Lucia, Ruben and Jairo’s visit to Quemao Viejo.

My friends from Madrid came to visit…and God! I cannot believe we did so many things in one day!

First, the photo in front of the cave, which is turning a touristic photo spot 🙂


Next one is the wall at the entrance of the cave, which I finished using stones and concrete (ops!), two recycled tyres ( much better) and crystal pots.


The floor of the dorm room, made of stones ( what a hard job!):


And tiles in the living/kitchen room:


After the formal introduction to the cave and Quemao Viejo, we went for a walk to Peñarrubia, where we tried a bit of bouldering. That’s me showing off my climbing skills:


Jairo, very professional:


Lucia, keeping up the speed:


Ruben preferred to find a better spot:


We kept walking under the cliff:


A bit of juggling at the top:


In our way down, I took a photo which I call “ Try to spot the cave”:


After the walk, Ruben offered himself to cook:


Ha,ha, I know you are going to hate me for this one!:


And with the bellies full, well…time out to foul around. Kung-fu:




And…WTF you call that?


Time to learn juggling:


and even a bit of work!!


Thank you people for visiting and support!


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Finally, The Door!!

With the help of my friend Gines, Quemao Viejo’s cave has finally a door. It is not the best door in the world, but it opens and closes…what else do you need from a door!!

This is Gines, cutting the wood boards:


Next, screwing together the door in front of the cave:


We placed a log below the arch, because the gap was too big:


After several trials, we managed to put the door in place, and as I said it opens and closes…great!!



The remaining gap is going to be filled with stones. I’ll post more photos soon.

Many thanks Gines!! I wouldn’t have done it without your help!

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Maria’s visit to Quemao Viejo.

The idea was for Maria to come to visit Quemao Viejo in her push bike, but the day started with a bit of rain, and I suggested Maria to come by car. My fault! One hour later it turned up to be an splendid sunny day. A bit windy, maybe.

So here she is, ready to get some wood for the barbecue:


Meanwhile, I was preparing this tapa of goat cheese with local rosemary, black olives and almonds with a tasty red wine:


Maria, taking care of the barbecue, and giving the approval to the wine:


And that’s the problem when you drink too much wine…you cannot walk straight out of a cave…ha,ha…


Many thanks for your visit, Maria. I hope you decide to come back soon, hopefully with your bike this time!

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The cave surgeon.

Just a quick post to show the arch in the entrance of the cave . And just in case you get so bored you decide to restore any cave you find in your way…I’ll give you a photo with the tools you’ll need to become a “cave surgeon”.

So, ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, the cave’s entrance:


Isn’t it gorgeous! Ha,ha…it only took me two months to design and a month to build! Thanks God I didn’t decide to build a pyramid!

Anyway, while I was choosing what materials to use, I have discovered a plant, which in the beginning I was taking as a plague, because it grows in abundance in Quemao Viejo. It is Helicrysum stoechas, which not only can be used, when dry, as a material to fill walls ( and arches in this case) but also an herbal tea can be made with the flowers with antiallergenic benefits. Great!

Helichrysum stoechas_1

And as I said, these are the tools I’ve been using to bring Quemao Viejo’s cave, a hundred years later, back to life:


Much work is still needed, but at least some progress can be seen:


The bluish colour of the walls comes from another discovery I’ve made recently. The ashes from burning wood in the fireplace can be used as plastering. Nice.

I’ll show more photos soon.

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Easy Peasy, mud squeezy.

This time I am posting about the youngest Quemao Viejo supporters, Sara and Lorena, that visited on a day trip and lend me a hand finishing the arch at the cave’s entrance, showing at the same time that bioconstrucction can be easy and fun:

There are always doubts at first contact with the cave,


But soon they got the idea,


So, they got into action. Here, sieving dirt,


Them mixing the soil with water to get the sticky mud,


plastering the arch,


After more than a month of thinking about the design for the cave’s entrance, I decided to use as many local materials as possible. The arch is formed with “caña” ( the giant cane ” Arundo donax“). The space left between the arch and the wall was filled with bush, presed brik alike and covered with mud. The only thing left was to plaster the sides of the arck. That is what sara and Lorena were doing this day. This is a closer look:


Next photo is titled “Just give me a couple of hours more, and I’ll finish the whole thing”.


Finally, time for celebration,


Much obliged, princesses!


I’ll show the arch finished in the next post.

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Being water.

This post is going to be a difficult one to write.  It is about a magical week spent with the most fabulous people one can find. I hope you feel like reading and get a bit of the spirit we shared.

This post is basically a summary of the “Voluntary days of regeneration of the Mediterranean forest ”, where I had the pleasure to meet people from Nuevos Recolectores, Bioconstruyendo Murcia, Permacultores del Sureste, Jardines de Acuario and the school of permaculture “ Finca los albaricoqueros”.

I am not going to get too technical. In summary, the goal of the “action” was to reduce the water erosion suffered by uncovered earth, create new soil and promote the growth of vegetation in a little patch in Sierra Espuña, Murcia.

In the south of Spain rain is very scarce, but when it rains, it does in a torrential kind of way. If there is no vegetal coverage, the water sweeps along all the organic material, making impossible the further formation of soil and evolution of the forest ( which is now mostly populated with pine trees and little diversity of bush vegetation).  In the plot of forest were the regeneration took place, a “carcaca” ( a narrow dry river bed formed by water erosion) was growing, with a lot of erosion involved. Our action aimed to, using straw bales and “bio-rolls” ( branches of pine tree sewed together and placed in the floor following the contour plan), decrease the strength and speed of water, taking it away from the carcava. In this fashion the little streams of water formed after a strong rainfall  would be deviated sideways away from the carcava, forming soil that would support vegetation formation. And that’s why the post is titled like that, because a lot of job involved was imaging we were water.Where would the water go? How would the water react if we placed this straw bale here? Would it stop? Would it erode further?

Anyone understood the explanation? Probably not. Better I show some pictures

This is how a “bio-roll” would look like when finished:


A “bio-roll” can be made of everything really. In this case we used pine tree branches twined and sewed together with string. This is a closer look:


“ Bio-rolls” are placed in the floor following the contour and their function is to deviate the water from its course while reducing its speed and strength. The idea was as well to reduce the speed of the water inside the “carcave” using stones, more pine tree branches and straw bales:



But I thing our biggest achievement was what we ended up calling “The pit-bull bridge” in honour to the dog that spent the week with us ( No picture of the dog, sorry. Silly me!)


where we ended up celebrating:


Our last job was mixing seeds with mud. I really like the next one, because everyone seems to be doing something. Usually it was more “ the Spanish way” ( one working and four looking and saying “ Pero que haces? Asi no, hombre!”. Ha,ha…it’s not true but we laughed a lot about it. Sorry for the stereotype!)


…seeds that we planted around the bio-rolls and straw bales under the moon ( See what I meant about the Spanish way? : )


But not everything was work. No at all. He had time to rest as well:


And fun. We had lots of fun. While cooking:



while eating:


We also saved time at the end of the day to reconsider what we had done during the day and prepare the work for the next day ( always after eating, ha,ha, so we were always in agreement : )


and music. Plenty of music:



With Fran from “El huerto de los albaricoqueros”


Here with people from Jardines de Acuario and Permacultores del sureste and “super Pepe” at the flute:


Thank you people. I am sure the seeds we planted will grow as tall as the sky. We did good.

Many hugs.

Jose Quemaoviejo.

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The Lords of the Cave.

Just a funny history about the visit to Quemao Viejo by my friends form Zarzadilla, Juan and  Gines.

Like every single man, they’ve got a kid inside, and the theme “ The Lord of the Rings” came up as soon as they got inside the cave. Hence the tittle. To be honest I was doubting between this one and “ The attack of the Orcs”…ha,ha

Anyway, they bought a couple of beers and locally fermented grape juice ( that’s wine for you and me!). I don’t understand either the need for sun glasses!


We wanted to make a barbecue in the fireplace, inside the cave, but “The Lords” were not happy with the size of the fire…


So, the fire was summoned…


And so the fire replied:


Thanks for your support guys!

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