Written By Maddi & Ethan
Hola from Maddi and Ethan! We’re writing to you from the oceanside of Golfito, excited to tell you all about our time with Javier and Raquel in Mastatal!
On Saturday we arrived at Villas Mastatal and moved into our rooms. The girls were in a dormitory overlooking the rainforest and the boys in a bedroom directly below. After we got settled and ate some lunch that Raquel made for the group, we jumped right into Rosa’s activity. While taking part in this activity, we went around answering deep questions with each group member and practiced listening. After dinner the group decompressed from the long day of travel and settled into the new environment!
After a long night of rest, the group started off Sunday with an amazing breakfast followed by a lengthy tour of the farm. During this tour our shoes got coated in mud and our bodies covered in bug bites. But it was well worth it when we cooled off at the beautiful waterfall. Directly after getting back from the waterfall we learned how to make sugarcane juice using a contraption that Javier built himself. We squeezed out two whole jugs of a dark juice before adding lime and trying some. After another delicious home cooked lunch we rode in the back of a pickup truck to pick plantains. We worked cutting down and carrying bunches of bananas and plantains back up the slippery, muddy hill to the truck. Most of us did not make it out without falling. Later that night Raquel whipped up some fantastic plantain chips from our harvest that the whole group enjoyed.
Monday morning we learned about reforestation and planted apples, bananas, oranges, and bromelias which housed massive spiders. Javier also taught the group about the importance of reforesting old cattle fields by using permaculture techniques and emulating the natural rain forest. After, the group got to take turns riding on a horse before a treacherous hike down to a spectacular waterfall. We let the falls cool us down before making our way barefoot to the next waterfall. Once we got back from the waterfall the group ate a filling lunch and then ventured to La Iguana, the town’s chocolate factory. At La Iguana, we ground up dried and roasted cocoa beans before finely grinding them into a paste on a 500 year old slab of volcanic rock. Vanilla, cinnamon and chile from the farm were added to the paste and combined with hot water to create the best hot chocolate you could ever taste. We paired our drinks with brownies filled to the top with a thick chocolate sauce and dipped truffles that we hand made. Before we left the factory everyone in the group bought enough chocolate to last weeks and yet most of it was devoured later that night. After dinner, the group went on a night walk led by Javier and Andres where we spotted a couple frogs and lots of spiders.
After breakfast on Tuesday the group learned how to make compost. We layered leaves, dirt, manure and food scraps together and covered it with a tarp to let it sit and turn into rich soil. After the compost making, the group learned how to make recycled cups out of bottles using a razor blade, a blow torch, and a bucket of water. After a couple hours of free time and the loudest thunderstorm we’ve ever heard, the group had a talent show with Javier and his family. Claire demonstrated her monkey call while the boys performed a juggling/guitar number. We ended the night by breaking up into groups and watching videos on ethical eating and the corruption and abuse that occurs in the food industry.
Wednesday morning entailed trail restoration in Parque National Cangreja. We cleared the path of large debris and swept the remaining leaves off to the side, avoiding a scorpion as it crawled out of one of our piles. In the afternoon, we visited Rancho Mastatal. We learned more about sustainable building practices, permaculture and how the consumer can help alleviate the impact of unsustainable farming on the environment. This was followed by Maddi’s activity, a practice on mind and body connection. We spent time doing yoga, learning how to create and incorporate positive affirmations into daily life, and manifesting. After dinner, Rachel led an activity where we did a form of sleep meditation right before going to bed.
Thursday was Rosa’s 18th birthday and we started the day by wishing her a big happy birthday. We then headed down into the rainforest of Javier’s farm to help re-dig trenches and plant citronella in an effort to prevent erosion. We wrapped up the afternoon by painting signs with various plant names and conservation phrases. After relaxing a little, we convened to discuss Ryan’s activity about ethical eating. Later that night we sang happy birthday to Rosa and presented her with cake, a card, and lots of love. Because it was Rosa’s special day Javier chose to give all of the Carpe group members shirts from their farm.
On the group’s last day in Mastatal we went on a tour of different medicinal plants where we tasted different teas and ate different leaves. After the tour of KIS botanical garden, we went back to the farm where Ethan led an activity where people collected different leaves to make tea with. Later this night the group wrote a heartfelt card summing up how hospitable Javier and his family were the whole week prior. After, we ate a scrumptious dinner of carne asada, and proceeded to continue with Rosa’s birthday celebration by breaking open a piñata of a piña! After the celebration we gave Javier our card and said our goodbyes.
Bye bye tucan!