Hi! Things are slowly still moving forward here at off-grid living in Uruguay. We are still off the grid and still living (in case you were wondering) and with internet even though it might seem the opposite. Magnus has been super busy building the guest house. That is, when he was not injured by some silly accident involving an ax or a clearly very sharp piece of beer equipment. Turns out harming the one finger can actually leave you stranded for quite some time… Anyways, business as usual.
I, Virginia, have started working on a normal job and this takes quite some time away from the vegetable growing part of this life project we have going on but I am keeping my cool and do as much as I can. So, extra help is just becoming more and more desired. Which brings me to the next point. We are now registered at WWOOF and are hoping that some woofers who are willing to camp will soon show up and help. Volunteers will be camping if they decide to come within the next 4-5 months but hopefully we can offer housing sometime starting this summer. Woofing anyone???
So I took this job as an English teacher. It is at a bilingual school and I only have to teach English following the assigned book and doing the exercises that come with it. I do not have to follow any specific learning plan dictated by some ministry of education or the sorts, which gives me a lot of freedom so I am really enjoying it so far. Also, they are supposed to get some history and some science in addition to the English itself.
Guess which one they are getting more of? Yeah, Turns out the school has an extra patio and the headmaster got super excited when I suggested we start a veggie garden there. Well, the kids loved the idea too so it was a no-brainer. And before I knew it we were moving soil around, talking about renewable energy, fossil fuels, plastic, de-consumerism, Greta Thunberg, fires everywhere, Big Agro, microorganisms, you name it. I even had them visiting my place, walking around and asking questions. It’s been super cool! I wonder whether I will get fired soon or hired forever…
It is all very new and I was and still am very surprised to find myself in this new role. I guess we just are many things and we can keep redefining ourselves forever. And this idea is very refreshing actually! In the course of the last four years this once a botanist, later DNA lab technician has become first a farmer and then a teacher. But there is one common denominator in this evolution of facets, like a red thread in my life: and that’s biology. Ever since my early teens, even since childhood really, everything I do is powered by my deep love, fascination, awe and respect for nature and natural processes. I find it hard not to talk only about that, especially to my students. And it is this awe and respect that generates an urge to talk about food production and consumption and consumption in general, and about the environment and what we are doing to it. And how these are all different sides of the same core issue: we have to stop. We have to stop growing. We have to stop consuming. We have to stop taking the fossils out of the ground and we definitely have to stop thinking as individuals and only about ourselves. We HAVE TO stop. Get out of our comfy chairs and be involved by doing the right thing and stopping the bad stuff. “Being the change we want to see” like Gandhi very well put it so many decades ago.
This same line of thinking drove me to organize a seed exchange last weekend. I have been a bit frustrated by the fact that all the hippies seem to be concentrated in the eastern departamentos of Uruguay so most “hippie” events happen over there or in the capital. I could not organize anything here at home because we do not have what it takes to receive a large amount of people so I have been protesting quietly. This until Magnus came back from a building workshop where he met new friends. These new friends are of course very like minded and ended up building a restaurant using natural building techniques and reclaimed materials and are on the process of building an earthship hotel very close to Colonia de Sacramento. So when I proposed to them that I wanted to organize a seed exchange at their place they said YES immediately. We decided we wanted it to be for free so we kept the costs really low. They would be selling food and Magnus’ beer. We got our friends from Yoga Family to give a family yoga class, our friend biologist Alejandro Sequeira and his wife Cecilia Ratti to entertain the kids with activities taken out from their new book on plants (for kids), we had live music by Los Sismos de Mimbre, my friend Silvia González with lots of experience on/with seeds talked about how to obtain your own, how to best keep them and other seed related stuff and I held a small talk about seedling trays and substrates (forgot to say and show most of what I wanted to though…) and we made time to exchange seeds. Everything went super smooth. Parents forgot they had kids with them (they were soooo busy running around and having fun), people talked, mingled and drank beer in the sun and the seed exchange was a frantic, frenzied, exciting surprise. So many were interested in sharing theirs, getting new ones, etc. I can happily say it was a huge success.
Updates about later posts.
About the Bocashi which was my last post (http://offgridlivinginuruguay.com/?p=928). It works wonderfully. I have used it for seedlings, fruit trees and strawberries and everybody loves it. It will soon be time to make a new one so I will try to do a better job at documenting the process for those of you who are interested.
And for those of you wondering how the practical, tangible side of things is going I leave you with some pictures.