(This image is the view from the highest point on the 15 acres of Corasoma, looking down at the "city" of Barichara on the right, and the northern end of the Andes mountains known as the Santa Fe range, swinging around to the left.)
Our past couple of weeks have been primitive, to say the least. With limited water delivery from the city of Barichara - there is a serious lack of water here - and with the only toilet unable to function, we have been truly “camping out.”
But the new bathrooms have been completed, with the potential to deliver a slightly more upscale experience than we’ve had so far. But the reality here is that for many of the other residents of this area upscale is not an option. One of the workers saw me heading off to "fill a post hole" and he just smiled and waved. Daily bodily functions are not considered anything to be ashamed of and young children, especially boys, are taught early on that when one has to “do your duty,” one simply finds a place on the side of the road, or behind a bush, and relief is that close.
As a matter of fact, most Colombian “public” bathrooms in the rural areas are places where in the U.S. or in other more developed countries one would be resistant to even entering. No toilet paper or hand towels are offered. In some cases, there are not even any toilet “seats,” just cold porcelain and a dubious level of cleanliness, but at least one is not visible to the public’s eye. I’m a quick learned when it comes to remembering to have tissue in my pocket...
Hot water for a shower is rare. That’s less of a problem in our area because the average daily temperature hovers around 75 degrees, dropping slightly when the sun sets and getting slightly warmer during mid-day. But trying to wash and then condition one’s hair with only a trickle of water is more problematic. Jey-hu says I’m making too much of that issue, but he’s not faced with that challenge!
I haven’t talked much about the limitations of this lifestyle, in part because I haven’t had time to think of how to deliver the information with a somewhat delicate slant. And there is so much here that is truly lovely, exquisite and charming that it seemed almost ungrateful, or complaining, to mention them.
But we are about a month away from returning to the U.S. and there are lots of comments from our hosts about “you won’t miss.....(fill in the blank)” and in fact, I think I will miss many things - not the least of which is our growing participation in the community activities - we went to our first art show this week where the local doctor was displaying her excellent pen and ink drawings.
Because of my gardening expertise, I will probably return before Jey-hu does to stay on top of some of the projects I have committed to completing before we open to the guests. So it is likely I won’t have time to re-acclimate myself to the U.S. lifestyle and will be focused on getting as many of the seeds and other materials we have identified as being useful for our permaculture life here. I haven't had a whole lot to do with the garden shown here except to keep up with the weeding. It was started in October before we arrived, but doesn't it look luscious?
I can’t think of a time in my life when I have been so pre-occupied with what I use and what the end result of my using it is... everything here is either composted, reused or recycled. And it’s a lot of work. I can see why the more developed countries do not put more emphasis on recycling... the return on investment is hardly worth it when you are talking about the cost of ‘man’ hours, but in the rural locations like Santander has, the cost is likely less than 5000 pesos... or $2.50 in U.S. dollars - PER HOUR!
Last night some of us went to a “tobacco ceremony,” to celebrate the Full Moon and to gather for a group intention to bring more water to Barichara this new year and since Jey-hu has a distributorship for “Living Water,” a copper tube that regenerates oxygen into water, we are hopeful this intention is realized - more water, more tubes to run it through.
More on this water business in 2010, and of course more of our adventures as they unfold. May this year bring you good health, because nothing else matters if you don’t have that - the rest will unfold.