Friday, May 10, 2013

International Guests and Final Reports: wrapping things up from Anna

It’s been a flurry of activity with the first onset of international guests! We had an informative week with Dr. Richard Komp building solar ovens and as my time here comes to a close, I’m working hard to finish up a few final projects.

Visiting from Canada are Charlene and Sally, with whom I have luckily been able to team up with to fix up a few places and spaces. Sally and I are putting together an information board and area map, which we hope will help provide visitors and tourists with a better idea of Salado Barra. So far, we’ve sketched out the various canals and have spoken with local guides about what species – both flora and fauna – we are most likely to find in each. Given that Salado, like all systems, is both social and ecological, we are also trying to integrate some of the lesser known aspects of the community including historic sites such as the Casona as well as local businesses including restaurants, the solar workshop, jewelry-making and we are even thinking of organizing community-based homestead tours!

Alongside the information board and area map, we’re also keeping busy getting the café up and running. While it’s been a bit slow getting everything organized and permission to go ahead with certain changes, I have drafted up some permaculture designs for the garden, and slowly but surely, we are moving forward. We hope that the café will serve as a getaway for tourists, providing a relaxing safe haven of warm banana bread, coconut tabletas, fresh squeezed juice and a nice swing in the hammock. We also hope that the café will offer a venue for the community’s micro-enterprises to set up shop, selling solar cell phone chargers, jewelry, dried fruit, and local products. Needless to say, the next month will be a perfect bustle with which to end my stay.

As I was filling out my final reports for FBC, I was thinking about all the many things that made this experience as amazing as it was. There is something really cool about coming into a totally unfamiliar space as an absolute stranger and to actually feel the community learning about you, understanding you, trusting you, and opening up to you. Of all the experiences I have had here, I think this is the one that stands out the most; developing a sense of belonging, a sense of caring and being cared for, and more than anything, a sense of being part of something bigger. It’s not the trips around the country nor the nights out in Ceiba that have made this experience what it is, it’s the people we share our days with. It’s sitting in the kitchen of Dona Irma surrounded by sons and daughter-in-laws, sisters and brothers, eating pastelitos and drinking thick coffee. It’s building sand castles on the beach with Kenya and Edouin or listening to the spray of water against the side of the lancha as David navigates us through the mangroves by moonlight and stars. It’s a campfire on the beach, a tortilla-making session, a game of hide-and-seek, a gift of fried fish, a motorcycle lesson, a game of pool. It’s seeing real smiles on peoples’ faces, hearing real excitement in their voices, and feeling real hugs when they greet you. It’s a sense of home. 

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