|The strangler fig crawls to slowly envelop trees |
that it will soon become. Here it looks like its walking
What a journey it has been - now almost exactly 3 months in Ecuador, I am awaiting the next half of my half-year here: my ticket for Peru has me leaving in just 36 hours. I have had two weeks resting in the mountain valley near Cuenca, where the villages of Vilcabamba and Javier Loyola have helped me recharge my batteries (literally), and wash of the jungle smell from my clothes.
While the journey ahead mystifies me, I can look back fondly on my internship here, which lasted from mid-October to mid-December. Through my time in the Jama-Coaque ecoreserve, I was able to meet other people from projects in the Ecuadorian province of Manabi. We visited a small farm called Finca Mono Verde, as well as the very well-advertized "Rio Muchacho" which is a community-based organic-farming school (that coincidently is also for sale for $400000 if you fancy). There really are few organic producers in Ecuador, and even fewer working with priniciples related to ecology, so it was a gift of meeting the director from the sustainable agricultural department at the University of Calceta - Servio - who has been living on the same piece of land for 4 generations, and has the most fantastic examples of small scale food forestry. Luckily we also met his 110 year old mamey tree and mango trees. Beyond his work collaborating in sustainable agriculture around the country, his personal project is now focused on making high-quality, hand-picked cacao beans grown from heritage trees in the goal to have fair trade, organic chocolate bars crafted from tree to package. Sadly, I didn't take my camera out for this visit - which is a little bit of a bummer, because of his picturesque mango tree-houses, beautiful clean river, and his host of low-impact, traditional technologies like the old-style hand-carved cane press and a small-scale cacao fermentation chambers. He grew all his own corn, rice, animals, fruits, chocolate, coffee, sweet potatoes, and many of his own vegetables. MAGIC!
|This is a stake of roof-tiles, made by hand from the cade-tagua palm. |
It's a laborious process that can only happen during the waning moon.
Truly, it is too bad I am not the most diligent in remembering to take pictures, but I try as best I can. Here below you can see some of the selected ones, showing some highlights in my training in the program at the Jama-Coaque reserve in the coastal cloud forest of Ecuador. As well as few from the projects we've visited.
|a view of the cathedral in the cloud forest - |
an ecosystem completely threatened
|One of the works of this past session was construction |
of an earthen bag wall.
|the forest has so many layers|
|A Jama-Coaque artist, who has been working with his ancient lineage's practice of pottery. The Jama-Coaque region has a rich amount of pottery pieces, and ornate sculptures. Amongst archeology and recreations, he also does giant fun sculptures in the local town. This is a 20m long iguana!|
|I did a lot of work revitalizing the terraces using the native bamboo. This are very heavy pieces!|
|Two of our kitchens running in front of pineapples, and the banana circle, where the grey water runs out towards.|
|The Jama Coaque house is a mansion of epic-bamboo-ness. This house can sleep over 20 people.|
|Some of the hot-chilis that grow like weeds in the production zone.|
|This is a solar dehydrator that works pretty well for some things. It doesn't keep the cockroaches out and could work even better with a re-design... but, the handy part is how moveable it is.|
|one of our efforts at growing some starts - normally they disappear anywhere outside of our balcony garden... mysteriously! Even this covered box is not safe from the 1000's of insect species that live around us.|
|Utilizing the space underneath the house, we were able to have a lot of extra stations. Here is some of the tools we work with, and you can see a part of my tomato hanging project (tomatoes do not last here very long before something discovers them!)|
|A mounted bicycle, to be used in bicycle powered processes, whether it be milling food, running a small generator, or pumping water.|
|Our brick oven - mmmmm, pizza!|
|I have never eaten (quite happily!) so many bananas in my life. They grow all over the jungle, as remnants of the settlers who used to live in the valleys.|
|The view, while I contemplated working, is sincerely expansive and fantastic|
|We ate a lot of fresh food; local vegetables and tropical fruits|
|Some of the patterns of the forest amazed me. There is a likeness to the transdimensional visions that humans receive sometimes, no?|
|Jerry, director of TM Alliance, using a machete to open heritage cacao seed-pods from 100 year old cacao plots. We are going to plant the seeds!|
|Here Reserve Manager Jordan poses with our 400 planted fundas of heritage cacao seeds. They will germinate in about 7 days. We have agro-forestry plots out in zone 3 of our forest.|
|One of the many types of orchids that live in the jungle. The diversity of this family is mind-boggling.|
|Here is more detail from the pig waste circles. They are dug down and filled up each day as the pens are cleaned. In total there are 3-circles.|
|A three chamber solar dehydrator at Rio Muchacho. One slider on top, |
one in the glass pane, and the last in the tray-ed box.
|Servio poses beside the newly built cacao fermentation chambers. It should be enough for several hundred kilograms of chocolate.|
|A cathedral of San Pedro in Vilcabamba valley.|
|Land-stewardess at Huilco Way, a farm in Vilcabamba. She has been working all over the|
world for over 30 years with the concepts of eco-agriculture, and permacultural design.