Volunteer and Henchperson
February 18, 2009
[Mark has been aiding and abetting Planet Drum’s activities from San Francisco for the past six years. He traveled with Peter Berg to Bahia this February.]
The last two days in Ecuador have been strenuous and inspiring.
Yesterday Peter and I traveled with all the volunteers by ferry across the bay to San Vicente and then by bus up the Rio Chone river to a farm owned by the widow of a geologist. She does animal rescue for cats and dogs, and lives with a daughter and has a farm hand or two. She grows fruit and makes handicrafts to sell. Her home is on the side of the river across the road from all the shrimp farms that line the other side of the river for miles. She asked Planet Drum to come and discuss converting her farm to an organic operation and asked if she could come to the Planet Drum facilities in Bahia to learn the methods. Then with a guide with a machete we climbed a couple of miles up the mountain side of her property among the mosquitoes and heat to what was left of virgin forest at the steepest parts. These forest areas haven’t been logged for all the exotic and rare trees because of the inaccessibility for cutting and bringing the trees down. It was a very hard hike and it took about 3 hours. When we returned to her farmhouse she had prepared large amounts of fresh ice-cold passion fruit juice. We talked for an hour or so and then left. We went out on to the dirt river road to wait for a bus that runs about hourly. This time Ramon, one of the local volunteers and a school teacher stuck out his thumb and we all, 7 people, clambered on to the back of a truck loaded with green bananas and rode back to the ferry. Crossing the river back to Bahia was beautiful because the sun was setting behind the city and we got some great photos. Two of the Swedish women volunteers, who stayed behind, had cooked up a wonderful dinner and baked bananas in their skins with chocolate squares packed inside.
Today Peter, Clay (who runs the Planet Drum effort here), his Dad, and Jaeson and I took the bus a 7 AM to the road that leads to the property Planet Drum bought to begin a Bioregional Institute. Another mountainous hike maybe 8 miles in and up to a section of virgin forest and jungle. Luckily it was overcast and the lack of heat from direct sunlight helped us get up and back. We hiked back out and flagged down another bus and then took tricycle (pedal taxis) back to town. Peter, one of the Swedish woman (30 years old), and I had lunch at the Columbian restaurant here. Mangrove crab soup, and apple slices spiced with Columbian spices, and the covered in melted local cheese and fried, lentils and rice and fresh vegetables. The lunch for the 3 of us was 6 bucks.
The city is beginning to fill up with tourists from Ecuador for Carnival next week and we have put together a contingent for the Planet Drum EcoCity Project which includes all the school kids that come to study with and help us. They chose to dress up as frogs and are putting together their version of a “frog dance” for the parade. I made posters for all the barrios announcing an open house on Monday with cultural activities and tours of our greenhouses and a green festival. We are also offering a 200 dollar prize divided between the best barrio parade presentation and the best decorated tricycle cab.
I am feeling pretty good and sleeping well. No sickness and the mosquitoes are leaving me alone for the most part.