Completely gutted in every way. Yet at the same time empowered by his life.
|struggling together with this 400kg oak beam...|
This is Paulo's last presentation he sent me. We'd been in constant touch about ways to deal with the disaster that human waste has become, but why it needn't be so.
|With Saffy, his sister Mary, and friends|
|Under Paulo's spell Kira dives in to the|
lime plastering too:)
|With Nikita, bringing up this massive pre-fabricated structure that was to become the terrace for the Alambique|
He would disappear for weeks on various missions. To Croatia with Ruth to desing some mega straw-bale warehouse for his new umbrella company LUSH. Or to obscure communities of German inventors in Southern Portugal, come back bouncing with excitement about their new creations that turned sun rays into ice (the hotter it is outside the cooler the fridge). I’m pretty much obsessed by anything low-tech and radical too, so we’d be there for hours plotting how we’d incorporate these into the aid world, into communities devoid of power and jobs, and how sun & ice could change the picture completely. Especially if we included biogas, rainwater collection, constructed wetlands, and so on. Integrated smart design. Yes… I’m working on that. This has become my mission too.
|Paulo designed this entire straw bale section on the house, and led the construction with our family and friends.|
We went crazy watching the local rivers change through the seasons, and Paolo let slip that kayaking was another of his hobbies (how many can a guy have!!??). A few months later we had all the gear, and Nikita, Paulo and I would drive our van way up some secluded river and charge down, waterfalls and all. These were great moments, staring over at each other in a strange mix of terror, exhilaration and what-the-hell let’s just do it screech, as we hurtled towards some new waterfall we hadn't had time check out first. In the pouring rain. (Argggh. where's the photos of these missions!??)
|With our multi-national team of beam-movers from Romania, England, Portugal, New Zealand, Scotland|
from left - Nikita, me, Nik, Paulo, Shrek (Carlos), Hewel, Petrus, Ilie and Manuel (Neo).
In Pakistan I became humanitarian “advisor” to the UK Government’s efforts to support post mega-flood recovery. Subsequent years brought equally intense rain and destruction. Almost four years on I’m still there, supporting one of the largest shelter reconstruction projects ever – at over 120,000 homes and counting.
|One of hundreds of amazing families i worked with in |
Pakistan, discussing building with lime, how I'd learned
from Paulo and Hywel in Portugal.
We return to Portugal tomorrow, where you appear in just about every picture, in every part of the building and gardening process. You are as much part of our land there as we are and as you planted half the trees you will grow on with us there. Quite fitting really, as Paulo was many parts elfen creature and part-man. He seemed more at home in a mossy corner between rocks or high in the canopy of some tree. A quiver full of carved arrows over his back and slightly pointed ears would have raised no alarm. I’d find him stuffing fresh cut grass into his blender, together with powder of some coco bean, sun-filtered water and some fruits. I asked him if he had become part-goat; he looked at me from under his eyebrows, frowning, to say “grass and weeds are just phenomenal mineral accumulators, how do you think sheep survive?”. I’d settle down with my all-too-human scrambled egg and bread, feeling more like an ork beside this ethereal being sipping his plant juice. (Annoyingly, he would then carry a jug of this stuff around for the next half hour, like an IV, sipping, glowing).