The staff at Plenitud are, well, they’re hippies.  And I’m totally cool with that.  In another life, I probably would be too.  Anyway, I only mention that because it helps explain some of what we did during the time we were there.  Like, for instance, every morning at 6:00 am one of the staff members led a yoga class.  Only about 1/3 of the students did the yoga every morning, but it was pretty cool.  I’m not big into yoga, but I got up at 6:00 anyway to enjoy the sunrise and do some reading.  They have a nice gazebo overlooking the river and surrounding valley.  You can see the gazebo in this photo from the main building, which they referred to as the “learning center”:

the gazebo
the gazebo viewed from the “learning center”

Most mornings I would get up at 6:00 and sit on the floor of the gazebo, reading as the sun came up.  This is what I would see:

And here’s a panorama of the farm from the gazebo:

After yoga, we had breakfast and then we had a lesson about permaculture and a tour of the farm that included a nice stop in this grove of bamboo:

the grove at Plenitud
the grove at Plenitud

The tour and discussion of permaculture lasted most of the morning.  We then had a delicious lunch (all the food there was great and almost all of it was vegetarian; more on that later).

In the afternoon we began to work on the farm.  While there, we did a variety of projects.  The road down to the learning center is quite steep and the heavy rains can erode it easily. So, the staff had us work on road modifications to reduce the erosion.  This include putting rocks into the road base at diagonals (called “rolling breaks”) to help the water run off into a ditch that had anchor dams in it.  The dams would make the water pool so it wouldn’t erode all the soil by moving quickly down the ditch. Here are some pictures to illustrate:

anchor dams
anchor dams
rolling breaks
rolling breaks

We built a number of additional anchor dams and rolling breaks during the time we were there.  We also did a lot of planting and weeding.  And we did some work on the learning center, painting some of the pillars, building a trellis, and helping a little bit with an earth-bag construction project they were beginning. We also constructed some self-watering barrels.  We didn’t do all of these things every day, but those are some of the main projects we did.

We worked until about 5:00 or so, then stopped to clean up and enjoy a delicious dinner.  The showers were another novelty.  Here they are:

the showers
the showers

Yep, the showers were basically shower heads in a tin shack.  The water was cold, and there wasn’t always a lot of pressure.  But the view was actually really cool.

During dinner preparation this day, BS, the business student who insisted on sleeping in his own tent, kind of had a melt down.  He shouldn’t have been on the trip in the first place as he wasn’t interested in farming or permaculture and was only there to get credit for his degree (which he shouldn’t have been able to arrange in the first place).  Anyway, he decided that he was going to leave.  And, since he was from Puerto Rico originally, he called his uncle to come get him.  I was fine with that.  He had a bad attitude the whole time and was ruining the totally hippy vibe of the place.  So, BS, good riddance.

After dinner we would always do a reflection exercise where we would talk about what we had done during the day and what we had learned.  During our reflection this night we had a visitor:

our "visitor"
our “visitor”

It flew into the middle of our group and hit one of the students in the face before landing on this shirt.  It was huge!  I tried shaking it off the shirt, but it wasn’t going anywhere.  So, I grabbed a stick to try to pry it off.  It bit the stick and just mocked me.  It took me a few minutes, but I eventually was able to extricate the shirt from the bug’s grasp and release it back into the wild.  I think that does it for day 2.

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