How do you sell a dream?
My dream, which has already touched so many people.
The smiles, the tears, the laughter, the surprises. As you may see on this photo?
The beautiful and tranquil nature in which it is set?
The adventures and quirky stories that it is about?
The treasures – metaphors or real, that you hunt?
The fun and transformation it offers?
The kids, the parents, the teachers, the company teams that it is for?
Jumping into the unknown, quitting finance, moving countries and dragging my family along, buying a stone ruin, not knowing how to proceed and whether it will succeed?
The dream of transforming a forsaken vineyard into a lush green beauty, and the effervescence in the Cava it is turned into, igniting all your senses for the first time?
And all the endless secrets this land and my creativity can still conjure up.
I am asking you all. What is your advice to me?
#Barcelona #ElVendrell #Lumiarquest #dreams #treasurehunt #teambuilding #transformation #fun #nature #tranquility #experiences
Or what about life after?
This is a question that’s been bothering me for some time now. I’m not reading or watching too much to keep me sane, but I haven’t yet seen the practical blueprint of how we are going to live in the following weeks and months when quarantine rules are to be eased or lifted. Of course we will have the example of China, yet I’m asking the question from the point of view of the western and say democratic societies. Because we are very different. I’ve seen an economic forecast of when things could normalise, yet that’s not what I’m looking for.
My question centres around this: what about the things that make us human? The connections. The experiences. The freedom to roam. To play. To live. To disconnect.
We will not be confined to our rooms and or prescribed shopping routes and wearing masks and gloves forever for sure. Can you imagine kissing in a mask??
Of course I am writing this ‘ceteris paribus’, akin to ‘as is’. If there is a vaccine developed, or a cure discovered, the virus retracting or dying on its own, we can throw out these questions because it becomes a matter of a short time before we can enjoy all these things again.
Until then I want to find the answers to the questions above. I want to see what I am living for.
The way I see it, the quarantines and social distancing serve to slow down the spread but not to kill the virus. It will then live among us and people will continue to catch it until we become immune to it. The moment we reopen schools, small kids will definitely touch dirty surfaces, then their faces and so on. This is something we can’t switch off in them just like that. Or am I wrong?
And I’m thinking not just about the elderly, but those many young people full of life who fall into the ‘in danger’ category. One of my closest friends for example, how will he go out to the street, get to a lake or a sea and hoist the colours (sail)?
Or my favourite: will I mark whose tennis ball is whose to ensure only I touch mine?
Surely we humans are about more than just work to pay the roof and food, to sleep and to get hooked on everything digital.
I’ve heard someone say the cure mustn’t be worse than the disease itself.
What will life look like to you in the near future? What questions you asking about the future?
I am curious. For all our sake as humans.
#future #coronavirus #covid-19 #powerful questions #sport #outdoor #health #humanity #purpose
It’s been a while since I wrote a blog post. So many things have happened.
I’ve organised a treasure hunt in the land, it was great fun, the participants kept changing till the last minute and I mean literally the last minute. But it happened and has provided me with great feedback. One step closer to the destination (which of course keeps moving all the time).
I had to stop with the grapes. Until I get the zillionth permit. It turns out getting 1 permit to plant grapes in a plot specified with mathematical precision doesn’t allow me to prepare the very same land for plantation. That second permit requires consultation with 4 governmental agencies. But nevertheless, this is only timing. It’s happening. And because of this, instead of planting grapes, we pulled up the collapsed stone wall of the masia to great heights largely in a week with my parents. First time in our lives, and we all have enjoyed it. Putting the stones above each other, trying to find the right ones, making them secure, following the pattern of how the rest was built and so on. Now I know that I want to do the renovation myself (with the help of others but not by a construction company) because I’ll have the time, patience and the much-desired precision to build with stones. (these renovations nowadays use bricks, and we’re only cheating with a stone cladding to make it look like a stone house. That looks much nicer than brick, too, but I’ve realised it wasn’t for me).
Another great thing is I’ve been put in touch with the original owner’s descendant. Hopefully we meet this week, and he’ll have a lot to tell. Many hunters and passers-by have known them or have seen them. Everyone tells me a part of the story. That there were olives, what kind of grapes, they kept sheep (and you always learn something new: the plural form of sheep is sheep and not sheeps. I didn’t know this), and that they have seen the wall before it collapsed a long time ago. It’s all history and I want to incorporate as much as it fits into the renovation and its life afterwards.
We have started tending to olive and carob trees, and the energy they show is lively. The carob tree that has been pruned (maybe first time in 30-40 years) started to yield its fruit within 2 weeks. And many. The other neglected trees haven’t or have shown weak signs of fruit growth. The fruit itself isn’t worth much, but the shift in energy they create is huge. Seeing a land turn from neglected and abandoned into something lively is priceless.
So here I am, making progress in a puzzle where the pieces are not always clear how they slot together but they do.
Today I’ve received the permit to plant grapes for self-consumption. Yay!! I wasn’t expecting any different, but that’s beyond the point here. The moral of the story is not about the grapes or the permit per-se.
It is about how I got here, and how I can be sure that I have indeed received the right permit. Because, being in Catalonia (Spain) means the written language for applying for plantation rights and the communication of approval or rejection are both in Catalan.
And how come I understand it? Well that’s the real good here.
When we decided to move over here from the UK several years ago, people kept telling me, with English you won’t get by, you need to at least speak Spanish. So I started to learn Spanish on my own (dreams are a great motivators to keep one going). And I’ve developed a fairly good level of it by the time I needed it. But Catalan? That’s another kettle of fish. Back in the UK I was talking to one of the parents of my son’s classmates in nursery, and when we talked about putting him into a nursery where they’d speak in English and Catalan, the reaction was, “but why? It’s a useless language”. And in most people’s eyes, it is damn true. So is true that Hungarian (my native language) is also useless to learn because it’s hard and only spoken by 10-15 million people worldwide. Catalan is a similarly low key language. And it’s similar to Spanish, true, and it is also similar to French, but it’s neither nor. So what did we do? We put my son into that nursery and went with it. And even more, when it came to choosing schools for him a year later, without much consideration we put him into a full Catalan speaking school. Us parents not understanding much in that language at all. BUT we followed where we felt there was the RIGHT ENERGY. The moment we stepped into that schoolyard we knew! And we haven’t regretted it for the sake of my son. And a by-product of this choice for me: all his school reports, emails, and half his books are in Catalan. It’s unavoidable that we pick up something. First with the use of Google translate, but later “poco a poco” as the Spanish would say, we start to pick up even more. Without investing much effort into it.
And this is the message here. With learning expressions, some grammar and vocabulary, with some intuitive similarities between Spanish and Catalan, two years after landing here, I’ve become skilled enough to understand what these application forms mean, what the official Catalan communication translates to, and how to fill in the forms so I can take care of business. The importance of knowing the local language always helps.
We don’t always choose consciously what we learn and how, or why, but if we follow the Energy, we can be damn sure it leads us to the right place and will have something good in store for us.
I am grateful we made the above choice then, and I am reaping the benefits now, and so is my family!
I gave this title because usually who I meet with, say things, and I have a selective hearing, I generally here the things that show me the way. Bad things, somehow I don’t or can’t hear. And it feels to be one of the keys to success. Time will tell.
One day in my land I saw a car go up and down when I was about to leave. I locked gazes with the driver, not giving a positive expression but wondering what he might do in my land. But I didn’t stop him. Next weekend I saw him again, then I approached him. Turned out to be a very nice person, releasing birds for upcoming hunts. As it’s still designated as a hunting area (although as the owner I can have it revoked at will). He gave me contacts (let my son release one of the birds which he loved), and told me about the possibility of putting up a wind turbine if I could drill a well to pump up the water. Reusable energy! And also this technique could generate a 12V current if needed for something. I felt touched by this option or opportunity and therefore I can be sure that these things matter to me. It’s important to pay attention to how we react to certain things. I felt hopeful even more when he told me that in the adjacent properties there are 3 wells, so my chances are high, although never certain that I will find water here. Whatever the legal ramifications for owning a well, the first step is always finding water. I’m not thinking ahead.
Then two of his contacts came to view the dead vineyard for quoting me to clean it. One of them looked really enthusiastic seeing the stone ruin, the walls, how well they were conserved (definitely older than 100 years and the hollow parts are filled with mud). How beautiful some trees are or could look when cleaned, including the terraced stone retaining walls. As it’s a hilly area, this is how they retained earth keeping it from sliding due to heavy rains. I saw that he imagined himself as the owner or someone just really enjoying the place. And it gave me an insight into how others might feel, imagining that it’s all completed. And that’s exactly the experience I want for others and for myself. But here is the question of money. To clean clusters of land, they quoted me the average monthly salary in Spain for cleaning a small field. I said no. Now I’ve decided to do whatever I can myself and get the equipment paid for only for the time being. I’ve always imagined doing most I can myself or with the help of friends, family, volunteers or workshop participants. This is where this experience is guiding me to. And it’s ok. At the end I’ll have the experience to do it again, or help others, or commercialise the knowledge if I choose to. When they justify the price by saying it’s very hard work, I believe it. And I also know that it’s equally hard work spending 8-10 hours every day behind a desk and a screen. You simply work different parts of your body. Probably members of each profession don’t recognise this in the other. What keeps me going is the fact that it’s new, it’s making a dream come true, and I see the result of my work and I can more easily attach a value to it. Financially and non-financially. Being an accountant really has its advantages…
Then a few days ago I got an architect out to site, and he was also speaking in superlatives about the scenery, the stone wall, the garden, the olive and pine trees, the little palm trees and so forth. I saw that he shared my dream and vision. Suddenly I saw the price of the renovation in more manageable chunks that in reality I don’t have to pay it all upfront, and it doesn’t matter if I don’t have it all figured out yet. This is how our grandparents built their houses after all.
These encounters just simply reinforced my belief in the project and give me continued hope.
Thanks to the good taste of Cava, and the love for wine and wine cellars of one of my friends in Hungary (Feri), and some other films drawing up a clear distinction between the life of working in an office behind a desk and looking at the rain falling versus tending to the grapes in more enjoyable climate, I have developed a dream of cultivating grapes and one day making wine or better making Cava. So some vintages later, here I am, now owning the land with some dead grapevines, wanting to revive them and produce more. But there is a glitch. It’s not so easy to grow your own grapes in the EU, and specifically within Spain. To grow them for commercial purposes, I need to ask for permit, need to comply with prerequisites which among all might require me to having worked in agriculture for 5 years, and there is a 45-day window to apply. Only if granted, can I plant the next year. It takes 3 years for a grapevine to produce grapes. We’d be looking at 8 years. But for self consumption, I can go straight away. In fact, I had to hurry not to miss this winter to plant. But I can only plant 0.1 Ha (which is 10m x 100m). And I forfeit the right to have another vineyard for commercial purposes. The local technician says in this region (Penedes in Catalonia, home of the Cava) it is so rare that someone would ask for permission for self production, that in his 20-year reign, I have been the first one. But as I say, there is always a first. I am pretty certain this trend will continue. Elon Musk is a great inspiration to me.
To further complicate things he tells me they take off 4 meters of the perimeter of this size as a margin or something, so the real surface is less. I learn about these things as I go along. I no longer believe in full preparation before action. Then I’d spend my life preparing and preparing, being scared of the risks of missing something, and never really taking action. This is how I lived in the past. It got me safely to places and I still approach some things this way until reminding myself of the catch. But back to the wine. After having this meeting with the local technician (everyone has been really helpful with me and I can’t thank them enough!), “peeling the onion”, we conclude that needing only 3 years of being an agricultural producer (even for self consumption), I could complete certain trainings buying be the extra 2 years, (these trainings are not defined anywhere but you do your training and they evaluate it for relevance…) and I could apply for converting the vineyard I have to have a commercial purpose. Then I could apply for planting more in the rest of the land. (because I have to rip those out first). The thing I still love about this is that it buys me time to learn more about the trade, see what grapes take off and what the land likes. So what seemed so distant and impossible has a clear solution in sight. If I hadn’t made steps earlier towards this direction, I wouldn’t have known about this. I just know life is helping me move one step further each time, but only one step at a time. But come on! Do we really need more??
At the beginning, I’ll write stories that happened several months or years ago as well as recent ones. It’s because there is so much to tell and I don’t want to forget them.
I missed out on masias in the past that I found on the internet, and made my heart beat. I missed out because realistically I didn’t have the money to buy them or to renovate them. So much that I had to leave Spain after coming here, only to return a year later, and leaving my family behind. So one of my legs never really left. But in the meantime I lived on my own at 38 for the first time in my life and have taken out a lot of that too. But it’s also taught me that I have a good nose for real estate. (not just with ruins but with rents, too. By being too cocky with one flat in the Netherlands, I missed out on it only to find one that had a balcony. Everyone said you don´t need a balcony in the Netherlands. Well that year while I lived there turned out to be the hottest and sunniest in decades and I DID need the balcony…) But back to masias, those that the agents showed me in addition to those I picked were still on the market a year later. Those that I picked disappeared within a short period. That was a light bulb moment. And then in September 2019, with no paying work in sight, I thought, “damn it, I need to find a masia now. And I’ll never find it by not looking for it”. So I went browsing again, I have no clue what the search criteria were, maybe “masia for Zoltan. Hit enter”. (All I knew was that I needed to buy a car so I open the possibility of visiting places should they come up. And through some magical ways we managed to be credit-worthy and buy a car that someone just recommended to us in terms of the method of purchase. And we got the car. Just before I really needed). So back to the search. Something came up on a regular real estate collector site, where masias don’t really feature. It was out of my price range again. With not enough money to get it all done. And somehow I said, I go for this. I enquired, and two days later I visited it with my family. I didn’t feel a huge buzz. I still don’t. I don’t know if it’s out of caution, or a higher sense of meaning. But I saw its potential. My family loved it too, and saw the potential too. I took a risk, we agreed a sensible price, and went in. Without knowing really what’s ahead. And this is the cool thing. It doesn’t bother me. That’s what makes it exciting. Along the way I’m learning about things I didn’t know about. How to construct a dry-stone wall, how to make Cava. What kind of adventures I could organise there. Every time I go out there, I meet new people. I talk to them. Initially I was afraid, cautious, worried that now that the place is mine, everyone will work really hard to take it away from me. But reality proves the opposite. People say kind words. They give contacts to proceed with particular things. They give unsolicited advice, that in this case I really appreciate. (how to clean a plot or who to contact. who knows how to build stone walls, what land is best for grapes, what are the hunting rules, magically finding architects even before I knew I’d embark on this journey.)
And the ideas started flowing. And they are not stopping. And my eyes light up when I’m talking about these things. Some would call it passion. I just call it Openings. Being open to new opportunities, seeing the positive in things just get me further. Each opening shapes my future. And it feels good! I toast to Openings.
I start writing the story here. It began when I was borne. But I didn’t know it yet. I went for a corporate life choosing a good university, thinking money will be the thing that makes me happy. And it has had its advantages. And education, too. – I have an MBA for that matter – It gave me the opportunity to move countries, explore the world, open my mind. Meat great people. Have a great career. Almost never earning less than in the year before. Be progressive. But somehow I’ve always felt I’m living a life that’s main motivator was constant survival. Working to pay the mortgage, to travel, to do hobbies. In this life I’ve always had my disruptive attitude to the way of things are and never felt fully free to do it my way, All In.
Most recently I have taken courses in less scientific and more holistic self development programmes, and those have given me new insights, new directions, and renewed courage to take bold decisions. Things that had felt impossible before. Most importantly taking decisions without knowing the answer to the “how to get there?” question. And that’s the real thing! I’ve discovered my desire and deeply founded skill of how to give creative experiences to people that they really enjoy, while they are connected to things that matter to me most these days. To create a tangible impact. To create something tangible in a technology-woven world where we are so not in touch with what’s real any more.
Here I am. I have fallen in love with the concept of having a stone house ruin (a masía), with beautiful nature around, growing grapes for the eventual wine making – more precisely Cava -, and exploit my springing creativity for creating outdoor experiences that leave an impact. And these dreams are all one, they are all connected, and don’t really exist without one another. My real gift is in finding connection between things or people, creating links that are otherwise invisible. And sometimes, many times, they don’t even make sense.
I have taken the first steps to living this dream. I will tell the story of how this dream unfolds in this blog. It is aptly titled “impossible quest” because it has so many impossible elements, most people wouldn’t dare take these risks, and honestly I don’t always see how I’ll get there. Along the way I’ve heard it’s not possible, it’ll cost a lot, “I’m outright crazy” as a conversation starter, and I’m hitting walls all the time.
But my philosophy is, when one door closes, another opens. And what I want, I’ll eventually get. So life, here I come!
Enjoy the experience!