I arrived at Pachamama Spiritual Community three and a half weeks ago. It is 500 Acres located in the jungles of Northwestern Costa Rica, near the Pacific coast beaches.
There are approximately 200 people here, perhaps 90 to 100 residents, some of whom have lived here since Pachamama was first conceived. Three united spiritual groups, one from Israel, one from Germany and one from Greece, converged in India 17 years ago and decided to buy land in Costa Rica. I had hoped to be able to practice my Spanish here in Costa Rica but instead am practicing my Hebrew because the majority of the residents are from Israel. Life was difficult here 17 years ago but now many of the residents have lovely homes. They have cars, quads and electric bikes to travel the long distances between houses and the main community area, which is called downtown and has the composting toilets, markets and dining areas. Their children go to an on-site school. Many of these small children speak three and four languages. Most of the residents must work very hard to maintain a healthy, productive and extended family lifestyle. Some are very highly trained and skilled therapists, who conduct workshops that the thousands of visitors who come here yearly attend.
The visitors stay in nice cottages and casitas and even villas, most with bathrooms and kitchens. They have the day to attend as many classes and workshops as they can afford, go to the beaches and rent cars to travel further to investigate Costa Rica, which is the most expensive country that I have visited, outside of a few Europeans countries.
The workers, usually around 40 of them, are the people who appreciate the opportunity to be here but don’t have the dinero to be here without working. We attend a few of the workshops and the free daily classes, when energy allows. As a worker here for three months, I am obligated to attend a minimum of two of the workshops , which are luckily half price for us workers. Our food in the dining hall is discounted and as many as possible of us live in tents on the property for free. Many of the workers cannot afford to eat in the dining hall at all and buy their food in the two shops here and cook their food in a poorly maintained and crowded communal kitchen.
The casita where I stayed for 3 weeks
I am the oldest worker and vastly appreciate the loving help given to me by my Pachamama daughters and sons. We work 25 or more hours a week in the kitchen, at the school, in the Wild Treats bar, in the laundry, in the carpentry, in the gardens, and I work in the fresh organic veggies market.
The work has been physically grueling for me, as has walking up and down the hills on the paths through the forest. The first 3 weeks I stayed in a casita, and last night I spend my first night in a recently-purchased tent. I was dreading the move because I haven’t stayed overnight in a tent since 1978. However I enjoyed the security and the safety in my nice, new, two-person REI tent, the two layers of foam rubber underneath me. I’m not far from my neighbors and have a cot that someone gave me that I am using as a couch for when I have guests.
The jungle all through this area is occupied by howler monkeys. They grow to a maximum of 10 kilos or 22 pounds but their bellowing, which starts at 5 a.m., sounds like King Kong or Jurassic Park.
I am fascinated by the iguanas.
I organized a two hour boat trip with several other women, to look for dolphins. We were lucky to see single and pairs of manatees jumping in the air for fun. I was not able to get any photos because they are jumping sporadically, for a couple of seconds at a time. We saw giant sea tortugas, including a couple who were mating. They mate for one day and one night, latched together, and then the female goes to the beach to lie her 180 eggs, of which 5 to 10 per cent hatch. This happens monthly.
We were ready to turn around and go back to the beach when suddenly appeared a school of 6 young dolphins, with whom we interacted for 10 to 15 minutes. It was a thrill!
FOOD AND DANCING
The food is vegan, plant-based, although they do have eggs daily for breakfast. One thing they don’t have here is garlic! As a retired, organic garlic farmer, I need daily garlic in my life. They have a very short day length here, and garlic appreciates many hours of summer sun when the plants are growing tall and the bulbs in the heads of garlic are growing large and juicy and succulent. They don’t have this day length in Costa Rica. They have been importing their garlic from China, which does a lot of trade with Costa Rica. I am working on a project of having some good, organic Wisconsin garlic shipped here and hope to make that a monthly event. It will help everyone healthwise and taste bud wise.
The leader of this community has many talents and is a rock DJ who has all-night dance parties in the forest and around the world. I’ve attended two dance parties here. I couldn’t believe I stayed up all night and danced until the sun rose. I look forward to at least two more dance parties before I leave here for the States in early April.
PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL CONDITIONS
It is not easy here at Pachamama for anyone. We are all seeking change in ourselves; enlightenment. The physical demands on my aging body have been very exhausting, and I have been unable to focus on my spiritual growth, which is why I came to PachaMamaCommunity. But I have sensibly stopped picking up so many heavy cases at work. I don’t base my worth on how hard I can work. That is a very American trait that in my travels around the world I hope I have been able to expunge.
I am basing the worth of my life on enjoyment. I am arranging my schedule to include more yoga, workshops, dancing, beach time and socializing. The vegan food and all the exercise is getting me back into shape physically, and the amazing opportunities for self improvement are helping to get me in shape psychologically and add to the personal growth and transformation on which I’ve been working for 2 years, while I travel the world.
By the time I return to Portland, Oregon, it will be 27 months of continuous travel. I look forward to a home, teaching sustainability, doing volunteer work, specially with children, dancing in Portland, smelling the roses and joining groups of people who are working to save our freedom and the justice and democracy of the United States.
I probably won’t write again until March when I go to Nicaragua. See you there….