Last summer I spent a week in Costa Rica volunteering at an organic ranch. Rancho Margot is a beautiful eco-resort located in the lush rainforest near the Arenal Volcano. While the guests enjoyed beauty and relaxation, there was a lot of work going on behind the scenes.
Our days began at 6am when we collected fresh herbs and vegetables from the garden. We also had to help milk the cows and hike up the mountain to clear the leaves from the water filters from the fresh spring. After a breakfast of black beans, rice, and granola with fresh milk (still warm!) we headed back to work.
Over the course of the week I weeded pineapples, made soap, planted vegetables, and worked with horses. The first day was especially memorable – I got to shovel a gigantic pile of compost! ! Talk about a workout! By the time 4 pm rolled around, my tank top was entirely soaked, and I had blisters all over my hands. Still, there’s something wholesome and satisfying in a good day’s work, especially after spending so much time writing my thesis.
Every evening before supper, we would meet at the yoga center to practice. Being outside, looking at the mountains and hearing the sounds of the river below us was so refreshing. I couldn’t think of a better place to do yoga or a better way to complete a day. It was just lovely.
Our meals were simple, consisting of black beans, rice, potatoes, cooked meats, and fresh bread. The gourmet food went to the paying guests but after working like a beast all day, it didn’t seem to matter. Food was food and I was thankful for what I was given.
One of the coolest features about the ranch was their compost-water heater. Giant coils of hose were covered in heaps of compost in a special structure. As the water flowed through the hose, it absorbed some of the heat from the reaction between the nitrogen and carbon in the compost! This water then flowed into the showers and the fresh water pool – what a smart idea!!
While my time at the ranch was short, I had a great experience and am still overwhelmed with the power and beauty of our planet. Sometimes our lives seem so removed from nature, when in reality every electronic device, every item of clothing we own, and every chemical we use somehow comes from this beautiful earth of ours. Pretty amazing when you think about it.