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  • Writer's picturePoppy

My Short-Lived Life as a Tica Farmer

Once I started getting used to the routine on the farm, this was my schedule: I found myself on the Sun Cycle. I would go to bed at 9 p.m. at night and wake up at 6:30 a.m. when the sun was rising. Sometimes I would write in my journal, stretch, or go help cook breakfast.

This is a picture that I actually took in the afternoon, but it is where I would usually spend my mornings before breakfast.

7:15 a.m.: Breakfast was typically served with pinto (eggs, beans, and rice), salad, occasionally fresh fruit like papaya, and coffee. I normally don’t like papaya but the papaya from the farm was so rich in flavor that I fell in love with it. I found that there is truly a huge difference from the fruit that you buy in the store compared to the ones directly from the source. The fruits from the farm tend to be a lot smaller then you would expect because they aren’t injected with water or genetic modifications in order to make them grow larger. They tend to be richer in flavor. Sometimes, they can be larger than normal but oddly shaped, so again, they would not make the cut to be sold in a store. But on the farm, we eat it all. My favorites were the eggs. I honestly didn’t know eggs were supposed to be orange on the inside instead of yellowish-green like the ones that I have bought from the super-market my whole life. It made a huge difference; I wanted eggs for every meal including dessert.

8 a.m.: We started farming. We would follow a man named Randal who reminded me of Tarzan himself. He knew what every plant, bug, animal, and bird was. He walked around with a machete chopping plants down randomly and explaining to us how to do things. It honestly didn’t feel like I was working. I felt like a kid again, playing outside. I got to try raw corn, sugar cane, cacao and lots of random fruits that I could never remember the names of and only exist in Central America. Half the time, I had to ask how to eat it because I was so confused. He took us on cacao missions through the national park off-path to collect the seeds and plant them on our farm. I got to try this “milk” from a tree that is produced and if consumed a few times a week it heals ulcers. Everything we did was for a reason, and we would see why later on in the day and feel accomplished.

This is a picture of me chopping down corn with Randal’s machete. We chopped it down leaving about a foot of length in the stem so that it could regrow. Then we peeled the corn and brought it all to the kitchen. Later that night we had corn for dinner, which was delicious, and probably one of my favorite meals we had. This was just one example of the circularity and eco-friendliness that happened every day.

The farm was separated into zones (1-5) that would have different plants growing in each area. This system was used to keep track of what was growing where and to keep farming organized. This was important because if you were to come to this farm and have no instruction of what things were and how they worked, you would not realize it was a farm in the first place. It is so very different from any farm I’ve ever seen, but then again it is a small farm in the middle of the jungle using sustainable practice, so of course it is different.

11:30 a.m.: One of us volunteers would be sent to the kitchen to help prepare the salad for lunch while the other continued to farm.

Noon: We ate lunch and from then on, we would simply relax and try to entertain ourselves until dinner was served at 7 p.m. This is where my days got pretty boring and I honestly had a hard time finding things to do. The Wi-Fi was almost non-existent some  days, especially when it rained late afternoon, and then i really could not find much to do. I started exercising a lot. I learned some Zumba from the other volunteer Anneke who was Dutch. And I also read a lot and wrote in my journal about my experience farming each day. Or I would play with this little guy. This is by far the smartest dog I’ve ever met. 

One day when Anneke and I wanted to go see the waterfall, this little dog somehow sensed that’s where we were trying to go and lead the way. He would run far ahead of us and then wait patiently for us to catch up. When we got close enough he would zoom off again until we reached an arrow nailed to a tree pointing down to where the waterfall was. He watched us hike down for a few minutes then took off running back to the farm. When we came back, he was patiently awaiting our arrival.

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