April 2020. What a strange, strange world we’re living in.
Since Costa Rica closed its borders on March 16, we’ve gradually watched our Fusion Home bookings slip away into the void that was international tourism.
We suddenly found ourselves with nothing but sweet, sweet time and an off-grid homestead to tend to. We enthusiastically ventured back to the projects that prior we had only been able to work on sporadically in-between rentals. For me this meant working in the greenhouse and preparing more planting beds in our yard. For Matt, it meant continuing to craft the square foot herb/salad garden outside our front door (which will be complete with its own off-grid irrigation system!) and continuing to create a digital community platform through the updated Fusion Forum.
We like to keep it simple, so aside from our rental calendar opening up due to corona-cancellations, we've not had to adapt to too many changes.
While the rental revenue is not flowing as expected, we moved back into the main part of the house which has been such a treat for us! We are really enjoying the extra space and amenities that our badass Fusion Home has to offer (for those who are new to our adventure - we usually live in a tiny home under the main part of the Fusion Home). We do miss meeting awesome guests from around the world, though - hopefully it won't be too much longer until we're able to host again!
Our BBQ grill is also getting some good use - we grill plants! My current favorite is grilled eggplant with olive oil, garlic, and parsley - so simple and tasty. We’ve nearly perfected our carrot dog recipe, too. As in, carrot “hot dogs”. No I'm not kidding, and yes they’re delicious. Off-grid vegan creations. ✌🏼🥕
So, what is it like to live off-grid in the jungle during a pandemic, you may wonder?
To be honest, day to day pandemic life isn't very different from day to day non-pandemic life.
Most mornings start with yoga and meditation in the SkyLounge, followed by some reading while sipping a tea or coffee together. Matt cooks up a delicious late-morning breakfast (lucky me!) and then we take time to work on our own projects. River time with MJ or a family walk breaks up the day nicely, and since rainy season is well on its way we usually retreat inside for the afternoons to continue to work on digital projects, prep for dinner, maybe have a Zoom chat with friends and family, and most importantly - stay cozy.
We wrap up most evenings by appreciating a jungle sunset, followed by dinner and a movie or documentary on the projector while curled up on the couch. Or watching The Office, for the 5th time. Not a bad routine.
Even though this is a weird, uncertain, and sometimes uncomfortable time, and even though we're unsure when we'll be hosting guests again, we truly are some of the most fortunate people in the world and we don’t want to ever take that for granted.
We’re also feeling extra grateful that “social distancing” is basically how we live our day to day lives, pandemic or not. We’re both introverts by nature and while we do enjoy connecting with others we also really enjoy our space and privacy (there's a reason why we opted to live off-grid in the middle of the jungle!). We're not experiencing the emotional discomfort of not being able to get out and socialize every day, and we are very grateful to have each other's company ...minus the small percentage of the time when we start driving each other bonkers. 😇
Finca Bellavista is not currently hosting any guests, but there are still eight of us jungle weirdos currently living within the community (see below). It’s the first time since I’ve been living at Finca Bellavista since this has happened - only community members living here without guests for such an extended period - and while we all have mostly been keeping to ourselves, there’s a true community feel emerging out here. A little jungle tribe, if you will. It's really nice!
Despite what the above photo may suggest, we haven’t been gathering or doing tons of activities together during this time, but we do see each other occasionally, and we’re supporting each other in our own ways. Our neighbor James has been so generous with his car, offering weekly grocery store trips so we can all stay stocked up. Martin and Eva are baking us a loaf of bread each week in exchange for washing their sheets and towels (a bartering system is being born - more info in the Fusion Forum, check it out!). Dorothee and Matt are exchanging tools for various projects. Justin and Thomas have offered workshops in Wim Hof style breath-work and art therapy, respectively. Thomas even surprised us the other night with some amazing homemade salmon burgers and they were SO GOOD.
We have a schedule for taking care of the chickens who live just below the Finca Bellavista greenhouses (well, we did until a few days ago they were removed from their coop - but now we have a plan to get our own chickens and we’re super excited!), and we’ve gathered a few times for community movie nights and Happy Hours. There's lots of collaboration going on and it's just really nice to be co-existing with like minded people.
As of this week my new favorite social development in my jam-packed schedule is that I visit Dorothee once per week at her beautiful Fairytale Treehouse (the most recent home completed within the Finca Bellavista community) and we have a sleepover in the jungle - just us girls, with no wifi, no cell service, and no connection to the outside world. She doesn't have propane or electricity at her place yet, so we cook over fire and do yoga by candlelight after supper. In other words - free therapy! It's awesome.
So, we’re laying low but keeping busy. It’s mostly beautiful, peaceful, and productive.
Don't be fooled - I have off days. I’m a worrier by nature, a chronic “what-if” thinker (and slight control freak), and I have moments when all of the "noise" of the world and everything that is out of my control weighs me down. I'm reminded that worrying about anything won’t change the outcome, and refocusing on all there is to be grateful for is the way to go.
Meditation and yoga help, too. It’s a great opportunity for continued personal growth, my favorite!
This is why we chose this lifestyle. Because the only thing that is certain, is change. We can never really predict what the future will hold, but we know we want to be in a place like this no matter what - in the middle of the forest, with clean air, sunshine, plenty of space to take walks, time to grow nutritious food, and the freedom to be ourselves - what an incredible blessing.
FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD
Speaking of growing food - this month I created my first banana circle in our yard!
We're relying on the grocery store more than I care to admit right now. BUT, making a lot of progress expanding our growing capacity, collecting seeds, and preparing to plant a whole lot more food on our property.
I’ll write a separate post with more details about the banana circle concept, but the short version is that it's a guild (a little grouping) of banana trees with a compost hole in the middle, and other plants around the perimeter that grow well with banana plants.
My banana circle also includes papaya seedlings, lemon balm, and I'll be adding sweet potatoes to the mix soon. With this concept we'll be able to grow a whole bunch of food in a small amount of space.
PS - did you know that a banana tree is not actually a tree at all, it’s a perennial herb!
Permaculture is so cool.
I’ve made it a mission to propagate as many herbs as possible. Right now I have rosemary, sage, three types of mint, oregano, two varieties of basil, parsley, and cilantro all in progress. Goal: grow so many herbs that I need to give them away! I’ve also planted more pineapples and prepared garden beds for green beans and squash, ginger and turmeric, and a new area for more cherry tomato plants.
In addition, a spark has been ignited in my soul for the art of preserving one's harvest - canning, pickling, and sauerkraut-ing. In the past month, I’ve made homemade tomato sauce, hot sauce, pesto three different ways (arugula + sweet basil is my favorite so far), pickles from home-grown cucumbers, and glorious, beautiful sauerkraut.
In February I contemplated how living off-grid in the jungle has been an opportunity to disconnect from normal. Interestingly enough, this coronavirus has encouraged me to do some reconnecting that I haven't done in years, and for me it's been one of the most enjoyable part of the past couple of months.
I’ve digitally reunited with a lot of people who I haven't spoken with in a long time - friends from high school, my college girl gang, family members, former co-workers and students, and Finca Bellavista connections - volunteers, owners, and guests. It's been nice to reach out, send messages and emails to see how everyone is doing, and of course do some Zoom-ing and see faces, too!
In one of the first Zoom chats I was on with my college roommates, a couple of them joked that they were concerned about when they would be able to get their nails done again. I remember looking down at my own nails which were completely FULL of dirt after a day of digging in the garden, and smiling. Life is good.
...and you should have plenty of homemade sauerkraut / bonus points for dirt under your fingernails 😋
Interested in experiencing off-grid living in Costa Rica’s Southern Zone, or learning more about the Finca Bellavista community in general? We would love to host you at the Fusion Home (hopefully soon!). In the meantime if you are interested in learning more about this lifestyle or have any questions check out the Fusion Forum.