Another Milestone

This week we reached a big milestone. After six months of living here we are finished with employing the crew of five or more. During the first three months we did a lot of infrastructure improvements and clearing of bush and overgrown grass. The last three months the crew has worked incredibly hard at making trails, reclaiming cut wood and creating gardens. I am so grateful for the crew we have had working for us during the past three months. These guys are in the prime of their working career and amazed me with their abilities. It’s because of them that we now have a nice place to live and explore nature.

One of the last projects the workers did was to begin creating fruit orchards. They converted the abandoned front of the property, which borders the public road, into the first orchid. So far we planted banana, plantain and yucca. Still to come will be 15 fruit trees, 13 coconut trees intermingled with corn and green beans. It’s good that we are reclaiming this part of the property. It sends a message to those that pass by that someone lives here and cares about the land. Of course, maintaining this and all of the trails wouldn’t be possible without the help of Mario, the one worker that we will retain full time. We plan to hire additional help as projects arise.

Hiring the locals has been an eye opening experience for me. This area, and probably most of Costa Rica, has undergone a lot of change over the past several decades. We heard stories that life was very difficult about 30 years ago. People in the area were poor and did what they could to live off the land. From what I have learned, over the years different types of crops were grown that created jobs for most of the locals. These crops changed from cocoa to coffee and most recently to just a little bit of sugar cane. Peons (Spanish word for unskilled workers) made a living working on these plantations in the past. Over the years crops have come and gone and from the looks of it most of the type of work that today’s parents and grandparents did is now gone.

Our crew was extremely grateful for the opportunity to work for us for the past six months. Gringos moving into town and buying a big chunk of property and wanting to maintain it as naturally as possible are sparse. We had our last team meeting today and it became so obvious to me how much these guys and their families relied on us for their money earned. I wish I had unlimited wealth. I would hire all of them forever! Since I don’t have unlimited wealth I ponder income generating business I could start in order to keep these guys employed.

The last project the crew worked on was to get most of the scrap wood off of the property and delivered to two nearby schools. Some of the schools still use wood as the source of fuel to cook the meals for the children. They were grateful for our donation, especially because the wood is dry and usable. I hope we can continue to make more donations to the schools over time. Funding for public schools from the government is minimal and doesn’t cover their needs.

I haven’t blogged too much about the progress of working with the architect on house plans. Over the past six months we have gone through round two with the architect. We pointed out the location and he came up with a nice design but we decided not to go forward with it. We now have a different location in mind and I am brainstorming more ideas for house plans version 3.0. This means that we will most likely be living in our small space for at least another six months. Pura vida!

The first photo is of the sunrise as seen from our house. The second photo is of the crew preparing the front of the property for fruit trees. The last photo is of the crew (including John) loading wood for the schools.

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