A Travellerspoint blog

Moving on - Farewell to Raices y Brazos...and Roger

22 June 2011

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Just over 3 weeks and it's time to say goodbye to everyone, including Roger. We decided long before coming here that it would be our last stop together. It's been quite an adventure but now it's time for us both to go solo. He's flying out early in the morning to Puerto Vallarta and he's rented a cottage for a month in Sayulita, just north of there.

As for myself, I'm catching the bus to La Paz tomorrow at 10.00am, then the ferry to Mazatlan followed by the bus down the coast to San Blas and Aticama, where my next lovely hostess, Amaranta, will meet me and take me to Slow Living Farm. All about that sometime in the future!
Raices y Brazos has been quite an experience - all sorts of things go on here - from activism (alternative living), permaculture and organic restaurant to yoga, healing and breathwork...and anything inbetween.
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The centre plays host to alternative courses from all over the world, as well as "happenings" such as the Sensorama which we all experienced individually. The brainchild of a group of Peter and Jessica's friends, it involves a blindfolded journey through the life of water, in order to create awareness that it is precious and we need to look after it. A beautiful interactive experience!
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These are the same people who put on stage shows involving music and dance and appeared at the 2 music festivals we've had this month in the town square. Really dedicated to their cause, these dynamic and colourful performances chronicle the story of water from it's creation to present time and would like to see it appear in the school system - a great idea!
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Another aspect of Peter's vision is the organic farm, La Semilla, which will form part of a CSA (community supported agriculture) project in the area. The farm is a couple of miles away and we go and work on various projects there, assisted every Friday by the children from the local Montessori school, where it's part of their curriculum, so it's a win-win situation. We've been building fences around the kitchen area using the carizo on site, as well as a rabbit enclosure and paving the kitchen floor. Most of the veggies being grown are at the end of the season, which is why the restaurant at Raices y Brazos aptly named Sabor de Amor (flavour of love), supplied by the organic produce, is closed for the summer.
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Peter teaches yoga and I have never come across a more inspiring teacher. He patiently explains all the moves and what they're for as well as how to breath and the connection. He also either leads or assists at the Transformational Breathwork sessions, producing wonderful and moving results. His quiet and focused energy makes this place unique and together with his partner, Jessica they are bound to make a difference in this community that will have far-reaching branches.
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Posted by suzeevee 16:43 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Co-operation!

Monday 6th June

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Raices y Brazos is all about community – sharing of the physical, mental and spiritual for the greater good of all and today we (all the volunteers) really got busy with a list of things to do both here at the centre and at the farm. Things like clearing out the laundry and store, painting signs for the restaurant, clearing pathways, building chicken coups and showers and making another bin for the composting toilet.
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There is no fixed schedule and people can decide if they want to work on their own or collectively – all that is expected is that a volunteer put in 25 hours in the week in exchange for accommodation and taking part in the various classes and activities. Because it all works on a trust system, everyone pitches in and does their part gladly – it would be great if our governments would learn from this spirit of co-operation rather than control.
Well, this is interesting – we have a problem – no water! I’m so glad the pool is now in working order – looks like we may need it!
Update on water - after 2 days without Peter called the water dept.- seems there was a leak! You really learn to appreciate it when you don't have it - much more so than electricity.
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Posted by suzeevee 16:28 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Gone Farming

Friday 3rd June

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Another glorious sunny day and we are heading off to the farm to interact with a group of secondary school kids from the local Montessori school. As part of their curriculum, they have to learn about sustainability and permaculture so it’s a win / win situation. This morning there were three projects to be worked on – a fence to be built around the rabbit enclosure, a floor to be laid in the open air kitchen and a fence enclosure around the kitchen.

Splitting into three groups we went off to the various projects and got busy. Bamboo off the farm was used for the fencing – cleaned of the old leaves and cut into five foot lengths, it was wired together five at a time and hammered deep into the soft sand at regular intervals. Cross members were then tied on with twine. Re-cycled bricks for the kitchen floor were laid out and tamped down in a circular pattern around a tree and the cardinal points added. The rabbit enclosure had a trench dug around the perimeter and chicken mesh attached deep into it to prevent the little critters escaping. Great fun was had by all and we learned from each other in many ways, including an interesting exchange of English and Spanish. By lunch time we were all equally exhausted, hot and sweaty, and really dirty – altogether a great time and we accomplished a huge amount – it really is amazing, the synergy of many hands. I’m looking forward to meeting our new friends again next week.

Back home to clean up and rest up in readiness for tonight’s yoga class. This evening there are six of us and Peter decides to do a circular practice. All the mats radiate out from the centre, touching each other to form a hexagon. We sit cross-legged, knees touching, and begin. It’s really different – some poses we connect physically, using each other for support others are free standing, forming beautiful circular mandala-like patterns. We then each do a free-flow exercise in which the person on our left has to copy the actions of the one before, creating a wave effect – a real Mexican wave!
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Posted by suzeevee 23:07 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Life's a Beach and then we Party!

Saturday 4th June

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I watched the sun rise over the hills this morning. It is relatively cool with a light breeze blowing away the last vestiges of night time. Roger appears and we decide to head into town to explore and get our bearings before it gets too hot. On the main intersection we are greeted by Walmart, Burger King and Blockbuster Videos and I’m beginning to wonder if we are really in Mexico or just an extension of southern California. Heading further into town the feeling is dispelled as we pass taco stands and juice bars that are really just a concrete terrace with a canvas awning or palapa over them. Any “civilised” society with its rules and regulations would never allow such establishments!
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Eventually we find ourselves at the beach, running to dip our toes in the gurgling surf as the waves come crashing on the shore. It is fantastic to see the sea again – the perfect shades of blue and turquoise on a bed of white sand that stretches for miles. Our spirits are renewed and after our long hot walk we are glad to be alive in this glorious place. (We still catch the bus home, though!)
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This evening there is a fancy dress party for one of Peter and Jessica’s friends, so everyone rushes around tidying and cleaning to prepare downstairs. The restaurant is preparing pizzas and snacks and there will be sangria as well as all the other usual drinks. Next we have to get creative in the costume department, but it’s amazing what a couple of borrowed masks and a little bit of paint and tin foil can do!
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The reggae band sets up and guests arrive slowly at first, with the party only really getting going about 11.00. It’s a brilliant venue – perfect for a party – and Mexicans really know how to party!!!
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4.00am was when we finished picking up the last empty beer can and stompie, and went off to bed to sleep it all off.
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Posted by suzeevee 23:04 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Settling in

Thursday 2nd June

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Today, everybody except Sean, another volunteer, headed out in all different directions and would only be back the following day so we had a chance to explore and get to know the place really well.018.jpg019.jpg

Later in the afternoon Sean took us across to La Semilla and showed us around. About one and a half kilometres from the centre, it’s also well within walking distance. Not too far from the sea, the ground is all level and beautiful veggie gardens have been created, complete with drip irrigation. We collected the ripe veggies – purple and yellow aubergines, green and red sweet peppers, luscious tomatoes of all sizes, blue kale, rocket and other salad greens and, of course, chile peppers. On the return journey we stopped at the local version of Walmart and picked up some essentials not available off the land then headed home to make a wonderful vegetable curry for supper. Life is good! 022.jpg

Posted by suzeevee 21:28 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Santiago to San Jose del Cabo

Wednesday 1st June

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About 6 different people had given us 5 different answers as to when the buses ran, so we opted for the most popular and set out to catch the 9.00 to San Jose del Cabo. Quarter of an hour early, we waited patiently till the appointed hour had come and long gone, the sun becoming increasingly hotter with the passage of time. Eventually, I decided to enquire at the little mercadito accompanying the lonely bus stop and discovered that the bus had been and gone, on schedule, at 8.30! The next was due two hours later. A couple of ladies approached us, bibles in hand and helped pass the time, discussing not so much the word of God, but more about where they were from and what had brought these Jehovah’s Witnesses to such a bastion of Catholicism.
After a pleasant half hour’s journey traversing dry arroyos and dry desert, interspersed with rocky outcrops and a generous sprinkling of cactus, our friendly bus driver dropped us off at Avenida Pescadores in San Jose, from where it was a very short taxi ride to Raices y Brazos. We received a really warm welcome from everyone there and partook of the wonderful Huevos Rancheros that was being prepared in the communal kitchen by other visitors from the USA, Mexico and Australia. Having been just the two of us for the last three weeks, it was fun to be suddenly swamped by all the activity and exchanging travel tales from all around the globe!

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Raices y Brazos is quite an amazing place and Peter Domecq together with his girlfriend Jessica have such a wonderful vision for the future, not just for this place but for the greater community and spreading out globally through all the people who come and stay here. They are people who really walk their talk. By having other healers, doctors and teachers coming to work and teach from the centre, as well as their own classes in yoga, eco-design, permaculture and holistic living, the community is well served and there is always some activity going on, such as music
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or groups coming to use the beautiful facilities. The emphasis here is on re-membering and reconnecting with our roots (raices) – being aware of the impact we each have on the other as well as the planet. There is also an organic restaurant downstairs – Sabor de Amor (Flavour of Love)
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- which is supplied by the farm La Semilla, also part of the whole project. It has just closed for the summer, which is probably just as well from my point of view!
This evening we took part in Peter’s two and a half hour yoga class which was incredible, followed half an hour later by a session of Transformational Breathing – a really deep and intense experience which left me feeling like a completely new person – transformational indeed!
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Posted by suzeevee 21:20 Archived in Mexico Comments (1)

The Pursuit of Happiness!

Sunday 29th May

Sue will return on Tuesday at some, as yet, unappointed hour which means Monday will be spent making sure the house, dogs and garden are all ship shape and Bristol fashion in readiness for her homecoming. It seemed as though it would be a good idea to eat out at our favourite pavement cafe, that being the case, until I remembered Monday is the only day of the week it’s closed!
We couldn’t leave town without saying goodbye and having a final hotdog – Roger would be soooo upset!!!!
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Anyhow, it’s a great chance to practice our ever improving, no matter how slowly, attempts at the Spanish language.
Tonight is relatively quiet and Olivia’s little daughter Ana, who’s about 8 years old entertains us in her usual unaffected and friendly manner as she amuses herself with the simplest games made up of sticks and empty cans. She is then joined by a couple of others, somewhat younger than herself, whose mother has come to get a takeout supper “Mexican Style”. They play on the gate at the side of the house, swinging and singing, then the littlest girl peaks round the hotdog stand. She’s spotted Roger with her huge black eyes and is quite fascinated by this big gringo – peek-a-boo turns into a fun game! The bigger girls have now moved on and Ana delights in showing the other how to draw hearts using both index fingers – starting together then moving out to the sides, down and around to meet up again in the middle. This happens on the dirty bonnet of the car!
Our eagerly awaited gourmet hotdogs arrive. Fresh and hot off the griddle, the sausages are wrapped with bacon and come with fried onions, mustard, cream sauce, tomato sauce and chile sauce, rounded off with French fries and roasted peppers. This is all washed down, naturally with the ubiquitous Coca Cola.
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Happiness is......
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a hotdog!!!

Posted by suzeevee 18:20 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Santiago Early Mornings

Saturday 28th May

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Picture this....
Early morning, the sun has just crested the mountain and kissed the topmost fronds of the palms so that they shimmer and glisten like shoals of golden fish in the green bowl of the oasis.
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There is a cool breeze caressing my bare shoulders, causing the brim of my hat to flop randomly and wafting the sweet scents from the jasmine and frangipani past my eager nose. All around the constant chattering of the birds is matched by the frogs and roosters and occasional donkey, each trying to outdo the other as they welcome the new day.
This is the way my day begins in Santiago, as accompanied by the three dogs,
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I head out into the arroyo for our morning walk. It is a wonderful time of quiet contemplation and a great way to start the day before the intense heat forces one to run for the nearest shade.
In the distance, the catholic church of Santiago stands amid the palms, looking as though it’s been there for centuries although it was only built in 1978. Beyond the church the cemetery sits atop a hill where the dead of hundreds of years keep a watchful eye upon the town beneath.
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As I plough my way through the soft sand, it is hard to imagine this expansive desert transformed into a raging torrent, as the locals are hoping it will be with the onset of the hurricane season in a couple of months time. Three years ago, there was such a deluge that the town was cut off for an entire month. The following year, a long and substantial bridge was built to ensure it would never happen again. Of course, Murphy’s law kicked in and there has been a drought ever since!
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Posted by suzeevee 14:01 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

We're Going to the Zoo, Zoo,Zoo!!!

Saturday 28th May

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Yes, believe it or not, there is a zoo in town - the only one in the Baja, apparently.

I've just got back from walking the dogs and having had my morning "fix" of coffee and toast with peanut butter, Roger has convinced me that we'd better set out IMMEDIATELY (8.15am) as it's a long walk and will inevitably get hotter.

We head off down the road - familiar and oft treaded territory, past our favourite eatery, although there is no sign of that now
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The mural on the library depicts the history of Santiago and we are greeted at the door by a young lady in charge of a batch of the latest computers and internet. There don't appear to be many books - just a couple of shelves, but the interior is cool and welcoming with it's high timber ceiling and a door on the other side leads out to a lush courtyard, filled with interesting artefacts, as well as the crib for Christmas!
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Carrying on down the road, people are going about their everyday business. Teachers are hurrying to class while the children get ready to start their day; sweepers are weilding their brooms to keep the streets scrupulously clean and tidy; builders are loading up supplies at the local hardware. We decide to have a look and enter one of the cleanest, most organised shops I have ever been in. It is lined from top to bottom with every conceivable thing you can think of to do with houses and building - from padlocks to plaster, batteries to bricks. The owner proudly showed us around and was delighted to be able to practice his English on the Gringos!
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It is a charming little Mexican town with the odd flavours of Spain, as evidenced above in this little side street. Everywhere is a riot of colour. From the washing hanging on the line
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to the brilliant blossoms of the bougainvillea.
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Eventually we arrive at the zoo, and are pleasantly surprised by the obvious care and pride taken of the place. There are many staff, ensuring the ground is well swept and the enclosures kept clean, with the animals fed and watered.
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Apparently this zoo started off as an animal sanctuary, but there are not many animals left - a male and female lion, in separate cages,
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a monkey, some foxes and similar animals and various birds, including ostriches and emus.
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It's rather a sad affair and the story goes that there were more animals that were given the wrong medication so subsequently died. Who knows?
Visiting the zoo with us were some schoolchildren, doing a project, and they loved when we tried speaking to them. They thought our Spanish was hilarious, especially when Roger started talking about el mono - just as well one of the first words we learned in Arlene's class was the monkey - who'd have guessed it was such an essential part of our vocabulary!
The children and the vegetation brightened the place up
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and we finally took our leave, following the example of the kids and crossing the road to get a coke from the little stall.
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It's amazing but you will find Coca Cola in even the remotest places - maybe I'll make that a quest to justify all this travelling!

Posted by suzeevee 12:06 Archived in Mexico Tagged animals flowers zoo courtyard library Comments (0)

Palapa Palaver!

Thursday 26th May

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Great excitement! Carlos came to work on the palapa – and he gave us lessons!
It is fascinating to see how it is all done and there is something very satisfying and empowering about being able to take care of one of our most basic needs - without being reliant on having to buy anything (except for a few nails and some wire). The wooden sub-structure was already up – local renewable trees that are extremely bug resistant – so we were able to take part in the actual “thatching” process. I’ve taken a series of photos that explain the method much more eloquently.
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First of all the leaves are harvested from the hundreds of palm trees in this area.
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They are then trimmed and cleaned. This is necessary to get rid of any bugs as well as dirt.
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After being scrubbed, they are hosed down
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and then soaked for a while to make them more supple.
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They are then bundled up
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and taken up the ladder to where Carlos (and Roger and I) are waiting.
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The leaves are then inserted between the purlins, each overlapping the one before.
This is where the videos should come, but I'm afraid you'll need to wait!
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Once you see how to do it, it's not rocket science, but it makes for a very effective and watertight roof. One stem gets nailed to a purlin at each rafter and halfway inbetween - the knots are more than strong enough to hold it in place.
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It's important that the ends are trimmed at just the right point because they are seen from the underside and form the pattern of the ceiling.
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The end result is a thick and watertight roof that will last for around 20 years - best of all, the resources are freely available locally!

Well, that's building one-on-one over for today. It felt good to have done something really constructive!

Posted by suzeevee 10:54 Archived in Mexico Tagged houses building palapa Comments (0)

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