Permaculture in the Rainforest, Final Part

 

Despite dancing throughout nearly the entire night, we decided to rise for a 4:30am sunrise swim, making our last moments together count. As we met on the misty morning shore, I stripped off my clothes and charged the sea, my new family following close behind.

There is something about swimming naked that alters the experience of being in the salty ocean to an entirely new level.

Freedom is an understatement. The water acts as silk as it grazes across my usually covered flesh. My body was blanketed in a swarm of crystal clear, chilled water as I floated horizontally to the rising sun.

This was the first time the water had felt even the slightest bit cold since I had been here, and the air carried a chilly, mysterious fog within it; barricading me from the usually radiantly blue sky.

As the sun made its way between the thick clouds, a purplish- pink tint soared through the sky, and reflected off of the still water. This was not only the clearest I had seen the water throughout these weeks, but also the clearest sunrise I have come across within my time here. The universe was surely working in our favors on our last Punta Mona swim.

That is when it hit me. This was the last time I’d feel the sweet, warm salt water of Punta Mona, at least for now. Thank goodness my last swim was a naked one!
The water washed away the dirt, emotions, and hardships of the past two weeks, and I was stepping into new beginnings. It was time to move away from this temporary fantasy life, and reproach the real world head, with an entirely new perspective. Hopefully one day, a place like this will become the reality I come home to, not the fantasy I must leave.

Now, as we sat around awaiting the boat, I felt silence for the first time since California. Nobody spoke, as we were all in a trance of our own chaotic thoughts. Although nobody said a word, I knew we were all thinking the same thing, “how do I possibly return to my normal life?”

I had spoken of this sad truth with several others over our last couple of days here. We had been living simply, efficiently, and blissfully; with like- minded family. We were all just simply happy. Constantly in the present, without a single worry of time. We were In the here and now, which created an extremely stress- free lifestyle. This is exactly how life should be, and I wasn’t ready to leave the first real community I had ever been exposed to.

We all wondered how we would return to our normal lives, our real worlds of constant disconnect. Cars, pollution, technology, rush, disconnect to the community, the earth, and the food we eat, and everything else that comes with our modern day lives.  An empty world filled with nothing but meaningless possessions.
I hoped, and hoped the boat wouldn’t show up. But, in due time it inevitably appeared in the distance. It was time.

Tears raced down my cheeks as I said my farewells to everybody who remained on the community, then headed onto the boat with the others. Air kissing Punta Mona goodbye, the breeze of the rapid boat nearly blinded my eyes as I caught one last glimpse of my special place before we headed back to the real world. One day, this place will be my real world.

I was quiet the entire boat ride. I felt the wind, closed my eyes, and rubbed my Amythest stone for comfort. This didn’t feel real. The farther we drifted from Punta Mona, the more the nerves in my stomach stirred. Then, I saw the first glimpse of society, and my stomach was sent into a whirlwind of painful knots. I didn’t want to go and face the real world. I wanted to sit on this boat for an eternity.

However, I knew it was time. Although my gut didn’t like the idea of it, my heart knew what needed tot be done next. I am now a new, better, extremely transformed version of myself. Each and every one of us leaving Punta Mona are all facing the world at different angles, but always bonded in a web. This web will continue to grow as we positively impact different parts of the world, knowing we will always be connected by our roots. We cannot hide in the comfort of the jungles forever, and we certainly can’t run from the problem. We must carry this new knowledge and inspiration home with us, and inspire our communities. Each and every one of us are going to do a small part in contributing to the large change in this world, one seed at a time.

I stayed in a hostel on my final night, with several other farmers, before heading home.
I had my first hot, real shower in weeks, along with an average everyday necessity that felt foreign to me; a mirror.

I glanced at my reflection for the first time in weeks, that felt like years. What I saw was nearly unrecognizable. My skin was glowing caramel brown, spotted with nothing but smooth freckles. I did not have a drop of lingering makeup on even the smallest eyelash. My eyebrows were beyond overgrown, and my sobbing wet hair tangled into chaos around my face. My lack of brushing it created crazy ringlets, along with several dreadlocks. I did not recognize myself. It had been so long since I had seen a mirror image of myself, and I had become a whole new me. What I saw was true, raw beauty. Natural, untamed, and feeling fully confident about myself for the first time ever. I did not need to hide behind any form of makeup, as I was now okay with my natural self. More than okay, I fully embraced each and every beautiful flaw about myself, and no longer wanted to cover any of it up. For the first time ever, I truly loved myself.

I am now ready to take on the world, and I will be the positive change our planet needs. I am filled with so, so much knowledge, love, inspiration and life; and I am ready to share myself to the entire world.

Permaculture in the Rainforest, Part 8

It was the day we had been dreading since we arrived, the last full day.

The last yoga session, the last lunch and dinner, the last midnight swim; the end of this fantasy was nearing. I would call this feeling bittersweet, but that’s just what we kept telling ourselves to keep our spirits lifted. There was nothing sweet about leaving this place, and each other, at all.

yoga

I tried to make today last forever, but as always here at Punta Mona, I was lost in time and the time had flown by.

I never actually know what time it is here, which is one of the things I’ll miss most. We go by the sun up and sun down, and simply say that the time is “here and now.”

As we completed our farming projects and sat on the now too familiar beach, the sun had begun to drop beneath the horizon, and this was our last night beneath the milky way.

farming

The large group of us followed the dark jungle trails to the yoga chala, for our closing ceremony.

On our first day here, we were each given an index card with a word on it. My word was “love.” On the back, we were told to write down some of the ideal qualities that we look for in a person. So tonight, as we sat in a giant circle inside the breathtaking chala, we were each given somebody else’s permaculture certificate and index card at random.

“The qualities that each of you wrote down are within you.”

We stood inside the circle, one by one, granting one another their certificates, and reading the index cards.

Finally, Connor, a musician from Mexico, took his place in the middle of the circle and called me up. Everybody cheered as I energetically jumped into the circle.

 “Aly, I am presenting to you your Permaculture Certificate…” then, he began reading off of my index card, “your card is ‘love.’ Within you, you are ambitious, kind, world conscious, compassionate, and intuitive,” Although Connor wasn’t one of the farmers I had grown extremely close to these past two weeks, within his eyes I saw genuine honesty, and I grew to believe his kind words that he was speaking to me.

I was overwhelmed with a mixture of proud, sad, happy, and anxious nerves throughout this ceremony. I had completed a long, intensive, mind- blowing, world- changing, 72-hour Permaculture Design Course that most teenagers my age haven’t even been introduced to. I was extremely proud of myself for somehow impossibly getting myself to this very critical place in my life.

It was then party time! We decided to celebrate the end of these remarkable two weeks with a giant cacao ceremony.

We made costumes entirely out of the jungle, and picked and ground down endless pounds of cacao. My fingers were blistered from the hundreds of cacao pods I had peeled that night.

Let me tell you, my costume was by far the best. From my coconut bra and palm skirt, to my feather-filled hair and fruit-painted body, I looked like I belonged in Tarzan.

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We danced, laughed, and made the most delicious mini cacao balls. Ginger, cayenne, cinnamon, dragon fruit, you name it! It was all going inside of our marvelous cacao creations!  This was by far one of the strangest things I have ever partaken in. Gathered as a group of people all ages, covered in nothing but leaves and plants, dancing to exotic Indian music, and getting way too amped on simply making cacao. This place never fails to astonish me.

After hours of whipping out cacao balls and dancing our legs off, we sat in yet another circle, this time around a raging fire in the jungle.

cacao_balls

It had never occurred to me how sacred those of other countries treated cacao. In the United States, it is simply a healthy dessert. But here, it is a medicinal, spiritual, extremely beautiful raw form of chocolate. And man, this thing, in it’s real, raw form makes you feel a whole new type of high.

We passed around six flavors, one at a time. With each serving, we gave thanks to the planet, those around us, and to the universe. With each bite of cacao, my taste buds were turned inside out. My palate bounced between sour pineapple, minty peppermint, sweet cinnamon, sinus-exploding ginger, and so on. Each and every one was a wash of delicious new surprises.

I could feel my heart begin to race and legs begin to tingle. The natural caffeine in it was beginning to overcome every inch of my body, and sooner than later we were amped to a whole new level of craziness and we all exploded into hours of dancing freely around the bouncing fire.

I am generally a shy, not so confident dancer. But here, it was if I had clawed my way out of my protective shell, and a whole new me was born. A fire sparked from within me and my body was flowing like the ocean waves as my skin was lit by the radiant fire.

We danced the night away, barefoot and nearly naked.

Tomorrow would come before our bodies would take even a moment of rest.

We were determined to make these final hours together last a lifetime, as we were not ready to put this fairy tale to rest just yet.

girls_smiling

Permaculture in the Rainforest, Part 7

We were nearing the end of these miraculous two weeks, and decided that today we needed to do something crazy.  It was mud bath time.

Each and every one of us from the farm strolled down to a hidden river, surrounded by jungle on one side and beach on the other. I was uneasy at this point because, despite the fact that nudity was normalized here, I had never taken a giant, naked bath with 30 plus people of all ages. But at this moment, deep in the jungle, I realized there’s a first time for everything.

Everything flowed simple as the ocean waves. One by one, we stripped off our clothing without even the slightest second thought, absent of intimidation. Within moments, we were jumping into the deep, cold river of mud. I swam around, attempting to ignore the fact that I was without clothing in the company of a giant group of people sharing the same body of water.  All the while, I consciously ignored the creepy moss floating around my ankles, and the fact that I had no idea what was beneath me in this murky body of water.  I had a sense of everlasting freedom and pure, utter bliss, as I have felt many times while here at Punta Mona. I was completely naked in a murky brown river with a group of people I had only known for two weeks, and I was totally, completely okay with it.

Soon enough, we had all covered ourselves in a thick layer of blue mud, and lay on the hot beach sand, allowing the sun to sculpt the mud into our skin.

It was strangely fantastic. As we lay beneath the harsh sun, I looked around at our naked, dark blue bodies and saw not humans, but Avatars. Our bodies looked long, lengthy, shiny, and just so, so blue. Until today, I was unaware that mud came in any shade other than brown, yet there we were; nearly resembling the shade of the sky. This moment was extraordinary.

I felt comfortable, natural, and deeply connected to our Mother Earth. In this moment, I felt like as if I was part of this earth, not just a mere visitor, attempting to walk with lightly on it, in fear of destroying it. I finally belonged. I was meant to be here, naked and covered from head to toe in mud. This was my new version of “normal.”

The large group of us frolicked around doing handstands, cartwheels, and spinning around in joyful circles. What a day to be alive.

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At last, it was time to stop looking like dorks and clean ourselves in the sea.  Jumping into the warm water created a wash of inexplicable feelings and emotions. As the mud seeped from my skin, creating a pool of brown in the once clear ocean, my hair and flesh transformed from dried, rough terrain into a silky quilt. This mud was filled with magic and as the water swept it away from me, I felt the sensation of negative toxins being pulled away from my body. This magic healing mud seemed crazy, but I knew it was real!

We dove beneath the waves, surfed, and allowed our clean, bare bodies to soak up the sun.

So here I was, comfortable in my own skin for the first time ever; surrounded by a group of non- judgmental, genuine friends of all ages, with good intentions and happy souls. I felt connected to each and every person around me, and to the earth beneath my feet. My mind will never be able to fully comprehend this day, but it surely changed my world forever. 

As everybody at Punta Mona knows all too well, I have been wishing for fireflies since day one. As soon as I heard one of the locals mention that they get the occasional firefly or two, my insides nearly jumped out of my body. I hadn’t seen fireflies in nearly ten years, and they were one of my favorite childhood memories from the years spent in Michigan. The other farmers and I had yet to see any fireflies over the span of these two weeks, and my hope was beginning to fade, until tonight.

Shortly after dusk, I was skipping, alone and barefoot along a trail to the main house. The faint light from the remaining sun was still slightly guiding my path, as I stared at my feet to avoid viper snakes. Lost in my own thoughts, I finally took a moment to look up, only to find myself surrounded by faint, flickering lights. Coming to a halt, my smile stretched from ear to ear as I discovered these unusual floating objects to be fireflies!

It seemed that at every angle of my eye was a shiny, floating light, glowing brighter as it came closer to me. My body jolted in excitement as the lights of the fireflies flickered on and off within the blink of an eye, surrounding me. I felt special, as if I was destined to be on this very path at this very time, for them to shine just for me.

This was, indefinitely, one of the most special moments in my life. I truly believe Punta Mona has magic, and that a touch of this magic has rubbed off onto me.

costa_rica_beach

Permaculture in the Rainforest, Part 6

4:30am- sunrise hike time.

Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to stay awake long past midnight last night twirling and singing under the stars, considering Maddie and I didn’t wake from the numerous cries of the conch shell. We were finally pulled from our deep slumber when our friends pounded on our doors, seconds before it was time to leave. We had only moments to decide, struggling between the desire for sleep and the opportunity for adventure.

The jungle turned from darkness to light before I was even able to comprehend my surroundings. I have been here for nearly two weeks, and still the towering green jungle trees, sweet smells of fresh grass, and mysterious noises of the endless jungle life still manage to take my breath away. Lost in my astonishing surroundings, I tripped on my muddy pajama pants several times throughout the hike.

Once our weary legs couldn’t bare to stomp through the cold mud any longer, we settled along a beautiful, radiantly green cliff side, overlooking the crystal clear, turquoise sea. I dangled my feet over the edge, feeling the vibrations of the roaring waves crashing beneath me as I watched the soft sun peak over the horizon. The world around me seemed to be blanketed with a purple tint. It must have been the way the sparkling sun reflected off the colorful water, and bounced off of the deep green trees. I will never begin to, even the slightest bit, succeed to describe my surroundings this special morning, but it was out of this world. I can still feel the cool ocean’s mist trickle across my chilled skin as I watched the ocean waves dance below from between my dangling toes. Magic. I feel pleased with the decision to drag my tired body out of bed.

permaculture_costa_rica

The soothing atmosphere forced me to refrain from speaking to my friends, and sent me soaring within my imagination. I inevitably began to wonder why life can’t always be this way. Why is the “normal” way of life more socially acceptable than this? Since when did living in expensive cement homes; working unfulfilling careers forty plus hours a week; and living completely detached from our surroundings and passions; become considered normal? What has happened to society, and how can we bring our world back to this simple, efficient, blissful way of living?

All I know is the feelings, knowledge, and happiness Punta Mona has brought me will never be lost, and I will never settle for the “normal” way of living. My life will be simple, yet extraordinary. One day, a community like this will be my reality, not just my fantasy. I promised this to myself the moment I stepped foot onto the community.

I was torn from my new special spot and racing thoughts when my friends revealed dozens of fresh coconuts surrounding me, waiting to get sliced open with our machetes.

“I am the sun, the moon, water and fire, mixed together within the eternities of mother earth.

I am earth.

My roots trickle through the mineralized soil and my branches kiss the tips of the sparkling sky.

I am not just a physical being.

I am everything.

I am a spiritual being living a temporary physical experience.

Temporary.

The past, the present, and the future; a constant whirlwind of change.

My days, experiences, relationships, and thoughts will be of constant change.

But, I will always be the fire sparking me inside out, and my roots will always remain intact with mother earth.

I am a life far deeper than one that the physical eye can comprehend.

I am, indefinitely, the entire universe.”

permaculture

Permaculture in the Rainforest, Part 5

After a long seven days of permaculture, testing my mind and body to the limits, we were gifted with a day off. A group of us decided we would use this day to hike five miles through the jungle, and find our way to the nearest town, Puerto Viejo.

The hike was absolutely breathtaking. Giant jungle trees encompassed my every view, giving the illusion we were walking in circles. Monkey’s screamed at us from the top of their lungs, and deadly red frogs bounced around us. The knee-deep mud squashed between my toes with every long stride I made, and my calves burned vigorously. But, my tired body was instantly pumped with fuel when I spotted a baby jungle turtle. The adorable animal curiously stared into my eyes as I carefully picked it up and brought it close to me. I wanted to take this little guy home and make it my new pet!

jungle_costa_rica

Finishing the hike and arriving to society, for the first time in a week, was one of the most unsettling feelings ever. We saw unfamiliar faces, unhealthy food, alcohol, and technology. In the comfort of Punta Mona, none of these things existed. We felt everyone’s eyes on us, as if we had been living as caveman for an eternity, and didn’t belong in society, even in the small Caribbean town of Puerto Viejo. But, in reality they were probably simply curious as to why we were drenched in mud and sweating puddles.

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After scraping the last of the meat from the sweet coconuts we had opened with our machetes, we spent the remainder of the day strolling around flea markets, searching for organic food and fresh fruit, and jumping into the choppy ocean. Although today was our day off, we all longed to be back in Punta Mona. We missed the fresh, healthy food and like-minded people already. These crowds felt anything but welcoming, as the sweet isolation of our now familiar jungles was all we wanted.

Sooner than later, we hopped on a boat back to the safety of our new found home. The unforgiving ocean sent our small motor boat into twists and turns as we fought through the incoming storm. My heart dropped, but in a good way. I was always one who craved stomach- twirling moments like these. The rush and unpredictable waves seemed to feed my soul.

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Being back on this boat was rather odd to me, considering that the last time I was on it, I knew nobody but Maddie and I was filled with a terrible feeling of nerves, butterflies, and the uncertainty of what I was getting myself into. But, this time, I was surrounded by newly-found friends, and the feeling of endless excitement to return to my special place, not a single worry in mind.

Several of us took full advantage of being back, as we immediately hopped into the now musky ocean water just as the bright sky was falling to dusk. As the warm waves trickled over our dirty skin, a fellow Costa Rican pointed to the sky and said, “from me to you.” I looked up to find a flawless, radiant rainbow hovering directly above our heads, the ends each gently touching opposite sides of the Caribbean Ocean. We floated under this stream of magic, too awed to speak, until our fingers turned to raisins.

beach_costa_rica

This evening, as always, I was in complete and utter bliss. I couldn’t be more happy to be back in my mosquito net tonight, surrounded by the critters of the jungle. I will never take a single moment here for granted, as I have found my version of paradise.

Permaculture in the Rainforest, Part 4

Day 4

Today was the day I decided that I wanted to study medicinal plants and herbs. I have grown up in a household with endless herbs and healing plants, but have never quite appreciated these miracle foods until today; as I saw them grow from our very own earth.

It is just absolutely insane to me. One tiny seed can help cure diseases, cancer, and support our overall immune systems. This tiny seed can not only feed people, but heal people. A seed growing in something as simple as dirt, can help change the world, I am convinced. This is why I want to dedicate a huge part of my life to learning about these medicinal plants inside and out. Not only learning how each one can help our bodies, but learning how to take care and grow these miracles from seed across unique climates. I want to learn, study, and understand these plants inside and out. I want to dedicate my knowledge to helping heal the world with something as simple as a seed from the soil beneath us.

Tonight was our very first sharing circle. I had no idea what to expect of this, as I had never in my entire lifetime experienced a sharing circle.

“Is this going to be kind of like ‘Show and Tell’ from preschool?” apparently not, considering the amused looks I received in return.

We sat in a giant circle in the yoga temple, just as the sun melted away to darkness. Our faces were lit by nothing but the several large candles in the middle of the circle, creating an intense, dramatic ambiance that sent my stomach into twists. Let’s just say that tonight was nothing that I had expected.
Candles

We passed around the conch shell, and each took turns sharing our deepest thoughts. With each person opening their heart and mind to the large group of us, a new spark of depth emerged from the circle. We shared our fears, hopes, dreams, memories, and endless appreciations for the blissful moment we were currently living in. Several tears dropped and endless hugs were sent around the circle. Unfortunately, I could only partially take in this breathtaking moment and listen to what others had to say, considering my palms were dripping with sweat and my mind was exploding in a constant stress of what I was going to say when the conch was passed to me.

As the conch was handed to me, my nerves instantly washed away as I looked around at the encouraging, nonjudgmental, kind faces looking my way.

“You know the feeling when you stand in a room full of people and still feel alone? I have been craving a real, deep connection for far too long, and you guys have finally given it to me. Back home, I feel like an outsider. I feel as if I cannot connect with the friends that I am surrounded by. I need more to life than the parties, unhealthy food and shallow relationships that their life’s revolve around. I thought I was crazy for caring about the world, and for questioning the norms of society. I thought I was the only one who wanted to make a difference, until I met all of you. I came here to learn permaculture, but I have found so much more than that. A connection I have been longing for.”

We closed the circle by singing and drumming lightly to beautiful tunes, with our arms wrapped around one another. I could feel the positive vibes as our individual energies flowed through the circle, making us all one. The circle felt impossible to break, until eventually evening turned to midnight and people began to trickle off to their rooms.

Several friends and I lingered around the shala for a late night “letting go ritual” that one of us was holding. The six of us sat in a far smaller circle, the candles still melting to wax in the middle of us. We each took turns writing onto our own pieces of paper what we needed to let go of. Any negativity, sadness, anger, or hurt that we didn’t need in our lives anymore. I watched each person’s facial expression transform into that of relief as they burned their papers to ashes in the fire, diminishing these negative thoughts. They were no longer a part of us.

It was as if this ritual let off a ray of freedom and insanity into our circle, as suddenly, without thinking twice, we ripped off our clothes and ran completely naked through the dark jungle to the raging ocean, with nothing but the occasional spark of lightning guiding our ways. We danced, sang, held hands, and frolicked through the dark, glowing water as lightning zapped the beaches around us and thunder rumbled. We dumped the ashes of our pasts negativity into the hungry ocean and let it forever drift away from our thoughts.

We were too busy screaming beautiful songs at the top of our lungs, skipping around in circles, and getting drenched in warm rain and ocean water to realize that we had lost sight of our clothing and lacked even a single flashlight. That night, we followed the lightning back to our bedrooms, still without clothes.

I long for everybody in this world to feel the way I felt that night on the dark beach with my Punta Mona family. I was free, and a little bit crazy. I will hold onto these feelings forever.

Permaculture in the Rainforest, Part 3

DAY 3

Today is my third day at Punta Mona, and I finally feel entirely acclimated to my new environment. I have been staying up past midnight, and waking at 5:30am every morning for yoga. Despite the small hours of sleep, I feel incredible. My mind, body, and spirit are healthy, rejuvenated, and energized during each and every hour of the day. I am content.

yoga_costa_rica

The early hours of the day consisted of a farm tour. Imagine frolicking around an endless jungle, surrounded by edible everything! Fruits, vegetables, herbs, leaves and flowers; we could eat absolutely everything we came across without a drop of worry! It was paradise!

  • Mung bean
  • Ackei
  • Hibiscus
  • Acerola
  • Dragons blood
  • Torch ginger
  • Lemongrass
  • Jackfruit
  • Citronella
  • Sour apple
  • Peach plum
  • Java almond
  • Cacao
  • Ice cream bean
  • Bread fruit
  • Starfruit
  • Wild mustard
  • Nutmeg

These few, of the endless, foods and herbs were only a tiny layer of the new edibles I was exposed to here. Oh, and my all time favorite… Miracle fruit! With one bite, sweet flavors overcame the entirety of my mouth, and turned everything else I ate, even starfruit, into the taste of candy.

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My mind was spinning in absolute awe as I attempted to take in the insanity of my surroundings. Deep bamboo forests, monstrous jungle trees, vines intertwining like snakes, and food created from nothing but our own hands and the soil beneath our bare feet danced around my every surroundings. This place is magic.

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Nearly everybody swam in the ocean today, completely naked! Although I was hesitant at first, this community believed in nudity being a sense of freedom, natural human nature and empowerment, rather than the odd sexualization that today’s society makes it out to be. The sun was finally shining and we spent hours diving beneath the ocean waves, entirely comfortable in our own skin. I felt free, in complete and utter bliss. I love it here.

After an intense several more hours of studying plants, and the patterns of nature, I was, unknowingly, in for an incredible night.

With my best friend, and several other newly found friends by my side, we waded into the warm, still ocean water, the entire milkyway circling above our heads. I have never seen more stars in my life. The stars covered each and every inch of the sky, and reflected off of the sand and water like tiny pixels. This radiating galaxy sent me into a whirlwind of amazement. I was lost in the sky for several minutes, until I finally dragged my eyes downwards, only to find a whole new spark of unbelievable mother nature.

I discovered, for the first time ever, bioluminescence in the ocean water with my very own eyes. With every slight movement of our hands or legs in the dark sea, or crashing wave, tiny glowing dots would sparkle around us. My panic washed away when I realized that these weren’t baby jellyfish swarming my every move; they were glowing plankton. With bright sparkles washing through the water and between my fingertips, I inevitably felt like a fairy for the night. This was the most unreal moment, so difficult to even wrap my mind around. I will never again say that I don’t believe in magic, because this night was nothing less than that.

No mater how long I spend in this beautiful place, I will never be able to take it all in. After drying off and putting clothes on, I simply could not stop looking up. The stars took over the last of the darkness in the sky, and my breath was taken away with each and every special moment that I shared with the world above my head that night.

I have never felt more at home, and alive. And, like I have said countless times before, I have found my little piece of magic that I will now hold onto forever. Thank you, universe, for bringing me to this remarkable place. I am forever grateful for this life- changing experience I have been lucky enough to encounter.

 

Permaculture in the Rainforest, Part 2

Day two.

Today I absorbed so much information, I was certain my head would explode. We have only covered the surface of the permaculture principles, yet I’m already planning my own sustainable community. My head spins with excitement when I think of living off of nothing but the bountiful land, and I feel ready for this!

Punta_mona_costa_rica_classroom

 

I had been eaten alive by countless insects from head to toe. Luckily, the dirt blanketing my every bit of skin from our early morning seeding and composting session covered the red lumps on my skin. I loved this feeling, the taste of sweat, the feel of hard work on my body, the dry mud and even the insect bites.

Farming_Costa_Rica

On our lunch break, I ate on the beach in the pouring rain with several newfound friends. I was soaked and so was my plate of food, but none of that seemed to matter. We swung in hammocks, scarfed down delicious fresh (wet) veggies, and spoke of the wonders of life. The world around us felt irrelevant, or even non existent. It was just us, the trickling of warm rain, and a turquoise stilled ocean. “What else do we need?” I silently asked myself.

It has been a perfect day so far.

Costa_Rica_Coastline

After lunch, Maddie and I attempted to pick our very own coconuts. We were tired of helplessly watching the strong boys of the group climb the trees to gather us juicy coconuts; it was our time to shine. We realized that throwing rocks didn’t seem to work, as the heavy coconuts barely budged, causing the rocks to bounce back at our heads. OK, so maybe this isn’t as easy as it looks.

We searched for a strong, tall bamboo stick. Maddie grew a raging fire in her eyes as she clenched the stick, began to smack the coconuts with every ounce of her strength. I fell to the floor laughing to the point of crying as she slipped, stumbled, and failed to retrieve a single coconut from the tree.

“Why is everything so much more funny on the Caribbean Sea?”

Endless hours of farming later, night had blanketed the sky and everybody relaxed around a fire, deep within the jungle. We sang at the top of our lungs, played sweet tunes to guitars and ukuleles, and watched the stars slowly appear through the monstrous green trees. The howler monkeys were more than happy to join our music circle from above.

I was sitting next to a local Costa Rican who was as well taking the permaculture course, as he intensely stared into the blazing fire.
“Isn’t it incredible how when the fire begins to grow from a spark to a roaring flame, everybody instantly becomes silent, and gets lost in the fire as they begin to think deep thoughts,” he said in his heavy Spanish accent. I then laughed as he referred to meteor showers as “raining stars.” Gotta love language barriers.

The group then grew into a deep conversation about the marvels of Punta Mona. We spoke of how incredible it was that here in the jungle, nobody knew the time. We are in the present, not worrying about anything other than enjoying the moment we are currently in. In this magical place, time does not exist. The time is “here and now.”

I am so inexplicably happy here. I love falling asleep in a mosquito net, surrounded by the sounds of birds, crickets, monkeys, and endless strange bugs. I feel stress free. I feel complete. I feel home. I am living how life should be lived, and I want to stay here forever. It is a beautiful world and I am in complete and utter bliss. I love you Punta Mona.

Permaculture in the Rainforest, Part 1

July 3rd, 2016

THE BEGINNING
I am floating in the clouds above the crystal blue sea, intertwined with a mixture of uncertain feelings and emotions. This airplane is the door away to the next two weeks; two weeks of a new way of life. 14 days of living on a sustainable community farm, learning every aspect of permaculture, while experiencing the depths and mysteries of the Costa Rican jungle. An unfamiliar territory, with unfamiliar faces, a situation above my scope and out of my control. I face the unknown with slight fear, yet positivity and anticipation. Thankfully I am able to embark on this adventure with my best friend and soulmate, Maddie Davis.

THE FIRST DAY
Today was filled with nerves, shaky palms, and an unsurmountable excitement. The first day of many at Punta Mona.
We took the boat from Manzanillo early enough to see the first kisses of the sun on the horizon. I felt the ocean’s mist trickle across my flushed cheeks as I marveled at Punta Mona’s breathtaking shoreline, while praying that its angry waves wouldn’t tumble us.

We walked into a scene full of overwhelming happiness, mitigating the anxiety in my stomach. We were greeted by so many unfamiliar faces, hugging, kissing, and introducing themselves to me with names I knew I would not remember. My emotions were a wash of inexplicable nerves, terror, with pure and utter happiness. For the first time in forever, I felt the sense of a real community.

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Here in Punta Mona, time does not exist. Between farming, picking coconuts, slipping in the mud, and getting lost within miles of wonderful jungle, night time crawled over us within the blink of my eyes.

As I lay there after the first day, I pondered life.  It’s the simple things in this life that I’ve found mean the entire world. Standing on the humid beach, surrounded by nothing but darkness and beautiful newly found friends, squealing as lightning strikes the roaring sea; this was my world for this night.

As everyone else drifted into a late night sleep, Maddie and I began to let go and join in the slumber. But as soon as a giant cockroach crawled up my arm and into my clothing bag, we were wide awake. We were positive we had discovered at least five new species of bugs in our beds that night. Living in the open jungle, with no screens, no windows, no doors; talk about a tropical paradise.

“I can’t do this for two more weeks!” -Maddie Davis.

To be continued…

Excited to be sharing my new adventures with you all soon!

You can check out Punta Mona Center here.

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Take Care of Our Planet: Happy Earth Day

Happy Earth Day!!!

Today we celebrate a day dear to our Nii Family’s hearts. This day may often be overlooked in our chaotic world.  Earth Day was originally created in the 1970s, and the appreciation for mother earth is now celebrated worldwide April 22nd of each year.

Now, what has Earth done to deserve a day all to itself? Well, where do we begin?

Have you ever taken a time out from the real world, a moment away from your daily stresses, and submersed yourself into the world of nature? As you stand there, listen to the sound of wind grazing through pools of oak trees and inhale the minerals of mother earth. You can’t help but to subconsciously release negative toxins from the body, and feel a sense of rejuvenation. Natural creation allows for the greatest emotional and physical healing to each and everyone.

This is why we must take this day to appreciate our earth and to remind ourselves why nature is so critical to preserve. We simply cannot live without it. In the years of celebrating Earth Day, we have helped preserve plants, forests, soil, water, and wildlife. Without these critical aspects of life, we would not have access to medicinal healing plants, oxygen-rich forests, mineral-rich soils, clean drinking water, and an array of animal species. These factors together help to create a well-rounded ecosystem that must be cherished and protected for future generations.

So, on this Earth Day we are challenging ourselves, and you, to be Niice to yourself and to our planet. Just a small step, or a tiny change, can add up to make a great difference.

  • Choose a healthy walk over an unnecessary drive
  • Turn off the shower and rinse off in the ocean or a nearby lake
  • Light candles rather than using light switches
  • Unplug from electronics and go outside
  • Lay under a tree and allow your body to be engulfed in the serenity of nature.

We hope you enjoy and appreciate this Earth Day as much as Nii does, and we would love to hear all about the results of your challenge! Happy Earth Day, Nii family!