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How Rosemary Dream Was Born
This article first titled ‘Center of Empowerment in Floripa attracts people from all over the world in search of a new way of life’ was originally written in Portuguese for Hypeness by Jaque Barbosa. Here, we feature it on our blog translated to English. It tells the story behind Rosemary. We share how we came to exist from the magic of daring to dream big. Buckle up, it’s going to be a rollercoaster ride to blow your mind!
The Mystery of Rosemary Dream
When arriving at the beach of Barra da Lagoa – one of the most traditional neighbourhoods of Florianópolis – you have to take a close look to notice a discreet white sign in the middle of the mountain that says: Rosemary Dream.
As you enter Rosemary’s wooden gate, you soon feel the place has its own energy. It may be due to its location in a natural, breathtaking nook, surrounded by the sea, the channel of Barra da Lagoa, natural pools and mountains. Maybe it’s the smiling people who greet you as if you were an old friend. Maybe because of all the extraordinary stories that lead you here to begin with.
There is a mystery to Rosemary Dream. It is not a hostel but hosts visitors from all over the world. It is not an alternative community, but people from all over the world live together in a common purpose group. It is not a restaurant but serves delicious and nutritious meals. It is not an event space, but it receives several types of activities related to well being and self-knowledge.
Rosemary is all that, but not only that. Perhaps the difficulty in describing this place comes from its originality. Hypeness went there to investigate more closely.
An Audacious Team
The minds – and hearts – behind Rosemary Dream are Israelis Yaniv Charlap, Cormoran Lee, and Yotam Elmakias. When the first two arrived in Brazil for a sightseeing trip a few years ago, they could never imagine they would have a fixed residence here. “Brazil was the first destination I chose to begin a world trip in which I would pass through 17 countries. I’ve never been able to get out of here. I threw out the other 16 tickets bought,” says Yaniv with a look that does not indicate any regret for lost tickets, while we sit in the middle of the woods to do this interview to learn more about the history of this place.
Hypeness – How did you end up in Florianopolis?
Yaniv Charlap – My idea of coming to Brazil began when I was very young and began to train in capoeira. I always had a passion that I could not explain in relation to Brazil, and capoeira accentuated this a lot. I was in Israel and decided that I wanted to travel the world.
At the same time, Cormoran, who was my old friend, said that he would come to spend a month with me in Brazil. Our lives were very different, but we were best friends, with the same values, who had gone different ways – I was in the business of real estate and he had gone out to travel the world by boat, and at that time I was working on a yacht in Germany .
Our lifestyle has always inspired each other. I always felt I needed more Cormoran in my life, and he felt he needed more Yaniv in his life.
We met in Fortaleza, then went to Jericoacoara where we spent 20 days. We became very involved with the local community. We knew everyone, we got very close and people started to come to us. We took people on all kinds of adventures, taught capoeira classes, and various other things. Those were magical days.
There we met a friend who was from Florianópolis and she invited us to spend Christmas in Florianópolis with her family. We had never heard of Floripa, but we did. It was she who took us to Barra da Lagoa for the first time.
It was December 28, 2015. When we saw that beautiful place, that channel flowing into the sea, we dropped our things, ran out, and jumped into the water. We talked and decided this is where we want to stay.
An Optimal Way of Life
H – And how were the following days in Barra da Lagoa?
YC – We did not want to stay in a hostel. We wanted to integrate with the community. We started going to the mountains, getting to know the fishermen, the local families. We were getting very close to them.
We met someone who said they had a house in the middle of the mountain still under construction, which was not ready. We went there to see and we talked: it’s here! We made a proposal for him: we help you finish building the house and you let us stay. We helped him finish the house and stayed there for about 3 months, living, even without knowing, what the Rosemary Dream lifestyle would be like.
We would wake up, do a lot of physical exercise, feed ourselves as naturally as possible, go through the bush in the middle of running barefoot, spend hours and hours philosophizing about life … we could not stop talking about life. We would start at 6 in the afternoon and finish at 5 in the morning. We did not know what was happening. We had never felt so full of life like this before. With so much energy. Many synchronicities started happening to us during this period.
The Story Behind The Land Of Rosemary
H – And where did the idea of buying a land in Barra da Lagoa come from?
YC – This time on the mountain was so intense, it changed us so much, that we decided we would look for a piece of land to buy there.
We went to a real estate and they said that there was an incredible woman who lived on a magnificent land on the mountain. This land had belonged to her family for a long time and this woman was known by all as someone very special. Her name was Rosemari and the real estate agents weren’t sure if she wanted to sell.
But much to our surprise she agreed to meet with us. When we arrived at her place she walked up to us with her hands full of plants. We were expecting her to talk about the paperwork and official part of selling the house but instead she talked for hours about her plants.
She told us that in the last 40 years she had been creating a botanical garden with plants from all over the world. She started to give us a lesson on medicinal plants, she showed us everything, telling us the scientific name, the indigenous name, the Brazilian name of each one. While she explained, she kept walking around the field planting the many seedlings in her hand.
We spent nine hours with her walking and planting while she told the stories of each plant. We did not eat. We did not stop. We were exhausted, and she would not stop, with an energy that we could hardly believe! It was a very remarkable experience for us.
In the end, Rosemari entrusted this land to us to care for. After buying the land, for 2 years, we stayed connected to Rosemari. Due to her sickness, she was unable to come to the land so we visited her house to talk and continued to take care of her plants and the land. She is such a huge part of this place, without her it wouldn’t be possible.
Sadly, Rosemari died 12th January, 2018. We are honoured to continue her legacy of living a life in harmony with nature, tending to the land and treating the plants with love and care. She may not be with us in her physical body but her dream is still alive and she remains part of the land on this magical island.
Falling in Love With the Land
H – How did you feel when you first came here?
YC – We were absolutely fascinated by this place. It was a paradise. We fall in love in a way that’s hard to explain. We did not know how much it would cost. We did not know if we would have any money. We did not talk about the price. But at that moment we decided that we needed to buy that land. We felt that there would be the space where our life would change.
After that, the negotiations began, which lasted 5 months. Just imagine, we stopped our lives. I still had the tickets to travel to various places. Cormoran had work on the yacht to return to. And we did not know what was going to happen. We talked to the owners and they said, “We’ll talk to each other a few weeks back.”
We just did not know what to do. We had stopped our lives. And we did not even know if they would ever want to sell the land! We had only to believe. It was a test. We had to practice a lot of patience, trust, humility, faith. We officially canceled all our plans, decided that no matter how long it took, we would make this project happen.
Naming Rosemary Dream
H – How did the name of the project come about?
YC – One day I was talking to my father who was in Israel and he asked: “What is the name of the lady who owns the land?” I said, “Dona Rose, Rosemari.” And he said: that’s the name of the project!
I loved the idea. I ran to the Cormoran, who was making a fire, told him the name and he loved it. It would be Rosemary Dream (the English version of Rosemari). We would have the honor of continuing the dream of Dona Rose. We tell her and her family about the idea of the name. At first she did not like it that much, but her husband looked at us with a different look of approval. He had liked it. We told her then that we did not know if it was going to be that name, but in all the presentations of the project we were already calling it Rosemary. There was no way it couldn’t be. It was Rosemary Dream!
Believing in the Dream
H – Before you even bought the land, you already had volunteers willing to help with the project. How did this happen?
YC – At first we thought about finding partners. We talked to everyone in our circle of friends who we thought would have some identity with the project. But nobody was on board. Everybody said that they could not give up their lives to play in a project in Brazil that was just a dream in the heads of two crazy people.
Until a couple of our friends from Israel decided to come. They came, and we took them to live in the little house in the middle of the forest with us. No shower. It had an absurd amount of mosquitoes. We were used to it, but it was too much for them. They did not believe in what we were doing. They thought it was crazy. We spent all day studying, creating concepts, making presentations, with great enthusiasm, without even knowing if we could buy the land.
The experience was very intense for them. They did not adapt and they left. Again, it was just me and Cormoran and our dream.
That day, I got to the Cormoran, looked into his eyes and said, “It’s just you and me. You know you’re going to change your life. That will move to Brazil. That will have many challenges. We are entering a community of fishermen, we do not speak Portuguese right, we do not know what people will think of it. It will not be easy. But are you ready? ” And he said yes.
We realized then that everything that we had lived in our lives until then, was preparing us for that moment. We were ready. We sat together for three days and wrote the first vision of what the project would be. We did not know what would be born there. But we felt something very strong in our hearts that was bigger than us. Rationally, today, looking back, I can not explain where that whole force came from.
H – And when did the first volunteers actually arrive?
YC – We wrote the project description on the Workaway website and it was a great success. People started calling us, wanting to volunteer. At that time, we rented an apartment near the beach to have internet, we started to make contact with people and they started to come! We had nothing, we had no land, we did not know exactly what this project was, but people began to arrive.
We were just living the life of our dreams – immersed in nature, making real connections with people, treating people with love, without alcohol or any kind of drugs, cooking and eating healthy food … it was just a dream, but it started to infect people .
The volunteers did not fit in the apartment we were in, we had to rent other spaces, and when we saw we had 20 volunteers raising Rosemary without even knowing what Rosemary was. We did various activities with them: capoeira, blindfolded mountain trails, waking up at 5 am, doing exercises in the middle of nature, philosophizing about life … We formed a very strong bond of friendship.
Three is a Magic Number
H – At first it was just you and Cormoran. When did Yotam come?
YC: From the beginning, when we thought of someone to create the project with us, the first name that came into our heads was always Yotam. He arrived after 7 months. We were very happy that this happened because we were sure he understood the essence of the project. He has always been an example to people of simplicity, of true connection with nature, of humility, which are some of Rosemary’s core values. You look into his eyes and you can see that. You can see that it’s all true.
Sealing the Deal
H – And how was the day they finally closed the deal and bought the land?
YC – It was after 5 months of anxiety and waiting! We could not believe it. Cormoran and I got on the bike the day we signed the contract, he was hugging me, we were singing, very excited. The feeling was very crazy. We finally signed the contract. It was still a month before we could enter the land. On June 30, 2016, we finally moved to the mountain of dreams with the volunteers.
We followed the intense work of clearing the land and especially of understanding what was the project that was being born. It was during this time that the idea that what we were doing was an Empowerment Center came to mind. People were getting empowered to work on that project. More authentic. More strength. More alive. And we wanted to expand that, bring more people from all over the world to live this experience.
Cultivating Human Connection
H – And why do you think life in community matters?
YC – Nowadays, after living this time in community, I think there is no better way to live. One of our greatest current problems in society is depression, which is often caused by loneliness, isolation. And this is happening in all age groups. You can live in a city like New York, but still feel lonely. There are many people, but few real connections.
When you live in a group, you know all people. You are important to all of them. You greet everyone, hug everyone, connect with everyone. You feel more fulfilled. You feel part of something. If you live in a city, that does not happen. People are not part of a collective many times. We have friends, but friends have their lives, there is no connection of purpose, of values. The connection ends up being weaker. In a community, the connection is strong. You feel part of a group that can create change in society, live a different lifestyle. This is amazing.
The Rosemary Way of Life
H – What is the Rosemary lifestyle?
YC – Our pillars are very simple. First, it is to be healthy. Being healthy starts with nutrition and with awareness of what it is to be healthy. There is a lack of this knowledge, we know very little about our own body.
Nowadays it is difficult to understand what is good or bad for our bodies, because food companies do not want us to know what exists inside industrialized products. For example, the person looks at a product where it is written “sugar free” on the packaging. And the person thinks it is healthy without realizing that to be without sugar, many harmful chemicals to our body were inserted there! So first of all, you need to understand your body, observe how you feel after feeding it and choose the best fuels for your body.
The second part would be exercising, but it is important to think about what type of exercise. At Rosemary, we practice what we call natural movement – climbing trees, climbing, swimming. Exercising naturally means training with the things you have around you, with nature.
Even in cities, it is important to insert natural exercises into our day-to-day life, such as climbing the stairs to the office rather than using the elevator; leaving the car in the garage more and walking more Do not be afraid to use your body. We wake up, get in the car, sit down, come into the office, sit down, come home, sit on the couch.
We can use our body again without fear. Having a strong body means being able to use it in all situations of your life. It means being with the body ready to use it in a situation where you really will need it, in an emergency, either for you or to help someone. You feel really useful in this world.
Another strong pillar of our lifestyle is our connection to nature. At Rosemary we have this very strong concern of preserving nature, taking care of it, respecting it.
Even living in a big city, it is always possible to be attentive, observing nature, being aware of it and how you are a part of it. Only by creating this connection will you realize the difference in your inner peace. If you get lost in the concrete jungle and forget that you came from nature, I believe it will be difficult to find a true balance in your life.
We also believe in the importance of living with purpose, with values. Each person has their own values, the things in which they believe, that are connected to their heart. And whatever happens in your life is connected to it.
So it is important to know what your values are and live by them. This means that your actions are in line with what you believe. You become a trustworthy person, especially to yourself. You know who you are. And of course it starts to impact other people, to do something that is bigger than us, to live in service. To live without it is to live without purpose.
Freedom to Express Yourself
Another thing that is very important in Rosemary is being able to have the freedom to express yourself naturally. Living without fears of judgment, fear of other people, fear of not being good enough. It is having the ability to live each moment with intensity. If you love, you really love. If you cry, you really cry. If you dance, you really dance.
You let your inner child be free and stoke the fire inside you that will cause many changes in your life. It directly affects the energy that you radiate to the world. When you can express yourself in simpler things, such as in dance, you can express yourself in other important areas of life as well, because you are not afraid of judgments. You can live your dreams.
Another value that is part of our way of life is to be aware of how we treat people in our lives. Be someone who is always giving. Manifesting love. Caring for others. This comes back to you. Talk kindly to people. Use good words. Treat them with respect. Listen to them. Remember their names.
Have productive conversations. Help whenever possible. Do not be afraid to be close to people, to share your knowledge, to work with other people, to create with other people. Bring them to your house, go to their house.
People are living very separately – “this is my home, these are my things, this is my job, this is my life”. The idea is to realize that we are together. If you need I’ll give you as much as I can. Take away that feeling of separation we have.
And to close the list of our pillars, would always maintain that will that we have inside us the drive to never stop growing, to raise our standards. Grow in all aspects. Be a better human being. We commit ourselves to our constant personal development. This will to grow is our life force. Without growing, you begin to regress. We empower ourselves and empower the people around us as well.
That would be our lifestyle in a nutshell – health, living according to your values, connecting with nature, self-expression, freedom, purpose, loving, serving, and caring for others and keep on growing.
The Rosemary Method
H – Based on that, you’ve created a methodology. Can you talk more about her?
YC – Our way of living gave rise to a method we call Monkey, Monk and Modern Human, which represents health, mind and the social side.
Monkey is the health-related part – nutrition, exercise, self-expression connection with nature, our wild side. Monk is all connected to mind, emotional balance, growth, self-discipline, consciousness. Modern Human is the side of living in society, connecting with people, sharing, collaborating, creating a work aligned with its essence, etc.
Because the Rosemary idea is not necessarily to encourage people to live in nature. The idea is to create a place that gives people the skills they need to improve their lives. Most of us are living in modern society, so our idea is to help improve our life in society and not simply abandon it.
So our purpose is for people to experience this lifestyle in our space and be able to take those values - or a part of them – back to their homes. It’s very simple. If we each improve a little, we will have a huge impact on the world, our children will have a better future. We have to help each other, because transformation does not happen in a solitary way.
Replacing Substances with Natural Highs
H – No Rosemary Dream no drugs are allowed, no alcohol. Because?
YC – Because we feel that drugs are just an escape, an escape. We love life. If you live life in the best way, you do not need anything to make you escape from life. If you need alcohol to express yourself, you become dependent on it. Instead of overcoming your fears, you use a crutch for that.
We believe that if you strive to overcome your fears, get rid of judgment, and live the way you do well, you do not need alcohol or other substances for that. When you get rid of these substances, you begin to find natural ways to achieve those results yourself.
H – And here you receive people from all over the world, it’s a community made up of different cultures. Because?
YC – Because we do not believe in separateness. We believe that cultural differences are very beautiful because we learn a lot from others. The moment we stop looking at each other as separated from us, when we break the barriers people connect. We do not need separation, we are all the same. We think it’s past time for us to realize that. So let’s unite, learn, create real bonds, rather than judge people for differences.
H – What are the “family dinners” that happen at the Rosemary?
YC – We created this tradition in Rosemary. Twice a week, we make an open dinner for friends and friends of friends, they all sit down to eat together, to feed themselves on real nourishing food.
We have a very large table that is on the floor so everyone can eat together because we are all together. It is very important that everyone feels this. Even this is strange to people because they are accustomed to sitting alone to eat. Eating together opens up space for communication, for creating bonds between people.
Before dinner we always do a little ceremonial, thanks for the food, explain about the food. We also always make some kind of dynamic with people, to encourage them to talk, to express themselves, to get them out of the comfort zone, because it is very easy to feel small, not seen, almost disappearing. We do not let that happen. There’s always that tension in the air, like, “Will they call me to go up there?” This is purposeful. Because people are afraid of being judged, and if that happens, they can not be themselves. That is why in Rosemary we practice non-judgment.
At mealtime, people eat squatting, on small stools on the floor, because chairs are not good for our body. They are comfortable, but they are bad for our posture. We eat with chopsticks so we eat more slowly, pay attention to the food. It’s different than just picking up a fork full of food and putting it in the mouth. It requires more presence.
Life Changing Retreats
H – In addition to receiving volunteers and people who want to stay for a few days, you also have a 30-day empowerment program, Heart Attack. Can you talk more about him?
YC – As we realize that people often need something bigger, more time, more commitment to make changes, we have created an incredible and unique program in the world called HEART ATTACK (which will even have a new group starting in April 2019.)
We call this program Heart Attack because we want to create the same impact on a person’s life that a heart attack or some other serious illness would create. Why wait until you are 60, 70 years old, get sick and only then understand what really matters in life? We want to do this with people long before, so that they awaken that awareness and can live their life the way they really choose. It’s a shock, but the best shock they could imagine.
People come and spend 30 days here with us, in which we delve into our method through various workshops, activities and many experiences that make people completely out of their comfort zones and discover a lot of new things about themselves. It is very beautiful to observe this process.
We teach these people techniques that will help them challenge themselves in different situations and show them who they are. People end up discovering several potentials that were hidden within themselves. The program empowers people in ways they did not even believe would be possible.
They discover all this power, all those tools they had inside them, but which they had never used before. It is a deep inner dive where people have the chance to analyze their lives, to understand why they are where they are today. It is a very important step because we often do a lot of things in our life without even understanding why we are doing it. So in this process we help people visualize this and finally choose whether that makes sense or if they want to change their lives.
We shake up the whole system they are accustomed to and we offer various tools so they can make true transformations. That’s just a part of what I can say, since the element of surprise is an important part of that program. This is Heart Attack.
A Unique & Magic Place
H – When we read evaluations of people who have passed through Rosemary, words like “special,” “magical,” “unique,” “transformer” often come up as descriptions. Why do people who know Rosemary have this feeling?
YC – I think when people get here, they’re not expecting what’s going to happen. It’s something very unique. Some people think they are arriving in a hotel, hostel, a nice hostel, but they arrive here and realize that there is a different way of living. They realize that people treat each other differently. They eat differently. They do different activities.
So people are left with the question, “What is this place?” That makes the experience special. Not to mention the magical energy that the place has, all of nature. I feel that this place has its own energy that is very special. We just amplify that.
This all began with Dona Rose, who unfortunately died in January 2018. But her dream is still alive. And we feel very honoured and privileged to be giving continuity to it.
H – What impact do you want to create in the lives of the people who come here?
YC – We want people to come home feeling more alive. More grateful for their lives, for being alive here on planet Earth. More collaborative. More healthy. More authentic. More empowered to do and create whatever they want. And they can do this by implementing in their lives some of the little things they learned here by example.
We believe that our greatest contribution is not through formal teaching – it is through experience. Just by visiting us, or staying here for a few days, it is possible to inspire and bring changes to your life. The only thing that happens is the opening of a new portal in the minds of people that opens the way to a new way of living in society. When this portal opens, you can not close it. We are all living together and influencing each other on planet Earth, so every person who improves, also improves the world in some way. We are connected.
Feeling inspired? Check out our 30 day program Heart Attack, 8 day retreat Stopping The World or join our community!
Written in Portuguese for Redação Hypeness by Jacque Barbosa
Fotos: Krunal Padhiar & Pedro Cruz
Edits in English by Jasmine Sara