Another four months have passed since we gave an update on our wonderful beachfront property and the start of the development efforts. We’re still kind of far from opening, but we’re slowly getting there….
You might wonder: “What’s taking so long?” until you understand the difficulties that come with our remote location and the advantages that come with a thoughtful approach. How many times have we changed and improved our designs until we found the perfect one? How many times have we discussed the same matter over and over again until we found an adequate solution? How many times did we have to accept failures, and take a new direction? How many times have we been waiting for information being passed on and materials being delivered? How many times did tools break down? How many times did we have to take an hour-long journey in order to buy one last missing piece?
Living in Venecia and being in a hurry are just two things that don’t match up. And that’s a good thing, isn’t it? Because sooner or later, people will come here in order to slow down, take a deep breath, reflect and revive.
So here’s an update to what we’ve done between March and June.
THE RANCHO GOT COMPLETED
Our Rancho ist the centerpiece of the whole project. It’s a community space where volunteers will meet, prepare their meals, get some refreshment, hang out, relax and discuss. It’s also a perfect escape place when it’s too hot or too wet outside. The Rancho consists of a kitchen area made of bricks, and a traditional-style dining area made of locally-gathered wood and palm leaves. The construction of the latter part was quite an adventure! But you can just see for yourself.
OUR ARTISANAL VOLUNTEER WELL WAS BUILT
Our small and simple well is crucial to our new camping site, and is conveniently close to the shower and toilet. Melvin started to dig out a huge hole in March, when the groundwater level was the lowest. That’s in order to guarantee that the well will still have water during the driest months of the year.
And no, there is neither a water pump nor a water tap close-by… I mean, have you ever taken a shower with a bucket full of fresh groundwater that you pulled up yourself? If not, you should definitely try it: It’s a rewarding, energy-saving, free and traditional muscle workout!
THE RAINY SEASON STARTED AAAAND… TOOK A PAUSE
May was a very rainy month. We had torrential downpours, some horrendous thunderstorms and a lot of cloudy and cool days. Groundwater levels rose rapidly, the ground got firm, trees went green, weeds and wildflowers started to appear everywhere, crabs and mosquitoes came in the hundreds. In June, however, meteorological conditions changed and we had a very dry and sunny month again. Now, we’re back to watering our plants every day while enjoying mosquitoe-free outdoor walks. When will the rain come back with full force? Well, I remember from last year that it was until August when the more continuous rain set in.
WE RECEIVED HELP FROM OUR GERMAN FAMILY
Our biggest collaborators and supporters couldn’t wait to see MEMANTA with their own eyes, so they took a two-week vacation and visited us. We used the opportunity to do some touristic activities around the Peninsula, like riding horse-carts along the beach, visiting cattle farms, taking boat trips through the mangroves, visiting nearby beaches and hidden villages, bodyboarding in front of our property and exploring the kilometer-long beach on the back of our truck.
Besides the fun part there was the work part: We planted lots of trees, built a seating area, built a second temporary hatchery for this year and built one first camping hut. Also, our lovely pets received a lot of extra-attention, which they surely enjoyed. The heat, however, was something both of our visitors needed to get used to. Being constantly sweaty, sandy and dirty is something you just have to accept in this kind of environment. Did they suffer? Sometimes 😉 But in the end, they didn’t want to go home at all.
PS: From September throughout December, the temperatures are a bit more bearable. This is due to the effects of the rainy season. Also, this is when you’re very likely to spot some sea turtles!
THE CAMPING AREA GOT STARTED
During the following weeks, we will focus on the development of our camping area. This is where you’ll find three camping huts, a composting dry toilet, a shower and the artisanal well. It is just enough to open our doors and start operating – sooner or later, however, we will build some “real huts” and nice little casitas for the ones who look for a bit more comfort.
On the camping site, adventurous volunteers will spend their nights and do their daily hygiene. In this small area admidst the trees, there is no electricity and no running water, so volunteers can switch into “survival mode” and experience life in its simplest form. (Also remember that humanity has lived like this for thousands of years). It is something we believe every person should experience one day in order to understand some principles about humanity, technology, happiness and progress.
WE’RE WAITING FOR OUR FIRST TURTLE NESTS
It seems that we might have one last turtle season without volunteers. But that doesn’t mean that we’re not running our hatchery program. We now have two preliminary hatchery spaces close to our house, so we have full control over the incubation process and can spot nightly intruders early-on. We bought some huge rice bags which we will fill with sand from the beach in order to accommodate the nests inside. These kind of hatcheries are kind of popular here in Nicaragua, but have also been implemented elsewhere in the world. Nowadays that beachfronts are prone to stormsurges and erosion as well as high property prices, we think it is crucial to make these “mobile hatcheries” work – they allow hatchery managers to live a bit further from the beach and fully protect nests from tidal effects.
Of course we won’t be able to cover 100% of the nesting activity just yet. Being so busy with construction and planning, we are currently hiring one friend to do the search for us. Turtle activity should pick up quickly throughout July and come to a maximum in October. Hopefully we’ll get some satisfying results!
SOME MORE IMPRESSIONS THAT DON’T REQUIRE WORDS
Isn’t it wonderful here?