The year 2020 at Patos Suertudos, began with a birth of identical twin male lambs named Twenty and Twenty. We finished building a chicken coop to make room for a family of four with their three cats and 37 chickens.Then began deconstruction of the Termite House. Nick came from the states to earn a Permaculture Design Certificate. We designed his program to build upon his Science teacher/adventure guide background and goal to teach adults. His final project was designing a curriculum of fun game/initiatives to teach Permaculture principles to all ages. The Adorable family took care of the farm while David and I traveled to Auckland, New Zealand for our niece’s wedding. We made magical memories with Mom-in-law, Barbara, David’s sister Janet, her twins, Maya and Sarah, Sarah’s groom Rich, and his beautiful family.
It’s a small world: Lilly, one of our volunteers from Seattle, now lives on the South Island and is close friends with Rich. Seeing her added even more joy to the trip. The newlyweds stayed in town before honeymooning to Rich’s family’s home on Rarotonga, Cook Islands giving us an opportunity to spend more time with them while exploring Auckland and some of the North Island. I was impressed by Auckland’s bicycle friendliness, the diverse culture, and unique climate. The water near city reminded me of Seattle. We were lucky to have made the trip before borders closed, leaving us in our Costa Rican paradise with a long list of projects.
The brothers we call “the Buffaloes”, Vianey and Alvin came to work for days at a time. They went from sleeping on the old porch of the termite house to the Gavilana House, as one came apart and the other came together. The two are super strong and specialise in heavy lifting, working harder and faster than anyone we know. All while singing and laughing. They helped pull apart the old structure, moving heavy cement, gravel, trees, and digging up gnarly roots of giant bamboo so the floor in the new house wouldn’t turn into a forest. My biggest challenge was keeping them fed and enough work organised in front of them. They rebuilt part of the humanure structure, helped re-model the cabina, the Gavilana House, re-roof the Mot Mot house, paint the roofs, de construction of Termite House lifting solar panels in place, and re-construction on the new house. Oh, plus they put in a whole new long fence-line to keep out the neighbour’s giant bulls. As if all that heavy lifting wasn’t enough, they’d warm up for dinner bench pressing slabs of concrete and run a few Kilometers.
The adorable family left us in March with 7 chickens to keep us with eggs. When the new roof on the former Creekside Cocoon House took on a frontward V shape, David renamed it Casa Gavilana, for the Laughing Falcon, the bird we call George for my Uncle, another life of the party. Nestor, who put many hours into the Gavilana House returned for weeks at a time while continuing to develop his own farm and completing coursework to earn his Patos’ Permaculture Design Certificate. He’s been a huge help through this year. His English skills have improved over time, while my Spanish is stronger for his gentle corrections.
Our very awesome neighbours, Jose and his son, Jefferson dropped by to check out the action and volunteered to help dig and mix cement to set in the posts. Jefferson kept coming back for more. We like him, so we’ve kept him on staff. He’s made our year easier by taking care of letting the sheep out, keeping up with the chopping, harvesting, and lending a hand where needed. His family keeps us in goat milk and link us to community. They are very resourceful, helping us make good use of materials that we discard.
The roofs needed cleaning, some replacing and painting before we could add more solar panels. I couldn’t believe how quickly these guys made that happen. That had to happen before adding more capacity to the solar system to accommodate the expanded need with the new house. Named for the beautiful Mot Mot, the little house we use for storage got new bamboo supports and roofing. The covered porch became the new home for the mariola honey bees. The cabina got new roofing, expanded coverage, a little kitchen, sink, water, and shower with hot water when the sun shines. It’s become a special place to hide out for a stay-cation. The Pajuila House, where David and I sleep is named for an abundant prehistoric chicken-like bird unique to the area. It is made mostly of bamboo with some dirt floor. You will find me in the hammock reading during afternoon siestas and on the porch at sunrise for yoga.
The beautiful elephant-shaped mud-rocket-oven needed to be remade. We love this technology, burning just a small amount of wood. I struggled with all the cracks. Add more sand! Many hands (and feet) and lots of hours until paleo-pizza. Totally worth it.