We merged our passions... natural building & sustainable living combined with yoga & an intention to hold space for others to heal and be well
It's our pleasure to welcome you to our home where we live, build, create, teach and hold space.
Rory is from Ireland; I - Ashley - am from the United States. We've both traveled and lived in various parts of the world before moving to Portugal to embark on this part of our journey, together.
During his career as a civil engineer, Rory was already interested in natural building and sustainable ways. He worked as a project manager in New York, Australia and Ireland. While completing a Master's Degree in Sustainable Architecture, he began dreaming about building a large scale project with these principles.
Rory gained most of his initial hands-on building experience in Guatemala. He had the opportunity to apply some of the techniques as a volunteer building homes for families there using solely natural materials. When the projects were finished, he wasn't quite ready to move on from Guatemala so he built an Irish Bar and later a backpackers hostel in the Unesco Heritage Site of Antigua. Since then, Rory completed a Permaculture Design Course to complement his knowledge base of natural building methods.
For as long as I can remember I have sought a sense of peace and healing within not only myself but also those around me. Since I was 15 years old, this peace I was seeking has been found on my yoga mat via its practices. The Yoga practice has become a lifestyle, and has served as a healthy way to manage my mental health and ride both the highest and the lowest waves of life.
An inner motive to care for others is what likely drew me to my first career as a nurse. During my years working on Pediatric Critical Care Units, yoga kept me grounded and well — mentally, physically and emotionally — to provide care for these families in times of crisis.
Being a nurse taught me so much and I continue to integrate the teachings into my life and current work as a Yoga Teacher, Facilitator of Yoga Teacher Trainings and manager of Cara Creek Eco Lodge.
Rory and I got together while I was taking some time out from my nursing career and traveling through Guatemala on a 6 month trip through Central & South America. We fell in love, and soon began blending our individual passions and dreaming of a place built naturally, run sustainably and being immersed in nature where we'd incorporate ways to contribute to the wellness of others.
We chose Portugal for its friendly people and strong sense of community, and moved here in January 2017 (just one year after meeting in Guatemala) with our dogs Hugo and Harvey.
It all happened quickly!
Three short weeks after landing in Portugal, we found the land for sale and were in complete awe of its raw and wild beauty… That land is now known as Cara Creek Eco Lodge.
We were totally drawn in by the River Seia rushing along the bottom of the meticulously stone-terraced slope. Although the land was overrun with the non-native invasive species of mimosa trees, we could totally see past the work of clearing, reforesting, and building a future here.
We've found a way to manage the mimosa tree species by implementing permaculture principles along the way. Slowly we're planting a more native and diverse selection of trees and plants. We also grow food and keep chickens for eggs. Four dogs, two cats, and two goats all with unique and lovely personalities not to mention beautiful birds and wildlife of this valley are part of the Cara Creek family too.
The first 2 years of living in a tent while building the space presented it's challenges, of course. The elements and nature have held us and continue to teach us so much. It has been and continues to be a journey and labor of love with a deep appreciation and adoration for the wild nature that surrounds us... Even when it surprises us with stormy setbacks!
Many of the designs have been inspired by living on-site with the cycles and patterns of nature. We're always expanding and making improvements to the space, and we're so happy to be at a stage where we can share the space with you!
We hope that you come and enjoy this little piece of paradise as we do, embracing it's raw & natural beauty.