Backpacking in Costa Rica: Part 1

Published 427 days later than I intended, but here is my Costa Rican adventure recap! 

In light of the recent passing of Bill Mollison, ‘father of permaculture’, I am further motivated to share my story. This man will forever live on in the hearts of students and teachers everywhere. Rest in Peace Bill, knowing there are trees being planted worldwide in your honour. I will be planting 5 native tree species next week. 

#plantedforbill 

  
The original reason for this trip was to attend a Permaculture Design Certification, to study under long-time teacher and founder of the Permaculture Institute, Scott Pittman, teacher assistant from the Pacific Northwest, Melissa Flint, and Costa Rican teacher Durga from Sat Yoga Institute. Feeling an overwhelming need to reconnect with nature, I bought a one way ticket to Costa Rica, paid for the course, and cleared three months to travel. Opportunity had come knocking and it was a chance to follow the threads of inspiration and weave a grand adventure. 

I arrived in the country with a backpack, a ukulele and very few plans along the way. I was ready to attend the PDC course for the first two weeks, followed by a few weeks of unplanned travel, ending with the Envision Music Festival and Roots Gathering at Punta Mona. With excitement levels at an all time high, I set out on a transformational journey into the jungle. 

  

The hotel and bus route to San Isidro General was pre-booked, so I was at least guaranteed to arrive at the course on time. Transportation for the rest of my trip was yet to be determined. The shuttle took a few hours from San JosĂ© to Finca Amrta which allowed time to get acquainted with my fellow students, and stare into the lush landscape. After stories, laughter, lunch and cervezas, we arrived to discover an abundant tropical riverside farm. The walk down the driveway took us past citrus, cinnamon, pineapple and coffee. Winding our way past horses, grazing along a living fence, past fruits I had never tasted and cotton actually growing on a shrub, we arrived. Buzzing with curiosity, we were welcomed at an outdoor ceremony to be smudged by our teachers and elders. 

For the first time I was surrounded by others of similar mind, and the passion and positivity was tangible. I knew then that my life was about to change. And I thought ‘I am grounded. I am ready to begin.’

   

The newly gathered class spread out in search of the perfect tent or hammock spot. We were a class of over thirty souls all in search of solutions. Our origins spanned the globe, truly making it a planetary permaculture convergence. 

This was to be our home for the weeks to come, with ample opportunity to explore. A quick canvas community sprung up and we fell into a rhythm of river dips, communal eating, systemic thinking and basking in the beauty of the jungle. The farm property borders a magnificent river with massive clumps of Guadua bamboo and fire pit for nightly gatherings. Many stories, tears, fears and prayers were shared in this sacred spot as the group went from strangers to family. We became brothers and sisters, hermanos y hermanas. 

Mi familia, te amo!

 

I could write a short novel about the PDC, and in fact I took over a hundred pages of notes. The people I met here will be forever friends. 

Permaculture is a rainbow of knowledge. It brings different subjects together in harmony, from biology to architecture, meteorology to farming, economics to business. It was an immersive experience, with over 72 hours of instruction, hands-on projects and invaluable time spent digesting and discussing concepts with classmates. Sharing mealtimes and free time provided as much insight as the coursework and lectures. 

At the end I received my first certificate in Permaculture Design, yet I left the farm feeling like I graduated first grade. From this experience, the path forward became clear, the next few steps lit up. The fire of passion was reignited for me, and my purpose crystallized. There is a vast body of knowledge and experience waiting for all of us.

Start small, start slow…

To be continued in Part 2

 

Links:

Permaculture Design Certification, Finca Amrta, San Isidro General
Scott Pittman, Durga, Melissa Flint

The Permaculture Institute Co-Teacher | Durga http://www.permaculture.org/durga-my-journey-to-permaculture/

EcoNest Building Internship, Talamanca Mountains
Robert laPorte (EcoNest), Scot Appert (BioHealthy Homes)

Roots Gathering: A Weekend of Solutions
Stephen Brooks (Punta Mona Centre for Regeneration and Botanical Studies)

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