Wow. I just looked at my blog for the first time in what looks like two months. Sorry about that. Life has been really crazy since the New Year; you know that really good kind of crazy. The kind where you are busy and have an incredible ¨to do¨ list but it is full of things you want to do and are excited to do. AJ and I even prioritized the latest list because it had to do with moving into a new home.
This new home is spectacular and open and beautiful and sits on property of which I am a 1/3 owner. Yes, you did read that right. I now own land in Tabuga. Jason, Ry and I are currently land owners and partners. After looking around the coast, mostly south of Tabuga towards Canoa, we realized that everything we wanted for our future developments was right in front of our faces and literally under our feet.
After a disappointing attempt to buy a piece of land in Tabuga, Jason and I took a little break to talk about our dream idea. We decided we needed a break before we tackled another land buying adventure. I always like to believe that things happen for a reason, and just as we had decided to take a break a local neighbor approached me. He told me he had 10+ hectares for sale for $20,000. I was shocked at the price and told him that it was just too much for me. He lowered the price to $15,000 and I agreed to take a walk on his land to check it out.
On a calm Saturday in Tabuga we headed up to the land. Elle was visiting so she got to see the property. The land has incredibly personality, a few hills, and our own ridge line with an ocean view, a lime orchard, plantain filed and various other fruit tree species. The location is just a 7 minute walk from the main highway and the entrance is boarded by my Ecuadorian family members, my aunt on one side and my uncle on the other. We loved it. Jason loved it, I loved it, AJ loved it, Elle loved it. It was perfect. It was everything we had been looking for without even realizing it. The land has two wells and a simple wooden traditional house. Still, 15K was a little too much.
Coincidently, this particular neighbor had quite the old man crush on me. During my last year of teaching, Don Pancho would meet me at the top of my little road and walk with me to class. He wasn´t from Tabuga and would tell me stories of his more glorious days. He used to export bananas to the US and believed that together we could do it again. His company never bothered me and his stories humored me and so I grew accustomed to his company. People in town joked that he was my boyfriend and that he loved me but, he is a completely harmless old man.
So, the day after seeing the land, Jason and I returned to do some negotiating. We had it all planned out. I would butter up Don Pancho and his wife. Do the culturally acceptable small talk, ask about his health, family and cows and then we would move slowly into price and Jason would authoritatively move in.
Don Pancho said he wanted this deal to be done honestly and like true gentlemen. This was perfect for us. We had a very straightforward conversation and after Don Pancho pointed at me and said ¨Andreita, I respect and admire you and what you do and for that I am lowering the price¨ we got him down to half his original offer. The next day we paid Don Pancho and literally the following day the house was empty. Him and his wife had moved out quickly and taken all of their stuff with them.
AJ and I moved in the week after New Year’s.
Jason, Ryan and I are starting Finca Mono Verde (or Green Monkey Farm) a Sustainable Living Volunteer Tourism Project that focuses on green building, organic agriculture and community development. We are planning on combining permaculture principles with sustainable building strategies and our own experience and love for Tabuga. The primary goal of this project is to create an operating organic farm that will help the people of Tabuga reduce their agricultural chemical use and produce a more valuable product. In the future we are hoping to work with the recently formed Agriculture Cooperative of Tabuga and also with families doing family gardens. In addition, we want to build with sustainable materials and minimize our total impact on the environment. We are hoping to work with students internationally and nationally on green building projects for the farm. Finally, we hope to have volunteers come to the farm to learn about the things we are implementing on the farm and to work in the local community. Volunteers will be expected to help with the operation of the farm and in addition, will select activities in the community to be a part of. This includes working with the pre-school, elementary school and highschool, the library, the tree nursery and the high school green house. We strongly believe that this project can greatly help the development of Tabuga and guide the local farmers away from intense monoculture and chemical use.
For me, the greatest beauty of this project is that I will always have a permanent and positive connection to Tabuga. This connection represents all that I have given to Tabuga and all that Tabuga has given me. I absolutely love the farm and I really believe in the ideas and projects that Jason, Ry and I are going to try to implement. We are currently working on our business plan. Things are moving along and life is good.I look forward to the day when I post the farm link on this very blog.... very very soon.