Solo-Female Travel and Intuition: Name a More Essential Duo, I’ll Wait.

Hi! I thought I would just write up a little update of what I’ve been up to since leaving San Vito; the in-between travels sandwiched by two die hard off grid permaculture farms. It’s been three and a half weeks since leaving Los Patos Suertudos and I am still unraveling from the trauma of leaving that paradise and embarking on two weeks of restless travel in and out of San Jose; once again in communication with the general public and its unfaltering use of styrophome packaging. I’ve been considering the word trauma and the ways that it can manifest for an individual, even if gone unrecognized. In my opinion, I would say that spending a month in deep spiritual connection with myself, nature, and the people around me, and then taking a 7 hour direct bus ride into the world of cheap beer, trashed cities, and the unrelenting patriarchy, is absolutely traumatic.

Overcast in beautiful Santa Teresa.

Of course that is not to say that I didn’t have my fun. In those two weeks I met some fellow globe trotters and together we explored Santa Teresa, a cute and touristy surf town on the Pacific coast, and then since it was raining the whole time, Puerto Viejo, a small surf town on the carribean side bustling with afro-carribeans, flavorful rice and beans, and young people partying on the side of the road with their car speakers.

Surrounded by my boy bubble in Santa Teresa.

Since I was still trying to find a good fit for my next workaway, I was happy to go with the flow of the people I clicked with and at peace with wherever I would end up. That’s the thing I’ve learned about traveling without a plan; to truly reap its magic you have to be willing to move with the current. And to do that it is absolutely necessary to be in touch with your intuition. Solo-female travel and intuition: name a more essential duo, I’ll wait. Ooo nice, that’s gonna be the title of this blog. To be quite honest, the majority of my two weeks of traveling were spent surrounded by a bubble of young dutch men, and therefore the majority of my female solo travel concerns were put on the back burner. My intuition was then able to switch from its main focus of dealing with potentially sketchy taxi drivers and overly-friendly surfers wanting to give free surf lessons, to considering in which direction my soul would best be fed. The answer to that turned out to be a permaculture farm 15 minutes outside of downtown Puerto Viejo. Quick side note, if you are a female solo traveler (or just anybody) wondering what the difference is between anxiety and intuition, please don’t hesitate to send me an email or instagram message me, I am more than happy to share some tips and tricks. 🙂 Or you can click here for an article all about it that’s been super helpful to me!

Hangin out in Santa Teresa.

The farm I was intuitively pulled to is a whopping 100 acres, although only a handful of that acreage has been sectioned off into zones and given thought to design. It is almost entirely off grid, with the exception of a small generator and a new Wi-Fi box that allows for whatsapp messaging. 

Laundry day!

I am joined here by a small handful of volunteers, an intact cat family, two horses, a ram, and 24 chickens. Our work hours here are distributed into garden and farm work, home and kitchen care, and creative sprucing. Our down time is mostly spent playing card games and obsessing over the kittens. As I’m still new to the farm I’m still in the process of figuring out how my skill set and interests can best be applied, but so far I’ve been happy to do a little of everything. I have recently started on a project to redirect water flow on a sloped section of the property. This project is especially exciting for me as it is the first time I am able to apply some of my knowledge from my permaculture course, and I have been documenting the process with the intention of writing a step by step guide for the Finca Las Hormigas website and of course for my own blog to share with you all.

Planting Vetiver grass on contours.

The property itself is paradise- at night especially. When the sky is clear the fireflies bleed into the stars, and if you’re looking up from my bungalow to the main house on the hill, the torches lighting the path and the tiny lanterns hanging from the ceiling emanate such warmth and magic I feel like I’m in fairy land. I wish I could capture it at least partially with my refurbished iPhone 7, but until I can afford a nice camera my descriptions will have to do.

I am currently taking my day off downtown sitting at a coworking coffee shop called Puerto and Co, but my tablet is on 10% and the beach is calling my name. I promise to be back soon with a blog about contouring on slopes. Ta ta for now! Hope everyone is staying sane and hydrated!

Creative sprucing. 🙂 Permaculture principle #1.

Peace outtt✌️

Gressa

Deep Sea Dreamer; Introducing my end of permaculture design course project.

Hey readers! I don’t know about you, but I am a firm believer that the universe has hands. I believe this because I have felt them on my back, pushing me when it is time to let go and move forward. I have felt them often as gentle, loving nudges; but when these nudges are ignored (which I admit they often are) the hands aren’t afraid to shove. The most dramatic example of this in my life so far happened just last month when I was suddenly deported from the European Union during, might I add, this global pandemic, and given two weeks to pack my things and find a place to be deported to. I had felt the loving nudges, the gentle caresses, leading up to this as various housing siuations and job opportunities simultaneously falling through. I’d felt them constantly as the stubborn presence of bronchitis that would lie dormant and flare up whenever I got particularly stressed. I felt them as the rejection letter from the American liberal arts college in Berlin I was sure I would be accepted into. I felt them as neurotic roommates, expensive BVG fines for getting caught every single rare time I rode the train without a ticket, and as the sudden end of a solid relationship. And, since apparently none of that was enough for me, I felt them as the final forceful shove of deportation.

Looking back on my last days in Berlin, my experience can best be compared to the numerous times I’ve found myself standing on the edge of a high rock overlooking a deep river, and have closed my eyes, turned my brain off, and jumped. 

When I opened my eyes again, I found that the hands of the universe had landed me safely on the top of a mountain in Costa Rica, San Vito, surrounded by a mirage of blue-crowned motmot birds, menelaus blue morpho and glasswing butterflies, DMT drenched cane toads, a very large cat named Pete, a hyperactive puppy named Finn, four lovely humans named Kristy, David, Nestor, and Jefferson, and, many, many happy earthworms.

To catch everyone up who is not in the know, I have been spending this month tucked away on 33 acres of liberated jungle; a property guided by permaculture principles and steered masterfully to the edge between harmony and chaos. During my time volunteering here I’ve had my nose to the grind stone working towards a permaculture design certificate. This is an opportunity that was not even on my radar until days before leaving Berlin when I was frantically scrolling through Workaway at 3am with a cappuccino and stumbled across Patos Suertudos. And now, a month later, permaculture has opened a portal for me to experience the natural world in all its glorified ancient intelligence and clever methods of design.

I’ve always been a nature lover, but becoming aware of all the underground partnerships that trees form with mushrooms, and the business they have exchanging sugars for nitrogen, for example, takes my disconnected admiration to feelings of an intimate kinship. Like how you think you know your parents when you’re young, but it isn’t until you’re older that you realize that they are complex people with memories and an entire life unrelated to you; that their sole purpose in this life is not in fact to raise you and clothe you and spoil you. And it’s that moment in your growth when you begin to see your parents as people outside their parental role and the relationship becomes something more like a friendship, if everything goes well. 

I think it’s problematic to live our whole lives viewing nature as a parent, and essential to our true understanding and respect of her (in attempt to avoid referring to nature as an it) to begin forming a symbiotic friendship.

So with all of that said, I am very excited to share with you my end of course project that Kristy, Nestor, and myself have been working enthusiastically toward all month. The final product of all of our creative and intellectual talents combined has come together in the form of a musical puppet show. The show is a symphony of hand-painted puppets and backdrops, an allegorical storyline that follows a rebellious fish named Joe, and an original song composed out of the deep urgency to reunite with our natural world. By communicating the message of permaculture through the medium of a musical puppet show, our hope is to reach a wide audience that trancends age and language. 

The song, We Already Paid, written by Kristy Trione and musically arranged and performed by Nestor Padilla and myself is, at its core, a call to action to align our values with natural systems as opposed to a system that rewards an endless cycle of sociopathic consumerism. 

You can find the lyrics in English and Spanish attached to the bottom of this post. We have left it open sourced, and encourage all to take it in as their own. Spread it around as an anthem of the people, add some maracas and dance salsa to it… North Carolina folks I want to hear your best country covers, and to my fam in Berlin I’m very interested to hear a techno cover!…Sing it in the shower, sing it to your tomato plants as you water your garden, sing it to the tiny immune systems of bees, sing it to all the rebellious plants pushing through the cracks in the concrete!

Thanks so much for reading all the way until now! Stay tuned for a post about my new home on the Caribbean coast on a year old 100 acre permaculture farm.

Pura Vida my good fam!

Gressa

We already paid

We already paid
We should have what we need
We’ve already paid
We’re done feeding your greed

We’ve already paid
We should have what that’s worth
We’ve already paid
While you’ve trashed up the earth

We’re all gonna turn to nature
To be our true guide
Everybody’s gonna turn off the tele
With its pack of lies

We’ll work for ourselves
No more for the “man”
We’ll work for each other
To restore the land

We’ve already paid
But it’s never enough
We’ve already paid
While you’ve taken too much

We’ve already paid
We’ve paid with the time for our kids
we’ve already paid chasing
soul’s empty success

We’re tired and we’re going home

We’ll turn to nature
To be our true guide
Turn off the tele
With its pack of lies

We’ll work for ourselves
Not for the “man”
We’ll work for each other
To restore the land

We’ve already paid
with our land, seas and our skies
Now we are going
Beyond corporate demise

We’re tired and we’re leaving it behind

We’ve already paid
For our parks, roads and war
We’ve already paid
We won’t pay any more

We’ll turn to nature
To be our true guide
Turn off the tele
With its pack of lies

We’ll work for ourselves
Not for the “man”
We’ll work for each other
To restore the land

Ya Pagamos

Ya pagamos
Deberíamos tener lo que necesitamos
Ya hemos pagado
Hemos terminado de alimentar tu codicia

Ya hemos pagado
Deberíamos tener lo que vale
Ya hemos pagado
Mientras destrozaste la tierra

Todos vamos a recurrir a la naturaleza
Para ser nuestra verdadera guía
Todo el mundo va a apagar la tele
Con su paquete de mentiras

Trabajaremos por nosotros mismos
No más para el “hombre”
Trabajaremos el uno para el otro
Para restaurar la tierra

Ya hemos pagado
Pero nunca es suficiente
Ya hemos pagado
Si bien has tomado demasiado

Ya hemos pagado
Pagamos con el tiempo para nuestros hijos
ya hemos pagado por perseguir
el éxito vacío del alma

Estamos cansados ​​y nos vamos a casa

Recurriremos a la naturaleza
Para ser nuestra verdadera guía
Apaga la tele
Con su paquete de mentiras

Trabajaremos por nosotros mismos
No para el “hombre”
Trabajaremos el uno para el otro
Para restaurar la tierra

Ya hemos pagado
con nuestra tierra, mares y nuestros cielos
Ahora vamos
Más allá de la desaparición empresarial

Estamos cansados ​​y lo dejamos atrás

Ya hemos pagado
Por nuestros parques, carreteras y guerra
Ya hemos pagado
No pagaremos más

Recurriremos a la naturaleza
Para ser nuestra verdadera guía
Apaga la tele
Con su paquete de mentiras

Trabajaremos por nosotros mismos
No para el “hombre”
Trabajaremos el uno para el otro
Para restaurar la tierra

Thanks for tuning in!

Welcome to the Jungle!

Before we get started I’ve got some news! If you enjoy reading my blog entries and want to throw some support my way, I have just made it possible to do so right here. 🙂 I have also created a patreon account where I will be uploading all these posts plus more. If you wanna check out what I have going on over there you can follow the link posted in my about section. So with that out of the way, I will waste no more time in reporting back from this little piece of permacultered paradise I’ve found through Workaway, nestled in the mountains of San Vito.

It’s been a little over two weeks since my arrival from Uvita. I took two buses, neither of which I was 100% sure were taking me where I wanted to go and I was dropped off nowhere near the bus station. Thankfully I was only 20 minutes from the farm I would be working at, Los Patos Suertudos, and had been given the name of their favorite taxi driver, Johnny. All the way up the mountain, Johnny beamed in his best English about the people who ran the workaway. It was dark so I was unaware of the breathtaking (and very steep) view from the roads, and I learned later that only a few years prior a local bus had driven off that same road. It was only a week later when I biked into town that I first laid eyes on the Lord of the Rings worthy landscape with its thick, dark green mountains cascading into sheared (and chemically soaked) farmland.

When we pulled into the driveway we were warmly greeted by Kristy, David, and their dog Finn, who were happy to welcome their first workawayer in almost 7 months. We sat down to a dinner of chicken soup, local greens from the garden, and for dessert a fruit that I’ve become obsessed with called mamones, which reminds me of a dragon’s egg with it’s red spiky shell and milky incandescent egg shaped fruit. After dinner, Kristy lead me down to the little cabin that would be my home for the month; a quaint, treehousey little thing with black shade cloth stapeled around the sides in replacement of walls. Not having walls alone in the middle of the jungle took me some time to get used to I must say, but I’ve come to adore waking up with the sun cradled inside my mosquito net that hangs around my bed like a royal canopy, surrounded by layers upon layers of lush green. The cool thing about shade cloth is that it is like tinted windows in a car, so wildlife goes on in oblivion of my existence and I am witness to it all. It is a lot like how I imagine it must feel to wear the cloak of invisibility. (I know I know….dork alert, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings reference and I’m only in my 2nd paragraph).

My mornings here are my favorite part of the day, which I can’t believe I’m saying after a whole life devoted to hating mornings. I wake with the tropical birds and the rooster and slowly make my way along the thick jungle path to the main house where I almost always find french pressed coffee and freshly blended golden milk waiting for me. I then perch on a bar stool with my mug and brainstorm with Kristy about what the day will look like, or as of late, brainstorm plot ideas for the puppet show that may or may not be airing on a public Costa Rican television channel.

On my second day, Kristy sat me down and offered me the opportunity to work towards a permaculture design certificate. Up until very recently if you would have asked me to define the term “permaculture” I would have mumbled something about naked hippies dancing around a campfire. Haha… oh baby, how this little word has changed me and the direction of my life in only two short weeks. I am now a dedicated student of Bill Mollison, who coined the term permaculture, and Geoff Lawton, a former student of Bill’s who has for the most part taken his place since Bill’s passing some years ago. Lucky for me and all students of permaculture, Bill and Geoff held a 72 hour long lecture in Melbourne, Australia in 2005 and filmed the whole thing in its entirety (save their hourly tea breaks between lectures). It is my stormy afternoon ritual to sit on a comfy chair with a notebook and pen or a painting project and watch these lectures with my ears perked and my pupils dilated to the size of mamones. I’m about 30 hours into the lecture, and, probably related to being up here on this mountain with limited social opportunities, I have begun to feel something resembling friendship with these two visionary men.

For those of you who hear the term permaculture and imagine naked hippies dancing around a campfire, if you’re interested I have attached to the bottom of this entry the link to Geoff Lawton’s website and an article that I think does a wonderful job defining permaculture in a single article. For those of you who just want a brief definition and to then get on with it, permaculture, the word, derives from the words “permanent” and “agriculture.” The basic idea is to observe and apply to our farming and agricultural design, systems that are already working flawlessly in nature. It’s similar to Rudolph Steiner‘s biodynamic farming in most of the core values and back to nature movement, but one difference is that the mystical/spiritual edge of biodynamic farming was largely dismissed by Bill Mollison. One thing I’ve learned about Bill in the 30 hours I’ve spent in his digital presence is that despite his “fuck fairies” facade, deep down he was a big hearted softie. Unfortunately for the public standing of the permaculture movement however, his outspoken aversion to religion and his controversial political opinions can probably be blamed for it’s slow start as a respected, scientifically-backed approach to sustainable farming. Nonetheless, the more I learn, the more it becomes clear that the vision of permaculture deserves way more recognition than it’s been getting. So, you can look forward to hearing more little snippets about permaculture as my relationship with it develops!

Well, I hope everyone out there is able to hold on to some fragment of peace amidst this planetary shift. It’s easy to forget how much chaos is going on out there while I’m wrapped up snug in this little jungle bubble. My fear of contracting the virus kind of got transferred to a big and very realistic fear of getting bitten by a terciopelo or bush master; two snakes that can kill you within 6 hours if you aren’t able to get to a hospital in time. And even then, people who’ve been bitten sometimes end up in the hospital for 7 to 8 months. I’ve gotten into the habit of walking around with a machete resting conveniently at my hip nestled inside a badass looking scabbard. Who knew that all my childhood fantasies of being a piratess would come to life here at this permaculture farm? Luckily I haven’t had to use it yet, but apparently if I do I’m not supposed to cut off it’s head because terciopelo’s have muscles in their necks they can use to launch themselves even after beheading. Instead I’m supposed to wack them along their spine, breaking their little bones so they can’t jump. I promise I’m not a violent person, but the prospect of either dying a painful death that apparently dissolves your skin or spending the better half of the year in a hospital will absolutely lead me to some violent wacking.

All of this is to say, pandora’s box leaked some freaky shit, and yet I have spent so much time walking around this place in utter awe of the magic that vibrates off of every glistening banana leaf after an afternoon rain, and of every butterfly wing being hauled off by a trail of dutiful leaf cutter ants. There is so much here to observe! And way too much to write about in one post…I don’t want to scare you away with my current high on life, so I will save the rest for another post. If you are currently stuck at home, please feel more than free to virtually join me as I make my way around Costa Rica. I hope that the excitement of my forced adventure can serve as some much needed entertainment for those of you in lockdown. I’ll be back soon!