It has been ten days since I have written here. I’ve lost all sense of time here at Rancho Margot and it’s so liberating not to carry around a phone or a wallet all the time. Time moves fast here and I’m excited to get up every single morning and live. I feel like I’m living in a different world here, it’s exactly what I’m supposed to be doing, it’s my time. I bring my computer down every evening after yoga, thinking I will sit down and write about what I learned and what I did that day. I’m constantly lured away by interesting conversations filled with passion and purpose entrenching myself in the community here. I love being able to speak Spanish decently well because I can have deep philosophical conversations with volunteers, guests and workers learning about things from many diverse perspectives. Que Rico.
It rained continuously for eight days. It was wild, I’ve never experienced anything like that before and it’s supposed to be the dry season right now. Sometimes it’s fun to have a rainy day so you can stay in and watch a movie inside a blanket. Rainy days working on the finca (farm) or out in the huerta (vegetable garden) are a little different. Everything gets wet and stays wet. The rain taught me that everything can’t be sunny all the time. We need rain for the plants to grow and the sun will come out eventually. Some periods of darkness last longer than others, but that’s okay too because the sun does come out still, always. The important thing is to just be happy with the rain and the darkness and see it as an opportunity to replenish and grow.
I’ve been spending my days in the lecheria cleaning, shoveling compost, filling sacks, emptying sacks for the water heater, planting fruits and vegetables in the huerta, collecting leaves, getting grass to feed the animals, herding cows & sheep and now I’m working on accounting stuff while doing research for a new idea that Juan has for the next phase of Rancho Margot. Here’s a glimpse of what I’ve been doing.
I’m not really sure what this is, but it looks like a placenta.. squishy.
The two newest additions to the finca family. These calves were born out in the field while the cows were grazing. It’s so crazy to think this little guy that can barely even stand up will grow to be a big cow that could squash me.
The first day seeing the sun was glorious. This is a picture of the cazonas where I live with all of the workers and volunteers. I got the top bunk in a three level bunk bed.
The chayote vines were taking over the pineapple plants, so something had to be done. One afternoon Uruis and I walked around the Rancho, cutting down these branches from trees to make a grill for the chayote so that it could wrap around the string and the branches instead of around the pineapples.
I really look forward to cleaning the lecheria, even the deeper cleans where we lift up all the grills and get inside the gutter. Cow shit is turned into gold here. One rainy day, I spent the entire day forking compost into sacks so they can be taken up to where the water is heated. The next day, we loaded up the tractor and went to empty the sacks where the water is heated. The naturally occurring biodegradation that happens when you mix manure, leaves and organic matter creates a tremendous amount of heat which is used to heat water for hotel guests. The balance of ingredients is important and unfortunately the day I was told to fill the sacks, the balance wasn’t so good, it was mostly just really wet shit. One guy was unloading the sacks from the tractor, another guy was carrying them over and I was in the middle of the pit attempting to empty the bags. The boss was standing on the side, spraying the hose into the gutter and empty bags. The bags were extremely heavy because everything was wet and compacted and they were impossibly difficult to lift up and empty by myself. The whole situation was enraging and it’s the first time I’ve been mad here. I learned to just observe and accept reality though as this is just part of the working culture here and that’s okay. I kept going and doing my best and eventually Miguel and Tom also climbed into the pit to help empty the sacks. I’m here to work and to learn and that’s really all that matters, I’m glad I had this experience. I see a lot of opportunity to make things better.
This is the biodigester which supplies gas to the kitchen stoves using methane gas collected from… you guessed it – shit! This process relies more on the liquidy stuff and the solid feces blocks the system. So, Greg and I were scooping out the solid stuff so the pipes could flow more freely here.
As a result of all the rain, some plants got infected with fungi on their leaves so we remove them and use them as feed for the pigs. It’s really neat how you can still salvage a bad situation and make it into a treat for the pigs.
My favorite goat who always manages to escape. He doesn’t try to run away, he just escapes, walks around casually and finds a nice spot to sit down and chill. Whenever I go to take him back to the pen, he gives me this dumb stare and doesn’t struggle at all. Funny guy this one.
Tom, Tigre and I went to herd the cows back in. There were some stray ones so Tigre and Tom went to fetch them while I stayed back with the herd to make sure they didn’t get away. All of a sudden, I turn around and there’s this giant toro running out of the forest straight at me and my bright orange camp alotta fun t-shirt. It was terrifying, I really thought I was done. I stood up tall put my hands in the air and was yelling “oye” looking straight at the toro.. situation averted. He ran around me and I’m still alive.
After the compost shit situation from before, the jefes decided to get lots of leaves and green stuff to properly mix the compost before filling it into the sacks. It gets really hot in there, so Greg and Tom brought the gun show to town and I helped them mix the giant mounds of shit into compost. Gold.
One beautiful day all the volunteers decided to hike up the mirador trail and over the mountain down into Castillo to load up on supplies from the only supermercado within a 30km radius. It’s a beautiful walk and I couldn’t stop admiring the raw natural beauty that surrounds us, not to mention the majesty of Volcan Arenal. The sweetest part of the trip was how Acha (the dog) caught up with us on the trail going up. He would run ahead of everyone wagging his tail, having the time of his life and then he’d stop. He’d stop and wait until he could see everyone in our group because he wanted to make sure no one got left behind. That’s beautiful.
For the last few days, I’ve been helping out with some accounting and finance things and some other research projects that could help Juan out. I’m learning a lot about the operations of this place and how everything comes together. I’m so happy I studied accounting and finance, it feels really good to be able to make sense of all the numbers and understand how it applies operations and decision making. I am missing the huerta and the finca though so I think I’ll start working there part of the day also while I work on these other projects.
I feel alive. I’m connected to the world in a way that I’ve never felt before and I don’t really have words to describe it. It’s beautiful though. The way forward is uncovering itself. Life is so good.