SPOTLIGHT: “Freedom Ahead”

June 15, 2012 | filed under consider this, do your research!, great ideas, inspiring, pay attention, plain cool, spotlight, watch this | 2 Comments 

My life is changing! I´m currently in the process of experiencing a completely different way of living (again), but now in Haiti. I´m studying and practicing permaculture, which I want to share with the world. Even though the title´s about 40 years old, the principles are much, much older than that. Somebody just decided to call it something and now people living it now have a common language for it.

The film above, Freedom Ahead is about permaculture and sums up a bit about where I am in my life right now. I hope it inspires you. Please share your thoughts. 🙂

#notetoself: follow the signs.

March 30, 2012 | filed under #notetoself, consider this | Leave a Comment 

take the journey

This is the fourth #notetoself letter, sent on February 27, 2012.

So much of life can be enigmatic and perplexing. Undoubtedly, there will be times when you don’t know what to do, how to spend your time, where to invest your energies. For quite a while, that’s been the case with me and my life. That’s part of the reason I’m in Central America.

For the past two weeks, I’ve been living off the grid on a farm. On this 26 acre lot, there’s electricity in three locations and two of those are houses I don’t have access to. If you don’t have a flashlight at night, it sucks to be you, especially when you have to use the bathroom in an outdoor squat toilet. I sleep in a tent advertised as a two person tent, but is only big enough for me and my things. When I lay down, my head and feet are basically connected to it’s perimeter, and I may be 5’4″. May. Two people. Right.

Being an off-the-grid permaculture farm, we seek to maximize production and minimize waste. In my tiny tent is a bag of used tissues, baby wipes and other trash that will eventually be packed into used bottles, which will serve as bricks for some sort of construction. There’s no waste management on this island, so residents usually collect their trash into a pile and burn it. We seek to do something more effective and healthier for us and the environment.

Being in a place where I’m confronted with the idea of food security and trying to create a resource loop where there is no waste just another purpose, I’m heavily analyzing the existence I held in my relatively carefree city life before my time here and wondering what I can and will change. I started researching permaculture and found an opportunity to get certified and practice it for a few months in Haiti this summer, so that’ll be my next big adventure. It wasn’t planned.

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#notetoself: relax into the discomfort.

March 26, 2012 | filed under #notetoself, challenge, consider this, moment of truth | 4 Comments 

discomfort zone

This is the third #notetoself letter, originally sent on February 20, 2012.

Isla de Ometepe in Nicaragua is an island formed by two volcanoes with an isthmus between them. Many consider it to be a magical place, although I haven’t yet figured out exactly what makes it so, but suspect I will soon. It’s beautiful and there are more signs of nature than the 42,000 people that live here. I’m staying on a permaculture farm with all kinds of good stuff: random greens, herbs, coconut, banana, plantains, Moringa, Mayan breadnut, taro, jackfruit, neem, guava, cashew, cinnamon, mango and so much more.

When I first arrived, I was ecstatic. Everything about this place was cool– the outdoor showers overlooking Lago Nicaragua, the largest lake in Central America, the squat toilets, the compost toilets, the outdoor dorms with amazing views of the sky (basically just a covered platform with a black tarp on one side acting as a wall), the hammock on the platform in a tree overlooking Volcan Concepcion, the solar-powered outdoor kitchen…

I slept horribly the first night. The only two options for mosquito nets was one that was a bit too small for the bed and one that was the appropriate size, but disgusting. It could’ve been from bat droppings, flies, mosquitoes, any number of things. To me, it didn’t matter; it was just really too disgusting for my comfort. The second night, I forgot to charge my cell phone during the hours of 10-3 when we can charge only if it’s sunny. Since the 6:45 meeting is a bit early for me still, I needed an alarm. Rather than asking someone to wake me up, I decided to sleep in the hammock up in the tree where you can see bright, vivid stars. It was windy and cold all night long. Not a good call, but I was still happy about the experience. The third night, an insect flew into my ear while I was sleeping at 2 am. Another lady here helped me drown it with saline solution, but then I was bothered by the fact that there was a dead insect in my ear. The next day was a fumbling exercise in Spanish and patience, spent going to the town clinic, waiting for it to open, hearing it was closed, deciding to go to another clinic and while waiting for the bus to take me to the other side of the island, discovering the town clinic was in fact open but not really equipped to adequately help me. The nurse looked at my ear with a dim light from her cell phone and flushed my ear with a syringe, ejecting a small, black mosquito. Still, something in my ear didn’t feel right, so she urged me on to the other clinic, where I found out that there was no insect but there was “hongo”. Fungus. I have an ear fungus.

After returning to the farm and preparing for bed that night, I wondered what the hell I was doing. I’m in the mountains. With no electricity. Sleeping outdoors. With a mosquito net that’s obviously not very effective. Freaking out about the plethora of bugs grossly outnumbering me. Really, what?

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