Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Life at the old organic farm, day 3

October 12th 2010

I almost just wrote 2005. In 2005 I was in my graduating year at my highschool. It's amazing the life I've created for myself since that time.

Anyway. I was 5 years behind, and currently living in a way that I would imagine to be 500 years behind. That is about the age of the house I am staying in, actually. Quite amazing that a structure this old is still being used, and I actually have the opportunity to experience it.

The windows are small wooden framed devices, with wooden bars for screens. The ceilings are tall and the rooms are very spacious and the opposite of cluttered. Dirt is a wall decoration and insects live freely among us. Quite a wonderful little ecosystem going on in my room. And the smoke from the kitchen adds a little retro rave modern feeling to the energy of the room.

I luckily still sometimes receive a bar of service in my cozy little room. Lol when the universe feels like providing that is! I took a stroll to the main road to give a call to Ameli and Harsh (the ex buddhist monk whom I met at the spiritual conference. Harsh means happy in Hindi, and he is one of the happiest people I have ever met. But it isn't ironic! Okay, maybe it is!).

The roads surrounding the farm house, are filled with with trees colored with vibrant flowers! I actually got lost on some of these roads, but it really wasn't bad because the scenery was so amazing. Electricity isn't as scarce here as it is in other parts of India that I have been. And just as I wrote that the power went out. So I guess I lied.

The family I am living with are adorable, even though most of them don't speak English, so we mostly get by on smiles and nods. But it seems like it works just as well. The food they prepare is all local and some of the vegetables I cannot figure out what they are, lol but it makes meals interesting! They have a little cat, that I haven't managed to become friends with yet, but soon! I have made friends with a little baby cow, who is the most adorable thing in the world! He wanders around the garden, and cries for his parents and complains about the mosquitoes, but other than that, he is a very happy little cow.

They have a beautiful banana grove, and a coconut grove!! Many colorful frogs, caterpillars, butterflies, dragonflies, and exotic flowers. I saw this amazing flower that looks like a small universe. It has a light pink center with all of these tiny strands that stick out of it in all directions, and at the end of the strands there are these little glowing puffs. When I went to touch the flower, all of the leaves curled under, as if it had completely dried out and died! It took a couple minutes for it to uncurl itself and return to its natural color, but I've never seen a plant move like that before! I found some huge patches of these flowers, and depending on what leaf was touched, sometimes separate plants from the plant that was touched would also fake 'die'.

Later today we were working on building a greywater site/compost.

We tried to move a boulder which was in the way of the site. It was a medium, to small sized boulder. There were 8 of us, trying to roll it downhill.. hahah we budged it by about 2 inches off of the ground. But the ants were angry at us for disrupting their homes and Rico stepped on some glass. So our prospective compost site will have to wait for the moving of the rock.

But perhaps the compost will be that much better with the protection of a rock? Who knows.

But anywho,

and so it is.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

First Adventures staying at an Old Farmhouse

October 10th 2010

Back to the middle ages.

I took an overnight bus ride last night.

The past week has been a whirlwind. After attending the spiritual conference my entire world changed but soon after crumbled apart. Everything I thought was real, wasn't, everything I wasn't sure about, I suddenly was. I was in and out of delusional/schitzophrenia/paranoia states.

It could very well have been because I stopped taking my malaria medication. But it was intense and crazy none the less.

I am finally back out on the field after an interesting detour through the Indian world of spirituality. Overnight I traveled back in time. Not literally. Okay kind of literally.

The bus trip, I tried to sleep as much as I could, but I kept waking up to these winding roads and intense noisy jungles!! They were the thickest jungles I have seen yet! I heard many sounds, and calls... no idea what any of them were, I was just focusing my attention on the bus driver making it safe to jungle land, or wherever we were going.

I woke up to Rico tapping me on the shoulder, telling me we had 5 minutes to get our stuff together. From the bus we took a little auto to the farm that we would be staying at.

This farm is huge. And old. It must be much more than a few hundred years old. It reminds me of the middle age homes that I would visit at the museums in Denmark!!! The owner showed me to my room. The house was big and empty. There were a couple of big beds in the entry way. Me and Rico were lead up very steep shallow steps to the 2nd floor. Rico's room is kind of a balcony/storage area, and my room is a very interesting room. It reminds me of a root cellar. With no furniture. There was a bag of old dusty newspaper which warmly welcomed me. Kind of.

I looked around trying to find a place to tie up my mosquito net, at least I would have a bit of security, since the windows were open dusty, cobby, and barred. Pleasant.

As I was looking around, I wasn't too shocked to find a tarantula. Okay I am exaggerating, it wasn't really a tarantula, but it was pretty much a tarantula!! By far the biggest spider I have everrrr seeen. Wonderful.

Currently I am typing in the attic of the home. The lighting actually isn't too shabby as there are little square windows that spot the roof. I am typing in the attic because not only is my room super amazing, but one of the windows is right above the wood burning stove in the kitchen. Currently I am a bit smoked out.

I have no service here. I haven't found any outlets yet.

And the toilet is an outhouse! Hahaha I can't believe I was actually complaining before about Vakarabad.

So I get into the bathroom. It is a hundred years old!!! There is a big sink, with water, no drain. Everything looks like cemented everything.. dirty cemented everything again like a cellar. Its dark. I look around for the toilet. There is a cemented square structure in the center of the bathroom, but it's empty. And then there is a cemented kinda square object in the corner, with what looks like.. hay inside?? is that the toilet???? its way to dark to investigate whether or not this is used for the toilet.. but if it isn't I would feel awfully retarded for leaving some presents in there!

I decide to open one of the windows so I could see for sure what is going on. I try to pull one of the wooden shutters on this dusty window open. And guess what I do. Yup you guessed it. I broke it!!! OH dear!

So much for relieving myself. I couldn't get myself to go inside of the pile of hay, and that was when I noticed a pair of small doors, I try my luck with them, and they open, success!! A little indian toilet!!! The squater kind! Boy was I happy to see something porcelain!

Again the little toilet room had little square windows in the ceiling for light.

Apart from getting used to the accommodations, the land is beautiful! They have a huge wishing well.. like what you see in the movies!! where the water is clear and open with viney pretty flowers surrounding it.

looking forward to checking out the rest of the property! :)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Spiritual Retreat

Sept 29- Oct 2 2010

So the past week, I attended a spiritual conference near Bangalore. I took a detour from permaculture because I wanted to learn a little bit about some of the Indian Guru's.

It was a really interesting experience! I went with Ameli and Vanja (the cutest lady ever! She lives in the Nilgiri Mountains). We were set up in a four person tent, given a cot a pillow and one teeny blanket. (which was not enough ps, it got really cold at night!)

The place was called Pyramid Valley. There was a huge pyramid that we gathered in everyday for meditation, basically from morning to night.

I kept getting headaches in the pyramid, so I ended up skipping a lot of sessions and going for nature hikes!

I met an American Indian, not a Native American don't get me wrong. He is actually born in America but he is Indian. And his name is Harsh, which means happiness in Hindi. I met him the first day.

He found me at the pyramid, and plopped right next to me. He gave me a pyramid key chain and went on to make jokes about the the program. I had been in that pyramid for so long. I found him amusing but felt bad that I was laughing in the middle of the meditation.. oops. The next day he plopped down beside me again.. we decided to go out on a walk. I found out that he had been a monk for 6 years! And surprisingly wasn't the only ex-monk that I met at the conference!

I also met a couple of breatharians, actually one of them stayed in our tent, she did drink water with lemon, but that was it. She looked 30 years younger than her age too! Really fascinating to meet all the people here. Everyone was extremely nice.

There was also a teacher who was able to reduce my fear of public speaking enough that when I wanted to test it out to see if it was real, I spoke at the final meeting of the retreat in front of about 300 hundred people, just telling my story!

it was unreal.


It was really quite the experience, and the meditations were amazing, if any of you get the chance to go to one of these, it's worth it.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Detour from Permaculture

September 29th 2010

Yesterday Ameli invited me to go on a 3 day spiritual retreat. I think during my stay in India it would be nice to learn a little bit about some of the different aspects of India and find out a bit more about these guru's everyone talks about. So I talked with Rico and cleared it with him, and today we are going to head out to Pyramid Valley!

We were going to leave tomorrow, but apparently there will be many strikes going on in the roads, so in order to avoid them, we decided to leave today.

On the way we met up with one of Ameli's friends, Vanya Orr, who is originally from England but moved to India 16 years ago and started up an organization Earth Trust in the Nilgiri Mountains in India.

When we got to Pyramid Valley us three were set up in a 4 person tent. The location was beautiful, surrounded by small hills, a stream and right next to a huge meditation pyramid!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Jungle Tour

September 28th 2010

Bobbi took us out on the jeep today. We tracked wild boar, white tailed deer and elephants! They looked liked huge boulders from far away! Much harder to spot than I would have imagined. We also spotted a bengalese eagle owl. They are about 2 feet tall and they hunt in pairs after other smaller birds. One owl will will chase the smaller bird while the other owl will attack.


I felt like I was living in the discovery channel today.



We also saw sambar- a large deer and the barking deer.

And..I learned today that chicken still actually live in the wild some places! In India they are called jungle fowel, and they are very noisy, but flighty. I heard them make really funny calls but never got a chance to spot one.

The aromas that drifted through the jeep while we toured Bobbi's land smelled of curry leaves, cumin seeds, dirt and sage.

The funny thing about India is, no matter how remote you think you are, it perhaps isn't that remote.

Villagers still have access to the pond on Bobbi's land and every Tuesday they do their puja ceremonies (religious ceremonies). It probably wouldn't be that big of a deal if they didn't leave the place trashed after they left.


The puja alter, right next to the pond.


the pond.


a fraction of the trash left.

I have plenty of more pictures of the trash, but I'll keep at that, because I just got angry after seeing this, and there really isn't much to that can be done about it.

But even with the Puja ceremonies on Tuesdays, the place is amazing. It's amazing that just four years ago this land was all farmland, and now it easily supports all of these animals, no problem. The only animal that is missing is the monkey! The trees haven't yet grown tall enough for their protection against the cats.

We finally got a chance to get out of the jeep and take a hike up one of the hills.
We saw the 'blue mountain range' or the Nilgiris. I saw no animals on my hike, but I did carry a rock and a stick. It felt better than being empty handed even though I doubt it could have done anything in the case of tiger.





That night we sat on the rooftop again, watching a lightening show for over an hour, no rain or thunder but each time the entire sky would light up as if it were day. It was amazing.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Making our way to the elephant land!

September 27th 2010

We left early this morning for Bandipur. Bobbi has a home and many acres of jungle at this site. It used to all be farm land, but he allowed nature to take it over and now the site is a very important elephant corridor.

On our way to Bandipur, we picked up Ameli. We also passed some amazing sites on the way, some huge inactive volcanoes and a dam that I couldn't tell that it wasn't an ocean. I could not see anything but water in the distance. I have never seen anything like that before.

We stopped for some sweet bread along the way. It Reminded me of Christmas, because it was sort of like a dry version of angel food cake with little red and green sugar candy pieces inside. Very interesting.

When we made it to Bobbi's land in Bandipur, we sat atop the roof until well into the night, listening and trying to spot wild animals. Nothing.

Until we decided to go to bed and found that a giant cockroach had invaded mine and Ameli's room!

Usually they aren't a big deal, but this one was huge and flying at us!! It's too bad we didn't take a video because it was a fiasco. But somehow we managed to get it out the window and hit the sacks.

3am, Ameli wakes up, “Esther! Esther! Do you hear that??”

Sure enough there was an entire herd of elephants right outside of our window!! Trumpeting away! One of the few interruptions in the middle of the night, that was completely okay.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Leaving the Huts, Back to the Eco-Resort!

September 26th 2010

Today was the last day we had staying in the wonderful huts.

The river has risen quite a bit since we have been here, and many people have been unable to leave the town for a few days now, because the roads that lead out of the town are flooded, and no bridges!

Most people are here on vacation anyway, so it’s more of a blessing to be stuck in a beautiful area I suppose!

Luckily, Rico and I don’t have a car, so we were less stuck than others. Instead, we pulled on our backpacks and walked to the nearest boat, which could take us across the flooded road.

There was a villager operating the round weaved boat, he charged us something like 30 cents to cross.

One of Bobbi’s drivers was going to pick us up on the other side of the road, to bring us back to the resort.

When we got to the resort, there were so many monkeys!

I think the locals find it fascinating how interested I am in the monkeys--because to the locals, the monkeys are just pests and nuisances.

I suddenly got the idea that it would be really cool to feed one. I think I spent 15 minutes sitting patiently with some leaves that I noticed them eating to see if they would come. They definitely stared at me for a while. And the workers at the eco-resort were thoroughly amused with this crazy foreign girl trying to feed the monkeys.

Maybe I should have been more persistent, but it seemed pretty hopeless.

These monkeys were just not interested.


That evening we spoke to Bobbi about one of his lands. His passion is buying areas of land that are really important corridors for wild animal migrations. So it’s really cool talking to him and learning about, how he actually started off with only the idea. No resources nothing, and when he first started telling people what he wanted to achieve or do, nobody really thought it could be possible. But now, he has many properties and working on buying a huge area of land in Kenya for the wild animals! Somehow he manifested exactly what he needed, just by believing.

Pretty cool.

Back to Utah

January 7th 2011

I am currently back in Utah, and I have a computer full of blogs from India, so I plan on continuing the posts even as I am home now!

Sorry for the long delay! Things went differently than I had imagined and permaculture becomes less and less of the topic within the coming blogs, but hopefully the blogs will stay interesting!

My computer has also been broken for the past month, and for some miracle it started working yesterday!! So hopefully it will stay alive long enough to post some blogs :)