Mexico Last Days: March 18-19 2016

Waking up in the cloud forest was amazing experience. The night of our campout, I walked about half an hour alone into the forest before lying down to sleep. When the sun rose, I was delighted to see the colors return to the bromeliads and orchids in the canopy above. I gathered my belongings and walked over the valleys and ridges to our campsite, where we all waited for Teacher Alan to join us. The five of us did our yoga and meditation for the last time, and took a couple minutes to reflect on how this practice had worked for us over the two weeks. We then walked back to the house, did our chores, and ate a final delicious breakfast. The sun flower seedlings are looking awesome, and the beets are coming along great as well! We also took time to create a video encouraging other Quaker schools to switch to green energy, and Teacher Alan and I returned to the forest to water the Chicalaba seedlings we had planted a few days before. After lunch and rest, we drank a couple last-minute glasses of water and loaded our belongings into the truck. We drove to the top of campus, where we met our apprentice friends, Angel and his family, and Eduardo and Mauricio. We all rode together to the original cloud forest, and even got to meet the legendary Ricardo, founder of Las Cañadas! Together, we did a final moral imagination exercise in a circle of stumps where we imagined how our descendants would view the climate warriors of today. We practiced holding hands and acknowledging the life and power of other people. After this emotional moment, it was time for the sweat lodge!

The sweat lodge was one of the craziest experiences of my life. First we prepared verbally for the ritual, and then faced the four cardinal directions to the sound of Ricardo’s drum. The sweat lodge has a door in facing in each direction that corresponds both to natural elements and aspects of a person’s life and character. We then lined up and received small pieces of wood to pour anything we hoped to rid our lives of into. We each received a smudging from Ricardo before throwing our stick into the fire and entering the lodge. At first the sweat lodge was very dark and cool. Banana leaves carpeted the floor and flowers hung from the ceiling. We filed in a sat in a circle against the small igloo-like walls. Ricardo explained what would happen, and then the rocks were brought in, each one glowing red hot like it was from the core of the earth. The rocks were so beautiful! We greeted each rock, closed the door, and then began singing, imagining, and laughing as we cycled through first the Door of Earth and then the Door of Air. After the Door of Air, it was time to bring more rocks in. This time they were small boulders! It was at this point that I started to get really hot. Ricardo poured water on the rocks to make steam infused with the most delicious herbs I have ever smelled. We were all very, very sweaty at this point. At the Door of Water, the memories start to get a bit fuzzy for me. I remember my heart racing, my whole body being covered in sweat, and a sudden realization that I definitely had lungs and had better use them. We were splashed with water, given a chance to share our prayers and feelings, and hammered with hotter and hotter air in a beautiful mix of joy and pain. Then it was time for the Door of Fire. The Door of Fire is the hottest door of the sweat lodge. At this point I was lying flat on my back, very hot and completing unable to form most coherent thoughts. I have never felt so weak and strong at the same time. We were invited to think of a goal for our lives, and share anything we wanted to throw into the fire and rid from our lives. Reflecting on my determination to help the Earth and need to abandon my feelings of inadequacy felt like the culmination of everything I had learned in Mexico. The top door of the lodge was lifted, and our steam and feelings went flying up into much, much cooler air.

After the sweat lodge, I remember sitting in the river to cool off, lying on the grass and watching the sky spin above me, and realizing that I had momentarily lost my ability to speak Spanish. I felt very tired, very much part of a community, and strangely, very clean. I eventually walked into the cloud forest to change my clothes and had an encounter with some very large ants. I hope I did not disturb them too much. We rode the bus back up to the top of campus, and sadly said goodbye to Angel and our apprentice friends. We then drove to Orizaba, ate dinner together, and had a chance to walk around a different Mexican city. Over dinner, we gave each other compliments and appreciations for our roles during the trip. We stopped by Teacher Alan’s hotel room to receive new Angel Cards with values we hoped to embody on our post-Mexico journeys. I got Obedience, which I can only interpret as obedience to my commitment to enjoy every moment of my life as an environmentalist. After a wait at the bus station, we said goodbye to Teacher Alan and boarded our 1am bus for Ciudad de Mexico. Teacher Paula and I said goodbye to the others at JFK Airport, and then had an adventure involving several train rides, subways, broken phones, a lot of culture shock, and a period of looking for my parents at random train platforms in New Jersey. We finally found them and made it home safely, which was quite a relief!

After a week back in the USA, I’ve been trying to reflect on my experience at Las Cañadas. While I think it will take me years to process it fully, there are a few things I am sure of right now. One is that there are so many options for interacting with the Earth and others, and that the most rewarding involve being fully alive, taking risks, and being unafraid to really love something. Another is that helping the environment and living sustainably are incredibly fun and rewarding. I know that I’ve gained some self confidence and validation about what I want to do with my life, and that I will remember the amazing Mexicans I met for years to come. I think most importantly, I learned that even though the world and environment are incredibly messed up right now, there are so many options for fixing it and so many people across the world who genuinely care. I know I’m not alone.

With profound gratitude to Teacher Alan, Teacher Paula, Angel, Alba, Gloria, Ester, Eduardo, Mauricio, Daniel, Juan, Daniel, Dany, Yolanda, Tyde, Ricardo, Mishel, Hector, Pati, Julia, Concha, Carlos, Nuco, Juan José, and wonderful, wonderful Eugenio,


Note: We are still having trouble posting the pictures! Hopefully we will get some posted in the next week. Thank you for your patience!


Day 14, March 17, 2016

The day began with some yoga, led by the yogi-in-training, Sam. After yoga, we did our daily chores and ate an amazing breakfast. I think this might have been the best all week! From that moment, I could already tell we were going to have a fantastic day. As soon as we were all cleaned up, we got in the car and headed to the resort where we would be zip lining. Once we arrived, we were shocked by the amazing view of the Mexican Grand Canyon. From where we were, 800 feet above, we could see the river flowing and the birds soaring majestically over the valley. Then we went with our guide up a tower, about 40 feet, to get clipped onto the line. Personally, this was a great challenge, as being afraid of heights,  I was not sure I could trust the equipment. Eventually though, I realized that we must run towards our fears; conquer the beast! And so we did; capturing an amazing view and serene voyage. After the zipline, we hung out in the restaurant area of the resort and played some cards. Eventually we were ready to head back, and enjoyed a nice car ride back to Las Cañadas. When we got back, we were able to eat a nice lunch, nap, and get ready to set off on our campout. We took a nice little hike to the campsite, where we discovered that Angel had built us an impressive canopy in case it rained. Once it got dark, we built a fire and were able to eat some burritos and roasted potatoes. Shortly thereafter, we took a nap and then T. Alan stopped by to share a moving story with the group. We then gazed at the stars, admired the bright-lit moon, and talked for a bit. Unfortunately, it was hard to sleep well, since the bugs, birds, coyotes, cows, and the hard ground made the night slightly uncomfortable. Still, it was a night to remember!




Day 13 March 16, 2016

Today began with a well-planned, well executed, carination of one Dahoon Jose Juan Song. Hoon received a guitar-accompanied performance of both the Spanish and English “happy birthday” songs, while I sat on his bed getting his dogs under control. The day was off to a great start. After walking back to the “big house” after finishing our morning duties, we made a nice buffet style yogurt, granola, fruit, and bread station, which made for quite the breakfast.

After breakfast we prepared to go and visit our new rural school friends, this time at their place of business. After a short hike to Anja and Alex’s house to borrow a car, we were on our way to the school and Huatusco. We reached the school and were warmly greeted by “the homies”.  A couple handshakes and tapas later, Mekhi, Dahoon and I found ourselves in the middle of a friendly fùtbol match. Mekhi came out on fire, scoring the first two goals of the match. After some mild to lackluster defense from our female teammates, we were facing a surely insurmountable deficit. Dahoon and I did our best to get back in the game via him serving me up a few lobs, which quickly turned into screaming volleys as they hit my foot. Although the non-present scoreboard showed the other team having more goals, our team surely triumphed by means of spirituality and sportsmanship.

Following the game, we were kindly toured by two teachers and many students who showed us their progressing advancement in Eco-technologies such as compost piles, designated plastic disposing areas, a small garden with hanging orchids, and their compost packaging partnership with an urban school in which they provide the compost and in return get it packaged while retaining 50% of the profit of the sold compost bags. After the tour, we were able to share our thoughts, show our respect and appreciation, and acknowledge our possible role as creating a brother/sister school relationship with Westtown to help with the money issues, among other things, that go into converting a school such as that one into a completely eco friendly environment. It should be noted that this school in particular is hoping to be the benchmark for sustainability; if/when successful, they will be the model for all of its 1,200 peer schools – the effect of this accomplishment is obvious.

After the presentation and our reflections, we were directed to meet with the students at their main building for a surprise. Once gathered, the students brought out a birthday cake for Dahoon as we all sang to him. The cake was as sweet as saying adios to our Mexican friends was bitter. After a bite of cake, hugs, and many pictures, we were on our way to Hoon’s birthday lunch in Huatusco, where Guillermina was anticipating our arrival. After noodles, optional chicken, eggs, plantains, soup, and another birthday cake, we were ready to call it quits. We said goodbye and thank you to Guillermina and began walking to the urban school, where we were planning to see another group of students that we had taught and exchanged contact info with the day before.

Once in the school we sat and spoke with the assistant principal, talking briefly about what we showed the kids and a more general synopsis of the work Alan and Paula are doing in Las Bellotas (the conversation was in Spanish so don’t quote me on what was said). We were given a quick tour, and to our disappointment had to leave before seeing the kids we met yesterday. Sentimentality aside, we were back on the streets of Huatusco where we had a few minutes to shop. We then met in Hector and Pati’s yoga studio, and a few minutes later were on our way home. We made it back exhausted but in good spirits.

After a good while of resting, afternoon chores, and general chilling, we went and visited our old compost piles we made what feels like a month ago. They weren’t hot like expected, but that didn’t matter because we were now focused on meeting yet again with our apprentice friends for games and dinner. Once there we had a great meal accompanied by fun table games that are too numerous and complicated to write about at the moment. After cleaning up and saying goodbye, we were on our way home, where we are now; showering, taping up blisters, eating leftover cake, sleeping, talking, and blogging. The day was busy with memories for all of us, but for only Dahoon will these memories turn into that of legend. What a (birth)day. I’m hoping to fall asleep soon, in search of much needed rest to lead yoga tomorrow, which with luck, will be followed by ziplining, which will then be followed by our night of camping under the stars… We are all crossing our fingers for clear skies tomorrow night.

See you soon, Samuél

Day 12 Tuesday March 15

Today was doomsday, but it went really well! For the past week and a half, Sam, Dahoon, Mekhi, Teacher Alan, Teacher Paula, and I have been preparing for a visit from two Mexican schools. We planned to teach the students twenty different Eco-technologies that they could implement in their own lives to improve their personal sustainability, home efficiency and overall impact on the Earth. To prepare, we have had many practices in both Spanish and English and I suspect far more stress and nerves than any of us are willing to admit. Yet, no matter how ready we were, today the students arrived! This is what happened:

We woke up at seven as usual for yoga and a quick breakfast of eggs, beans, and granola. At 9:00 the first group of nineteen kids and their teachers arrived from a rural school outside Huatusco. After introductions and a great presentation on climate change from Teacher Paula, I led the group in a game of elbow tag. Afterwards, we broke into small groups with or without translators and led our new friends to four different Eco-technology stations. I started with the dam, water pump, and bamboo bridge, then moved through the efficient ovens and stoves, lights, solar panels, water filtration systems, cooler, ecological toilets, and compost, also stopping to discuss firewood, mushroom farming, gardens, food forests, and tire staircases. I particularly enjoyed talking to Eugenio, an awesome student who helped me with Spanish grammar and took a large interest in sustainability. After our tour, we reunited with the others on the main porch to share what we had learned. Our Mexican friends brought us wonderful homemade snacks and also shared the process behind their school’s recycling system. We circled up on the lawn for a Big Sit and Yurt Circle and took many photos together before waving goodbye our new friends. After a quick lunch, debrief, and imaginary nap, it was time for round two!

The second group of students was much larger, with twenty-nine students from an urban Huatusco school. These students were much more lively, distractible, and outgoing, though they too seemed to enjoy learning about our ecological systems. Overall, both groups were excellent, and learned a lot about Eco-technologies while teaching us about their own systems at home. After running through the activities a second time, we were all mostly exhausted, though we did have enough energy to take even more photos and walk our friends down to their pickups. They tried to convince us to come back with them to Huatusco, but unfortunately we had to decline. Heading back to the house, it felt like we had made an actual connection with other kids as well as finally mastering the information we had been so stressed about. Back at the house, we took time to stare tiredly into space, eat food, and finish our chores, and then went over the river to herd the sheep.

On the way to meet the apprentices, we met Oscar, our fifteen-year-old shepherd friend. We talked to him for a while about his life in Las Cañadas and taught him some English phrases, before starting a baseball game with a dog and some rocks. We herded the sheep, caught up with our apprentice friends, and then returned to eat dinner and practice our songs. It turns out that both of the injured lambs died in the past few days, a fact that made me extremely sad. I hope that the rest of the lambs live on into the future.

After dinner it was time to celebrate Dahoon’s birthday! Even though it is his birthday tomorrow, we decided to celebrate both days because it is currently his birthday in Korea. We ate the delicious leftovers of solar banana bread prepared by Sam and Teacher Alan, just as our neighbors showed up to sing with us and eat even more Mexican bread! After eating far too much sweet bread and planning for a Quaker renewable energy campaign, we collapsed on wooden chairs to watch the end of Forks Over Knives. We are currently looking forward to Dahoon’s birthday tomorrow and particularly Sam’s secret plan! Have a lovely day,



Day 11 Monday March 14

Today was a rather easy day as we were given the option to rest in the morning while others went to retrieve Macadamia trees to plant later in the day. So, Sam and I chose to stay behind while Mekhi and Leif piled in the truck with T. Alan and T. Paula to learn about food forestry and pick up 12 macadamia trees. After a relaxing morning and a great breakfast, we set out with Angel to plant trees alongside the road to the tiny house. The trees were planted two meters from the road, and 8 meters apart from each other. Unlike the trees we planted the day before, the holes for these Macadamia trees had to be much larger in diameter. Furthermore, even before we could start digging holes for the trees, Angel came around with his machete and skillfully made clearings for 12 trees alongside the road. Once the holes were made, we carefully placed the trees inside their respective holes and filled up the sides with 50% compost and 50% soil. The compost was necessary to facilitate their growth.

After the tree planting took up the majority of the afternoon, we had lunch and prepared our presentations for the students coming tomorrow. We rotated through each part of the tour and talked about the various eco-technologies present in those locations. We also read sections from Eric Toensmeier’s book about Carbon farming. We learned about the cloud forest and how it was so important because of its many unique plant species. Lastly, we learned about how pollution is negatively influencing the climate’s temperature. After the later portion of the afternoon was filled with learning about reforestation, we ended the day after delicious dinner with a very shocking documentary about how the consumption of meat could possibly have links with cancer and general sickness. I look forward to spending a couple more days here by living fully alive.

P.S. The seeds we planted in the seed blocks a few days ago are looking great!

– Dahoon


Day 10, Sunday, March 13, 2016

We had a rather late start this lovely Sunday morning. With a special day already planned out, we did not have to be ready until 8 AM. Pati, one of our neighbors, came over to instruct a yoga session with us. We also invited some of the apprentices with whom we helped herd the lamb/sheep. With the sun rays beaming down on us, and everyone in their downward dogs and what not, we were able to have a relaxing, and stress relieving, experience. After the yoga we segued into an activity where we were talking about sustainability and how we could contribute to the world and the people living on this planet. Soon thereafter we took time to look into each other’s eyes, and in silence, appreciate them and their efforts to help save our planet. When these activities were over, it was time for breakfast.

One of T. Paula and Alan’s good friends, Guermina, an excellent cook, provided a delicious meal that left us full until dinnertime. After breakfast we headed over to the forest to plant some Chicalaba trees (an endangered species of giant oaks) in some open grasslands. Maybe, in 10 years, we can come back and see the trees shooting for the sky. After the planting was done, we had some free time; and of course, we took our little siesta!

After being somewhat rested, we gathered to understand the eco-forest and the layers of the forest, building models out of the Jenga bricks. Then we did a little reading about the conservation of trees and it’s impact. When this was all over, we went into the kitchen to go over 10 of the eco-technologies, in order to prepare for the students coming on Tuesday. Then it was time to prep for dinner, which was the leftovers mainly from breakfast. Dahoon and I actually went to retrieve some water from the spring and once we returned, dinner was served. Dinner was great, and we got to finish off the last of the banana bread that we made earlier in the day. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much left for T. Alan but he surely made it work with the remaining crumbs and the imaginary slice of bread. Shortly thereafter, our neighbors arrived and we got to meet them for the first time. Finally we prepared for the sweat lodge this Friday, and sang a few of the songs. Even though it is only Sunday, the days are going to fly and Friday will be here before we know it.



Day 9 Saturday March 12,2016

Usual wake-up this morning, as we gathered ourselves in the kitchen area to do yoga. After a swift display of graceful supremacy (paired with meditation of course), we were off to do our chores. Once finished, we again gathered in the kitchen area to get set up for breakfast. Once breakfast was served, we began reading about steps to take toward planetary/agricultural/spiritual/cultural change which was then met by an NVC conversation which was then topped off by a “get our your stress” thirty seconds or so of jumping and yelling. Once breakfast was good and done, we brushed our teeth and got ready to work.

We met outside the “Om” house to see a small model of erosion, than walked off with Angel to a space where we would build steps out of tires. After a minute or two of training we were filling in tires with earth then pounding them down until a condensed, comfortable step was formed. Angel and Don Allen went on their way as the four amigos went up to a campsite (where we will spend the last Thursday night) to talk about our menu and general plan of the night to come. We then returned to home base around 12:30 for an early lunch – making sure we’d have plenty of time to make it to a 2:00 local futbol match. After a wavy lunch, we were off to play some footy.

We got to Anya and Alex’s house and prepared for an uneven ground / four v. four game of soccer. We switched teams just once throughout the two-hour goal fest, but no matter the team, my team would naturally win. With blistered feet, I said my goodbyes to my new friends, as we were all off to see the local town library, garden, chicken coop, and beehives. After the short but filling tour, we were again off to see our sheep herding apprentice buddies, Yolanda and Dani. After herding 28 sheep we were invited to follow the two to Don Goyo’s house where he was bottle-feeding an injured lamb. We shook his hand before observing his unique remedy for treating a bad lamb leg. He whipped up a hot maize tortilla with lime and wrapped it around the leg of the lamb. After some story telling we had a good laugh realizing he had wrapped the wrong leg. Two stories and one tortilla cast later, Don Goya treated us to a couple songs. Observing all that was around me at the time made me realize that I was having a very important, genuine Mexican experience. After saying our goodbyes to Don Goya we invited our apprentice friends to join us for yoga tomorrow at 8:00 where a pro would come and show us all how its done – should make for an interesting morning.

After our goodbye hugs and kisses we made our way back to the big house where we heated up leftovers from lunch, and began eco-washing a load of laundry. It was a very nice night here at the big house. A lot to look forward to here in Las Cañadas. A lot of fun to accept, as well as the inevitability of an unintentional pleasantry or two. It was a hell of a day, which I have now learned means a hell of a sleep.

Good day, Sam


Day 8- Friday March 11, 2016

Today we got up at 7:00 as usual and quickly did our yoga, granola, and chores before heading off on a walk. We walked about four miles into downtown Huatusco, where we spent our morning. We ate breakfast in a restaurant owned by Guermina, a professional chef. We exchanged footwear at the shoe store, and Sam, Dahoon, Mekhi and I set off across the town to visit notable places.

We visited the central park, which had trees with very interesting shapes. There were topiaries shaped like hearts, houses, stars, and rectangles, as well as many palm trees. We visited the murals at city hall and walked up to the second floor of the building, which had an extremely beautiful view of the city, countryside, mountains, and massive volcano. We also visited the historical museum and viewed artifacts from ancient civilizations. There were stone tools, obsidian arrowheads, and heads made of rock. After the museum we visited the market, an enclosed space filled with vendors selling meats, vegetables, clothing, shoes and many other goods. The others visited a hat store while I wandered around in the farm implements/hardware store. I eventually bought a version of the multi-use farm tool used by many of our campesino friends, and I cannot wait to use it on the Minifarm. We visited a bakery, bought coffee and pastries, and then sat on a wall to wait for Teacher Alan. While we were waiting, Mekhi greeted almost everyone in the city of Huatusco as they walked and drove by.

After a visit to our neighbor’s yoga studio and lunch at a restaurant, we took taxis back to the ecovillage with all of our food for the next week. It turns out we ate everything Teacher Alan bought for two weeks in one week, so we definitely needed to stock up.

In the afternoon, we headed down to the field to plant a buckwheat cover crop with Angel, Eduardo, and Mauricio. We planted about 5040 buckwheat seeds! We then switched rooms, did our afternoon chores, and are currently waiting to go to dinner at our neighbor’s houses. I will be eating with Hector and Pati, two yoga gurus who live in a Hindu-style inspired house. We are currently tired and content from our activities today and looking forward to building a tire staircase tomorrow! Thanks for reading and good wishes from Mexico,


Reports on our evening with a Mexican neighbor

Paco’s House

Paco and Connie’s house was a very beautiful one. As I approached the house with Alan, three dogs welcomed us very warmly. The dog’s excitement prompted Paco to come out and he welcomed both of us with a hearty handshake. Inside, I met Connie, Paco’s wife, and their two kids Jose and Sofia. Jose is 16, while Sofia is 13. Before dinner, we talked about my stay here in Mexico so far and I began to realize how nice this family truly was. I helped prepare for dinner by cutting lemons for some natural sugar lemonade. Dinner was a very delicious cheese lasagna accompanied with a great lemonade. As we ate dinner, we talked about many things such as Jose’s hobbies. Quite surprisingly, although this family lived a very sustainable lifestyle in a neighborhood where the nearest house was a five minute walk away, Juan had many hobbies that aligned with mine. He enjoyed playing video games and talked about how he loved creating art through stop motion animation videos. Although I had never had the opportunity to create one of these videos, I was immensely amazed at how his hobbies were very similar to people I live with back home. Being a musically talented family, Paco asked me if I played any instruments. As soon as I said, “I play the violin”, he pulled a violin out of a back room and asked me if I would be willing to play a bit. So, after I tuned it up for a while, I started playing off the top of my head. I enjoyed being able to share my music and occupy such a beautiful moment with a family so far away from my own. When Alan came around to pick me up, I was very full and enjoyed spending my evening with such a welcoming family.

– Dahoon

Anja, Karim, and Alex’s House

On Friday evening, we headed to a neighbor’s house for dinner and the opportunity to connect with a new family. I chose to go to Anja and Alex’s house. They had a nice cozy little place, with a soccer field out front, a chicken and duck coop in the back, a garden, and lot of open land full of fruit trees and grass. They also have a son, Karim, who is 15 and seemed to be a really cool dude. He is really into soccer and actually wanted to go to a school in Denmark to play soccer. Throughout the night, I got to learn a lot about the family. Anja is Danish and speaks Spanish, English, and of course Danish, really well. Alex, her husband, who was not there much of the night because we was sitting in on courses about carbon farming, is from Mexico and speaks Spanish and a bit of English. And then there is Karim whose first language was Danish and also speaks Spanish and can understand, but not speak, English. Luckily for me, I was able to communicate with the family in Spanish and it ended up being an enjoyable time. We ate some pork sandwiches with an assortment of toppings, as well as lamb soup and salad. Everything was delicious, and it was nice to be able to eat some meat in a while! Then we had some time to play some Dominos, but the Cuban version, with a little variation from the Dominos that we are used to. The Dominos was accompanied with some brownies, cookies, tea, and watermelon. All in all, I really enjoyed my stay with the family and hope to see them again.

Hector and Pati’s House

Hector and Pati are some of the nicest people I have met in my whole life. I met them by the tire stairs and then walked to their house with Pati, while their daughter Aisha and her friend Gabo ran on ahead. Pati told me about their family history, including their reasons for being vegetarians, moving to Las Cañadas, and their history as yoga gurus. When we arrived at the house, I met Hector, Pati’s husband and their two dogs Clarisse and Zuka. Hector gave me a tour of their house, and explained its beautiful domed architecture. The house was incredible, with a tunnel for Aisha to play in, beautiful spacious rooms, and a garden. Hector took me up on the roof to look at the surrounding fruit and avocado trees. Our conversation was very enjoyable and gave me a chance to practice speaking Spanish as well as encourage Hector in his English skills. (He speaks English much, much better than he would have you believe). After eating some ripe watermelon, we descended to the kitchen where Hector and Pati taught me some tricks to Mexican cooking. Together we harvested vegetables from the garden and made a salad, talking about our backgrounds the entire time. It turns out Hector and I both have Italian heritage! They also introduced me to an amazing Aztec drink made of cacao, raw sugar cane, and maize. I even got to make my own Mexican pizza with the mushrooms I brought from Las Bellotas, though of course it did not turn out nearly as well as Hector’s expert tortillas. Before eating, I got a chance to help Aisha with her English homework and finally sat down with the family for a delicious meal. Just as we started eating, Teacher Alan showed up to take me home! This was terrible luck, but it turned out for the best as the six of us sat down to talk about Aisha’s hobbies, Pati’s herbal medicine, and Teacher Alan’s response to the Aztec drink. Finally, it was time to leave for an exciting car ride up the hill. I truly did not want to leave Hector and Pati’s house. The family had an amazing energy of openness, acceptance, and kindness that was unlike any I have encountered before. I will not forget their welcoming nature and the time I spent talking with them. It seems that as much as the fruit trees and gardens make Las Cañadas a little paradise, the people do as well.


Day 7 – Thursday, March 10

This morning was like any other regular morning. We tried to get up at around 7:00 am but we ended up waking at around 7:15 am and started our daily yoga routines at 7:30 ish. Sam directed the most powerful and influential yoga routine this morning; he would like to dedicate his efforts to his madre, as he is telling me to “shout out Betsy Pinsky”.

After yoga, we got around to our daily jobs. When I went down to the mushroom area, I saw the aftermath of the wind storm the previous day. The tarp that covered the entire area had fallen and it made it difficult to do my job. After our morning jobs, we had another delicious breakfast of the usual Mexican style eggs and some homemade yogurt that T. Alan made the night before.

After we ate our breakfast, we went on a hike through the original cloud forest. However, this time, our destination was the dairy which was around 10 minutes past the cloud forest. At the dairy, we took many pictures and looked at the grazing cows. We even met a kind black dog that reminded us of Vigo. On the walk back, we took a different route that made it easier on our legs. We got back to the big house an hour earlier than planned so we rested and took naps before lunch.

For lunch, we had delicious vegetable lasagna highlighted with some delicious juice. And although we had all rested up before lunch, we had another short resting period after lunch as usual.

After lunch, Angel called for our help in fixing up the wreckage of yesterday’s storm. We walked down to the mushroom area and fixed the tarp that had collapsed. Afterwards, we accompanied him on a short walk up to the cistern and helped get rid of a pesky fern that was bad for the surrounding vegetation. In preparation for the Mexican students coming to learn about eco-technologies in the near future, we also learned further in depth about the electricity being used in the big house.

Yesterday, we had planned to help Dani and Yolanda out with herding the sheep at 5:00 pm, so we headed over to the pasture and herded 30 sheep. But, when we counted the sheep inside the shed after the job was done, there was one baby sheep missing. We went back out into the pasture to look for it and sure enough, the baby sheep was lying in the corner of the pasture. The sheep appeared to be injured as it had trouble walking, and we learned that a dog bit it a few days ago. We carried the injured sheep back to the shed and began walking back to the big house. As we were just walking up the last hill we heard yells from the pasture. It sounded like Dani and Yolanda were in trouble as they yelled for us to come back. We ran uphill, back to the pasture and we were all out of breath when we arrived. As we looked around to see what was the big deal, it appeared that Mekhi and Leif had just forgotten some of their belongings. Pleasantly surprised, we walked back to the big house, excited to eat dinner. Later tonight, we’ll be having a “joke night”. We look forward to continue having fun and making this trip a positive experience.


– Dahoon