Saturday, November 28, 2009

Closing up ranch life, visa run, and Thanksgiving...

So we are winding down as the internship is coming to an end. Although Alex and I will be here until the end of December, most of the interns will be leaving this upcoming week. Our December will be much more low key, which we are looking forward to. We have been busy finishing up projects as the internship is coming to a close. We were able to take a mini-vacation to beautiful Granada, Nicaragua to renew our visas a week ago. We got back just in time for an amazing homemade Thanksgiving dinner. Here are a few more pictures...
An update on our future plans will be coming soon. Love you all.

Can you find Don Mario? He is 57 years old and probably the strongest man I have ever met. In this picture he has just scaled this tree about thirty feet up to harvest oranges. Unbelievable....

An educational mosaic ML has been working on. Depicting the broken cycle of the food and waste systems in developed nations. It still needs to be grouted.

Building walls with wattle and daub. (weaving bamboo, and sealing it with and earth, manure and clay mixture)

Alex and Jr. (brothers and friends from Mastatal)

Mastatal soccer team.

Harvesting cacao.

Cacao harvested. The bounty.

Lindsay, ML and Dalia at the "traveling discoteca". Because we are in such a rural location and there is very little going on.... there are mobile dances where the speakers, music and DJ are set up in the local community center. Over 200 people come from neighboring villages...a fantastic time had by all.

Workin' it. Learning some new moves.

Granada, Nicaragua.

Granada, Nicaragua.

Granada, Nicaragua.

Granada, Nicaragua.

Granada, Nicaragua.

One of three chickens we ate for Thanksgiving.

Alex was on slaughter duty, while I stuck with defeathering...

Friday, November 13, 2009

A closed circle feast.


A few weeks ago Alex won the lottery! The prize? One massive pierna de cerdo (pig leg). You might envision making a trip to the locally supermarket (which is more than an hour and half away from us) to pick up your prize, giddy with ticket in'd be wrong. Instead imagine driving your pickup two farms down to claim your still oinking pig. You'd work with four locals to weigh it, kill it, skin it, and butcher it appropriately. I'll spare you the rest of the gritty details....and voila! you have your prize. I do have to say there is something innately natural and satisfying about being in touch with the process that brings food to your plate. It's about honoring the animal's life which brings us the nutrition we need for sustenance.
We decided to take this occasion to celebrate and make a feast. We first smoked the leg in a homemade barrel-smoker using Mammonchino wood. We supplemented the pulled pork with barbecue sauce made from scratch, fresh baguette rolls cooked in our cob oven and a side of thyme mashed potatoes. All of it which was cooked on our stove fueled by the methane from our biodigester. The biodigester is fed by human and animal waste, and the methane which normally is lost in the atmosphere, is captured. The feast was enjoyed and shared by the interns and some of the locals.
We have spent many of our days learning of ways, big and small, how to live more "sustainably". We also have had many evenings to sit around and discuss what this buzz word actually means. Expanding sustainability beyond the environment, to include social, spiritual, economic, and political realms, and how it is applied to the individual and community. Realizing how little we do yet excited by the inexhaustible opportunities to improve life. We are trying figuring out what role we want to have in this reconciliation process, but foremost recognizing how all aspects of life are interconnected.
Currently we are focusing on learning new techniques and practices to live and utilize the earth's resources in more responsible ways. This includes energy, food production, building, and using the land's natural assets to work for not against us. Having said all this, I do realize how much easier it is to live a simplified lifestyle in rural Costa Rica than it is back in the States. When you have access to less and are in an agrarian society, life is naturally different. The majority of the world lives in or around cities, and according to migration patterns there is no sign of change in this movement. We have to bridge old and new schools of thought to live more sustainably in urban areas if this is our future. I get most excited thinking about finding creative ways to be involved in this process wherever we may be in the coming years.

Just thought I would share a few thoughts on this rainy day. Hope this finds you all well.


A few more photos....

Most of the women at the ranch.

The chicken coop- home to the 27 ladies the provide eggs for the ranch.

Sophia, Moiseus, and Jasmine.

A bamboo structure: "Tiburons"

18 people in the bed of a pickup truck? Check.

Rural life...The Costa Rican cow

One of the bamboo structures: "The Hooch"

Cob oven used for baking.

Jenny, Kattia, Maria-Laura, and Sebastian on Halloween.

Alex roasting cocoa.

Our biodigester which fuels 60 percent of our cooking.

Mammonchino fruit (kinda like lychees). This wood is used when we are smoking meat and vegetables to give it a sweeter taste.