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Teresa Ruiz, on slow living in Andalucía, Spain

Immerse yourself in a serene and visually appealing narrative that explores how you can embrace a life of exceptional living and slowness.

Teresa Ruiz, on slow living in Andalucía, Spain
Teresa Ruiz

When I first met Teresa, it came to my mind that she has a special aura; she is that kind of person who is pure light. So I wanted to know more about her story, her life, and how she manages to keep peace inside her head and heart in this tumultuous, always-in-a hurry world.

And I also wanted to discover every corner of her finca, Ematejo, which is, without any shadow of exaggeration, a sublim place with extraordinary energy, almost like a visual therapy.

With that said, I am inviting you to immerse yourself in a serene and visually appealing narrative that explores how you can embrace a life of exceptional living and slowness.

And why not plan your vacation at Ematejo? I currently reside extremely near Teresa's house, so we could be neighbours. 😄

Teresa, at age 61, you are one of the most active women I know. You run your own business, practice yoga, and attend painting classes. How do you embrace the art of living beautifully?

By making everything a priority. I have always enjoyed painting and yoga; they are part of my life. When you integrate everything into yourself, you start to prioritise each activity. For me, these are activities that I engage in on a daily basis, not work. There's no mystery about it.

I have always had a habit of introspection. I have always had an interest in nature. However, there are times in life when you find yourself unable to pursue these interests, as was the case for me. I was born in this village, but I did not grow up here because my parents had to relocate to Bilbao, in northern Spain, due to immigration at the time.

This is where I spent my whole childhood and youth. Here, I met the love of my life, the father of my children, and got married before moving to Madrid. And in Madrid, I started my own family; this is where my two children were born, and I began working.

To answer your question, I have not always had the intention of returning here. I did not grow up or live in the countryside. But I've always had the feeling that the countryside air is always with me.

One of the things that has stayed with me since living in Cognac is the naturalness with which the French transform an apparently trivial habit (buying bread) into a true ritual meant to brighten their mornings. Can you tell me about your rituals?

One of the first things I do when I wake up, when I open my eyes, is to feel alive and grateful, saying, "I have another day, another gift to improve myself and complete all of the projects and things I have." Because each day is a gift. Just like every time I close my eyes and go to sleep, I say thank you for the day I received.

Because everything is fine, everything is in order, and my ritual is to first give thanks before going out to this work of art that I have created and integrating myself into it, listening to the symphony of the birds, and sweeping my porch every morning. I also have my hens. That is my almost daily morning ritual.

You have a splendid finca, called Ematejo. From the outside, it looks like you live in paradise. Could you please explain the efforts and labour involved in maintaining such a finca?

Raluca, it all comes down to perseverance. I’ve erased the word “work” from my vocabulary. The words we've learned, such as "work," feel like burdens on our shoulders. I do not have work; I have never had work. I have consistently pursued various occupations and dreams. And there has been a great deal of perseverance behind those occupations and dreams.

Everything you see here, my castle, fortress, and masterpiece, is the result of my strong belief in myself. It has not been straightforward at all. Everything you like and want to achieve does not happen overnight. You have to nurture it. When you light a fire, you must continue to add wood to keep it burning well. Indeed, nearly everything is essentially identical. Everything is interconnected, and nothing exists in isolation. Similarly, I have a garden, and in order to harvest delicious tomatoes and fruits, I must weed it every day. The same applies to everything.

This used to be a tool shed; the entire area was a mountain, but I have a lot of imagination. Yes, I am a very imaginative and creative woman, and I used to sit on the mountain, which was once just a mountain, and imagine everything how I wanted it to be. I carried it out step by step, tackling each problem with a solution and never giving up. Well, how am I going to deal with it? The truth is that when you believe in the energies that are currently circulating, you will see results. That is how my life was until I built everything you see here.

I saw that you grow some of your own vegetables. In what other ways do you embrace the concept of slow and sustainable food? What are your favourite dishes to cook and eat?

I enjoy cooking in general. I really enjoy it, and it is even better if I can share my cooking with my friends. This is where my creativity flourishes. My favourite dish is lettuce; I could eat it every day. I enjoy a hearty salad consisting of lettuce, grated carrots, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Above all else, I prefer very transparent cooking. Not many ingredients are used.

I like vegetables in all of their forms. Obtaining them from my own garden enhances the experience. Today, I ate some picked tomatoes and some green beans with olive oil on top, and I believe it was one of the most delicious treats you can eat.

To eat well, you do not have to go to a fancy restaurant or spend a lot of money. You simply need to be creative with what you have. The body requires minimal nourishment; all you need to do is recommit to listening. We often fail to listen to the wise body that we have.

I have been a vegetarian for a long time. I have never really liked meat. At home, of course, my mother would serve meat, and as a child, I was clearly on a different wavelength.

I like to compare humans to onions, peeling away layers. Currently, I am nearing the core layer and have shed numerous layers. I have always thought of myself as a human being, like an onion with leaves to peel off.

Among those layers, I ate meat, but I was never a meat lover. I have always preferred fish and vegetables, and as I became more aware of myself and my lifestyle, I began to pay closer attention to what food means.

Tell me about your home. Tell me which corner or object is your favourite.

Telling you which corner is my favourite would be difficult because there is not just one. Each corner has its own soul. Not a single stone was brought in by chance. Everything is created with dedication, effort, and love. So, this corner, where we are now, is my favourite place to be in the afternoon. However, at night, I enjoy going up to my room and seeing all of the mountains because the walls are glass. Oh, this makes me happy. But if we go to the porch by the kitchen, where the pool is, and I sit there admiring the flowers and my plants, I say, "What a lovely patio I have!"

Inside my house, I enjoy the summer dining room, which is entirely glass and has a unique touch at each point. Ematejo, my house, has a distinct charm for each occasion. I am content in any setting. In the winter, I spend most of my time in the winter dining room, surrounded by a lit fireplace and my large work table, basking in the warmth of the fireplace. Thank you, thank you, and thank you to life for everything it has given me!

Your finca, Ematejo, also has a commercial component. You have an apartment with a pool that you rent out on Airbnb. Please tell me more about this activity of yours.

The layout of Ematejo wasn't always this way. Due to the house's large size and the unused upper level, I undertook a transformation. So, while I was abroad in England, I decided to make the most of Ematejo.

More than economic profit, Ematejo is about having fun with family, beautiful people, and friends. Sharing what you have built with other families.

I transformed the upper level, did some renovations, and expanded the pool to provide more comfort. I am delighted to share this environment with families from all over the world. I have had guests from New York, Australia, and various other places. Giving what I have to others brings me immense comfort.

How are the people who choose to enjoy your apartment for a few days?

Look, darling. I am saying they are families, people with eyes to see and hearts to feel. Not everyone visits a village like this, lost in the mountains, where the road is curvy rather than straight. Therefore, one must possess a soul to truly experience it. And when people see photos of Ematejo on Booking or other websites, I believe they see the soul—a place with its own personality.

I am in love with the concept of the "melting pot," and I love embracing what is beautiful and belongs to other cultures. Please tell me how being of Spanish origin has helped you live so beautifully.

I empathise deeply with others. I enjoy giving what I would like to receive. I love sharing everything. If I had to sum it up in one word, it would be empathy.

There are no negative aspects. Everyone is great. They don't do things a certain way because they don't know how, not because they're bad. They simply do not know another way. They carry a lot of darkness within them. I understand that there is always light inside people.

What does happiness mean to you?

We all have two wonderful friends in our lives. Fear and ego. They are constantly fighting against each other, preventing you from moving forward. What one takes from the other determines whether you favour one over the other. Fear hinders you. I discovered that fear blocks, paralyses, and prevents you from being creative. Ego not only destroys you but also makes you unpleasant, as it elevates you above everything and everyone, rather than allowing you to remain grounded. We are very fragile, just as humans are extremely fragile in all aspects. Your life disappears with the snap of your fingers; you break an arm, fall into depression, and everything else fades away.

We must stop and be in the "here" and "now." If you ask me right now, what's the most important day of your life? - Right now, this conversation, this table, and this coffee are important to me. Everything in the past has already happened. It frustrates me to think about the past and what I needed to do but didn't. And thinking about the future—what I am going to do and what I want—suffocates me, depresses me, and causes anxiety. Stop! Neither one nor the other.

For me, happiness refers to specific moments. There is no eternal happiness, as depicted on television. No, I believe that happiness comes from feeling positive about yourself. You can be content every day of your life if you adopt a different attitude and approach. I am consistently pleased and satisfied with my life. Maybe one day my back hurts more, one day I am tired, and another day someone says something stupid to me. But these are external things; how do I deal with them? I am content if I approach it positively and acknowledge that it is not mine.

What people inspire you?

If I look at the male side, I would say that a certain era inspired me a lot.

Álex Rovira Celma is a psychologist and an extraordinary person. I have taken classes with him, and I love his way of seeing life. Alex Rovira is one of my mentors and inspirations in life.

Mario Alonso Puig also inspires me a lot.

Everything I read, I put into practice. I have implemented all the lessons that have influenced me. There is a short book that I will continually recommend: "The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom" by Dr. Miguel Ruiz. These four agreements have been my bible, and I have always kept that book with me because I wanted it to become part of me. I try to do a little more every day, and I try not to judge. If someone wants something, they can ask me; if something about me bothers them, they can tell me. However, I will avoid making assumptions because they don't provide any useful insights.

But my gurus are: Álex Rovira Celma, Mario Alonso Puig.

More about Ematejo can be found via the link below.