Sunday, January 28, 2007

off the mountain

This is Pachamama, earthmother in the local Indian language, she sits in the center of the community I’ve landed in. It’s an eco-village and retreat centre, international with people from Israel, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republic, Romania, Russia, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Holland, Belgium, France, Spain, England, Scotland (me!), Canada, the US, Costa Rica and Brazil. There are about 70 full time residents with visitors coming for anytime between 2 weeks to 9 months.

It has about 500 acres and sits on hills facing the Pacific, the land slopes down to a wide shallow river and then on to the sea. Many little valleys and hill crests make it feel fairly enclosed and sound carries. It was a dairy farm 7 years ago but after planting 15,000 trees it has a nice jungle feel. Most of the trees are natives (there are some exotic fruits from Asia) and have become home to several troupes of howler monkeys. These howlers are pretty friendly and fairly tame. They never come down to the ground but seem happy to sit above you in branches watching just as we are happy to sit on benches watching them. There are several plantations: teak, cashew, pivoti (a thorny lumber tree), cacao (chocolate), banana, pineapple, mango, coconut and orchards including jackfruit and durian.

bananas by the showers
pineapples growing outside the kindergarten

There are also gardens growing greens and vegetables. Goats supply dairy and horses give manure for compost. People live in either houses or casitas sprinkled throughout the hills and valleys but almost all come ‘downtown’ to eat.

open air café, ‘Wild Treats’

Downtown is small but practical with dining areas, a café, internet café, laundry, shop, hardware store, storage space, the school, showers, healing center, offices, it’s all pedestrian and dotted with lots of shady mango trees.

mango tree in front of the dining area

the welcome center

the shop

There are two restaurants nearby both with pools which make a nice change, and there’s a beach bus twice a day which goes to a very quiet and beautiful beach with a reef, so the swimming is good.

the beach at San Juanquillo