Last month I was browsing the MVI library stacks and came across a curious children’s book with wacky illustrations (see cover of the attached). I knew my compatriot Jocelyn would appreciate these whimsical sketches so I ran to show her and, in a flurry of inspiration, we hatched the idea to create a hodge podge (maga)zine encompassing the Living Routes crew and harnessing our pent-up craftiness. We went to work furiously drawing, cutting, and pasting and birthed the first volume of ZINE CARNE two days later. Now, I’ve attached a PDF of this zine for you lovely folks to view, print out, and assemble DIY style. With proper folding and cutting, you may parent your very own copy of Zine Carne Vol. 1 Danger Dave Steps Out.
Thanks to David Fernandez for lending his face to the cover and to everyone else that made this zine possible.
As my time here in Monteverde comes to a close, and I can’t help but to focus on the endings and the goodbyes that wait for me in just a few days time, the air is ripe with new beginnings, new possibilities, new adventures, and new ideas. With this dichotomy of what I must bid farewell and say “hello” to, my body charged with a tumultuous energy of polarity, I am choosing now to focus on the future and what has been born of my time here.
All of us have gone through a series of change and growth in this semester and we are walking away with a wealth of knowledge and awareness we didn’t have before. Emily quite beautifully outlined her thoughts on all of this is one of her previous blog posts, and since she can more eloquently express these thoughts more than I could ever hope to, I will leave the sentiment I wish to express in her hands. Instead, I’ll change the subject matter to what some of us will be doing with the new found knowledge we’ve acquired.
Binta will be heading to Puerto Viejo to intern at a wildlife sanctuary when our program here in Monteverde ends.
Rebecca will be leaving for Hawaii in June to WWOOF on an organic farm.
Dave will be working for the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps for the summer.
Olivia will be staying here in Monteverde, living with our Spanish professor Ana, and helping her on her farm.
Emily will be working with her advisor at Smith measuring the growth rate of plants growing outside their native range to see how climate change has affected them.
Anna will be working for the Dickinson Center for Sustainability Education, working on their climate action program and other outreach programs.
Josie will be interning in a veterinary clinic as a vet tech, covering the emergency, graveyard shift.
I’ll be going to Granada, Nicaragua and volunteering by teaching dance at the Escuela de Comedia y el Mimo.
(Sarah, Alex, and Kelsey are also going to do great things with what they’ve learned here!)
While some of us may have ended up in these positions despite our semester here in Costa Rica, we all share a new perspective with which we will undertake our new ventures.
In less than week all eleven of us will face the challenge of leaving our host families, who, in three and half months time have become less and less like the strangers we first met at the community center on move in day by playing par y nones, and more and more like madres, padres, hermanos, and hermanas. But, as our time with our family ends, our families have new adventures of their own to embark on.
On April 11th Logan Badilla Leiton became a new citizen of the world, welcomed by two very loving parents and a very excited big brother (and a very excited host sister as well!)
As the weeks progressed, Gaudy’s stomach grew, and more and more preparations commenced, each day was met with the question of “when will the baby come?,” but as Gaudy liked to say “El no quiere salir. Es muy comodo a dentro!” Finally, and very rapidly, Logan made his way into the world.
On April 20th, Kelsey’s host parents Paolo and Kathia, celebrated their wedding with the entire community in the church in San Luis abajo. Even though Paolo always has a huge smile plastered on his face, his smiled had never seemed so big as when he was looking at his bride.
After the wedding we all celebrated in the salon near the church with food and dancing. For the new bride and groom’s first dance it’s traditional that they first start on their own, and after a few minutes anyone may cut in- as long as they pin some colones to you first!
So, even as we leave our families behind, their lives continue to grow and change without us- but we all hope we’ve left some impact on them, just as they have on us.
Hello; friends, family, future Living Routs students, curious observers.
I have a habit of writing poetry whenever I feel extremely strongly in a given situation. This semester has provided hundreds of experiences like that; so I have written a great deal of poetry. I am sharing six of the poems that I think show that emotion.
Hope they provide some insight into the semester.
(P.S.- It changed my life; if that’s not apparent here.)
What it Was / Is
April 15, 2013
Ninety-eight days under different skies
Ninety-eight days living different lives
Pretending we’re fine, or enjoying the fight
All looking forward to the home-going flight
Boundaries broken, comfort long gone
Pulling together to sing these four songs
And it rocked us, baby like the wind and the rain
Since the fateful day we all got on that plane
And whether in the wind we did stand or fall
It’s beauty in the moonlight overdrew us all
And now we have a home here, down the mountain steep
We have the bond now of community, promises to keep
We’ve seen the children in the one room school with no class,
We’ve seen the free dogs and kind men as we passed,
We’ve tried new things and we swam under the stars,
Debated how to take care of this world that we call ours;
We’ve seen life in such abundance on which all the world depends,
And suffered through the other side, as life must always end,
And when we go back home, it won’t be easy to return
To the soft calm hum of ignorance, the fossil fuels we burn
And I’m sure as we are climbing into bed that night
It won’t feel quite as comfortable or quite as right
For now we know the truth behind the luxuries we lead
Now we know when we eat the fruit, the world, she has to bleed
And was it worth the three long months, the legs so sore?
Was it worth the weeks of sickness, the access so poor?
Was it worth the thousand gallons of jet-fuel and exhaust?
Was it worth our tiny lives?
Will these messages be lost?
Or maybe in the darkness of the present and today
These things we’ve seen, these words we’ve heard, will lead a different way,
And maybe this experience will change the world of man.
I know at least
It changed the beat of our hearts
And the power of our hands.
I Wish I Could Give You More (for Laura, my homestay sister)
April 5, 2013 & April 18, 2013
This room is purple.
I call it home right now.
The roof is metal.
(To hear the rain fall down).
My bed is comfy.
No less than five warm sheets.
My window lets in light,
Through lace pink curtains that it meets.
I’ve learned to love the spiders,
In the corner by my bed.
These walls are art and paper snowflakes,
And the shelves are books half-read.
And I know that even though
I cried the first day I was here
For I didn’t know the language
Anxiety and silly fear,
In 3 weeks ill cry again
When I must leave and travel on
And I never will forget
The way we played out on the lawn.
The imagination games
And all the drawings that we drew.
The stories wild
And all your dreams I hope come true.
How you saw me as your friend
And the way you took my hand
I, a stranger in all ways,
From some distant far off land.
And I wish that I could help
And give you something more than love
More than fairy houses, time, and bubbles
More than smiles from up above
More than homemade cake and old face paints
And more than just a wish
For life down here is hard for folks
The cost of school, prohibitive
Good luck, my little Laura
My best friend in this land
I hope you find your way in life
That someone holds your hand
I hope you find your dreams here
And I hope you know I do.
I hope the same joy you’ve given me
I have given some to you.
The Looming Question Upon our Return
April 3, 2013
Can you tell me how it was?
Can you put it in a pill?
Can you take all of the rolling oceans
Convince them to stand still;
Can you pulverize the feelings
Can you make the mountains small
And then put them in a pill that we can eat to know it all;
We only want the sparknotes version.
No, we really don’t have time.
You know how you generally tell stories;
You know you get so out of line,
With the color of the sky,
And the feeling of the leaves,
And the way the babies cried,
And how much each word did mean…
Just tell us how it was,
Tell us in the time it takes
For us to lose interest in your tales,
Let us tell you that that’s great!
And well think we know it well,
And well think we’d rather stay,
And we’ll never hear the voices of the rivers and the day.
And we’ll never see the rainbows and the children as they play.
And we won’t get our hands dirty and we won’t get sick and tired,
And we won’t walk up a mountain
Or sing songs around a fire,
And we’ll turn on the lights at night,
We’ll climb back into our shells,
And we’ll reap the fruits of ignorance
And somehow still sleep well.
March 14, 2013
We ride back home
To the world we’ve called our own
For the month before.
We ride back down
To the lovely dusty town
Where we’ll live once more.
The sun will rise
And set with tired eyes
On our moments here.
The rains will come
When our time is done
There is no need to fear.
But the smile in the eyes of the sister,
And the hug from a mother who cares,
The sweet breath at the top of la Trocha,
The mountains that always will be there…
It makes you wonder,
If it could be.
It makes you wonder,
If just maybe
Through the dark and windy nights
Past all the lefts and all the rights
This place has changed inside our hearts to be a place we call our own-
It makes you wonder if we could start to call it home.
March 8, 2013
It all seems trivial.
The world seems so bright.
My comfort in the depth of darkness
Is that you are in the light.
You’re the sweater that will always keep me warm.
You’re the mother that I wish all children knew.
You’re the most amazing woman that I’ve ever met.
And knowing you has made all the skies so brilliant and blue…
My pain, till now, was nothing.
My heart feels about to explode.
Your voice is forever etched inside my heart,
And I know that I will follow your road.
You’ve touched so many children and adults
You’ve shown so many people how to care,
And now I am sure; more than I’ve ever been before,
You’re not gone-
You’re in the fast flowing river and the rainbow in the sky
You’re in the bees and birds and minnows and every damselfly
You’re rising with the whales as they calf in waters warm
And you’re with every tree and creature as they whether through the storm,
March 2, 2013
Green, orange, red, gold
The sun dictates 8 billion lives
Tan, black, sweat, grease
The light reflects in tired eyes
Mangito slices in metal bowls
Longing faces, adobe, stone
Children merchants, hungry dogs
Horses, blood and skin and bone.
Markets flood with changing coins
Bags and glasses, dough and meat
Cars blare horns and bodies weave
To the clack of millions of feet
To the clack of hearts that thrive in heat
To the sound of lives- repeat, repeat.
A week and a half ago we went on our last group trip to the beach town of Manuel Antonio. I, being the great procrastinator that I am, have only gotten around to writing out this wondrous story now. Oops!
On Friday morning we gathered at the entrance to Finca la Bella one more time, bags packed and ready to go….sit in a car for several hours. I think Josie even might been on time. Go figure. We hopped on the bus, the motion-sickness inclined members of our party eating dramamine like candy, and off we went! We stopped along the way to refresh and surprisingly, to see the most alligators I have ever seen. There must have been fifteen or twenty in the water right in front of us. We stopped next to a bridge overlooking the gator-infested waters. Fran told us the reason there are so many gators is because the river is highly polluted from sewage and run off. More pollution=more algae=more fish=more gators, I guess. I think the trip was around four hours, but then again, I have thought every trip was around four hours…regardless, after a while in the car, and multiple bags of snacks eaten, we arrived at…the supermarket!
We split into the groups assigned to each meal, and perused the shelves looking for our desires. No rice and beans for these kids this weekend, that was for sure. The checkout was an affair in itself, running an assembly line to bag and get on the bus. It seemed like a lot at first, but in lieu of the fact that we fed 13 people for 4 days, the amount we spent was admirable I think.
Just a bit farther, and we arrived at our hotel. We checked in, to discover the most luxurious rooms we have stayed in so far. Truly, an actual vacation. A couple of the group were sharing an apartment-like complex, termed The Tower, which would serve as our common area and cooking space. A little unpacking, and we were off to the beach.
The ocean! I can only speak for myself, but I assume everyone else felt much the same about how needed this trip was. In the midst of winding down the semester and cracking down on our projects, this was a perfectly timed break. And the ocean, always what I need to relax and rejuvenate. Even if the waves were ominously large and I was a bit worried about getting dragged out to sea. After the beach, we cooked our first dinner, and had a wonderful night together. Anna spent several hours trying to learn guitar, seated in the same position. Wagon wheel….wagon wheel….practice makes perfect.
We went to the park the next day, and as we had been forewarned, the lack of fear of humans on the part of the wildlife was a bit disconcerting. Manuel Antonio is a small park, isolated and without biological corridors. It is also a huge tourist destination, and if theres one thing tourists love to do, its feed monkeys. The beach however, was unbelievable. Clear, calm waters, with amazing rock formations and tidal pools. I even got to do a little climbing around some boulders near the tidal pool (I swear not over 6 ft Fran!). That night we hung in the Tower again, and out came the bananagrams. Never had I ever played bananagrams, but it is an addicting game for sure.
The next day, we went to volunteer at a monkey rehabilitation center, run by an organization called Kids Saving the Rainforest. Had we had more time, a full day, we surely could have done some good work there. But as it was, we only had a half day, and so we got to see the different species of monkeys they have there, tromp through the woods for a bit, and then we were off. We almost lost Binta to the monkeys siren song, but we managed to scoop her up and back to the hotel we went. Another afternoon at the beach, another night of bananagrams, and the final day began.
A swim in the pool, and off on the bus we went! While I am a bit saddened that this was our last trip together, it was truly a great one. We got to just relax and hang out, something I feel we have not had very much time to do this semester. Its been an amazing time over all, with so many amazing trips spent with great people. Buenos suerte amigos
Over the past three months, I think I have eaten multiple times my weight in rice and beans. They are the staples that have carried us up and down la trocha, through full days of classes, and long days of travel. No matter what, we could all pretty much count on the fact that our tazas would behold rice at lunch time. Now, with only a week left in San Luis, we decided it was time to learn the secrets behind the rice and beans, so when we are missing Costa Rican food, we can try to recreate it ourselves. So yesterday we had cooking 101 tica style with Christina, Emily’s host mother. Below are the recipes- just as we learned them.
Gallo Pinto (Serves 15)
Begin by cooking the rice. Rinse the rice in a strainer. Then put the rice in a pot and pour water over it. The water should be about 2 cm above the rice. Cover and let cook. When rice is cooked, add a good deal of oil, some salt, and a lot of salsa Lizano maybe two or three or four tablespoons (when you run out of the reserve you bring home- perhaps try Worcestershire sauce).
While the rice is cooking, peel 1 1/3 heads of garlic and smash them with a garlic press. Chop two small sweet peppers into bien pequeno pieces (mas o menos minced). Chop one medium onion to the same size. Chop ½ cup of fresh cilantro. Set vegetable aside.
Heat a large pot on the stove. When it is very hot, add either three teaspoons of oil or butter (Christina says it is much better with butter, but we used oil). Then, add all of the vegetables and fry ‘em up for about 5 to 7 minutes. Then, add the bean (you can use whatever beans you have around and if they are dry you should cook them first, if they are canned you can just add them). Let that cook for another few minutes. Then, add the rice. Fry this all together for a little while and enjoy!
Salad Dressing (enough to dress a large salad)
Mince a little bit of sweet pepper, a good deal of garlic, a lot of onion and 1/3 cup-ish of cilantro and put in a bowl. Squeeze an entire lime-ish fruit over the minced vegetables. Add a lot of salt, perhaps 1-3 tablespoons. Then put in black pepper- however much you want. Then add 4 tablespoons of balsamic and 2-3 tablespoon-ish of oil. Mix and dress your salad.
Pasta with Basil (feeds as many people as you want- just adjust the amount of spaghetti you use)
Cook the pasta, strain it, and set it aside.
While the pasta is cooking, mince garlic and chop fresh basil from a permaculture farm.
When the past is in the strainer, put a bit of oil and the garlic in the bottom of the pot and fry the garlic. Then add the basil and continue frying. Then add the pasta. As you are adding the pasta, shake in “all seasoning” seasoning. Stir. Enjoy.
Donas (makes about 80)
In a medium size bowl, put one spoon of sugar in some warm water, then add two spoons of yeast. Let this mixture sit for two minutes with a towel over the bowl.
Then add three spoons of sugar, a teaspoon (or maybe a little less) of baking powder, a ½ teaspoon of orange extract, three tablespoons of melted butter (add it a little bit at a time). Then add flour until the mixture is a nice dough texture- perhaps three cups would do the trick. Knead the dough in the bowl for a few minutes. Then put the bowl somewhere warm and let the dough rise, give it 10 minutes or so.
Then knead the dough again and add a little hot water and a little oil. Let sit for two more minutes.
Dump a lot of flour on a clean table (maybe 4-5 cups), make a crater in the middle of the flour volcano and then pour in the liquid-y dough. Mix it together adding more and more flour if you need to (she used all of her flour).
When it is looking like dough, put a tsp. of oil on your hands and massage the dough until there are no air bubbles. You can fold it onto itself a few times. You will know it is done when it doesn’t stick to your hands anymore.
Then, clean the table and cover it with a bit of oil. Break off ping pong ball size pieces of dough and make doughnut shapes. At this point you can let them sit or you can start the frying portion right away.
To cook the doughnuts, put a lot of oil in a frying pan (enough so that the doughnut can be immersed). Heat the oil. When hot, put the doughnuts in the oil. They only need to cook for a minute or so and then you remove them from the oil.
The glaze: In a pot, heat sweetened condensed milk mixed with water. Let boil for a while and you are good to go. If you want it to be chocolate, at hot cocoa mix.
Eat ‘em while they are warm!
Suerte with the tica measurement all! Shout out to Binta for helping me take notes as we were cooking.
“Well we would visit other Costa Rican cities, but we really didn’t want to go through the hassle of getting on an off a plane every two days. We’re finding everything we need in Manuel Antonio.”
This is a statement that was said to me on one of the beaches of Manuel Antonio this past weekend by three tourists from New Jersey. Educated women and graduates of environmental policy from Stanford and Columbia, their statement simply floored me.
Problems with this statement include:
Number 4 elaborated: When I see tourists today, I see an unsettling evolution that has occurred throughout the history of tourism. As Fran discussed in Wednesday’s class, many tourists no longer care to meet a country’s people, learn a country’s culture or even speak a country’s language, With a beach, some “wild” animals and a good place to go shopping, you’ve got everything you need. Consequentially, many tourist towns have changed irreparable to cater to said needs. Under the money-driven influence of incoming tourists, towns are changing in a way that is causing them to lose their culture, their uniqueness, their distinguishing characteristics. It has gotten to the point where two ‘beach towns’ on opposite sides of the world can no longer be distinguished, all original culture, history and peace overridden by these changes. Yet modern tourists don’t seem to care, for they’ve got everything they need. Astonishing, for they have no idea what they’re missing.
Manuel Antonio is a prime example of this forgotten culture and rapid growth to accommodate tourism. With most of the town’s population working in tourism, you could spend weeks there without ever having to speak a word of Spanish – in fact most people are so adverse to it, you’re better off not even trying. The wildlife is astonishing and widespread, yet they have been so humanized by tourists, it’s almost wrong to continue referring to them as “wild”. Monkeys will approach you and take food straight from your had. We saw a raccoon almost climb up onto a couple in order to steal their loaf of bread. Every shop sells the same things, and you can forget about anything of cultural merit within the town. Even traditional Costa Rican food is challenging to find.
This past weekend’s trip has taught me above all else the importance of being a responsible tourist, and the many forms tourism can take. Although Manuel Antonio has nice beaches and English-speaking locals, every tourist the town receives drives them further from its original identity, and straight into the homogeneous mass of pre-existing beach towns. With few to no hotels and stores focused on the environment, fare wages, social justice or even local ownership, choosing where to distribute your money is a losing battle.
As tourists, we control a significant portion of the economy, shaping the growth of a region. Although it is nice to have fun, this should be accompanied by some degree of social responsibility. In order to preserve a country’s identity, we must assume the task of knowing about the places we are visiting, attempting to speak the language, and researching the values of companies in which we are funding. In situations like these, it is important to understand that tourists are the ones holding power, and one should never forget that with great power comes great responsibility.
I’m very good at finding side projects to procrastinate with during crunch time of finals. I’ve been known, for example, to re-read the entire Harry Potter series during the last week of classes. To that end, this semester the diversion I chose was checking the Green Phoenix out of the MVI library. While this may have not been the most responsible choice work-wise, it was at least a well chosen diversion- this book is a great read.
I’m not very far into it yet, but so far it is speaking beautifully to a struggle that has demanded a fair amount of my attention as of late, that I was introduced to upon entering college. In high school I had no particular favorite subject and claimed to love them all equally, my favor more often dependent on the teacher. But, for whatever reason, when I entered college I drew a line in the sand between the ‘hard’ sciences and everything else and retreated into the world of biology. Where English had always been one of my favorite classes just a year before, I now dreaded the idea of taking a literature class, complaining about having to read articles and stories that were not concise and exact and having to write essays in the same style.
So I immersed myself in the world of science for two years, mostly ignoring other classes, or complaining about them when I took them. That is until I took the environmental communication class required of every environmental major at Smith College. Because our major is a combination of science and policy we had representatives of most every leaning in that class, and interests were heavily weighted to the social science side. Almost every class we wound up discussing the gap between the general public and scientists, and almost without fail this misunderstanding was blamed on scientists.
I was incensed. I know that scientists can be stuffy and hard to understand and too concerned with being precise to produce an exciting presentation. But, I had been taught the nature of scientific inquiry demanded such behavior. Perhaps some scientists could hone their public relations skills a bit more, but it seemed to me that the general public had the same responsibility to meet them in the middle. Scientists could learn to loosen up a bit and engage the general public more on their level, but a broader understanding of basic science concepts and vocabulary was surely called for as well. I felt personally attacked and vastly outnumbered and I dug my heels in, as I am often wont to do.
It’s been about a year since that class, and I still stick to my opinion that scientists do not hold all the blame for the rampant misunderstanding around most scientific topics in the popular media. We certainly can be a particular, socially awkward bunch and submitting us all to improv classes, as my professor suggested, seems rather cruel to me. All scientists do not have to be great public speakers. But I’ve also come around more the idea of having middle-men – public speakers or journalists with a particular interest in science and nature or scientists particularly gifted in public relations –start the process of bridging the gap. In order to facilitate this we need to invest more in teaching both public speaking skills and ecological concepts. And, as I’ve come to learn especially in this semester, we should invest more in alternative teaching methods to include different learning styles.
The quote from the Green Phoenix that spurred all of this was actually a quote from Aldo Leopold. It read, “one of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds.” This quote hit home pretty hard after a semester here of learning about the beauty and fragility of the ecosystems around us and then traveling to see where they have been destroyed by obliviousness and excessive tourism. It spoke to my trepidation of leaving this bubble of incredibly conscious and dedicated people who see the scars and gaping wounds and returning home where attempting to discuss such things mostly earns me strange looks or rolled eyes.
I’m tired of living in a world where every single thing on this planet is measured by it’s worth to humans. I don’t understand that. I never have. I’m certainly guilty of enjoying the spoils of this mindset, as we all are almost without exception, at least to some degree. But I can’t help but think that maybe if more people saw these wounds it would be easier to avoid inflicting them. If people learned to stop considering the world in such an anthropocentric way and start considering the delicate balance of other species in their decisions that would make such a huge difference. The question remains how to instill this new value set in humanity. And, much like none of our classes this semester were taught in just one style, I don’t think there can be just one answer. Every person has to teach what they know in a way that makes sense to them, and maybe it will make sense to someone else too.
This semester has inspired me in so many different ways. I’ve learned from so many people, but most potently from Pati, that science doesn’t need to be parceled off in its ivory tower. That type of science has its place, but it’s no more or less worthy than an educational song about orchid bees or a field trip to a butterfly garden where the kids run through the garden rather than sitting though an informative lecture for an hour. I’ve watched the incorporation of multiple learning styles, which has often been discussed in my other classes, actually be implemented. And I saw the power of that, especially for people who’s learning styles don’t mesh well with the dominant method in the US. I’ve built and dismantled countless plans for my future as I learned about agriculture and permaculture and ecology and education and activism from some of the most enthusiastic people I’ve ever met. And, maybe most importantly, I’ve seen so many people in love with what they’re doing, and the unique passion and dedication this brings to the workplace.
I’ve always felt caught between two worlds. I loved to read and write, but I also loved to solve math problems and design experiments. And in all of my very highly regarded education up to this point I was never taught how to integrate those two interests. They existed in separate realms and it was my responsibility to figure out how to divide my time between them. Now, more than ever, after a semester of integrated lessons and meeting individuals who embody the delicate and beautiful mixture between science an art, I am inspired to incorporate this into my life, somehow, at some point. For my own enjoyment and, if I’m lucky, to inspire others who aren’t excited by staring at plants or who don’t naturally see the patterns implicit in the world around us and how the smallest actions can through it out of balance. If everyone who sees the wounds does their part to pass the word on, in whatever form makes most sense to them, we will begin to amass a message in countless languages and manners. And with this multi-lingual, multi-style bank of knowledge perhaps we can begin to heal the wounds.
In a recent conversation with some of the people in the group about our homestay families, some of us found that our families have been discussing a common topic amongst one another: how much we all walk. Or rather, how much we all LOVE to walk. While it is true that we do walk a lot, and it is enjoyable at times, most of our walking comes out of necessity rather than want. However, it is a bit comical how quickly a conversation can be created with someone in the community simply by talking about how much we walk everyday.
Since the beginning of the semester, we have learned that an easy topic to talk about is the dreaded La Trocha. All in San Luis know it, some of walked it and nearly everyone has to plan their day around it. In our case, it means leaving our houses at least an hour before class begins. Sometimes, a kind soul that feels sorry for our sweaty, fatigued selves will stop and give us a ride, which can be very good on a sunny day with no wind.
Now that there is only a week left, we are all thinking about the enormous adjustment we will have to endure upon returning home. One of the biggest questions going around our group is “How will I be able to stay in the shape I am now when I go back home?” None of us will be forced to walk an hour to school, or really anywhere for that matter. We will now have more access to cars and buses and most of the places we will need to go to are close by anyway. So how will we all be able to keep the sweet buns and thighs we’ve all sculpted this semester? I had been pondering this question and decided to do a little Youtube search, in part to see if there are any good hill workouts and in part to see who else is crazy enough to want to do them. Additionally, after experiencing how much stronger we have all become from walking La Trocha everyday, I would like my soccer team to incorporate more hill workouts in our training (though I may not be exactly their favorite captain after suggesting it!). And so, my fellow Routes Livingians, I do believe I have found our solution to staying in tip-top La Trocha shape that does not take an hour out of your day. All that is required is a hill and good running shoes. As the guy says in the video, it’s a “Hill of a workout!”- cheesy, I know. But I challenge all 10 of you to try it at least once when you get home! Good luck and bring lots of water!
Upon arriving at the door of my new home stay family, Lorena and Marcos, I was promptly whisked away from la casa to view the family’s property. After being thoroughly amazed at the diversity of plants that Marcos carefully cultivates and introduced to the ducks, chickens, and perros (dogs), I was led around the back of the house to view something totally unexpected, the newly installed solar shower. Now I’m sure a lot of you have heard about these wonderful contraptions, but for those who have not, I’ll briefly explain how they function and their many benefits.
So the one Marcos constructed is a passive solar design which means that it functions without the use of solar panels. As you can see in the image below, an insulated water storage tank sits atop the roof of the house for maximum solar exposure. During the day, the sun’s warmth permeates into the tank to heat the water which is kept warm at night by the cozy insulation. A rubber hose connected to the water supply feeds directly into the tank to make refills muy facile (very easy). Below the hose is a pipe that feeds right into a spigot in the shower room where the hot water can be drained into a bucket by simply turning on the faucet. Now I have been known to be adverse to showering on occasion but having access to such a cool contraption has made my showering experience “¡muy rico!” The water from the solar shower tank is perfectly heated and ideal to relax aching muscles. Just thinking about it now makes me wanna trudge down La Trocha and hop right in.
Besides being a great alternative to cold showers, other benefits include the fact that zero electricity or fossil fuels are required to heat the water. After the small initial investment in materials that can all be acquired at a local hardware store or found secondhand, no more $pending is required because sunshine is as free to you and me as it shall forever be (unless Mon$anto somehow finagles a patent on it).
When I asked Marcos if he knew anyone else in the area with a solar shower, he said no and that he actually prefers cold showers. So why in the world would he decide to install one of these things? you might wonder. Well, I asked him why and he was quick to answer but all I could catch was something about dinero (money). It looks like I might need to brush up on my Spanish a little more before I can find out his motive.
Stay tuned for the next installment of Showering in Paradisimo.
I actually made this into a cake for David’s birthday, and it was gluten free with my unfortunate GF flour mixture, so it was more like a brownie/pudding situation, but it is impossible to make this recipe taste bad. It is originally from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, an amazing cookbook and the inspiration for the name of this series of blog posts, but it does tend to have ingredients that are hard to find/expensive even in the US, so I have tweaked it over the years. Here’s my version. This recipe makes 12 cupcakes.
1 cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds (linaza en español)
¾ cup and 2 tbsp all-purpose flour*
¼ cup corn flour*
½ cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp salt
1 heaping tsp cinnamon (I really like cinnamon)
1/8 – ¼ tsp cayenne (leave out if you don’t want the little kick, but it gives it a nice depth)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
Combine coconut milk and flaxseeds in a medium bowl and whisk for a moment, then allow to sit fro about 10 minutes. In the meantime, heat the oven to 350°F (or 180°C or flame) and line a muffin tin with cupcake liners. In a larger bowl sift together the dry ingredients (flour-cayenne) together. Combine the sugar, oil and vanilla into the coconut milk and mix to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry gently, being careful not to over mix. Fill the cupcake liners ¾ of the way and bake for 22-25 minutes, until a toothpick or knife comes out clean. Top with some powdered sugar, cocoa and cinnamon sifted as artfully as your skill level allows.
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