Wednesday, June 10, 2009

America North

i cant believe that i am back in the usa. 5 months flew by at the most relaxed and contented cadence. so much happened and i feel like my brain downloaded a lot of new data. south america is a wonderful continent and has everything any adventure seeker could want. from culture to ecology, mountains to big cities, amazon to desert and plenty of smiling faces in between. i am already scheming on how to get back here in the future and keep learning from this place and all its history and people.
and last but not least, after 6 years no cut, new hair:

:) my mom was happy

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Jama-Coaqua Reserve

The Third Millennium Alliance is an organization that i heard about from a friend, erinn, in fort collins. two years ago her brother, another american and an ecuadorian started buying formally deforested land in the cloud and rainforests of western Ecuador via donations and fund rasing efforts. this area was one of heaviest deforestation zones in the world and all but began to cripple the local ecology. in rainforrests moisture is not held in the ground or soil or weather, but rather in the forest itself. once trees and plants begin to be cleared, the water of the overall system leaves with it and the surrounding areas come into risk as well. the coastal forests drive moisture into the air and directly bring weather patters deep into the interior of continents. without coastal vegetation the whole country is at great risk of turning to desert. in western ecuador there is only 3% of the coastal forrest that once were, making this area incredible important and a perfect example of the problems we face. without coastal forests the amazon is in dire distress of losing out on the moist winds from the ocean.

The idea of the farm that i am at currently is to work on viable and sustainable methods of reforestation and community involvement with surround farmers to be good stewards of their land in order conserve the precious forest. as globalization and materialism moved to south america, US companies saw no intrinsic value in rainforrest. in a capitalistic system things only have value when commidified and turned into a product. here that meant clear cutting for timber, slash and burn for cash crops like corn and deforestation for cattle raising. as people lost their land and habitats that used to sustain life, they increasingly needed to follow suit with their land, sell it off to companies and take jobs in the growing cities. this rapid change crippled local economies and destroyed thousands of acres of important forest.
Using the ideas of permaculture the Third Millinium Allience is farming with what is called agroforesty. in this system plants like banana, cacao, coffee, orange, nuts, vegetables and endimic tree spiecies are planted together in a cohesive system. the forest is replanted with trees that are native and farming still takes place in a balanced way. this system allows for forest to begin to flourish while subsistence farming allows for abundant life to thrive.

With those goals in mind our usual days are involved in cataloging local plants, working in the garden, talking with the surrounding communities, experimenting with new ideas in growing and enjoying the howler monkeys. in working with the local community the alliance is learning form their knowledge of the area and helping develop ways to strengthen true wealth, education, take care of the river basin, revive the forest and insure this area is protected for life. locals are really open to our ideas and they have taught us so much about the intense jungle that surrounds us with puma, jaguars, vipers, hummingbirds, monkeys, butterflies and countless others in the most ecologically diverse country on earth. its a group effort.

our kitchen that just added a "wetlands" filtration system fro the waste water leaving the sink. we pipe the drain into a 55 gallon drum filled with a gravel and sand mixture with long rooted wet plants growing in it to clean the water to use in watering the veggie garden below.

this is an oven that i designed with the help of the internet. i salvaged the materials from in town and am currently making a mix of clay and sand from the area into a super strong material called cob. the mud mix will cover the top and sides of the drum and a fire will burn below to heat the drum for pizza and bread. ummmm, baking.
literally cloud forest
this is agroforestry in process. in this section of earth their is reforestation while cacoa, papaya peas and bananas are grown for eating. as the forest replenishes itself the farmer still has enough food to feed his family and trade in town.

our wall-free locally harvested bamboo home tucked into the forest.

bird of paradise

the living room
in only 2 short years the alliance has already done so much. they have a great connection to the community and personally protect hundreds of acres of rainforest. there are tons of plans for the future including carbon trading, in town community center, education workshops, eco tourism and more integration with what the locals envision for their lives. up to now all the money has been raised grassroots style and soon the reserve will be self-sustaining with its heaps of programs. unlike many other projects, this one is truly whole-istic and grounded firmly in working together with nature in order to find the balance between what mother nature knows and what humans need to survive on an earth that has begun to truly reach its current carrying capacity. not only is the project oriented in really positive and mindful ways, but life is awesome here. we have no power, no communication, no fridge, composting toilets, fresh fruit and peaceful days. we are free to play with any ideas we have and try to create cheap and appropriate technologies to share with others in the area. days pass slowly and i find myself feeling truly connected to all the work i do throughout the day. without the distractions of modern life i truly know where my energy comes from and where it goes... plus there has only been two huge tarantulas on my bed at night so far....
for more info on this sweet organization check their website and the links it hosts:

love to you all!
i am headed back to the good ole colorado in three weeks and excited to see everyone again. on a side note, i just was accepted to humboldt state university in arcata, CA for a masters in social work this coming summer. i am excited to continue learning and explore the redwoods of northern california starting in july. my time in colo will be short this go round, but lets get together and share and play.
rather than hoping all is well, i encourage us all to make things well. we control our lives and fate of this planet. every moment is one to turn it all around and open ourselves to unlimited bliss that flows in each of us constantly.
in love and light

krishna round 2

Eco-Truly Park Peru

i had the chance to stay at another hare krishna intentional farm and yoga community just a few hours outside lima, peru for a few weeks. the basic premise of the site was to both be a space for spiritual study for monks from around the world as well as provide a setting for agricultural and societal education to day vistors from the city and long time international volunteers alike. the area was amazing and located right on the beach. all surrounding the farm were massive sand hills and dry harsh desert. the farm itself was literally on sandy soil but over time and with the correct rotaion of crops enough nutrients have been injecting organically in the soil to allow for growing numerous plants.
when tourists came to the farm they were treated to fresh local organic vegetarian food and given information on diet, composting, alternative energy, ayurvedic medicine, meditation, yoga, self-composting toilets and off-the-grid living. i really enjoyed the balance of giving information and not pushing their religious beliefs too hard. it seem that the main goal was to present ideas about a more sustainable future and opening the door to spirituality if people were interested. there is a huge and growing network of hare krishna communities all over south america and they are really, in my opinion, doing some amazing work. in a time where many south american countries are on the verge of moving towards becoming fully "developed" counties there is a huge push to join full force into the consumer materialism of the West. while americans and europeans enjoy a seemingly high standard of living its important to realize how detached and unhealthy our societies have become and the extreme natural resource exploitation that has been a necessity to reach this point. the Krishnas are reminding people not far removed from smaller community living, that being self-sufficient is a REAL measure of wealth and allows for ownership over one's life. peru is experiencing a huge boom in credit card use and millions are falling into debt that will control their lives for years to come. as people struggle to follow the west and enjoy the pleasures of abundance, now is a critical time to explore new ways of reaching that level without making the same ecological and spiritual sacrifices that we have made in the USA.
what better way to convince and expose others to forward thinking ideas than to live what you preach fully and invite others to experience it for themselves.

windmill water pump from the well. the park also had solar dryers, solar water heaters and examples of water distillers.
this castle like space was the male ashram, or spiritual sleeping space

misty mornig of the community surrounded by tree and vegitation emerging as if by magic from the sandy beach.

as soon as anyone walked onto the property they always remarked at the sense of peace they felt just by being surrounded by spiritually minded people and carefully constructed buildings in the midst of trees, veggies and peacocks. i loved being here and days filled with yoga, crafts, farming and smiles were a joy. there were volunteers from all over the world present: austrailia, finland, slovokia, ireland, other boulderites, swisserland, argentina, germany and of course peru. what a place perfect for the crystallization of ideas and community involvement. after seeing the way that the spanish catholics ravigaed south america centuries ago and reading about US oil companies drainig resources and corporations fighting to control the leaders, its incredibly refreshing to see and outside institution offering true help in such a way that it is only offered and provided as an alternative. nothing forced only love being openly shared.
hare krishna!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Pics from the road

lots of fun times have happened in the last month on my new favorite continent. from cruising valparaiso scoping graffeti to spending time in the dryest place on earth to floating the amazon with my family to perusing machu pichu to seeing condors fly canyon twice as deep as the grand and finally climbing a 20,000 foot mountain. its been quite the adventure and i have spent many an hour on overnight buses, quick flights and hecktic taxi rides. i have been stomache sick, altitude drunk and upside down alot. i could go on and on but i will let the images and captions speak for themselves. click the following link to reach my picasa album and view my sometimes shotty photography mixed with a few stunners:
hope all is well.
in love and light.

Saturday, March 7, 2009


through a heap of synchnicities including power outages, chance encounters and smiles, i was able to find a permaculutre farm near El Bolson, Argentina at which to donate my time and energy towards while learning about sustainible living. i spent two weeks sharing on this four-year old farm near the rio azul and gained more practical knowledge than i could have read in dozens of books. what is permaculture one might ask? here is a brief descrption, from a book :)
¨Permaculture is about designing ecological human habitats and food production systems. It is a land use and community building movement which strives for the harmonious integration of human dwellings, microclimate, annual and perennial plants, animals, soils, and water into stable, productive communities. The focus is not on these elements themselves, but rather on the relationships created among them by the way we place them in the landscape. This synergy is further enhanced by mimicking patterns found in nature. ¨ -Introduction to Permaculture: Concepts and Resources. By Steve Diver, ATTRA Publication #CT083. 2002

i was glad to have been able to find a place such as this farm. it is operated by an awesome young man named alex who is an american that grew up in indosesia, studied in the usa and has been living in argentina for 5 years. he is very involved with the local community both as a farmer and a teacher at a waldorf school, and has a steady stream of volunteers from all over the world as well as locals who help keep the farm going. the main theme was experimentation. we were constanly trying out new ideas and imporoving upon old ones. new planiting ideas, new ways to regulate the chickens, new kinds of cheese, new mud for the walls, new kinds of foods and new ways of interacting with one another. there was no electricity on the farm and we relied on a wood burning stove and earthen oven for cooking, a nearby spring for water, a solar dryer for dehydration, composting toilets eggs form the chickens and a cow for yoghert, cheese and milk. i felt totally connected to everything on the farm, all my work and all the food. it was a wonderfully freeing feeling to be close to total self-sufecietcy and know that if all else failed there was food in the earth to eat and good company to relax in candle light with.
most of my time was spent building a kitchen and community center. we built in a totally natural way using wood from the surrounding area, straw from the farm, glass form recycled bottles, mud and clay from the earth and love from our hearts. the foundation was river rocks, followed by home made pallets of wood filled with straw and covered with a mud mixture that hardend as if it was concrete. i was also involved in chicken rangering, cooking, bamboo curing, plant seeding, seed saving, harvesting, jam making, weed eating (literally), wheat and rye threshing, wood chopping, foundation laying, sanding and just about anything life related. my time was apparently short, but i feel as though i experienced so much. i am very greatful to have had the chance to learn and so happy to have met all the wonderful people that take part in the farm.

permaculture, and this farm in general, are not methods of returing to times past. they are not soley for an escape from technology or the world at large, but they are rather well thought out designs for living in harmony with nature and our true selves while existing simply and abundatly by ones own means. the methodology may seem to hint to days past, but really it is a leap forward while using time tested practices and nature as a true teacher and provider.
it is a (re)evolution of how we look at our lives and our connection to food and the world around us. the farm is down in the valley to the right.
the growing areas which are divided into allyes, mandalas and regions is situated in order to provided the most benifit to all plants. everything is planted in rotation, near to other natural helpers and cover-crops of ryes are used after each cycle to repelntish the nitrogen to the earth. cereals and grains are grown further to the right along with a few different species of maize.

night time dinner of farm goodies

door to the kitchen with re-used wine bottles for decoration above it. the sign reads: dance with roots in the ground, energy of the wind, flow of the water, and the joyful spirit of the fire. lets dance together!

home-made and self-invented wheat-thresher with the lovely girls from oregon workin it. truly an amazing inverntion that may end up revoltionizing small farm abilities in the area and abroad as small portable threshers are not today readily avalible. the creator used an old lawn-mower engine and welded this amazing invertion to life. it produced perfect seeds and saved much time and energy.

fish caught via harpoon in the river running next to the farm. the fish was over a meter long and weighed at least 50 pounds! the fisherman above, pastore, was a wiz with both his harpoon and a chaisaw which he used for everything from sanding to trimming to precision building to standing with one leg on the second story creating a notch for the roof while upside-down....

inside of alexs house, hand built and perfeced.

outside view of the house which is in perfect ratio geometry of the human body, seven sided and has a living roof for temp control and shelter.

farm with kitchen in the background.

bio-intensive mandala garden for transplatable veggies and fragile plants.

me making jam from wild blackberries and apples i harvested from the forrest surrounding the farm. sooo delicious.

community work day. some fellow permaculturists from a nearby center come on sudays to help and share a feast of fresh food.

community. communities build upon everything. from relgion to gangs, for support or on facebook, sports, schooling and work, art and music, on the internet and for everything in between. community is what humans do to feel connected and it is how we organize and find meaning. its really powerful to be a part of a community that surrounds something as vital as food and shares everything in order to survive. communities unite us. food sustains us. our homes we create define us. spirituality insipires us. any combination is a whirlwind of creativity, love and warmth. thanks for being in a community with me, no matter how far apart we may be. love and blessings.


Sunday, March 1, 2009


mountains again. as the bus sped along on a 24 hour long ride accros the heart of argentina, we passed from cities quickly to grassland, then steadily to a desert with red stone and mesas, through a lake district and then, boom, mountains surge to the sky. the peaks of the range were jagged and full of growth still as they slowly creep trying to join the large blue sky above. it always feels good to return to the mountains after being in flat land and these peaks did not disapoint. i spent a few nights in a wonderful town called El Bolson. it sits in a valley with towering peaks all around and called to me due to its flourishing movement of permaculutre farms (more on this later), artists, microbrewerys and hiking terrain. the town felt like a music festival should feel with colorful people everywhere, street vending, impromptu concerts and plenty of well-worn travelers sharing stories over a beer in the park. about nine years ago argentina suffered an economic collapse which saw multiple presidents in a month, huge infaltaion and loss of bank security. to shield themselves from the market, the hype and to find a solution, El Bolson decided to stop using pesos. they instead had meetings at the local school once a week and set out whatever goods they had to share. a barter system emerged and sustained the town, increased its cohesiveness and openned its doors to a new way interaction. money returned to the town a while after the crisis settled, but the vibe is still one of sharing, community and freedom. beautiful.
after soaking in the town for a few days i set off for the mountains above it. i hiked along the rio raqhel and rio azul up towards their source looming overhead. the forrest was lush and the trail steep. as i climbed upwards, solo through the forrest my legs slowly remembered hiking, my lungs adjusted to altitude and my mind felt free to roam the thoughts that seems to always to be ever more peaceful the higher i climb. after a long hike filled with many relaxation breaks and yerba mate sessions, i reached a rufugio (literally: refuge). these wonderful encampments are houses scatterd through the mountains in patagonia and have a family or group operating shelter, camp sites, homecooked food and kitchen space, often with cervesa casera (home brew) and rest for weary legs. these little shelters are a welcome sight to trekkers and facilitate a great place to kick back and chat with fellows mountaineers. it was a perfect balance for me to hike alone with my thoughts during the day and share a warm meal with new friends after the sun had set.
someone told me pictures are worth a thousand words.....

valley of the rio raqchel below.

there is something quite satifying about following a river from its place of use in a city all the way to its roots above. the water grew ever cleaner, colder until the snowcone in the sky became visable with a pristine lake trickeling away. my first glacer up close. wow.

headwaters forming

rufugio hielo azul offed smile and cider-like home brew

rugugio natacion with a lake on its toes and a large grey backbone behind.

refugio cajon azul had its own organic garden to select diner from as well as some sheep, cows and a horse or two... fresh beets in the mounts, ummmm

my little week long trek cleared my head and slowed my pace. after 8 hour days in hare krishna farm land, its was nice to unwind with some cool mountain air.

along the way i met a guy from seattle at one of the refugios. we were talking about the usa and i brought up the wahhhh wahhh economy (just for jason). we quicky skirted the issue to avoid falling in the void of sorrow that the conversation often brings these days. later i asked him what he did back home. his reply ¨well, the wahh wahh economy got me laid off...¨ before i could offer condolences i realized, he was in patagonia! he was smiling! he was living! its real when you lose your job. its not just absract economy talk. but its even more real to take your chance and live it up in patagonia. this guy turned wahhh wahh into hooooraaaaayyyy! its always how you slice the situation that creates reality. things ¨happen¨ to us all the time, but it is how we that react which makes it what it is. it is us who chooses what the outcome is. nothing happens, we make it, we manifest it. what do we want to make today.....? do we want to transform society back to one with mutuality and fair trading el bolson style? do we want to sieze our freedom and follow our hearts intution? if there is a bleak situation, its often the best chance to turnit all around. there is always light to be found when you look hard enough.....
make it a great day.

wishing love and bliss to all.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

hare krishna, hare krishna

For the last few weeks i have been staying at an organic eco village just outside of buenos aires, argentina. the space is owned by a group of hare krishna monks and familes. the land has been dubed "nuevo vrindavan" as in, new vrindivan, as in paying homage to the city in india where hare krishnas make pilgramiage. its a little slice of peace here, and there is plenty of smiles and work to be done. we wake just as dawn rises and begin the day with fresh fruit, chapati (unlevend indian style bread), some date jam and non-caffinated tea. then its out to the farm to work the land and mostly weed. my first new word in spanish: desushando - i am weeding, becasue that is pretty much my life. after a solid 5 hours of bending and chating and handstands and stretching and laughing, the hot sun becomes too much to handle and siesta time insues. a large meal nececitates a larger nap and a good book in my newly aquired hammock. after a nice 4 hour relaxation its off to water the plants, harvest and sow some seeds of joy for later.
after using my hands mostly for typing on computers and juggling in the states, it took some new calluses and some yerba mate to keep me going at first, but i soon remebered my roots and my past laboring jobs... the work in the afternoon is only 3 hoursish and night time allows for sunsets, reading, yoga and some meditation. it really is the simple life, and i am feeling pure and refreshed after the tangled web of buenos aires and packed hostels.
i am here as part of an org called wwoof which is an international organization of organic farms with palcements for workers/volunteers. you trade 30-40 hours of work a week for food and lodging. as of now, at this farm, there is one other volunteer, just so happens he is from good ole boulder colorado as well... super wierd.
the monks have been a pleasure and have given me some good practice with spanish as well as in depth conversations about their views on the world. the farm work is rewarding and feels good to have bare feet in the soil, move compost, save plants form weeds and use practical intuative knowledge to solve problems. the cooking has been phenomenal, especially since arginitina as a whole is known for its steak and not its vegitarian dishes. gotta love the hindu relgion´s reverence for cows!! we eat super fresh simple dishes packed with veggies from the farm and near by neighbors. the food is blessed by a series of mudras, chants and meditations and is free of spiciness, garlic and onions (casue they stir the sense too much). all said and done, its delicious.

the farm is to the left of the under construction "truly templeo" which is to be a shrine and place of worship for krishna. the building is built of earthen bricks, cement and old glass bottles for a pattern and light.

dawn rises. so do i.

desushando. weeding. i am weeding. it reminds me of when i was at the zen buddhist center in japan, my mantra was then as it is now, "i am weeding." :)

a peek at the grounds.

sharing yerba mate with farm jeffe Bocha. not a hare krishna, but a local that come to help out on the farm. he left boliva on foot when he was 15 and came down here to find work. good man.

FOOOOOOD!!!!!!! such delightful dishes delicately dashed with drops of love....

hare krishnas are devotees to lord krishna an earthly encarnation of the unmanifest all pervading God of the universe. he is often likened to jesus christ. through singing, chanting, meditation and dedicated work, they have divine communine with their lord, now and for all eternity. krishna is the rain cloud that puts out the fires of earth material pain. joyful hearts have they, open eyes have they, inward focus to that which connects us all have they, enchanting songs have they:
hare krishna, hare krishna,
krishna krishna, hare hare,
hare rama, hare rama,
rama rama,
hare hare!

peace be to thee
aum, shanti shanti

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Cataratas del IguazĂș

the wonderous waterfalls of Iguazu took my breath and deaf´ed my ears.
such a sight to behold, such a power to feel.
the falls stretch almost as far as the eye can see and
the rush can be heard long before the eyes take hold.
the grace of the spendor is almost dwarfed by the seemingly motionless -frozen in time- single drop that is alone one, apart from the whole, as it free falls from the top only to soon rejoin its kind again beneith.
what magic, what bliss.

buenas dias, buenos aires

as my plane decended into "la ciudad", fire burned the night sky back and day reared its glorious head onto my wing and journey. a bright star rising to greet me on my freshy begun expedition is surely a good omen for days to come....