Failure or opportunity?

Reflection on the past year

About a year ago we started talking about failure. What if this project is just too complicated for us? What if we cannot secure enough funding to do all the work we identified as necessary? What if we cannot generate enough income and food from the land to sustain ourselves? Nothing we set out to do was easy. The wet-dry tropical climate is harsh. The mountainous terrain is difficult. The terracing was hard and back breaking. The local market pays next to nothing for produce. This was getting totally depressing.

We always did a lot of research and reading. Subjects ranging from the use and characteristics of plants and animals to human nature, society and community. We knew other people go through the same process that we were in now. If you make a move to turn your life into a completely different direction you need to realize that it is not going to be a walk in the park. We just expected the point when it starts to turn around to arrive sooner.

We stopped writing for our site. We stopped contributing to fora and other websites. There was just too much we had to figure out. We pulled back inside our little world on the mountain with its gigantic views and its stunning wildlife. We needed reflection and a plan B.

Then the world slowly started to pull us back from the brink. We met some great guys who came to volunteer on our farm. Some for just a few days, some for a week or longer. The human interaction and the encouragement we received from them was a big help in keeping our minds on track. So thank you Alvino, Nicolas, Pedro and Oscar!

Family stepped in providing some financial backup to help us keep moving forward, big thanks to them! A business contact from our past, sympathetic to our project, bought our old company and that kept us going. Thanks for that Craig! The universe was not going to let us fail that easily…

We met new people, some locals, some expats who chose to live in this beautiful area because they say: it’s the best place on Earth! When they realized what we’re doing here they saw how our project could make all the difference in turning the water problems of this region around. Much of this area is captured in a process of desertification. It’s a slow process of evaporation, with increasing periods of drought followed by strong rainstorms that cause enormous problems with erosion, landslides and flooding.

And we made our plan B, which we kept as simple as possible. If we would end in failure here, we could sell and start again on a smaller scale. To gain the best price out of a forced sale we focussed on the improvements we needed to make to our land anyway: Terracing and roads for easy access and water and erosion control. Building sites for cabins, a new house, places for visitors to stay.

The best thing, we kept telling ourselves, was the experience and knowledge we had gained. Starting again would be child’s play compared to what we had to go through when we just started. Back then we had a head full of theory, without any practical experience. It’s one thing to do a course and learn for example that you start your Permaculture adventure right outside your house and then you work outward from there. It’s another thing if you realize that the place you bought has the house located on the absolute worst spot of the land you have. If we had to start all over again we now had enough knowledge of our climate, the flora and fauna around here and the earthworks needed to make any place functional and fertile.

Crossing the valley

About half a year ago we had an excavator in to extend a road we made earlier to cross a valley, so we could more easily reach another part of the land on the other side. Just watching the machine move gigantic amounts of earth around again reminded us to look at our land differently. We literary learned to see through mountains and let nothing stand in the way of this project anymore…

So here we are, on one of the most beautiful places on this planet. We have a new spot for a house and some other buildings. We have the beginning of our terraces done. And we can work outwards from there. It’s going to be plan B anyway: start again! But we can start again right where we are, on our own farm!

New road into the future

Over the coming weeks we’ll show you what we did in the past year in more detail.


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