cubic meter and consists of plants and manure. The resulting compost is perfect for making a raised bed for vegetable gardening.

Most people are familiar with "cold composting", in which leftover greens and garden cuttings are turned into valuable compost over a long period of time. This process takes at least six months and a downside is that any seeds that might be in there from composted weeds don't get destroyed and thus will germinate when you use the compost.

With "hot composting" you turn grass and manure in a rich healthy humus in just 18 days. The heat that is released in this process destroys pathogens from diseased plants as well as destroying any seeds.

The way Daniel told me to do it was as easy as this: Brown, Green, Manure, Activator.

Brown: Dry grass cuttings

Green: Fresh grass

Manure: We used pig manure but any kind of poop does the job

Activator: A plant called Comfrey layered thinly in between helps activation the bacterial processes.

Step 1

Start by raising the bottom of your heap a bit above the floor by laying down some sticks, it is important for the compost to have enough oxygen.

Step 2

Start with a thick layer of brown plant cuttings, at least 15 cm. Make sure it is not tightly compacted. Remember, airflow is vital!

Step 3

Add a decent layer of green plants

Step 4

Here come's the poop! Cover the grass with a spread of manure, a little bit everywhere.

Step 5

Rip up some comfey leaves and add them to your pile.

Repeat

Now repeat this process until your pile is at least 1 meter high, any lower and the temperature build up will not be enough.

Make sure you end with a thick layer of brown grass covering the whole heap.

Congratulations!

You've now built a compost heap!

In four days time, take a pitchfork and turn the whole thing inside out, then repeat that every two days until your heap reaches perfection at day 18.

For more information about this way of composting, have a look at this website.