Published: December 23rd 2010December 13th 2010
michelle in the front garden
michelle is a long term caretaker who pretty much rocks at all things garden related.
It has been said many times that the best of journeys start at 3 in the morning. Or maybe it was only said once. just now. by me. what's the point? uhm...i guess just that i had to get up at 3am to drive 3 hours to the albuquerque airport to catch my flight to costa rica. correction: awesome girlfriend, her seester, and i had to get up at 3am and drive me 3 hours to the airport. these details are important in order to give credit where it is due. Thank you, Dani and Hillary; you're the best. i should probably just get on with it then.
I decided to spend my month-long winter break in costa rica because i've heard it's the happiest place on earth. and there are monkeys. these really are the only two reasons one should go anywhere.
the flight was pretty standard, so we'll skip all that. what is worth noting, however, is that i neglected to follow up with the ranch i had arranged to volunteer with for the first two and a half weeks of my trip until 12am the night before i was leaving. this means i didn't really have any
clue where i was going to be staying when i arrived in a strange land. for those who know me, hearing things like this from me is fairly commonplace. at least i'm consistent. so i tossed an email into the cyber wind and hoped for the best; and of course, because life and i are best friends these days, i received an email the next day as i was making my way through various airports, inviting me to 'come on out on monday.' thanks, life. high five. i stayed 2 nights at a pretty fancy hostel, as hostels go, selected randomly from a list, of course, for only $13 a night. again, life has given me the nod, "don't worry, bryan, i got this." awesome.
speaking of awesome, please stop reading this right now and book a flight to costa rica and stay at Rancho Mastatal. you won't be disappointed. the bus ride there is...kind of long and likely sweaty, but well worth it. the best part was when we came to a washout, sat at said washout for 30 minutes, and then finally decided everyone should get out and the bus should go across the washout sans passengers.
this is exactly what happened. we loaded back up and were on our way. what washout?
the bus drops you off right in front of Rancho Mastatal. how convenient. the first person i saw as i walked into the main house was a young woman in an apron that read, "Don't Fuck With the Cook." She said to me in an unfamiliar accent, "Adam?" i said, "no, i'm bryan." she lookedslightly perplexed and said, "oh." i wondered if the owner, Tim, had thought to inform anyone that i'd be coming. just then another young woman came around the corner and greeted me. she also asked if i was Adam. I assured her i was not. but oh, to be adam and to be expected. she took me up to the building i'd be staying in, told me dinner is at 7pm, in an hour or so, and then left me in a dark, strange, bunk room.
dinner is delicious and starts with joining hands at the large wooden tables in the dining area. those inspired to do so speak about what or who they are thankful for (for a really long time); and then we eventually get to
dig in. after dinner i pretty much just crash out because, as noted earlier, i've been up since 3am and am completely useless for anything other than sleeping or drooling mindlessly. or both.
days start at 6:45am, unless you're on breakfast crew, in which case your day starts at 5:30am. after breakfast we have a meeting where the day's tasks are doled out and announcements are made. tasks can range from gardening to building to taking care of animals to cleanup to...making crafts? sure why not. we work diligently until about noon or noon-thirty when the conch shell is blown, calling us all in to eat a delicious lunch made with whole foods, often from the gardens. after lunch is some more working, and then maybe a trip to the waterfall or some quality time with a hammock and a book. it's pretty rough living.
want to know what kind of work i've been doing? sure you do. i've been mulching trees, planting seeds, tearing down old composting toilets, pooping in newer composting toilets that make methane gas for cooking (awesome), making meals, eating meals, cleaning up after meals, hauling composted human poop (also known as humanure), playing
guitar, singing songs, doing laundry, peeing outside like i'm 8 again, patching cobb buildings with a muddy mixture involving cow manure, and other stuff too. you may have noticed that much of what we do involves feces. yep. it sure does. living sustainably means finding 101 uses for poop. that's what i've learned here. that, and dancing to latin music is a lot of fun. that's a story for another day though. my fingers don't feel like typing anymore, so ...enjoy the photos. thanks for reading!
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