December 23, 2008

The Awesome Organic Farm

I was invited to spend Christmas with the National Geographic photographer and his family. (Including the ambassador to Austria and the head of the United Nations anti corruption division for all Latin America). I was elated to accept, but needed a place to stay for the week where I would spend no money. It is my priority to start work before I burn through any money, so I was on the hunt to find an alternative .

La Finca

Sometimes life just sucks.

But you gotta take it in stride, you know, recall the big picture, give it some context, laugh a little.

Like being stuck without electricity for a week – On an organic vegetarian finca (farm), Comun de Rhiannon, in the highlands of Ecuador.

The clouds shoot down the valleys at eye level only a thousand feet in front from me.

Oh, and candle candelabras, and candles jammed into wine bottle necks, and candles propped up in old spaghetti jars...

Like changing my sleep schedule.

At the farm I woke up at 6:30 for yoga and later a fresh cooked vegetarian breakfast, enjoying the sunrise all the while. Then I hit the sack at 8pm, a great night's sleep for certain. And did I mention meeting amazing people from all over the world who live openly and love well? Right. It sure is awful to not have electricity.

Like digging a giant hole for hours a day and laying brick.

It's free to stay at the farm if you work 20 hours a week. I took it upon myself to build a giant fire pit. After all, what good is a gorgeous night view of the valleys filled with clouds and a sky full of stars without a bonfire?

The pit turned out awesome. There is a paint can that leads from the bottom of the 2' basin to a chasm of two more feet of boulders and rocks to create a drain. Mucho trabajo. I'm so elated with the result!

Check out my next post for details on how to build your own pit....

Like having toilets that do not flush.

Well, they weren't supposed to. They were naturally composting toilets. Pee in one hole. Poo in the other. Dilute the urine with water, a 1:10 ratio, and use to fertilize trees. After you poop, toss one scoop of a specific kind of wood chip in the hole. After six months the poop has naturally biodegraded and can be used for fertilizer.

Like not having hot showers.

After a long day's work, I wanted a shower. But with the evening comes strong winds carrying clouds, which has a huge wind chill factor. The temperature is actually between 60-65, but it feels about 50. A cold shower isn't desired. So... I didn't take a shower for five days. Then I decided to boil two tea kettles, toss it in a medium sized tub with cold water, and slowly bathe myself. I borrowed clothes from Nikki – It was my first time being clean in quite a while. Either way, I loved the feeling of living out there. My hair was full of dust, my skin always a bit crusty from the mix of sweat, sunscreen, and dust, and, well, I suppose I didn't care too much for how the clothes felt on my skin. A bit too crusty for my taste.

Like not having access to any stores whatsoever.

But our pantry was always stocked with fresh fruits, veggies, grains, and pasta. And every Saturday the Fruit Man and his wife came to coerce us to buy their delicious fresh wares.

OK, so I loved not having electricity, and I loved waking up with the sun.

I did get bit by a dog, but I am up on my tetanus. And life goes on. (Sorry mum – I deliberately didn't tell you!)

It was also one of the most cleansing retreats in years. There is much baggage that comes from living in the States. Consumerism. Sense of entitlement. Mandate for quality control. And many other components of life that are entirely superfluous, but that I am accustomed to. Life on the farm purified and simplified me – It forced me to immediately confront these concepts and strip myself of them. When I returned back to the city it was much easier to deal with the bored store employees, the inattentive waiters, and the dirty doors inside of nice buildings. I feel so much better now. Life is easier. Less stress. Less conflict. Pura vida.

The sense of community was captivating. We all worked together, cooked together, laughed together, sang together, drank together.

Lunch with my new fam on the last day at the farm

I left 13 good friends at the farm. A tear fell as I drove away, expectant for my next unexpected adventure, and crestfallen to leave a truly refreshing atmosphere. I will decidedly return to the farm before I fly back to the States.

:P Con carino,


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