“Poco a Poco” (Little by Little)

By Nathan Page

“Poco a poco, mi amigo.”  This is a phrase that my coworker, Carlos tells me with a smile several times a day.  This simple motto works very well when faced with daunting tasks— like moving a small mountain of trimmings, or turning several tons of compost.   “Poco a poco” also works very well to describe a lot of what we are doing here at Rancho Margot and this trip as a whole.  First I’ll talk about the more specific work we have been doing down here.

Brett, Gerard, and Diane are working full-time in the vegetable garden with a group of several volunteers and a couple “Ticos” (native Costa Rican employees).  When we arrived the garden was a bit overwhelming, with so much growing in several different places.  The former volunteers were experimenting with planting in a non-linear fashion to try to cope with pests and disease.  As a result, it was a bit tricky to understand what was planted where, so a lot of the work has been organizational.  This work includes: moving several green houses to help with the garden layout, Gerard building everything from bridges to doors, and Diane and Brett working wonders organizing more efficient systems for growing seedlings and making new beds.   The garden is in a stage of rapid improvement and is on its way to a higher yield in the next few months.  I have been helping to improve this garden, but I spend the other half of the week working in the extensive grounds doing general landscaping.  The work is repetitive, but definitely helps me appreciate all the work that goes into keeping this ranch well maintained and looking spectacular all year long.   This is where I work with Carlos, and is the time of day where I receive most of my informal Spanish lessons.  Leaning Spanish is another thing that is definitely best tackled “poco a poco.”

All of us come from different Spanish backgrounds, and definitely have more than enough room for improvement.  Gerard has the highest fluency, I have some formal training from school, and Brett and Diane are working hard, as it is their first time learning.  We have been trying to do auditory and paper lessons frequently, but for me, the whole task can get a tad overwhelming… Some days it feels like I am just playing one big game of charades with my Spanish-speaking coworkers.   But, “poco a poco” we are learning key words, trying to comprehend the rapid pace of speaking, and building sentences.  Little by little, we are picking it up, and absorbing the language that surrounds us daily.  Lastly, “poco a poco” describes the work Rancho Margot is doing for Costa Rica and the Earth.

Rancho Margot is combining a lot of innovative technologies, which just make plain and simple sense.  They are using the resources that are naturally plentiful around them to literally power the lights and heat the showers.  Visitors can come into the rainforest with all the creature comforts of home and truly see a clean, beautiful way of life that is modeled by the Ranch.  Of course, there is always room for improvement, and Rancho Margot will be the first to say that they are always evolving and looking for better ways to grow and sustain their selves.  But they have only been around for 10 years, and little by little have been making big waves around Costa Rica and beyond.  It is a great first stop on our journey and we will keep learning and taking our trip one step at a time.

Rain clouds approaching over Rancho Margot.

Rain clouds approaching over Rancho Margot.

Gerard walking through one of the many rainy days!

Gerard walking through one of the many rainy days!

Diane working one of the new beds in the vegetable garden.

Diane working on one of the new beds in the vegetable garden.

Some of Brett and Diane's simple landscaping throughout the garden!

Some of Brett and Diane’s simple landscaping throughout the garden!

What a pair!

What a pair!

The door that Gerard made from scratch using local lumber.

The door that Gerard made from scratch using local lumber.

Nathan cutting down a papaya tree with a machete that unfortunetly had to be removed...

Using a machete, Nathan cutting down a papaya tree that unfortunetly had to be removed…

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