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Lainey's Vision in The Alpujarras

I have been leading holistic retreats or ‘soul journeys’ to the Alpujarras in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas, Andalucia, Spain since 2004. Wide open spaces, high mountains, beautiful light, wild flowers and the lack of pollution in this area particularly appeal to me. This area has a tangible energy, or what the Spaniards call ‘duende’ or spirit, which is peaceful and expansive. There are wonderful walks and hikes in the Sierras above, interesting local markets, and Granada, with the world famous Alhambra, only a 40-minute drive away.

Spain Landscape  

It has long been a dream of mine to own ‘a place in the sun’ - a holistic retreat in an idyllic and restful environment in nature, where small groups and/or individuals could gather to enjoy health and yoga breaks for rest and renewal. Combining this ideal location with my skills in teaching healthy lifestyles through exercise, yoga, great food, massages and pampering etc. is a passion which I already practice in the ‘soul journeys’ I offer.

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Somehow finances didn't really stretch to this dream of ownership until mid 2004 when a strong instinct took me to view land with a local agent. One of the properties was a small olive farm or finca of approximately 2 and a half acres situated 2k from the charming spa town of Lanjaron famous for its restorative healing water, and also near the centre where I presently run my ‘soul journeys’. On the land there was a ruin – an old stone ‘cortijo’ or farmhouse (ensuring planning approval), a spring, a sometimes running stream and six beautiful terraces of 72 mature olive trees. As I walked over the land a sense of deep peace and quiet filled me. Could this somehow be mine? With guidance and help a marvelous opportunity arose for me to raise the money to purchase this property. The deal was done! Since then my dream has gathered momentum and taken on an energy of its own.

With no habitable building on the farm (just the ruin) plus a depleted savings account, creative thinking was certainly needed. At this point the next step revealed itself. I was introduced to the concept of building something rather special - a yurt, which is the Turkish word meaning ‘home’.

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A Yurt is a circular domed ‘tent’ stretched around a wood paneled frame. Comfortable and spacious, in hot weather the central dome is left open to the sky, the so-called ‘eye of heaven’. At night one can see the moon and stars whilst lying in bed! The structure is large - almost 40 square meters with Galician pine flooring, windows of Moorish design and a stable door. Equipped with comfortable beds, solar electricity and solar shower, eco-friendly toilet, wooden floors, locally crafted rugs and all home comforts, although under canvas it is definitely not camping! Screened windows and doors also ensure a blissful night’s sleep.

Captivated with this concept of creating a unique and appealing space in nature for people to gather and enjoy, fate stepped in, in the guise of Tom Tom the local yurt builder. Cancelled order . . . quick decision . . . and the last available yurt for 2005 was mine! In June 05 my yurt was erected, beautiful and stylish with the dome peaking out above the olive trees.

It looks as if it has always been there. In addition a large deck with bamboo shade roof partially surrounding the yurt has been built, creating a tranquil outdoor area under the olive trees, perfect for morning and evening yoga and meditation and general relaxation.

To fully realise my vision of offering a beautiful ‘back to nature’ place, where small groups gather for holistic retreats of different types, more accommodation is needed. Two more yurts would be ideal. A swimming pool would also naturally be a complementary health and leisure feature. I hope to remain open and move forward mindfully. I am also receptive to ideas, sponsorship, energy and practical help from any who read and are inspired by this vision.

In September 2007 two small groups took place on my land. My own yurt and 2 yurts on my neighbours land provided accommodation for 4 participants. The neighbour's swimming pool provided great leisure and recreation - not to mention cooling down from the hot Andalucian sun. It was a very different experience from the larger groups which I normally run at a nearby centre. Greater intimacy and personal growth, also with the option of a detox retreat, is the theme for these smaller groups.

In July 2007 a lovely wooden cabin was built on the land, allowing for groups of up to 6 participants. These small groups are creating great interest and I look forward to the development of these mini-retreats.

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