Monday, August 25, 2008

The Wonders, A Wondering, Some Wandering...

There was the full moon, and a lunar eclipse, and the wild energies of the Red Lady. She had us learning our lessons in the mud this last week, redefining Sustainability in this deep jungle, and reaffirming our dedication to this adventure.

Beautiful days, some quick, hard rain, and the fabulous full-force waterfall... Here´s two volunteers (Eleanor and Chris) enjoying the water and the laguna, which are fantastic after a sunny morning at work on the garden...

Planting some seeds in the boxes we made out of old pallets-- seeds from all over: gifts from neighbors and local farmers, some picked in Thailand and Texas, some found along the way. All hopes of a delightful first garden.

And so...

When the clouds are thick on the valley floor and the humidity rolls around us like a thick white blanket, it occurs to us how lovely it might be to have a house. Don´t get us wrong-- tent life is grand, especially next to our Babbling Brook snuggled in between beautiful trees... but a little porch for the (funky toothless wonder) dog, and a dry spot to rest our weary heads... mmmmm.

But we tried with all earnestness and strength to start an earthbag cottage... A lovely little round spot to cuddle up... but my prayers must have been misunderstood because instead it puddled up! When we started to dig the trench foundation, we hit water-- lots of water-- and had to take a moment to reconfigure our earthen ideas. Long emotional story short, we are now using the available wood harvested from the fallen trees on our land to build our first cottage. Something creative and loving and not full of jungle water!! We have the help of our neighbor, Juan (the carepenter- extraordinaire) helping us, and a few volunteers to lend a hand. This is the first part: the posts and the floor frame, and lots of stacked lumber (which we are doing a trade for with our sawmill neighbor.)

More photos of the cottage and garden as they progress...

Send prayers and good energy our way!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Giant Worms and Crystals

Digging our beds, we discovered all sorts of wonderful things-- like gigantic earthworms and rocks that have crystal bellies!! It makes garden bed-making delightful, amusing, and full of ooohs and ahhhs as we all run to see what the others have found.

Pulling out the rocks from the garden spot isn´t so bad when the rocks sparkle and charm you when you wash them off in the river. Marcelo, Chris, Eleanor, and Danielle couldn´t get enough!

Community Kitchen Goes Up!

We built our community kitchen this last week, with recycled hardwood posts, site-found wood (Canela Laurel trees), galvanized tin for the roof, and good help!

Marcelo, Juan (our neighbor and carpenter-extraordinaire), Elorry and Paxcal (two great volunteers), and Kimberly (taking the photo).

Creativity comes in handy out here. We used oil drums for ladders, and to get to that super high beam, our truck was put to good use.

Once the structure was up, we moved in the goods, including our food for the week, pots and pans, and a fantastic table made out of recycled pallets...

(The kitchen is now more organized than this photo shows, although I think it is a perpetual work-in-progress...)

... and we installed our "big bertha"
wood-burning cookstove on a
stone-laid floor made by Elorry...

...and Juan and Kimberly built a firewood stand just outside the kitchen to the left of the stove (not pictured) to keep our wood dry even in the jungle humidity and rain...

...and our simple dish-washing station proves to be water-effecient and fun!
(as modeled here by Kimberly and Eleanor)
And we also built our humanure compost pile with pest-proof wire mesh and the tops of the canela laurel trees (left-over from the kitchen structure.) So far the compost toilet filled with sawdust from the local mill has been working great...

And let´s not forget the fridge-- a total ecological necessity if one is to store butter, dulce de leche, dulce de batata, and milk from the neighbor´s cows! The 5-gallon bucket in the creek with a rock on top works great... and it´s just below our tent site for midnight snacking and splashing.

And we have a front gate! Mostly to keep the neighbor´s cows from wandering in and eating our soon-to-be-planted garden, but also to add a little prestige to our humble wilderness abode.

You can´t really make it out in this photo, but you have to go down the rose-lined road and cross the creek to officially "arrive" at Mama Roja.