Tuesday, August 9, 2022

To be inspired, relax or discover yourself: this is the rise of retreats in Aragon

Finding oysters isn’t usually easy, but it can be easy if the environment and company help. This is what writers, painters and musicians are looking for, who, emulating great artists, decide to withdraw from the mad crowd to “give birth” to their great masterpieces. came to help them make Sonodrome, a platform for experimental and avant-garde artistic expression focused on music and audiovisual arts, In Olalla, in the heart of the Jiloka area, they are renovating a 300 square meter house, to which approximately 4,000 square meters of land will be added to facilitate the mental retreat of visitors.

will be called viridian houseand is scheduled to open its doors in late 2023. “While these types of retreats are highly sought after, the perfect environment for an artist has always been nature and rural environments,” explains Sonodrome’s Jose Maas.

“Centuries ago an artist couldn’t work in these places. He had to move to big cities to be successful, but now that’s different and it’s not necessary anymore. With the internet you can sell yourself. The future of the rural world is going to be full of artists as it is the perfect environment to create and be inspired by.”Casa reassures the promoter of Viridiana.

There, lovers of cinema, music, performance, art and writing can go to create their own artistic projects, attend workshops and courses, or enjoy the various events that are held.

Two writers in one of the usual places of La Casa de Belmonte.

same concept of artistic residence they have Belmonte’s House, in the city of Teruel which gives it its name (Belmonte de San Jose). Curiously, the couple, formed by Jordi Galen and Maria Ruiz, opened their doors in March 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic began. A lone writer crossed the threshold and decided to stay and take advantage of his time of imprisonment.

Thanks to this more than necessary retirement, the author, Manuel Guédon, has published ‘The Affordable Dreams of Josefina Jarama’. “It’s what makes us most proud and why we opened this space to show the creativity of the artists who come into it”Maria Ruiz, owner of La Casa de Belmonte, explains.

Despite a long break due to COVID-19, this nomadic couple, who decided to buy a house in this municipality of Bajo Aragon, decided to continue with the project and improve it for the time they would again to receive guests. They considered it a “writer’s paradise”.

Since its reopening, just a few months ago, they have received over 30 visitors from very different places and with very different stories. “They’ve come from the United States, Argentina, Venezuela … and our country: from the Basque Country, Madrid, Valencia, Guadalajara and, curiously, no one has come from Aragon yet,” says Ruiz.

To be inspired, relax or discover yourself: this is the rise of retreats in Aragon

One of the rooms at La Casa de Belmonte, aimed at writers.

The stay is usually one week, although there are some who extend it. The room is private, sharing common areas, which include a kitchen, a large living room, garden (1 minute walk) and a terrace. The price is about 23 euros per day, and is for room rental and cleaning of the whole house. Meals are provided by the guests.

“The kitchen is the center of everything, it’s where the most social part of this retreat happens, where friendships are made, where people talk and share, and the rest of the time everyone goes their own way and makes it happen.” dedicates to writing.” He says host. To further recognize the artists’ work, La Casa de Belmonte instituted a scholarship to one of them each year, with all expenses paid for. Over 200 projects were submitted in the first year.

Maria and George live in a house attached to the large building, which is occupied by the writers, who are always accompanied by three other guests: two cats, a fish and a mouse, and a ghost. “There’s a lot of promising people here. The truth is, when we opened it we didn’t think we’d love it that much. Now, we don’t see ourselves living anywhere else.” And the most gratifying thing: 60% of those who visit La Casa de Belmonte repeat.

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yoga and spectacular views

Not all retreats are artistic. Yoga, meditation, reconnecting with nature, silence and peace are aspects that visitors look for, Favorite places to do it: Pyrenees and Iberian systems.

“All those who come to our accommodations, their main purpose is to break away from everyday life and connect with nature, while escaping from stress and giving us the tools to use in our daily lives, when those routines I’ll be back,” he says. Katya Rios, director of Casa Cuadrau, located at the entrance to the Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park.

The residence will be open to the public for ten years on August 9. “When we opened the house, the retreat thing was brand new and had a very distinctive traveler profile, now it is somewhat better known and very different visitors come to us. The demand has increased tremendously in recent years.”

Casa Cuadrau is one of those places where you can step away and disconnect. At least, its owners explain it this way: Katya Rios and her husband, Daniel Benito from Zaragoza. they both offer a Friendly environment “for personal immersion and discovery” Thanks for its environment and facilities.

Impressive landscapes surround the house in all directions, and it is built brick by brick following the principles of bioconstruction and yoga, which are most commonly practiced. “We help visitors deal with emotions, learn how to respond and respond better to stressful situationsAnd to learn how to use yoga for all this and incorporate it into daily life”, assures the director of Casa Kudrou.

All the activities and workshops are organized with the aim of guiding the participants Taking stress out of your routine and, in turn, incorporating healthy habits, from food to sports and meditation, They also work on ‘mindfulness’, a discipline based on keeping an empty mind and focusing on the present, on the most immediate reality.

To be inspired, relax or discover yourself: this is the rise of retreats in Aragon

Tour through the Ordesa Valley and Monteperdido, organized by Casa Cuadrau.

In addition to yoga and hiking routes that take visitors with guides through the surrounding landscape, the Casa Cuadrau they also believe in complete silence, they call it “silence of happiness at home“, and this is based on the fact that every day, from the end of the last activity (around 10:00 a.m.) and before lunch the next day, a deep silence is cultivated” to calm the mind and allow oneself To listen”, says Katya Rios. About 12 hours without talking. Quite a challenge for some, but really satisfying for others. They also offer workshops on self-knowledge and overcoming childhood trauma. Huh.

For Most Believers (Or Not)

Effeta is a Catholic retreat for young people, organized by other youth with testimonials and experientials. They prefer not to give too much information so that everything is more exciting and a little bit of mystery arises. This is how Fran Gonzalez explains it, one of the promoters of the activity.

“Everything we do is a secret so that whoever does the ‘retreat walk’ is not affected by anything. We give you a gift during your stay that we hope won’t open before you leave,” he says. Come to the retreat … and if you’re lucky, with God.”

Every return is different, so you never really know what’s going to happen. “Every meeting is different on the inside. The people who come, the atmosphere that is created, the volunteers who come to help make a big impact.” Have profiles of your attendees Young underage, with very different lifestyles and origins but with a certain “curiosity” about religion.

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“Sometimes they recommend,” says Gonzalez, influenced by others who have already done it. Here we are open to any situation, the important thing is to let themselves go, that they Dare to experience something new.”

Effeta organizes retreats throughout Spain (also in Zaragoza, where there will be one in October), and They usually host large groups of people between 30 and 100.

“A great pineapple arises between those of us who partake, there’s a great vibe and then we always meet after a retreat, a true friendship is formed, each one very deep. I’ve found the authentic one here. Have seen miracles, there are cruel changes”, he affirmed Frank Gonzalez.

To be inspired, relax or discover yourself: this is the rise of retreats in Aragon
Last efeta meeting in the Aragonese Pyrenees. / Effeta Zaragoza

From Catholicism… to Buddhism

Despite being a minority religion in Spain and Aragon, Buddhism has been gaining more prominence in recent years. In the community, this has been inspired, in large part, by the architectural jewel found at Panillo (Huesca): El Templo Budista Dag Shang Kagyu.

In the heart of the Aragonese Pyrenees and in the midst of nature, a group of believers in Tibetan Buddhism established their spiritual refuge there in 1984. Since then, they have carved a niche for themselves in the community and their monasticism has become mandatory. Stop for anyone passing by the place.

The complex, divided into the temple itself, the gardens, surroundings and various places to welcome visitors, The various schools are devoted to the teaching, study and practice of Tibetan Buddhism; as well as other subjects, More than 70 beds are available between the old general dormitory and the newly renovated hostel.

Dag Shang Kagyu has a distinctive retreat area (Samten Ling) where several individual houses are located, and long-term facilities., Some of them have been kept for years.

One experience for all wallets

Prices vary depending on the location, duration and type of activities taking place at the retreat. There are experiences that involve an outlay of around 300 euros and others that reach over 1,000 per person. The package usually includes accommodation (increasing the amount if you choose a single or shared room), meals, and expenses for workshops, activities, and supplemental excursions.

The time when most retreats are held in Aragon is summer. The high season for these habitats is mainly July-August and a part of the month of September. “Actually we have demand all year round, because in winter people also want to come and enjoy the mountains, but we choose the rest of the months from January to March, more or less the same time as the ski season” , explains the director of Casa Kudrou. Reservations are filled even during holidays.

Unlike what happened 10 years ago, The profile of the traveler attending the retreat has changed. “Before they were experienced people in the world of yoga, naturalists, people with very specific profiles, but not now, there are a variety of professions, lifestyles, ages…”, says Katya Rios. What is repeated in all cases is his love for nature and quiet places. “That’s what everyone is looking for,” he says. 30-40% of those who visit Casa Cuadrou repeat.

In terms of origins, it is curious that the business of retreats in Aragon welcomes more visitors from outside the community. Most of the travelers are Spanish, arriving from Catalonia, Madrid and the Basque Country. In addition, more and more foreigners are encouraged (mainly American, German and English).

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