how rosemary was born
where it all started
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.
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
And how were the following days in Barra da Lagoa?
Yaniv Charlap – 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 history behind the land of rosemary
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
“When we were first here in Barra da Lagoa, we heard of 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 she entrusted this land to us.”
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