Friday, September 4, 2009
The main focus on the community is sustainable living and learning. In order to create a sustainable way of life, it is important to recognize the multi-dimensional aspects of sustainable living: relationships, ecology, economics, and consciousness. We are currently building a community center of stone, local harvested timer, and thatch roof, applying various theories of organic and sustainable food production, practice hatha yoga, conscious communication and we create space for community support of self-reflective awareness.
We are looking for co-creators in the practice of creating sustainable living and learning environment, including builders, gardeners, coordinators, artists & musicians, and people with time and a desire to share and to learn. They can offer a trade of a simple room and board for services to be determined on an individual basis and are currently developing agreements for long-term involvement.
Please contact Gaia at email@example.com for more information.
Friday, August 7, 2009
As most of you know I have been volunteering at a place called Project Bona Fide (http://www.projectbonafide.com/) on Ometepe a well known center for permaculture (Permanent Culture) education and community development. Permaculture is defined in the Wikipedia Article as an approach to designing communities and agricultural systems that mimic the relationships found in the natural ecologies. The main goals are to reduce reliance on industrial systems of production and distribution, minimizing waste and the demand for human labor or energy, produce a high density of food and materials with minimal input, etc. I found out about Bona Fide while reading through the Wiki article into the Nicaragua Section and noticed that they are among one of the main learning centers in
Accommodation: there are plenty of places to stay in Balque but I like Finca Madalena which is a farm located near Balgue on
Volunteers: support a variety of projects including; natural building, tree propagation, gardening, irrigation, cooking, planting and community projects with the local community. Please check out www.projectbonafide.com/faq.html for more information or email me directly.
Community work: there are also many opportunities to work with the local community through projects like Café Isabella (http://www.projectbonafide.com/news.html) open-aired feeding center is crowded and lively as mothers weave around children handing out vitamins, peeling eggs, wiping off milk mustaches and trying to keep a hold of the growing excitement. There is also Café Infantil (http://www.projectbonafide.com/cafeinfantil.html), a Children's Nutritional Program's aim is to address vitamin, mineral, and protein deficiencies in children during their period of greatest mental and physical development. Café Infantil operates in the rural community of Balgue in south-west
How to get here: if you’re not already in Central America you can fly into
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Currently there is a farm with orchards, cows, and horses, about 30,000 square feet of existing buildings that can be used for temporary living quarters, offices, restaurant, hostel, and workshops, as well as a pier complete with a fishing boat and gear. The goal is to build a self sustainable organic farm, with solar and wind power, pump water from the lake for agriculture, and use wells for drinking water. The other major focus is on hospitality: eco-lodge, cabanas, restaurant, hostel, kayaks, horses, beach, bar and night club, yoga, massage, hiking tours up the volcanoes, craft center, etc.
We hope to close by July 11th and start prepping the land for people to come down in December. I will be working with a group called Bona Fide (http://www.projectbonafide.com/) learning as much as I can about ‘permaculture’ (see Wiki Article) over the next few months.
We’ve talked about catering to tourists who want to learn a skill, help with locals, or work on a farm. We plan to bring in building materials in bulk and build each others houses as well as the common structures. If anyone is interested in helping or joining please let me know. There is more information regarding Nicaragua and Ometepe below the slideshow.
More info on Nicaragua and Ometepe:
Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America and has the largest primary growth rainforest north of the Amazon with 84 National Parks, reserves and wildlife sanctuaries that protect 20% of the total land area, far more than any other country in Central America. It is a democratic country that has had 4 peaceful transfers of power in the last 20 years, is the second safest country in all of Latin America (behind Uruguay), and has a lower reported crime rate than France, Germany, and the United States, according to a United Nations/Interpol study. Tourism in Nicaragua is booming thanks to its majestic panoramas of giant volcanoes, rivers, rolling hills, crystal clear crater lagoons, tropical vegetation, and large fresh water lakes. In a one hour drive you can go from a 500 year old colonial city to the top of a volcano covered in virgin rain forest and then end up on an empty white sand beach with great surfing. There really is no place that compares to the last undiscovered jewel of Central America. Over the last 7 years tourism numbers are up 70% with an annual growth rate of 10-16%.
Ometepe is currently one of the destinations admired by both local and international tourists for its nature, hospitality, beautiful landscapes, relaxing beaches and its numerous natural reserves teeming with rich biodiversity including howler monkeys, deer, anteaters, and parrots, and hiding a wealth of archaeological treasures. The island is currently inhabited by friendly people who love their territory, dedicated to fishing and high quality agricultural production which is made possible by the fertile soil. You won’t find screaming resorts or even big eco-lodges. Instead, you will have plenty of space and quiet to observe and enjoy all this pristine island has to offer. Average temperatures range between 28 and 32 degrees centigrade, and during the rainy season, it is not uncommon for heavy rainfall to last for thirty minutes, after which a bright sun will appear. For this reason, many tourists describe Ometepe as the island of eternal summer.
To retire in Nicaragua is to retreat to what MSNBC featured as "The World's Best Kept Retirement Secret" and U.S. News and World Report deemed one of the top 10 retirement destinations in the world. Simple property ownership for foreigners can be obtained with just a valid passport and Nicaragua is one of only 50 countries approved for the use of Title insurance. With its early-in real estate investment opportunity, low property taxes, and a low cost of living tied to an increase in quality of life, Nicaragua is a hot destination for would-be expatriates looking to flee a rising cost of living in their home countries. As a foreign retiree, you're entitled to 1) pay no taxes on any out-of-country earnings; 2) bring into Nicaragua up to $10,000 worth of household goods for your own home duty free; 3) import one automobile for personal or general use and pay on it no import tax or protective tariff and sell it after five years, again exempt from consumer sales tax; 4) import an additional vehicle every five years under the same duty exemptions.
Fortunately, Nicaragua’s past image as an unstable country kept major hotel chains out and other massive development from taking place. What has resulted is a slower, more sustainable growth that does not leave the community behind. Nicaragua has passed a number of laws and incentives to attract foreign investment and it has worked. The GDP growth in 2004 surpassed expectations at 5.2% higher than Costa Rica, Brazil, or Mexico. These laws are many and varied, ranging from total tax exoneration for tourism related businesses, free-trade zones for manufacturing companies, to retirement benefits for foreigners. Nicaragua's Law 306 (enacted in September 1999) is the most attractive--and most aggressive--tourism-incentive law in Latin America. If your business qualifies, you pay no income or real estate taxes for up to 10 years, and bring in (or buy locally) all the supplies you need, from furniture and boats to linens and cash registers, tax free. These laws have been complemented by programs, which cut the bureaucracy involved to start corporations (now a 45 day process maximum).
Monday, February 16, 2009
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Egypt – (February – 08) ~
Ethiopia – (March – 08) ~
Rwanda – (April – 08) ~
Uganda – (April – 08) ~
Kenya – (May – 08) ~
Tanzania – (April – 08) ~
Malawi – (May – 08) ~
Botswana – (June – 08) ~
Zambia – (June – 08) ~
Namibia – (July – 08) ~
South Africa – (July – 08) ~
Morocco – (July – 08) ~
Thursday, January 31, 2008
I started on Mount Nebo where the Bible (Deuteronomy 34) says Moses was shown the ‘Promised Land’ and then died. After that was the Dead Sea which is the lowest point on earth at 1,400 feet below sea level and the second saltiest body of water in the world at 33% salinity (almost 10 times more than most oceans). As we descended toward the shore the temperature shot up by 15°F. The Dead Sea's climate offers year-round sunny skies with low pollution, weakened ultraviolet radiation (particularly the UVB), and an atmosphere characterized by a high oxygen content due to the high barometric pressure. No wonder it was the site of the worlds first health resort (for Herod the Great).
Next I headed to Petra, a complete city carved into the mountains by the Nabateans before the birth of Christ. Al Khazneh (known as the Treasury) made famous by Indiana Jones has been designated as one of the "New Seven Wonders of the World". Petra was rediscovered for the western world by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt in 1812. I just felt lucky to get a picture in front without the typical pile of tourists.
I made my way down to the deserts of Wadi Rum and finally to the port of Aqaba where I caught a ferry to the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt (see Africa Blog).
Sunday, December 23, 2007
In 1975, civil war broke out in Lebanon lasting until 1990, devastating the country's economy, and resulting in the massive loss of human life. During this time, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) used Lebanon to launch attacks against Israel. Lebanon was twice invaded and occupied by the Israel Defense Forces and the PLO was expelled. Israel remained in control of Southern Lebanon until 2000, when there was a general decision to withdraw due to continuous guerrilla attacks executed by Hezbollah militants. The UN determined that the withdrawal of Israeli troops beyond the blue line was in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 425, although a border region called the Shebaa Farms is still disputed.
On February 14, 2005, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated in a car bomb explosion near the Saint George Bay in Beirut. The Lebanese accused Syria of the attack due to its extensive military and intelligence presence in Lebanon. Syrian officials claimed that the assassination may have been executed by the American CIA or the Israeli Mossad in an attempt to destabilize the country. This incident triggered a series of demonstrations, known as Cedar Revolution, demanding the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon and the establishment of an international commission to investigate the assassination of Rafik Hariri. The UN Security Council launched an investigation and published the findings in the Mehlis Report (see Wikipedia Article) on October 20, 2005. It found that high-ranking members of the Syrian and Lebanese governments were involved in the assassination.
Eventually, and under pressure from the international community, Syria began withdrawing its 15,000-strong army troops from Lebanon. The Hariri assassination marked the beginning of a series of assassination attempts that led to the loss of many prominent Lebanese figures. On July 12, 2006, Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers and that led to a conflict, known in Lebanon as July War, that lasted until a United Nations-brokered ceasefire went into effect on 14 August 2006.
In May of 2007 Fatah al-Islam and the Lebanese Armed Forces began a series of attacks and bombings in and near Beirut. The Islamist Fatah al-Islam group is alleged to have links with al-Qaeda and Lebanese government officials also believe it has ties to Syrian intelligence. There have been more than a dozen mysterious assassinations of outspoken critics of the strong role that Syria plays inside Lebanon. To make things worse, a few weeks before I arrived there was a recent deadlock in the Presidential elections. The country was currently under military lockdown.
I spent much of my time in Lebanon going through checkpoints and border patrols but I did have a chance to visit some of the local attractions and get know to some locals. Many Lebanese are opposed to both of the Presidential candidates, saying that they were puppets of Syria and the United States.
For the most part Lebanon is very westernized and modern. Most people speak English and at times I forgot where I was. It's in a beautiful part of the Middle East running along the Mediterranean Coast filled with mountains and ski resorts.
After Lebanon I tried going back through the Syrian border and into Jordan but was denied entry and ended up taking a flight into Jordan (see Jordan Blog).