In the last update on Jetago.org, we shared our adventure on finding and living in a Masia in the Catalan Pyrenees. Today, let me take you through another snippet of our rural life, unfolding at Vallcebre’s “Bar Bugui”, the small village in the Catalan mountains where we live.
More about Vallcebre. Click to unfold and read 🙂
Vallcebre boasts a rich history dating back to medieval times. Once under the dominion of the Barony of Peguera and the Abbots of Bagà, it evolved around scattered farmhouses dotting the valley. Known for its traditional agriculture and pastoral life, Vallcebre has always been closely tied to the land. Despite modern challenges, including depopulation, the village actively seeks new families to sustain its community and school. With about 200 inhabitants, it embodies resilience, offering rural tourism rooted in spectacular landscapes, cultural heritage, and a commitment to sustainable, rural living. More information about Vallcebre’s history at the city hall’s website.
Continuing the Journey: From Our Masia to Bar Bugui
Life is beautiful when you wake up, have time to do yoga, and take the dog for a bike ride. This morning, however, I (Alba) decided to leave the bike-dog ride for the afternoon because I was on a mission: finding out about an empty facility they have in the village.
To my knowledge, the facility was built for an ‘Albergue,’ a hostel catering to young people and hikers. As I was arriving to the ‘Ajuntament’ (City Hall) I realised that it was not going to happen today. All window shutters were closed and the door was no different. They’re supposed to open Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9:00 to 12:00, but that’s life in a small ‘poble’ (village).
A Morning Encounter at Bar Bugui
Do not despair though, right in front of the city hall there is the place-to-go: Bar Bugui. Eager to enjoy a bit of social interaction today, I found myself sitting alone at the bar this morning. As I sipped my warm Cacaolat, the Catalan equivalent of Chocomel, I started a conversation with Joan.
He is a local wine producer from Cercs and surprisingly knew of Arnhem, the city where we used to live in the Netherlands. We also shared interests in rural lifestyle since he has a self-sufficient house. As we conversed and I shared our journey to change to a more rural life and the initial business idea we had, Joan’s admiration for our leap into a new life in El Berguedà sparked an enlightening reflection.
Getting out of my comfort zone
Joan’s admiration for my journey from the comfort of the Netherlands to the rustic charm of El Berguedà was heartening. Despite initial fears and everyday challenges, I find myself more optimistic and integrated into this enriching rural life. Every day that I get out of my comfort zone, I feel I am a step closer to the dream I have since I was a little girl: living in a house in the middle of nature.
And it’s that vision and the idea of being able to be closer to my family, that makes me step out of my comfort. After six years at home, including two in lockdown, venturing out to find our place here has been challenging. Even more, reuniting with my family it has been more difficult than I had anticipated. Reconnecting with family is tough, but it’s worth it knowing they can rely on me.
Little village tricks to get around
Vallcebre is located between Barcelona (family) and Andorra (friends). So it is not only beautiful but also conveniently located. As you’ve seen, life in a small village differs from city life but I can’t help seeing only advantages to living in the Catalan Pyrenees:
- We found our current rental in a Catalan Masia speaking with random people while walking with the dog.
- We learn about local food through conversations with neighbors and locals. So far we know we can get from local producers yogurt, cheese, eggs and, not that we are interested, whole lambs and chickens to roast). And by local I mean, less than 5km from our home.
- When we have the need to socialise, we go to the village’s bar, preferably alone (there are three bars! So there is always one open). Although yet to be confirmed, I believe it’s also the ideal place to discover potential houses or land available for purchase.
- We get involved in activities and get information about new opportunities by popping up in the ‘Ajuntament’ (City Hall) – Calling does not seem to be the way to go and you have to be persistent with your visits, rigorous opening times are not the norm around here.
The Pandemic as a Catalyst
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”Helen Keller
What a morning I had. I just wanted to drink a warm chocolate and boom! Reflection and inspiration sparked from one single conversation.
Leaving the Netherlands’ familiar comfort for the rugged beauty of the mountains and a sustainable rural lifestyle was a leap indeed – but was it fear or inspiration that drove us? It made me wonder, would we have embarked on this journey to the Catalan Pyrenees without the pandemic’s push? Perhaps our two years in uncertainty made this new path feel less daunting. Maybe this period of global uncertainty was the impetus for a life-changing decision, leading us to a simpler, more connected life with nature and community. Maybe the pandemic was what brought us to this small Catalan village.
There were other family members that I wished they had also been able to see me in this path. Unfortunately they left us during the pandemic in 2020. My grandpa would have turned 93 a month ago and, today, my grandma would have celebrated her 97th birthday. This post is dedicated to my abuelita because she always asked me when was I going to move back home. I am sorry that you could not see me living here again. I love you. ¡Feliz cumpleaños yaya! (Happy bday grandma).
I promise to share the outcome of my original mission about the empty building. It could take a while so, as I continue to embrace the slow rural life here in El Berguedà, I’m curious about your experiences.
- Have challenging times, like the pandemic, been a catalyst for rediscovering and realigning your life goals?
- What would you do today to step out of your comfort zone?
- Is there a person you would like to spend more time with?
Share your stories with us and let’s inspire each other in this journey of transformation and rediscovery. And don’t forget to subscribe and stay tuned! Also you might like to visit the instagram #beautifulbergueda. Jochem has created new aerial videos of El Berguedà since I last posted.