Family Travel

The desert hippy who laid a golden poo

5 December, 2013

“I’m doing a seminar in menstrual activism this afternoon, if you want to come?”

Hold on. Menstrual? Activism?

“Um. Oh. I, er…”

I am not very often taken aback. Especially when it comes to bodily functions and protest. These are, like, two of my fave things, y’know?

We were in the middle of the Spanish desert, in the barren landscape of the Deep South, staying in a tiny oasis – an alive, green, eco community bustling with hippies. At least once an hour someone said something completely absurd and completely accurate.

“Excrement is GOLD, worth more than money!” (This statement was accompanied by a handful of “humanure” shoved under my surprised, and therefore unfortunately gaping, nostrils.)

This was Sunseed, a group of people devoted to living sustainably, off grid, who were slowly restoring one of the desert’s many “lost villages”. The project began as a way of developing technologies that harness the earth’s power and an attempt to thrive in a pretty hostile land. It continues to do that, hosting volunteers from around the world who will hopefully return home bubbling with ideas about solar energy, converting waste into, er, gold for the garden, and generally living in peace with their environment.

We pooed into compost bins, built walls with local clay, harvested pumpkins and every vegetable under the sun to eat, prepared olives for jarring, showered with the river water heated by the sun, ate every meal together, talked a lot about menstruation. IT WAS SO FLIPPING INSPIRING! .


We spent the spare hours wandering around the desert, poking about in ruins, buildings long abandoned by villagers unable to survive in such a dry land. We watched a whole family of turtles sunbathing by the local river and tracked some wild pigs along the gorge. Tim and I spent whole afternoons discussing the eco-house we will build when we get to New Zealand.


(I know; this is the MILLIONTH thing we have seen on this trip and decided we are going to do it. You’ve got to dream big, right? So far it seems that we are going back to New Zealand to create an imaginative kid’s festival celebrating the wilderness, run a Forest School, on a bit of land where we are building our own house out of clay, with a compost loo, in an intentional community full of families loving each other and eating together, whilst building a vineyard, an avocado orchard and running a Centre for Peaceful Adult-Child Relationships. Hmmm. It’s all compatible. We just need that cloning technology to hurry the heck up. Or YOU could join in, if you like? Come on, it’ll be WELL fun!)

I bloody love hippies. I love being in an environment where people are so passionate and it was a JOY being amongst other people for whom it makes complete sense to not wash their hair, rather than being the weird one. I didn’t get to the seminar on menstrual activism but I read a brilliant book on it that evening and am completely convinced! (It’s going to be a whole other post: WHAT A TREAT FOR YOU!)


It was just five little days amongst our kind new friends at of Sunseed but it was like stepping in to new pair of boots; it kind of got us ready for a new home and life in New Zealand. It hasn’t felt that real, the whole “moving to NZ lalala” thing, but imagining the kind of eco-lifestyle we will nurture over there got us well excited. As long as I don’t think too hard about the family and friends we will be leaving in England. *Heaving sob*

We are on the very last leg of our European roadtrip, just five more days. We have passed through the snowy peaks around Granada, and we are now in sunny, warm Seville. We had to say another farewell to Betty a couple of days ago – can you actually believe it?- as she blew another head gasket and required £700 to fix her up that we just don’t have. If we hadn’t already spent £2000 on her pesky innards this trip alone we might have considered it but we decided to get her towed home for a DIY job over Christmas. It was a bit stressful but we are having a cool time zipping around in a rental car courtesy of our insurance, so it could be a lot worse. *Frank Spencer voice* Oooh, Bettty.

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  • emily 5 December, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    Wow sunseed sounds amazing. I am studying permaculture, do you know much about it? It basically covers lots of the things you mentioned you’d like to set up in NZ. Sustainable development that follow natures patterns. You would love it I am sure. I have really enjoyed following your blog and look forward to seeing how you get on in NZ. Lots of love x

    • Lucy 5 December, 2013 at 10:18 pm

      We talked a lot about permaculture while we were there. Funnily, I first heard of it in NZ at the Parihaka Peace festival. I’d love to know more, I need a good book – which is the best to start with?

      • emily 6 December, 2013 at 12:28 pm

        Patrick whitefield’s ‘The Earth care manual’ is the classic text. I also really like ‘Gaia’s garden’ and there is a cute little illustrated booklet that is a great starting point. It is by Graham Burnett I think its called ‘A beginners guide to Permaculture’ I would really recommend doing the 72 hour permaculture design course if you can. Its run over an intensive week or a number of weekends throughout the year (easier option with small people to consider) There is also a fab place in NZ called ‘Milkwood’ They run courses and have a lovely blog too. xx

  • Circus Queen 5 December, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    This sounds AMAZING. And I would totally join your intentional community. Can’t wait to hear about the menstrual activism!

    • Lucy 5 December, 2013 at 10:18 pm

      Oooh, Adele! You’d love it!

  • Terri Pain 5 December, 2013 at 8:28 pm

    Hey there’s plenty of that stuff going on in NZ under the radar, if you could just settle near Nelson please as that would be convenient for me!! haha

    • Lucy 5 December, 2013 at 10:19 pm

      Ah, Nelson, I loooove it there! If it weren’t two different islands we definitely would! Tim’s family is all on the north though, so we’ll be up there somewhere.

      • Samantha Mertler 6 December, 2013 at 1:59 am

        I lived in Ohakune for 5 years. Love and miss New Zealand everyday! I would totally rock the community too!!! Do you ever feel unqualified or not hippie enough? ( you totally are in my books) but for myself, my heart is one thing but reality is another sometimes. 🙂

  • ThaliaKR 15 December, 2013 at 10:41 am

    I bloody love hippies too! 🙂

    Have you seen this?

  • “Excrement is GOLD, worth more than money!” - Sunseed Desert TechnologySunseed Desert Technology 11 August, 2015 at 9:37 pm

    […] on Lucy‘s Blog, a volunteer at Sunseed for 5 days. Visit Lucy’s Blog to know more about their […]

  • ajira 23 September, 2015 at 6:06 pm

    So. Did you ever write that post about menstrual activism?

    • Lucy 24 September, 2015 at 6:23 am

      I might do that this week!!