Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sustainable building in Tulum

Since our arrival in Tulum, we have been pondering what best to build with. Now that our foundation is almost complete, it really is time to make the final decision, taking into consideration our limitations of time and money. 
And of course to consider what makes the most sense ecologically within these constraints.
Both Miguel and I have since awhile been wishing to build an Earthship, but early on it became obvious that the Yucatan peninsula is not the ideal location for such a building. 
There simply is not enough earth to ram the tires with, also the excavation most common in building eathships is impossible here due to the high water level.

A strawbale house was another idea, but straw is not grown here, and perhaps not the most logical structure in a hurricane prone area.

Then we thought we would build with earth-bags, until very recently we had kept coming back to this idea, first we thought we would use the earth that we plan to take out of the cenote. 
Truly it is sediment, built up over years and years of organic debris falling into and settling in the cenote. 
Somehow in our earth-bag research it had escaped our attention that the earth filled into the bags need, for stability and strength reasons, to be completely void of organic matter, 
high in clay and contain sand, and so out went that idea.

Then the other night we got to talking about filling the earth-bags with sascap, 
which is the sandy materiel that we have been using to form the paths, it binds together and hardens naturally, due to it's high lime content, and for a few days we felt certain, 
that besides the immense amount of labour, hence time involved, this was the way to go. Right up until this morning when we realized for certain that in order to get to the sascap,
large areas of jungle are cleared to get to the sascap underneath. 

Today it finally became plainly obvious that the most readily available material to use for building in this area is rock..:):). All this time right under our feet. I wonder why the resistance.

I remember when I first saw pictures of the land back in Venezuela, the amount of rocks seemed overwhelming, and the first thought that came to mind was, well I suppose we will have to build a stone house.
For some reason both Miguel and I resisted the idea, so stuck where we on an earthen structure, that rock just felt to cold and hard. 
Yet having now seen many beautiful houses constructed out of stones as well as the fact that it just makes the most sense we have decided to go with rock.

Today we went with our neighbor Pepe to see some of the projects that he is working on. He specializes in the guts of the structures, as he likes to say. 
His work and his philosophies are very inspiring and I love that he is one of our neighbors. What he says is; sometimes we have to "cut corners" on the building material 
because clients have time restraints and a certain budget. What he really seeks to educate his clients about  then, is  the guts of the building, the way we process our waste. 
He specializes in dry toilets,
grey and black water treatments, as well as cisterns and rain water catchment. He also builds structures out of garbage, such a old wooden pallets and plastic bottles, 
but not everyone is ready to take such steps, and while he does his best to encourage dry toilets, when his clients simply will not hear of it, he will treat their black water through extensive wet land areas. 

I love to see so many cool projects in the area. This is indeed an area where processing and becoming more involved and aware of the waste produced would make a huge difference. 
Garbage seems to be everywhere, and at the same time awareness does seem to be growing in large pockets around. Lovely! exposed

Below are photos of some of the house we saw today. Inspiration of how lovely a stone structure can indeed be, parts of the walls are plastered other left.  
Also the excellent dry toilet system that Pepe specializes in.

 Kitchen area with wood burning oven
 Wet land area to treat grey water
 Just had to add the view from the "tower" The jungle of Tulum!
The children Loved both these houses..
 This is the dry toilet system that Pepe instals. The basket holds the
sawdust, once finished on the toilet you turn the handle to release some sawdust into the container below, this aids in the decomposition, I have seen several now and none of them have any smell!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Life is more...

Today we grieve the passing of a dear friend.
The shock and sadness of it feels immense.
He is a special soul, filled with light, love and compassion.
In his life on earth he held a special friendship with Keenan at a time when 
my little boy most needed a male influence and a friend.

In these moments it seems so important to remember that life is not merely physical, and that while we will no longer meet in this world, spirit remains eternal and present.
Why is it that dying brings us such sorrow and sadness, such a sense of loss and helplessness?
I believe that there must be a time of grieving, it is right and it is important.
I just wonder at this fear of death, why can we barely talk about it openly,
except with a very few, and I do not mean when we are presented with it up close,
but as part of growing and learning?
Could it be our fear of separation, if there could in fact be any separation?
Or could it be our fear of the unknown, the belief that once we leave this body which is all that we know, there might be nothing else?
Or is it because no matter what we believe we simply
cannot know for sure what actually happens?
As with all things in life we have to turn to faith it seems
 (not faith in the religious sense of the word necessarily),
but a faith in the goodness of this Universe,
in the order and rightness of the way things are,
even beyond the seemingly random events of everyday life.
Could it be that tragedy and pain have an actual purpose,
serving a specific need in the evolving process of human consciousness,
which is beyond the physical realm of existence?
In a universe where nature exhibits such perfection doesn't  it stand to reason
 that there is indeed a "Higher Order" or "Design",
even though life seen through the human eye may not always realize it?
The Universe knows no waste, everything has a purpose,  a reason to be,
 and I believe that that energy that-we-are-all-part-of
is all Intelligent, Loving and Compassionate.
Is it perhaps time our society (particularly our western society)
acknowledges that death is a natural part of living,
a natural part of the ongoing cycle of life?
And should we perhaps start teaching our children that while we may not know exactly what we will find "on the other side", we have no need to fear it,
but should rather embrace it as the part of life that it is?
Just as the trees that die to the eyes in winter, and then as if by magic comes back to life, were never actually dead, so our soul never dies, it simply returns to where it belongs.

We Love you Elliot..

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Hard work around the Land

 On Monday we broke ground on our house, yeah!!!, and Keenan has been joining Miguel on the land to help with the work. Since we have talked of building our own house, he has been very adamant that he will be in charge of the walls and take part in all the building, and he is keeping his word.
He is a good worker and takes great pride in what he does, how happy it makes me that he once again has a male figure to work along side. 
So far we are just preparing for the foundation by digging a trench around the perimeter of the home site. The house will be round, and we are building the house that Miguel designed.
Before helping at the homesite Keenan got busy with his wheelbarrow filling in to create the paths.
These paths are at the front of the Land, and already make such a difference to the overall feeling of everything. In the places between the paths gardens will be formed. 
The landscape will be focused on edibles, mixed with other useful plants as well as lots and lots of flowers. The idea is to create a landscape that once settled will need very little maintenance.
The picture below is from the day before yesterday
And this one is from yesterday
Here is Keenan and the workers at the homesite digging out the trench around the perimeter of where the house will sit. It is hard work as there are huge rocks everywhere. The rocks dug out will then be used to create the actual foundation, upon which we will build with the earthbags.
And here is Keenan looking how he did when he returned home, happy, tired and dirty.
The sense of accomplishment that shined from his eyes as he shared with me all that he had done was beyond words, and made this Mama very happy!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Times of change

How things change!
 There is no getting around the fact that change is constant, at least in my life.
Going through the pictures of the past year getting ready to put together the yearly Birthday Books
I am amazed to see how different everything was just one year ago, 
and therefore also the content on this blog.
There has been so many changes in our lives these past years and I am amazed at how little actual say we have had in these changes. Sure, we make the decisions one at a time, and looking back there are a couple I would have made different knowing what I know today, but that is not even the point either.
So many times over the past three years I have packed up, and with my children headed off into what seemed at the time to be the right direction,  to find that it was only a stepping stone along the way.
In fact let me give you a brief description of the past few years leading up to now...

We bought our first home in Miami, Miguel landscaped that garden from scratch.
Looking for more nature, mountains, four seasons and an alternative community, we sold our house 
and moved to Asheville, well Marshall just outside Asheville. With 4 acres and a dream of creating a self-sustainable homestead, we headed into the unknown. We loved it immediately!
It was not to last forever though, financial crises hit, we made a few very irresponsible decisions, and from one moment to the next everything was turned upside down. Our family separated, and me and the children on our way to the Dominican Republic to stay with a friend thinking that we would reunite with Miguel there.
First a quick stopover in Miami as quickly became a habit...
Then the Dominican Republic
That however was not to be either, and within four months we found ourselves headed back to Asheville to stay with my sister and her daughter. This time thinking that we would work out the paper work for us to move to Denmark and wait for Miguel there.
Before Asheville another stopover in Miami. Here we enjoyed spiritual friendships before embarking on the next leg of our journey.
First Miami..
And then Asheville
Right around here I started this Blog..
Right as we were nearing the date of reuniting with Miguel, we realized that we would not be able to make the move to Denmark after all, the rules for immigrating to Denmark with a husband are super tight and a lot of money is needed as security. We simply could at the time not manifest the funds needed.
We tried hard not to go to Venezuela due to the political unrest as well as following the recommendations of Miguel's family, yet found after looking at our options that Venezuela would indeed be the next step, and once the decision was made we surrendered to it completely and went, 
happy to spend time with the latin side of our family.
First though we spent almost two months in Miami..
and then Venezuela, reuniting finally with Papa
As I said we surrendered to being in Venezuela determined to make it work and finding a way to make an income, still thinking about Denmark for the future. Yet within a month of our arriving there our friend Roko offered us to come here to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico to help homestead The Land.
Of course we stopped over in Miami first:)
And here we are...
Wow, well that was a lot of personal information. The point of going through it like that, was because along the way we made many decisions that turned out to be very temporary yet very specific steps leading to the next part of the journey. I realize that each moment in our lives serves a very specific purpose helping us along our spiritual path teaching us and showing us exactly what we need. 
There is always a purpose always a reason, it is what it is and it is always right.

And so here I am back where I started, looking back at how my life looks so different from this time last year, and how this Blog looks so different from what it did last year. 
Truly the name fits so well, for this blog journals my life as it is from Moment To Moment,
and as such the content will change as will my life.
Yesterday I came across this quote which puts everything I have been feeling so perfectly..

Do not fear the form in which it comes,
it comes in the form it needs to come in
for us to be challenged... for us to grow,
each and every one of us according to our kind,
according to our belief... according to our vibration.
Embrace the unknown... embrace the change,
within it you will find the rest of yourself. ~ Bashar


Monday, August 15, 2011

I Heart faces "Beautiful Eyes"

I stumbled upon this photo challenge over on I Heart Faces, and decided that I would
participate, because portraits really are my favorite photos to take.
The little girl featured here is a dear friend to us, more like family really, I am honored to
share this picture and send her our blessings and love as she is getting ready to go back for her second open heart surgery in the next few weeks. She is a little warrior goddess full of heart and
...Beautiful Eyes...

More beautiful eyes on the link above.