May 26, 2009

Planting Seeds

We decided to venture away from the coast for once to check out a one of the wonders of the world, Omatepe Island in Lake Nicaragua.

Volcan Concepcîon

Omatepe Island is unique in many ways. It is the largest freshwater island in the world with two massive volcanoes, one of which is still active. The lake has sharks, and is connected to the Carribbean via the San Juan River.

The lake shore

There are many farms on the island, the rich volcanic soil supports crops year-round. One such farm is unique to the island as well, demonstrating Permaculture Design and giving back to the locals. Finca Bona Fide is located on the northeastern slope of Volcan Maderas, with a superb view of Volcan Concepcion.

Bona Fide Nursery

veggie garden at Bona Fide

They are researching different varieties of food crops to create more dependable and longer lasting harvests for the locals. Chris Shanks has been introducing many new food crops to the island, and sharing the seeds with the locals. He has planted many varieties of avocado and mango, hoping to dine on them year-round.

Cob Bathrooms

outdoor sink and tree platform

Project Bona Fide also has several programs that benefit the locals. “Café Infantil” feeds 60 children breakfast six days a week, and teaches them about basic dental care and hygiene. They are also building a Community Center, to serve as a library and school for English.

fresh roasted coffee and cane sugar ready to mix with cacao

We toured around the farm, sampling delicious bananas and fresh roasted cacao with coffee bits. We took in the sunset with the sound of the wind generator humming with the persistent breeze.

howler monkeys a'bound

cacao flowers, on the trunk!

evidence of the ancients

We took the opportunity to climb Volcan Maderas, through coffee and cacao forests to the crater lake at the top. Trekking through the moss covered trees with our intrepid guide Marvin, who definitley resembled a mountain gnome, we reached the top and took a dip in the mud pit of a lake. Not as refreshing as you would have hoped after climbing 4000 verticle feet... but unique once again.

Aubrey and Marvin try not to get lost in the enchanted forest

After returning to the mainland, we met up with some mutual friends that Loren had actually met 4 years earlier. Roy and Linda are constructing an "Earth Ship" (click to visit their site), a house built into the hill and made mostly from old tires and cob. They live on a precipitous slope overlooking the many wave options, perfect for sussing out that next session.

the front of the Earth Ship

The house is complete with an outdoor shower covered in passionfruit vines, and the greywater feeds their garden located just outside the kitchen window. The local builders were pretty psyched on the idea of building with trash, which as we know, there seems to be shortage of...
tires form the walls

detail of walls showing cans used to fill in space

Moving north though the country, we came to another unique place, Los Cardones Eco-lodge. They have created a low impact and beautiful resort right on the beach in front of some great waves.
natural construction means low-impact

Compost toilets convert last night’s dinner into valuable fertilizer, and solar panels provide enough light to dine. We discussed the possibility of having a Permaculture Design Course there in the future. The seed has been planted.

baño ecologico

More seeds were planted with the help of Holly Beck and her partner Ryan, on their new little homestead in Northern Nicaragua (click to read her blog surf life nicaragua). They are building a few casitas to rest in while waiting for the next session, and we helped them plant a garden that will hopefully feed them and their caretaker, Osmar, and their many amigos.

Sharing the seeds

the garden crew gettin' dirty

They have planted a small food forest, including almendras, mangos, avocados, limes, and gunabanas. We helped pull out some crabgrass in preparation for planting nitrogen fixing groundcover under the little trees.

la Casita de Ryan y Holly, con sus arbolitos

Aubrey diggin' it

It was nice to catch up with friends, share some good laughs, make good meals, sample the 12yr. Flor de Cana, dig in the dirt, and wash ourselves off in some fun waves.

Our time in Nica was just about up so we ventured on, just barely making it through the border at Honduras. This was our most difficult crossing yet, and still we finally made it through with a little help from good 'ol trusty green dollar!

We are now in El Salvador. Looking out over the waves, feeling very grateful for the opportunity to experience this trip. Thank you all for your support and for taking the time to read our blog! Stay tuned, there will be more to come!

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