Monthly Archives: September 2010
I thought it would be good to write a blog post on what our living situation is like, so that you can better contextualize everything we will be writing about.
We are on a twenty-acre piece of land called the Baja BioSana, located in El Chorro, Baja California Sur, Mexico. This piece of land was bought by a group of about ten or so non-Mexican individuals from around the world who are all interested in permaculture, sustainable development, holistic health and healing, and living off the grid. Not all ten people live here full time – at the moment, three do – and each has their own interns or friends or whoever come to help and live here periodically. We know two of the folks, Andrew and Shenaqua, and are here with them. They envision the land to eventually be a self-sustaining home for themselves with space for them to teach classes on agriculture, health, yoga, etc. Each founder has their own personal strength to contribute. But at the moment, the land is very undeveloped and there is an unfathomable amount of things to do.
The only structure on the land is one palapa, a circular open building with a stone/cement base and roof made of palm fronds. Everyone lives in tents. There is a composting toilet (a hole in the ground with a rough toilet seat structure on top. It is essentially like a port-a-potty except the waste goes into the ground and by taking certain steps – like dumping saw dust on top every time you ‘leave a deposit’ – it doesn’t smell at all and is actually good for the surrounding soil. You know that scene in Forrest Gump where the soldiers are using the toilets in Vietnam? It’s exactly like that.), a cold shower (fed from a large, overhead water tank), and an outdoor kitchen, covered only by a tarp. That is literally it. No electricity. No internet. No well (they are building one but currently get water from a friend with a well in the next town over). Very rustic. Very awesome.
What they do have is land. The vast amount of energy and time has been spent developing sustainable agricultural land so that, you know, we have something to eat. There is a mango orchard, an avacado orchard, a banana orchard, dozens of papaya trees scattered everywhere, and multiple kitchen gardens (small vegetable and herb gardens). Everything is designed by Andrew to be one large, self-sustaining permaculture. It doesn’t look like the traditional picture of a farm – no long rows of the same crop growing orderly together. Rather, plants are placed strategically next to one another (pineapples and aloe like to grow next to each other! Basil and tomatoes, grown together, make each other taste better AND help each other to fend off pests) in areas that have the best sun/shade/water for them. Everything is covered with mulch that is also natural – leaves, food scraps, fallen timber. The result is land that looks, well, uncultivated and wild. But produces an abundance of delicious, nutrient-rich food. And the plants (here’s the real bonus) ultimately need significantly less maintenance than those planted in a more industrial manner. No pesticides necessary. No irrigation necessary. They take care of themselves with just a little help from us from year to year.
So that’s where we are! Hope this helps to put the rest of what we are saying in a little bit of perspective. Photos to follow if I have the patience for this internet connection.
Wow. Things have been insanely busy here – this is the first real moment I have had to sit down and write a blog entry and who knows when I will have an opportunity to post it. We have a very spotty 3G connection on the farm but that’s about it unless we drive an hour into the next major town.
Sundays are a down day (in that we have already done yoga, washed the laundry- by hand, built a kitchen (!), and cooked two meals from scratch) and, additionally, it’s raining, so, finally, we got a free afternoon. I am hoping to write a significant blog post every Sunday, with some short ones in between, but we’ll see. Mike and I both seem to be craving a certain amount of structure (distinct working and non-working hours, specific days on which to do certain tasks, etc.) – since there is absolutely none without our own definitions – and this is just another aspect of that. Already, we have mostly lost track of what day it is. The only way I even knew it was Sunday was because the Mexican the farm employs, Trino, wasn’t around when we woke up. We wake up around 6.30 am every day and he is already here, working, Monday through Saturday.
I don’t even really know where to begin. In some ways, I feel like I have been here forever. I already don’t freak out when I wake up to a millipede walking on me in my sleeping bag. I am familiar with the lizards, the tarantulas (so cool), the ants (they are EVERYWHERE), the wasps (there is one variety that is so large they paralyze tarantulas and then drag them away! What!), etc. I know what to be afraid of (scorpions and snakes) and what not to be. And the only thing I find annoying are the midges. Those goddamn midges.
Since it is raining so hard at the moment, I think I will talk about that. The rainy season began just when we arrived, which was about three weeks later than it normally comes. This means that every couple of days it rains, very, very hard, for a couple of hours, and then stops. It is a nice break from the heat (it is about 95 degrees otherwise) although it does mean the humidity will be out of control the next day.
I thought the rain would be a little bit fun, especially on the first day. We were driving to get here and the road was washed out about a quarter mile from where we needed to be. Where previously you were able to drive easily and without thought, there was now a river. We forded the thigh high water with our belongings perched on our head and continued our journey with a Jeep they keep at the farm for essentially this purpose. I thought – yay! An adventure! – but the implications are serious. We are not playing Oregon Trail here – being cut off can mean a loss of access to drinking water, food, or medical help. The farm has built in back-ups for all of these and there was no real danger but still. It is a feeling of isolation I am not used to having.
Today (the first time it has rained since that day, Wednesday), it was a totally different feeling. We could hear the rolling thunder in the mountains behind the farm and knew we had about twenty minutes to prepare. Normally, thunder storms and just about my favorite thing ever. This time, I felt like an animal – genuinely afraid. We rushed to bring in the laundry from the line, fill up water bottles, zip up tent windows, bring in anything uncovered, make last minute trips to the toilet, etc. Rushing to make sure it is all done, the whole time hearing the thunder and seeing the black cloud coming closer and closer. Mike and I had not gone through a rain storm with our tent and we were unsure how it would hold up. Luckily, we are in great shape. Dry and relaxed enough to read and work on the computer a little bit.
There has been a storm for the last couple of days here and it is very cloudy and lightly raining at the moment. The flight in clearly illustrated the incredible landscape – it is so beautiful here. Due to the rain, however, and the fact that our hosts have other friends in town, we are all staying for one night in a hotel in Cabo. It is a nice transition for Mike and I – it was a long day of traveling and setting up camp in the dark would not have been the most pleasant of experiences. So tonight we get a real bed, ceiling fan, and bellies full of papaya, guacamole, and fresh tortillas.
Thanks, everyone, who has given us places to sleep over the last few days and weeks! We love you and appreciate your support.