Monday, March 28, 2011

Day 56

It has been so nice to have Jon here! It's raining today, so we're all taking it easy... Here's Jess, getting ready to serve up a hot breakfast of delicious kitten...And an amazing golden crysalis that Marisa found near the shala... I wonder who used to be inside?
This guy was evading the camera...
And so was this guy...
Yesterday, Marcelo showed us how to make maté cocido (cooked maté), and I have been dreaming of it since. Oh my gosh, how many wonderful ways there are to enjoy this drink! In order to make it, you sweep some red hot coals into a pitcher, pour a few spoons full of sugar (about 1/3 cup) over the coals and some maté leaves too (1/2 cup), and shake it all up well. Then, pour hot water over that to fill the pitcher (about 1 liter), and put it on to boil. Once it boils, it's ready to drink... smoky, sweet, delicious.
Jon and I went on a crystal hunt today after the rain we've had. We found many crystals and also some other fun things like these flowers, which are all spirals, wound together.
We also walked up to Jon's field and waited for critters to appear. We saw a number of insects, and a few birds too, but no snakes or lizards like we had hoped... We did have fun sticking plant burrs on each other while we waited though...
In the jungle, it's a must to carry your machete everywhere, just in case you need to hack a path, or poke at anything that is too far away to reach easily...
Caterpillars are coming back!
Look at this little ginger fuzz head! I've never seen anything quite like him...
Funny caterpillars, funny world.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Day 55

I woke up early and popped down to the kitchen to get breakfast ready for Marcelo and I. We hopped into the car and headed to town to pick up Jon at the bus station in Obera just after 8.Standing in front of the double-decker bus, I was looking through the windows, trying to see who was getting off… no one I recognized. And then he appeared, standing in line, looking around. I let out a little squeal and raced toward him. I don’t think he saw me until I started hugging him, and we didn’t stop for a long time. Another member of our new tribe arrived today with Jon too! Tom, one of Jess’ good friends from Canada.

It is so amazing that he is actually here. The whole time I have been envisioning him here, since he came last fall, trying to imagine Mama Roja through his eyes. Now we get to experience it together first hand! What a wonder!

After doing some brief catch-up and checking in at Esso (will it be everyone’s favorite hot-spot?) we headed to the grocery store for provisions, and to Refugio Verde for some forgotten items from the other night before returning home.

Four of our members left today after lunch. Marisa, Coop, and Jo are headed to Rainbow with Kim and Marcelo before they go onward. Hopefully we’ll see them in a few days when we arrive! Clay left later in the afternoon on his way to Rosario before he returns to Canada.

Over the month we collectively made all of these spoons!
And Marcelo taught us a new special way to drink maté: maté cocido! It involves hot coals, so naturally I am drawn to it. I like to live on the edge!
Marisa and Coop, packing...
And Clay reading before his departure...
Everyone left just after lunch. The changing of the guard has begun...
So, now it is Jess and Tom, Jon and Me, here on the farm, taking care of the animals, relaxing, settling in. It’s raining cats and dogs here, so we’re not feeling much like setting up tents. Jon and I are going to make the cosmic cabin, which he built while here, into our home for the time being. The roof leaks, so we have put Keren’s tarp over it to keep our bed dry. We have yoga mats and sleeping pads stacked up on the bed frame (because we don’t have a mattress yet)… hopefully it will be comfy enough for tonight! The biggest challenge was getting the door on its hinges. We finally have, but it doesn’t close all the way. Still, it’s better than no door. And now we are done, and it’s nice to have time just to do nothing at all. We had a lovely dinner of leftovers and went to sleep early. I know that Jon and Tom are tired after two days of traveling!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Day 54

Today feels heavy as I get ready for everyone to leave tomorrow. Why is transition so hard?The energy flying around here is somewhat frantic and excited and strange.

We finished mudding Kim and Marcelo’s house this morning, and then put together a new mix with extra cow poop and sand. We will let it ferment for a while, and then use it as plaster. Apparently if it ferments it works even better… I cannot remember how or why, but really… why not? (On a side note, I bet that fermented cow poop that Paulina has from her biodigester at Chakra Suiza would make great cobb mix and plaster!)

We had the rest of the day off to do what we wished. Jo and I helped Kimberly make lunch. After lunch I finished my book, took a good long soak in the stream with Jess and Marisa, and then did some craniosacral with Jess in the shala. We all played cards, and spent time hanging out together until dinner. It’s hard to believe that four of our members are leaving tomorrow. And Jon is arriving! I know we will probably all see each other at the Rainbow Gathering later in the week, but it still feels poignant that our time together is winding down so quickly.

I think this part of the internship here might be the hardest- getting used to all the change at the end of each month. Saying goodbye to some friends, and then embracing new ones as we figure out our new dance around the farm together. I am so excited to that Jon will be part of that! I wonder what things will be like when the new internship starts at the end of this week… oh gosh. Here we go!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Day 53

This morning after breakfast we headed to Chakra Suiza, another local sustainable farm.Paulina, the woman that owns it, is 73, with Swiss roots, and she and her family do a remarkable job producing most (if not all) of their own food as well as many extras to sell to others.

I fell in love with her little pregnant weiner dog who is due to give birth next week. It was so cool to feel the puppies moving around in her belly!

Paulina showed us around her farm, her extensive gardens, and some of the many wonders she has maintained there.

Here is where roselle comes from... it is the meaty part behind the hibiscus petals!
The beautiful water hyacinth here are in the little frog pond beside the garden. Paulina keeps the pond there for insect control!
This carrot gone to seed looked JUST like Queen Anne's Lace... I was amazed!
Paulina pulled up this mandioca for us to see...

Apart from so many fruits and vegetables, Paulina has a biodigester on her farm that collects the gas produced by cow manure mixed with water. Two small buckets of poop are all that is needed to make all of the gas they use to cook and for other farm uses each day.

Curious piggies...

The other amazing thing is a pyramidal root cellar that they have there. It’s oriented in a specific direction so that it captures lots of good energy from the universe. Apparently, if you put dead batteries in there for two weeks, it will recharge them (even if they’re not rechargeable!)… so very cool!

I got to try my hand at milking a cow for the first time... and it wasn't too hard! I guess all that midwifery training really paid off...
They make and sell many different grass-fed preserved and smoked meats at Chakra Suiza, and oh my goodness they are delicious! You would have been in heaven Stephen...
Baby sleeping in meat kitchen... so comforting and warm... oh, wait.
Doesn't this little kitten look like Conan? She was his doppelganger...

Paulina and her daughter cooked us the most delicious lunch, and we all feasted outside~

Paulina says her solar cooker can boil a kettle of water in 20 minutes on a sunny day... that's 10 minutes faster than our propane stovetop can do it at Mama Roja!

Paulina makes delicious jams and tinctures too... here is the one I bought: pear and canela jam.
We spent a few hours in town while we waited for the hot springs to open, but by the evening had discovered that they are closed due to the drought. So, on a whim, we all decided to go to Kim and Marcelo’s friend Fabian’s house. He runs a hostel called Refugio Verde (Green Refuge) that is a gorgeous teeny world nestled into the jungle.
We went swimming in the pool, something I haven’t done in ages, we had a techno dance party for a good long time (Coop had some awesome moves, and even taught us how to sign the “What is love? Baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me no more…” with ASL), ordered the most delicious empanadas I have ever had, and enjoyed hours of wonderful conversation. What an amazing day!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Day 52

Today it rained all morning. We had expected to be finishing the mudding on Kim and Marcelo’s house, but instead we spent the morning in the kitchen making salve and castile soap. Here is Jo, cutting the lard for our soap...
And Clay, stirring it with sunflower oil until it melts...
After adding caustic soda that had been mixed with water, and stirring it all up until it was like thin cake batter, we poured it into our molds and added tidbits for fun: oats, flowers (dried and fresh, just to experiment), essential oil, and various spices. The turmeric soap turned the most beautiful orange! Can you see it here?
I've been working on finishing up Prodigal Summer before Jon gets here... Kayla is hoping to squeeze it in before Sasha gets back!
We also made aloe vera balm with aloe from our garden. We first peeled the aloe, then ground it in the hand crank blender before squeezing the juice out through cheese cloth. We're experimenting with different amounts of Vitamin E, used both because it's good for the skin and because it's a good preservative.
Coop, Kayla, and I made a coffee cake with the dulce de batata that I brought home yesterday... isn't it beautiful?
In the afternoon we worked in the garden transplanting leafing seedlings (today is the day for that according to the biodynamic calendar) and amending the soil. Look at how well the blissful wife beans are doing! They already have bean pods on them!!!
These little beetles were all excited about this one part of the adzuki bean plant... I wonder why?
These little eggplant flowers are so beautiful!
and this blossom was filled with water like a little fairy goblet...
Here are our seedlings. Some are doing well, and some got munched because we planted them too early (here, if you plant in the summer, they get eaten because there are too many pests around still.)
baby beetlets!
Garden beauty:
I have been so excited that Jon is coming that I can barely sleep, and I am not hungry (so unlike me!) It’s so hard to wait… he leaves tomorrow!