Monthly Archives: September 2011



“Not all those who wander are lost.” – J. R. R. Tolkien

Mark and I moved to a new place this week.  We’re still in Vilcabamba, but now we’re at home in an adobe bungalow/cottage on a hillside overlooking the village of Vilcabamba in the valley below.  It’s a brisk 15 minute walk to the center of town, and there’s not much flat land here in the Southern Andes, so it’s either all uphill or all downhill.  That’s what makes it brisk.

It’s quiet here.  We can still hear the sounds of life in the valley, but they are secondary to the sounds of the birds and breeze coming through the windows.  There are no air conditioning or heating units down here.  You either open the window or close the window.  It’s 80 degrees in the day and 60 degrees at night, with very little exception.

Our choir sang in the local church this past Sunday.  It’s a church of  “locals” (as opposed to the white “foreigners”) and it was very well received.  We hope it will help make progress toward integration.

We had a great time last Friday night when we went to a local restaurant hot spot to hear our friends perform on the veranda as we had dinner.  Jack (whose playing reminds me of Carlos Santana) and Julia played lots of classic rock while we ate a truly wonderful meal with about 12 friends.  And guess who joined us — you’ll NEVER guess if you don’t follow alternative news online — Project Camelot’s very own Bill Ryan.  Right here in lil ‘ol Vilcabamba.  It was really a treat not only to see him in person, but to have dinner with him and tell him what his interviews have meant to us, and to get his take on what’s going on in the world.  If not for his interviews, we would probably have never come to Ecuador.  His interviews with George Greene and with Jim Humble were real catalysts for our research.

Will post pics shortly…


Mandala Garden

I’m hanging out in a hammock (get it?  hanging?  hammock?  I crack myself up!  ) with my laptop just outside our apartment, contemplating the universe and our place in it.  It’s not as quiet as you might imagine on a Sunday afternoon.  Ecuadorians take their weekends very seriously.  Not only am I surrounded by the sounds of horses and chickens, but young men on dirt bikes, latin music blaring from a car a couple of streets over, and little kids laughing in Spanish.  Still there’s a peacefulness in Ecuador that can’t be measured on a decibel scale.

Mandala garden design

I’m learning about permaculture.  It’s all part of the self-sustainability lifestyle we’re trying to build — and hopefully perpetuate — duh!  So my focus for a while now has been on designing a mandala garden.  It will have a small water source in the center as a focus of energy and source of water for the garden.  We will probably have a half-acre building site, and that’s another reason for a mandala garden since we’ll need to make the most efficient use of our land.  We’ll have chickens, which will stay inside a chook dome built exactly the size of a mandala segment.  They’ll stay in a segment for two weeks digging, scratching, aerating, eating pests, and fertilizing the segment before we plant it.  Then we move it on to the next recently harvested segment.  That way we can have food growing year-round.  I’ve got lots to learn about permaculture but I plan to learn lots from the Ecuadorians, once my Spanish improves, so I don’t waste time planting things that won’t grow here.  There’s a lot to learn about what to plant to nourish the good critters in the soil, what species grow well next to each other, what grows quickly so it can be harvested before space hogs (not hogs from space!) get growing.  If we don’t end up with a purist’s version of a mandala garden design, we’ll still have a compact garden with a water element.  Since we’re in the Andes, there’s not a lot of flat land, so we may need to do some terracing.  Still, our garden will have a beautiful authentic energy and will be situated near our meditation space.

Mandala design with two water sources

Mandala garden with chicken chook -- no that's not me!

Mandala garden design

As for house design, we’re considering earth bag construction.  Second choice, small adobe home with a roof top patio to take advantage of the view of the Andes.


Next step, bee keeping….