By Brett Liza Rousseau
Hello Friends and Family!
Please excuse the prolonged time lapse since our last blog entry. Computer and internet access didn’t come easily to Finca Paraiso’s little piece of far-off jungle paradise – what a concept! The rest of the family might not agree, but it was a refreshing break from our culture’s overwhelming connectivity. It’s amazing how a little bit of time without the worldwide web at our fingertips increased our relationship with the world right in front of us! We were forced to listen to the howler monkey screams echoing within the hills, sip coffee while the sunrise lit up slopes of citrus trees, scrutinize chicken hierarchies, spy on sheep escape artists, pick star fruit fresh off the tree, laugh at the fat iguanas skidding around on our tin roof, coo over newborn puppies and cook delicious and inventive meals everyday. A HUGE inconvenience.
In our free time, to name only a few things, Nathan became a literary expert on rabbit rearing; I began baking loaves of bread rolled up with cinnamon and banana; Mom bred her new kombucha SCOBY into a small army; Dad exercised routinely as usual; and we spent many afternoons discussing and strategizing our next move up into Nicaragua. It was decided that Mom and Dad would leave Costa Rica two weeks early for a head start to Nicaragua. While we’ve all gotten along rather magnificently, the small break was much appreciated.
Nathan and I were left in Steve’s keeping along with Luna, a black and white sheep dog always by his side, Blackie and her two puppies, 14 sheep nibbling on everything they shouldn’t have, 13 hens and 3 roosters (2 too many), 3 oversized pigs, and an aquaponics pond full of tilapia. Steve is a laid back Wisconsin expat who surprised himself by buying land in Costa Rica eight years ago and has been experimentally farming ever since. He has a plethora of inventive projects competing for his attention; he’s attempting to generate money by selling farm products and attracting tourists and locals for farm tours and B&B stays, all while keeping up with farm chores. It’s a peaceful piece of property on the Nicoya Peninsula – not far from Tambor’s scenic bay – growing citrus and avocado trees, bananas and plantains, starfruit, pineapple, ginger, turmeric, hot peppers, moringa, spinach, and more! We helped Steve with various projects such as redesigning and building a new chicken coop, fortifying the sheep fence, painting lime on the citrus trees (to prevent against ant damage), dehydrating starfruit, transplanting in the aquaponics greenhouse, propagating bougainvillea, passionfruit, and planting cacao, bush beans, cucumber, garlic, and peppers – whatever seeds I could find! I also helped Steve with some artistic endeavors, painting a sign for the main road and redesigning his roasted coffee label, Mono va Feliz (Monkey-go-Happy).
The month was a beautiful and relaxing blur – it was the first time being together that Nathan and I got to spend more than a few days just the two of us and we relished it. We celebrated our 2-year anniversary with a quirky homemade adaptation of tiramisu, and dug in with spoons as the sunset put on a show. Unlike the other farms, we weren’t surrounded by a host of people and instead entertained ourselves with the animals and plants around us. Here’s a photo-tour of a tropical farm’s flora and fauna, intended for you to romanticize.
Front porch with a view
Even for the dry season, the jungle never fails to be beautiful
We soon got used to the sheep right outside our house, as we had gotten used to deer eating our roses back home
A kingdom of ever green and growing banana trees
Passion fruit: the most seductive of flowers
Sprouting cacao, destined to be delicious chocolate
Know how your pineapples grow
Mango trees grow like weeds, soon to flood the market place! What a feast it will be!
Starfruit was crowned the fruit of the month
Sliced and sugar-coated, I loaded it up into the solar dehydrator
Lush bush beans that sprouted within weeks, and a cucumber trellis in the background
A cheap and easy drip system: by sticking a water bottle in the ground with a small hole in the bottom, this not only saves water, but encourages the roots to grow deep
The aquaponics fish tank: the water (high in nitrogen because of the fish poop) is pumped into the greenhouse…
…where it fertilizes a variety of leafy greens: katuk, spinach, culantro (native cilantro), chia. Note the pineapple top: they can grow a new plant by being stuck back in the ground!
One of the three pigs that Steve doesn’t have the heart to cart off
The morning parade: chickens exiting their new coop ready to seize the day
A pea-sized egg that Nathan and I tried to hatch, we hypothesized it to be some sort of reptile
Blackie and one of her pups
Both pups! Steve wanted us to take one, an extremely tempting offer
Steve’s new street sign
Many a magnificent sunset on the farm
Wondering what we’re now doing in Nicaragua? Stay tuned for our next post!