Home » today » News » A Czech couple lives in a cave and works for a local farmer. “We are more ourselves in La Palma,” they say

A Czech couple lives in a cave and works for a local farmer. “We are more ourselves in La Palma,” they say

The island of La Palma is nicknamed the madhouse without a roof. Ilona Hověžáková, who lives in a cave with her partner Jonáš Mazánek, says that they are definitely a little crazy. “Rather, we realized that we don’t want to be hamsters in a wheel, working just to pay the rent,” adds Jonáš. They have been living communally for several years on the land of a Canarian farmer and doctor, and they want to make a documentary about local life.

“When I was about eighteen, I began to realize that I didn’t want to live the way the majority of the Czech population lives. However, the biggest turning point was an illness a few years ago, when I suffered from an elevated temperature for several months for unknown reasons. The doctors injected me with antibiotics, which she only made everything worse,” describes 32-year-old Ilona, ​​who, among other things, made a living as a photographer or production worker in a gallery in Brno.

“That’s when I understood that if I want to heal, I can’t just solve the current condition, but look for the cause,” thinks the woman, who has a tanned face even in January. “That led me to holistic medicine. Thanks to it, I automatically started to think differently about my priorities, my body and my lifestyle,” she recalls of the moment that changed her way of thinking. “I was stressed, I was always chasing something. I realized that if I want to feel good, I have to change this,” says Ilona, ​​who got rid of the fever and inflammation after a few weeks thanks to a change in diet and Chinese medicine.

I don’t want to be a hamster in a wheel

“Thanks to its climate, La Palma enables life with lower demands on ordinary life,” says Jonáš. | Photo: Klára Elšíková

She came to La Palma for the first time four years ago on vacation, during which she met Jonáš, who had been living on the island for three years at the time, thanks to mutual acquaintances. He moved to the sunny Canary Island himself after a 12-year stay in Ireland. “I thought to myself that the system we live in makes little sense. It’s the kind of game and manipulation that most people don’t see because they don’t want to see it,” he describes on the bed in the cave he and Ilona share.

“I’ve evolved to the point that I don’t want to live like a hamster in a wheel, earning my social security five days a week and the rest lying on the couch watching TV in a block of flats, and La Palma, thanks to its climate, makes it possible to live with lower financial demands on ordinary life,” describes 43-year-old Jonáš.

“There are a lot of caves on the island that have been transformed into cozy full-fledged homes. This is how people used to live quite normally, because thanks to the warm climate in some parts of the island you don’t need to heat during the winter months,” explains Jonáš, who first came to La Palma as a tourist ten years ago years and fell in love with an alternative lifestyle that, thanks to the warm climate, is naturally more connected to agriculture and self-sufficiency.

We have everything as much as we need

The cave they live in is located on the property of the local doctor, homeopath and farmer Nona. While he provides them with a place to live, Ilona and Jonáš help him with work on the farm, or small farm, doing manual work around the house and on his land. “We think of everything as an exchange of energy, so I’d say we have as much of everything as we need,” says Ilona, ​​who also takes photos and shoots for a small farm that exports fruit to Europe, and occasionally makes money from PR and digital marketing.

As one of the few farmers on the west side of the island, Nono has an organic certificate, so he delivers fruit to local organic shops and markets with local products. Ilona and Jonáš each help him with the finca and the land for an average of 20 hours a week. Since there is no winter in La Palma, the trees and plants bear fruit all year round, and what they grow together with Nona, they can also use for their own consumption and thus be more or less self-sufficient.

He started remodeling the cave five years ago

The cave is located a hundred meters from Non’s house and access to it is not for everyone. It is reached by narrow serpentines, which, like the cave, Jonáš built with the help of acquaintances and friends on the island, and such help is called “gallofa” on the island. He started remodeling the cave five years ago and its construction is still in process.

“The basic reconstruction took approximately six months. We cut, moved the stones, carried them outside, sorted them and then carried them inside again and built walls out of them,” says Jonáš, while the dog Luka and one of the five cats lie down on the bed next to him .

In the cave house, they have an alcove with a mattress for guests, a bed, a table, shelves, chests and a small kitchenette with a gas stove. In front of the cave, they built an outdoor seating area, a gas-powered shower, a sink and three terraces. Electricity, internet and water were brought here from Nona’s land. One of the terraces serves as a bed for vegetables, on another Ilona has a mattress on which she meditates, rests or in the evening looks at the stars for which La Palma is famous.

Peeing in the rain is the worst

In the future, they plan to complete an outdoor kitchen with a stone oven for pizza and bread, a small garden storage space for tools and another terrace with seating. They would also like to convert the second part of the cave, which is now used as a cellar, into a second room. They use a compostable dry toilet at Nono’s place, and going to the toilet is the only discomfort that Ilona feels about life in the cave.

Is the comfort of television or life in harmony with nature?

Is the comfort of television or life in harmony with nature? | Photo: Klára Elšíková

“The worst is peeing in the rain. Even if we go for a walk here near the cave, I hate it. I have to wear a raincoat or go naked to just wipe myself with a towel,” she laughs. “However, I think the question is, what do we consider comfort at all,” Jonáš continues her words.

“Is comfort sitting at home watching TV, drinking beer and going to work five days a week and having five weeks off? Or is it more comfort that you live in harmony with nature, which is healthier and more meaningful as a result? People gravitate to certainties, but what really is security? Do we get security in external and material things, or should we rather create it within ourselves?” asking rhetorical questions while Paul Simon plays in the background.

They want to make a documentary about the island

The alternative lifestyle allows both Jonáš and Ilona to have more time for themselves. Ilona spends it on self-development, reading and learning about new physical activities, from yoga, free dance to sound therapy. At the same time, he devotes himself to development and self-study in photography and audiovisual production. “But what I enjoy most is deepening my experience and knowledge in agriculture,” he describes.

They also travel around the island together, discover new places and meet local musicians, with whom Jonáš jams. He has been playing the accordion since he was little. “Why? I don’t know, because my parents wanted it,” he replies.

Ilona spends her free time playing music with her friends.

Ilona spends her free time playing music with her friends. | Photo: Klára Elšíková

They also want to show the possibilities that the island offers in a documentary that they are gradually working on. “In it, we want to present the individual stories of locals and immigrants. La Palma’s climate is favorable for an alternative life, which is typical for a certain community of people here,” says Ilona, ​​adding that they are also working on a project that will also focus on the field of agriculture . “It will be individual video stories that capture different approaches to agriculture and the lives of the farmers themselves,” he describes and confides in his other plans.

“I would like to create a small environmental center here for people who are interested in or study tropical crops and want to work with them personally,” continues Ilona. “They could learn about them here in their natural environment in contact with specific farmers. I would also like to connect the center with a free art gallery and artists and musicians who could come here for summer residencies to create and exhibit their works,” she says.

We’re not hippies

Both disagree that they are hippies who don’t want to work. “This kind of thinking and labeling is a way of thinking that someone instilled in us through the system and education,” Jonáš thinks. “We have often adopted a way of life that is not our own. We are domesticated workers. At the same time, somewhere in the background we realize that we are not good at it, that it is not natural for us. The fact that someone labels our lifestyle negatively or refuses to accept it as normal, it just speaks of a level of freedom that is obviously not there in our society,” says the tall man in his forties resolutely.

La Palma is nicknamed the madhouse without a roof precisely because of the amount of personal freedom the island offers. “I can be more myself here. I don’t feel weird when I’m running on the beach, playing. I don’t have to watch myself, whether it’s when I’m dancing during a jam or when I’m naked by the sea. On the island, people live completely differently than in the Czech Republic. They’re not they are suffocating, here they allow themselves to be who they want to be, without fear that someone will judge them or consider them strange. People here simply want to enjoy life, they don’t just want to survive,” concludes Ilona.

Video: The Cumbre Vieja volcano rumbles on the Canary island of La Palma (September 20, 2021)

On the Canary island of La Palma, the Cumbre Vieja volcano is rumbling. | Video: Reuters

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