Apr 8, 2009

The Easy Road, and What is Sustainablity?


We have been blessed to take the easy road. We have the means to buy a bus ticket, to get on a plane and fly 3,000 miles down to Mexico. We are able to bring our surfboards, an extra bag full of books, presents, art supplies, special favorite food items and have our personal backpacks stuffed to the brim with lap-tops, cameras and other random gear.

Mexico City- Can it ever be sustainable?

Arriving in Hualtulco’s picturesque palm lined airport we are pleasantly surprised to be greeted by our friend Pepe who has come to escort us back to his home where our Truck and our home on the road, Ellie the Dodge has been awaiting us.

Why are we here again? To share ideas about sustainability? How much carbon have we created to make this journey? How is it we are giving talks about environmental awareness yet we ourselves are sucking up diesel fuel to power our way across borders?

It would be very easy to go on and on about the details of our daily lives that conflict with the mottos of being sustainable. In the end only nature is truly sustainable. We must design systems that mimic nature, regenerating resources rather than depleting them. So, we continue on…

The bottom line is many of us take the easy road because we can. We use what we have, and maybe that is the best we can do for now. We talked about bailing everything, just riding bikes or kayaking down the coast (hah, talk about new ideas!).

The justification for driving is that we are carrying tools and supplies to do projects, and hope to introduce novel ideas that may improve lives and the environment, thereby offsetting our impacts. Also, reality is we knew we wouldn’t be able to cover as much territory and be as equipped with any other method of transportation.

Once again, there are many ways to do things, there are many ways to live. We are blessed to have choices.

We found that we are not the only ones who chose the easy road. We were disappointed but not surprised to find that the composting toilet we built for Pepe had not been used. He has three other toilets for his 10 cabaƱas and it obviously wasn’t a necessity for him.

But after a week here we were able to talk him into getting it going again and helped him construct a privacy structure for it. It will serve as an extra toilet for his many customers from all parts of the globe.

Privacy structure built from local materials

The "Nature Toilet"

We checked out another property in town that is owned by a man from New Zealand. The only toilet they had on the land was a composting toilet, which they have been using for the last 5 years. They add lime powder (calcareous, or cal) and have not had to empty it yet, and it didn’t smell.
Colorful Composting Toilet

The Slow Sand Water Filter we constructed before we left town last October is still up and running, getting a lot of use from Pepe. Our recent water quality tests turned out good and we have been drinking from it for over a week, with no ill effects.

Tastes Great!

Loren gave a talk and showed a slideshow on Permaculture to an interested group of some traveling Irish and Aussie surfers. They were builders and educators, and hoped to learn more about Permaculture down the road.

Passionate about Permaculture

The Water Bottle Re-fill program has been working as well, and everyone seems to be enjoying the benefits of less plastic being used. The customers are happy to pay less for water, and the business owners happy to earn more money from the repeated sales.


All the while we have been enjoying some fun surf sessions. We were greeted by the familiar transition of coming from a cold climate with white skin, to the scorching blast of the tropical sun that singed our pasty flesh. Those midday surfs will do it! Mornings and evenings are the best working hours- you’re a bit safer from heat stroke.

Stay Tuned! We will be heading further south to Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua- in search of good work and good waves!

2 comments:

maya jamal said...

Hi-ya guys!

I am now leaving for the Heal the Ocean Fundraiser! Just stopped in to see how ya'all are doing!

Love ya!
Keep up the good work~
Oh finished painting the wave with ground Lapis dust (a stone from the sustainably harvested mines in Afganistan) at the Orella homested last weekend. And I am at the islands lots~ surfing season is on out there! Working also as an adventure guide locally~ love it!

Holly Beck said...

Hey there,
Keep it going! Awesome info. I can't wait to see you guys in Nicaragua! keep in touch : )