Tami’s Blog: Beth arrives for a night and Gary goes on a cruise

May 3, 2015

From: Tami

I took the bus to Boquete again to meet another friend vacationing in Panama.  I stopped on the way in Bugaba to do what I thought was the final process in getting my truck license plate.  But NOOOOOOOOO.  I had been told by the gals at the Municipality in Rio Sereno  that I needed to go back to Bugaba to get the month sticker that you stick on the lower right corner of your license plate (like in the US).  The gal at the Municipality in Bugaba says that I need to go back to Rio Sereno, that that is where I need to get that sticker.  Heavy sigh……will this ever end????  Wouldn’t it be crazy if five years from now I am still being bounced from one office to another still in search of my monthly sticker for my Panama truck license plate!

Beth and Tami in Boquete

Beth and Tami in Boquete

This time I traveled to Boquete to meet my friend Beth Pool. Beth is from Cottage Grove, Oregon and she was vacationing with her two grown daughters and one daughter’s partner.  She and her husband Richard (both retired teachers) have a permaculture farm of 4 acres.  I have attended some of Beth’s food preservation classes.  She is a born teacher. Beth told me about wwoof.net (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms).  Last growing season Beth was able to find 14 folks who wanted to learn permaculture and were willing to trade their labor for food and accommodation and for learning permaculture skills,.  This is a wonderful concept and I am glad that there is such a website dedicated to matching up hosts and students globally.  Beth said that she and Richard were able to accomplish so much more than they would have if it had just been the two of them working the land.  This is the concept I have for my land.  I know that Gary and I are limited by how long it takes us to get everything done that needs to.  Beth said that most of the folks that applied to work their farm were actually city folks who had a thirst for knowledge and wanted a different life experience.  Beth has worked tirelessly and cheerfully….volunteering in so many groups.  She wants to help make Cottage Grove a better place to live and I know she has made a big difference there. 

It sure is nice having friends come to town.  I am feeling lucky that I have such great folks in my life.  Now that I am fairly isolated and remote, it makes me appreciate people from home even more.  We both had a lot of catching up to do. Beth treated me to a nice dinner at an upscale seafood restaurant in Boquete.  What pleasant evening!  Since I don’t have refrigeration on the farm as yet, any seafood I eat generally comes out of a can.

Well Gary is back in the U.S. for three weeks.  Paul invited him on a 7 day cruise to Vancouver!  This will be Gary’s first cruise. After the cruise, Paul would like Gary to meet folks that he has made connections with to discuss Gary’s unique designs for food driers, aqua culture tanks etc. and the business opportunities that could develop from Gary’s unique vision and Paul’s desire to invest in something that aligns with his need to give back.  Both Paul and Gary have wanted make a difference in the world for a long time.  This may be their chance to do just that. .  It could be a very exciting opportunity to be able to change the dynamics here in our village and maybe even further a field.  I will let Gary fill you in with more details when he is able to. 

I am maintaining the garden alone until then.  It has rained for a couple of hours almost every day and a lot of the seeds are sprouting but so are the weeds!  I spent 4 hours pulling the little buggers this morning.  It can become a kind of obsession…..just one more…..

I remember the first time I saw a line of leaf-cutter ants here.  I thought they were so cute… marching in a line….. each carrying a piece of a green leaf home to their adorable hill forts.  Well I noticed this morning that my Mexican tarragon plant had been stripped of most of its leaves.  I am ready to murder all of the little S.O.B’s now! It’s kinda like that email about snow that went around a while back.  You know…..the one where a guy moves from Florida to Michigan and sees snow for the first time and marvels at its beauty.  At the end of the Michigan winter the guy is bitching about the amount of snow he has had to shovel and he is cursing the day he ever set eyes on a snowflake. There is hope for me though ;-). My crops won’t be destroyed by the ants when the manicillo gets more profuse.  I have been going down the hill almost daily, where there is a large patch of manicillo. I cut a bag full of the Spanish clover and plant it throughout the garden but mostly on the paths.  Manicillo can’t propagate via seed….only through cuttings. Since the rain arrived, I can see where my cuttings are just starting to take hold.  It will be the perfect decoy for those nasty little leaf munchers!

Just made some lentils in the pressure cooker.  Cooked some for the dogs earlier that I mixed with cornmeal mush and sardines.  Lentils have been price controlled here at 56 cents a 1 lb. bag.  I stocked up but I should have checked the bags for bugs when I was buying them. Also, if you store the beans for too long the bugs will eventually get in the bags lay eggs and start multiplying. The bags of lentils that are super buggy I will cook for the dogs since they don’t seem to mind the extra protein ;-).  Gary, eat your heart out!!! Can’t get this kinda grub on a cruise ship! 😉

 

Tami

 

Gary’s Blog: Who grows your imported tomatoes?

Beto, Victor, Gary and Paul in front of Whistler

Beto, Victor, Gary and Paul in front of Whistler

Annie likes Suni

Annie likes Suni

April 19, 2015

From: Gary 

Morning,

Some work in the garden, we have things coming up after a rain yesterday. Also plenty of things not coming up, likely due to the old seed problem.

We enjoyed our guest Paul’s visit, it was nice for me to connect with him after so long just knowing him on line.

He stopped by after going to a seminar on retirement in Panama, in Panama City.

We were able to begin working together on the vacuum dryer project, to assist the local co-ops with their surplus production now going to waste. Paul got to meet and talk to Victor the co-op president, and to meet our neighbor Beto and his son Yovany who is Tami’s shadow when he isn’t in school.

Paul was kind enough to help us get a vacuum gauge and other stuff to begin the process of experimentation leading to the falling water powered vacuum dryer, and at this point we have what it takes to find out what is necessary to design and construct the first co-op sized dryer, for our little hidden valley.  Beto and Victor will be assisting in the experimentation, so that they will know what it takes, that way the information will be unstoppable.  It is my desire to boot this up, and then to make the proprietary unit and sell through the co-op to other co-ops. It should be affordable, and change the paradigm here on the wasted tomatoes and other spoilable products.

If I did nothing else, that would be enough if it catches on.

So, I will be working to assist them towards export products.

Paul and I traveled together some, a trip to David, and also up to Boquete, my first time there. It was just a regular Latin town, with a bit of tourism, and really nothing special enough to warrant $200,000 to half a million per hectare land prices in the surrounding area. Basically the game has been run up the prices on the new arrivals to insane levels, knowing they don’t know any better.

Paul’s comment when he was leaving for Panama City was that he couldn’t believe how much we got accomplished in such a short time.  What he knew from the seminar was that he was way ahead of the curve.  I was really glad to be of service to him. And we had a lot of fun together. With plenty of adventure vignettes.  He quickly realized how nice it is, and how easy the mass transit system works, and that we can get anything we need in David. Also Paul is really making a difference here, and the whole valley is very appreciative.

What I have known for years, is that Central America is best described as “insurmountable opportunity”, the problem is that the majority of the investors all get herded into the city, or the same investments.  All sound good on paper, but none of them as advertised is the real potential…  How many more hotels and cabinas do we need?  And why invest in reforestation using trees only good for toilet paper, when if you were in the know, there are dozens of extremely valuable types to plant.

Ignorance plus greed equals stupidity…  

The bottom line really is that 99% of the investors are more like herd animals than original thinkers, and that you need an on the ground person who knows the ropes, to have even a prayer.  And there are plenty of sharks in the wading pool for the business in Central America kindergarten.

 

Later,

Our neighbor Beto’s sister Jasmine came to visit with her little girl, named Annie. Cute kid, looks like a pretty little fairy tale pixie.  Tami got to practice some of her Spanish, and took a couple photos before the camera battery ran out. (Gotta keep those charged up, or they always go dead invariably at the exact wrong time.)

We talked about the project, growing things organic, and cooperating with the co-op etc. while Annie played with Suni.  She was a bit rough, but Suni tried to be on good behavior, but still not relaxed enough due to lack of playing with kids experience.

I asked Jasmine to help me with a piece of paper work we need to write up, my street Spanish is a bit less than formal.  I need a native speaker for official type documents. Jasmine seems nice, as do most of the neighbors, and little Annie was all energy and fun.  But I have seen Annie in upset mode before too.  I like kids, generally better than adults….as my son once pointed out when he was little: “Dad, you are just a big kid!”

I also asked Jasmine what the average tomato farm made here in a year. Talking small acreage, she estimated $2000 per year gain after expenses… That’s not much money for a lot of work, and then market games on a regular basis where they make nothing and the crop rots.

This is why I do the things I do. I would like to see kids and their folks have better lives than that,  $2000 is like what the average American upper middle class couple spends at Starbucks if they both are working.

Not knowing is different than willful ignorance…  no compassion, no future.

It’s like I said way back in this blog, we need an army of common people working to make a better world. The government is not going to do it.

They are too busy blasting out people’s guts, so corporations can steal resources and control markets.

Sad but true.

Meanwhile America buys brand names from those corporations. From the gas into your car, to the cereal on your breakfast table, most of those names should come with a skull and cross bones label. 

Trying counts…

Without trying, nothing is achieved.

Anyway, the rains have come, a nice shower as I write.  Tami is whipping up some concoction on the stove, and I am happy the garden is sprouting. Now to cycle through the seeds from old to newest.  We did some weeding in the garden, and Tami started planting more Manicillo. Soon to have a garden full of it, and boggle the locals. It was nice to show Jasmine the garden, like no garden she has ever seen.  Hopefully people can learn from it…the struggle now is getting ahead of the weeds and planting until we get everything going.

G

Tami’s Blog: My friend Paul comes to visit

 

Paul enjoying a breakfast banana shake

Paul enjoying a breakfast banana shake

Yovany fascinated with my vacuum cleaner

Yovany fascinated with my vacuum cleaner

April 15, 2015

From: Tami

This week my friend Paul flew in from Panama City where he was attending a seminar about retiring in Panama.  He lives near LA but he is exploring the possibilities of retiring somewhere in Panama.  He was brave enough to get out of the big city and camp here on our mountain hide-away for a couple of nights. Actually, he had no choice since I discovered that the only hotel in town had a “For Sale or Rent” sign on it.  I told Paul that our place was still rough, but I think Paul now has a new meaning of “rough” ;-).  I am sure that after two days of having to use a shit shovel, showering with a hose, and having a 100 lb German Shepherd leave paw prints on his chest, that Paul will be very grateful that his next trip (in May) is going to be on a cruise ship;-).  Actually, Paul was a really good sport about roughing it.  He is in amazingly great shape for a man of 66….. don’t you think???

Paul and I visited Rio Sereno when he first arrived.  I introduced him to the Chinese family who owns Francisco’s Market.  I think my trust-worthiness in their eyes increased when they discovered that Paul was able to converse with them in Chinese.  Paul and I also went to the local Chinese restaurant where they have a buffet-style lunch.  The owners seemed delighted to meet a Chinese-American and they cooked us fresh plates of some of the items they serve on the buffet. 

Gary and Paul took off this morning for David via the bus.  Gary is great to travel with on the buses here since he really knows how to socialize with the locals.  Paul doesn’t speak much Spanish, so having a translator is a nice perk.  Paul wants to check out Boquete while he is here too.

I am home alone for a couple of days. It is hard to get too lonely here when you have Yovany for a neighbor.  His head popped up in my window this afternoon after school. He wanted my help again with his English homework.  After we finished with that he wanted a banana shake and he wanted me to play music.  I discovered he likes to dance a while back and we did some goofy dancing to Sheryl Crow and the Dixie Chicks.  He likes my dance move where I put my hands together above my head and move my neck like an Egyptian.  He is so cute when tries to move his head back and forth between his arms like I do.  He delights in the smallest things (like running my battery-powered vacuum cleaner) and his cheerful nature is contagious.  I feel lucky that he has become my little buddy.

Yovany has most likely never heard much American music.  Though there are some beautiful Latin songs, most of the music played here is lovesick Latin stuff that starts to get monotonous after while. There was a TV screen playing music videos on the bus on the way to David.  Almost every video was a male singer crooning about a woman.  All the women in the background had gyrating butts and displayed sexual moves even worse than you see in the US.  Panama and most of Central America (from what I hear) is a very sex oriented culture.  Most attractive Latina’s love very high heeled shoes and wouldn’t go out to a nightclub in a pair of comfortable shoes like I wear.  When in David the night before Paul arrived, I met a Panamanian musician at a local joint where I stopped for a beer. He was holding a guitar and harmonica.  The juke box was playing repetitive Latin music and it stopped for a bit.  From where he sat next to me on a barstool, the musician picked up his guitar and started singing “Yesterday” in English.  He sounded nice but he soon got drowned out by someone blasting another Latin tune on the Jukebox.  The musician said that happens to him quite often. I was surprised that often folks aren’t open to a new type of music.  Seemed pretty rude to me.  Anyway, it would be nice if I could broaden Yovany’s tastes in music and other things.  Exposure is the best way. 

Sure wish I had had the free time that I do now to spend with my daughter Jade when she was growing up.  Unfortunately, working full time in the U.S. to pay the bills and handling my mom’s finances when she was sick took so much of my time and energy that my daughter got shorted.  I was searching for a more simple way of life when I came to Panama and I found it, even though it took WAY longer than I could have dreamed it would to get here.  I may not live a luxurious life now, but my time is my own and the stresses are much less (except for the border cross and any bureaucratic requirements I have to complete.)

Jade continues to do well in school. She is completing high school and also taking college classes. She has a boyfriend (who is going to college in downstate Michigan) that seems to care about her a lot.  In fact, he keeps in touch with me better than she does.  I look forward to when Jade is able to come and stay or at least visit here.

 

Tami

Gary’s blog: The neighborhood co-op President comes to visit

The dogs near our expedient staircase from Jerry's Hardware in Eugene, OR

The dogs near our expedient staircase from Jerry’s Hardware in Eugene, OR

April 8, 2015

From: Gary

Morning, after 4:00 am.

Just made coffee, and playing with Suni.

Last night, The Co-op president came up to talk to me. He is a big beefy guy built like an American farmer. Always laughing as he talks, with a good sense of humor and intelligence in his eyes. He is reorganizing the Co-op, after removal of the last president who was siphoning off money. I went to a meeting, and he had triple accountability going, with back up documentation.  As a way to insure they would not be burnt again.

He brought a couple three rock samples, and has been realizing what I told him about the rock minerals in the compressed volcanic ash, that it is a valuable agricultural commodity, and would be easy to mine and process etc. and to even export.

When gardening in Oregon, I could only have dreamed of being able to buy such a ground rock mineral for my garden.

Most people don’t know it, but it is volcanism that best remineralizes the planet’s agricultural soils, there is a natural cycle of depletion and remineralization, that has gone on since time began, and will continue long past our tenancy on the planet. 

We are currently in the depletion phase, and this is being aggravated by chemical agriculture, using a quick fix for short term profits style of fertilizer, its like “just in time” shipping,  with the soil warehouse being pretty much empty.

This breeds a lot of problems, including dependence on chemicals and food supply insecurity if the pipe line of chemicals is stopped.  This is really stupid! For example, if there is a major war over the petroleum producing areas, and these chemicals are even temporarily cut off, mass starvation would be the result, even in developed countries. This means you.

The Co-op president also got to see our terracing project for the first time, and was amazed, and couldn’t believe that we had done it with nothing but pick hoes over a three month period.  I grinned at him, commented that I had a woman doing it with me, and My good neighbor Beto was grinning and nodding at the questions, he has seen us out there every morning digging.  I explained the manicillo clover, as a nitrogen fixer, and its potential as a pasture crop, the guy got it when I mentioned Alfalfa, of which he had heard as he is a cattleman.  And he realized that they have been setting on a gold mine here and didn’t know it, only planting manicillo in their yards.

Basically this guy was realizing that I was teaching them things that could change the local economy, stop erosion, and make for healthier cattle etc.  He was blown away.

I explained the natural balance between legumes and grasses, and pointed out that the coffee growers could plant manicillo and put sheep on their coffee, and get free fertilizer, as well as wool and meat. And I pointed out that wool would give the indigenous people a resource to weave and make blankets etc. that would boost their family economies.

Right now, the coffee growers pay to have weeds chopped and use herbicides, which end up in your coffee cup, and you end up in the cancer ward.

The Co-op president told me there is a national move going on here to get rid of the chemicals. And they all know it, but don’t know how to farm without them.   

So what I was teaching him was like direct current plugged into the local brain.  He is going to set up so I can teach a short course on organic agriculture to the co-op, with a computer online so I can show images for examples. I told him it would take an hour or so to run them thru the fundamentals.

We also discussed the vacuum dryers using falling water, I gave him a couple of simple examples of the physics that every farmer here could understand. And told him we could do experimental models with plastic pipe parts, and then go to weldable steel pipe fittings for a professional model, and market the vacuum head affordably, one that would last generations.

There is gravity water all over this province.

And thousands of families growing truck gardens. And more doing cattle.

Basically  the vacuum dryers would allow small co-ops to create products for storage and export,  from fruit, and veggies, to vacuum dried meat from cattle…

So basically I am about to kick off a little revolution here, starting with a few plastic pipe parts, and a love for physics..  Should be fun!

In designing anything, perfection invariably lies in the direction of simplification.

So I have been laying awake at night thinking about design options, and have come up with two types, depending on the amount of head, and how effective I can make the vacuum device.  One option has basically no moving parts except the water, and the other has some valving to create a hammering effect like on a Ram pump.  The second type would work better in lower head situations.  But either would create vacuum using only alternative ambient energy, now going to waste.

It is also something that need not be intrusive, most of the system could be buried.

This vacuum could be piped fair distances. Allowing having a group or co-op central processing area for the products.  The vacuum could also be cheaply piped even into individual homes in the area. Allowing people to pick and process their own produce as it ripens etc.  

If I can get this booted, it will stop spoilage and waste, screw middlemen now screwing poor people, and create export ready products. This technology will spread like wild fire here and else where.  So I have no choice but to keep working at it, as it is much bigger than me.

Another thing I pointed out to the Co-op president (Victor) was how I would like to be able to terrace one of the eroded mountainside pastures with a cat and plant manicillo on it. His eyes lit up. You can see serious erosion everywhere here.  So a model project that resulted in better pastures fairly cheaply would astound people in the cattle and dairy business.  And it wouldn’t take that long or cost that much, I have been a cat skinner since I was a teenager, and terraces in this dirt would be a few minutes each.  i.e. the price of a couple three cows would do a pasture, and redirect water run off, and soon be covered in manicillo, that has an incredible root mass down to two feet deep. And that builds top soil by being a nitrogen fixer. 

Anyway, I have been told by the locals they are hoping more Americans will come, to buy affordable land, and that they will help us get the organic co-op etc. booted up. They know us as a people who do things for common good, and they would like to work with us.  What this means, is a welcome mat from the neighbors, for people who want to come buy in at a fraction of the cost of the Gringo areas.  I hope people do take up this offer, and use their retirements or snow birding, to do something meaningful.

It’s a two way thing, it’s business with a mind and a heart. And we can create a better world starting here.   Panama is the business Mecca of the future for this side of the planet. It already has the 15th economy on the planet, which puts it ahead of the US if you factor in what is owed.  The US falls about 150th, if the national debt is figured in.

Panama’s location is key, and sooner or later the Pan-American Highway will be connected to South America, making it the land and sea cross roads of this side of the planet.

It’s a good place to buy something, create a business, and have something special to leave to your kids. The climate in the highlands is exquisite, and the people are just people. Even Tami is getting along better and better with her Spanish. She is learning constantly.

Yesterday we went to the municipality on the truck license plate issue, and learned that the office in Bugaba had forgotten to give Tami the month sticker for the plate. Fairly humorous considering she was there over four hours to get one piece of paper and the sticker we didn’t know about.  But we did get our truck plate yesterday, but will need another day wasted to Bugaba and back to get the sticker.  So eight office stops, to get everything….

And my thoughts are for all the truckers in Central America going through this kind of bureaucracy, just because a bunch of lawyers in the legislature want to justify their own existence.  This kind of thing sets these small countries back.  Shipping in and out is a nightmare, especially by land with all the border crosses. It’s insane and really, really stupid. I wonder if the governments realize the internet business revolution will pass them by if they don’t fix this? That their shipping and customs system is so constipated that it will never allow them to be part of the developed world in a business sense.  You can’t just order something online here and have it show up at your door in two days.

Basically it is still the legalistic stone age here. With legislative cave people.

And the governments would be better served to fix these problems, than waste time and money harassing Americans who don’t have residency etc. It’s embarrassingly stupid.

And the US government is not any better, with its immigration policies that make zero sense, and its own versions of excessive taxation, control, bureaucracy etc.

Yesterday, Tami was reading online about a vineyard she used to work at in Traverse City, that it had been sold, and the new owners were asking for permission to change its land use description slightly….

This is absurd!

Who owns your land?  That you have to beg the nobility for permission to change the description of what your vineyard is?  THINK! People! Do you really want to live in a world where you have to pay fees and suck up to perfumed people in offices? People that produce absolutely nothing except paperwork that is not needed for any sane reason. Wake up! Quit supporting it!

I would be ashamed to work in those offices.

Just because it’s normal does not mean its right. Nor does it mean it is a good idea.  Government is like a dinosaur in your veggie garden. What it doesn’t eat, you can.  And you will need a Bazooka to get rid of it.

 

Later,

We worked in the garden this morning, still not sure about the Indian corn, if it sprouted, did too much in short order to be sure where what started and stopped, so won’t know on the Indian corn until picking time in 100 days or so.

Did see some hard red wheat coming up, old seed, so far maybe 10% sprouted, but it hasn’t rained yet either.  Tami also has a few sun flowers sprouting. And more seed on the way.

I planted several seed packets, maybe five different items, and also went through some canned seeds Tami had, that were quite old. Just planting in patches to see if anything comes up.  At this point waiting for rain, to see what doesn’t sprout, so we can use the room, and starting to think about garden expansion across the creek. It is inevitable, just to get enough corn planted.

The neighbor stopped by, and took a couple photos of the garden, still not much to see except the dirt work. But his comment was; “Solo bueno”.

At this point the garden has become addictive, and we are scrambling to find enough room to plant things.  And won’t know for another week or two how we did due to old seed. I suspect it will be a month at least before we get everything planted, even working on it every day for a couple three hours.

 

G

Gary’s Blog: When I was a kid and other thoughts

First planting mostly completed

First planting mostly completed

April 6, 2015

From: Gary 

Morning,

Nearing the end of the dry season, and about to go into “primavera” or local spring.

We have about a week before the planting rains begin, and about a month before they become consistent.  At this point we have been without rain for over a week, but have managed to get most of the seeds planted.  Tami was worried that it might not rain, and that the seeds would go bad etc. and I had to reassure her, and Beto the neighbor backing me up, that we would get rains within a week, and after that the plants would get rain enough to grow etc.  The change to “invierno” here is like clockwork, you can set your watch by it. And it is more consistent than the “last frost date” so many gardeners in the north live to plant by.

We do have some hard corn and squash coming up, just off of the residual soil moisture and the dew.  And I have planted maybe five different types of stuff in the squash and cucumber family, also three kinds of beets, and parsnips and carrots, have planted hard red wheat, rye and oats, celery, radishes, etc., but am waiting to plant the salad greens, and the herb seeds. 

One of my worries is how much of this seed will actually sprout, as its two years old due to being delayed so long on the trip etc. I really want to grow pumpkins and Indian corn, and just have to wait a couple weeks to find out if it was all for nothing.  We do have more seed, but it is old too. And we are working through it from least likely to slightly more likely to sprout.  And its not like we can just go to the store and get new. All they have here is hybrids.  It’s a way to scam the people into buying new seed every year.

Anyway, we are finishing up on the heavy work in the garden, this morning I had to change a flat on the truck, and Tami was battling the brush clumps alone, and took out three huge grass clumps that are really hard, with her little pick hoe. It took her about an hour and a half.

I changed the inside dual, passenger side, aft axle, and also put slime in the outside dual, both flat due to someone leaving lumber with nails in it it the turn around spot that everybody has to use.  The boards and nails had weeds growing over them. I think one tube is ruined. And the other can be patched, and it took me a couple of hours work to change, and I will have to spend another morning breaking down the tire and replacing the tube, and if the slime doesn’t stop the leak in the other, another morning breaking it down and patching it.  All because somebody had their head up their aft end and didn’t care how they affected others…

Latins seem to be clueless about nails, they will leave them in parking lots, or in boards where children play etc.   I was raised in an era and culture where if a guy saw a nail or screw on the ground, he picked it up to prevent somebody from having a flat.

I don’t know how Americans are any more, only been back twice in 20 years.  I wouldn’t bet the average person picks up random nails in parking lots etc.

It’s a strange world now.  I grew up in an era when many guys worked on their own vehicles etc.,  and being in a military family in the post world war 2 era,  I got to look up to guys who actually did things, and even some who were decorated in WW2. I got to meet them personally, and I saw they were just average good guys, who did the right things no matter what.

When I was little, we lived on an Airbase in Germany, and I used to go on base with my dad to the auto hobby shop where the guys worked on their cars,  I had an Olive drab  fatigue shirt, and a fatigue ball cap, and some little bosch and lomb aviator sun glasses, and all the guys thought that was great, a little kid dressed to look like they did in their jobs. It got a lot of grins.

And I had my own tool box and tools, some of which were the un-plated tools made during the war.

Now days it’s probably illegal to let kids have tools…

My kids grew up playing with tools.

And my kids fix things for a living.

Anyway, I like working on Whistler the Deuce and a half, because it reminds me of those guys on the bases, who are probably dead by now. Men who knew how to think through problems and get their hands dirty making the machinery of life keep rolling.  Honest men, doing honest jobs, and supporting their families.  But that was back when America was great, and Eisenhower and then Kennedy were president.  Sputnik had sent a shock through the body politic, And the nation rose to the challenge, and soon names like Alan Shepard, and John Glen became household words. I grew during the era that late 50’s Chevys and Fords were the cars of the day. Not something just seen in car shows. I and my sister were home alone listening to the radio, as grade school kids in France when JFK was assassinated, and I remember hearing about Jack Ruby shooting Oswald in school, and knowing in my gut as a grade school kid that something was wrong with that story. Since, I have realized what happened; that there was a coup, and America was no longer a free country, that there was a Junta in power, to whom the death of even millions was a trivial thing in their quest for personal gains.  It was the day the world began to end.

And I was there, as just a kid.

These people we have now for talking heads and political figures, they are just the inheritors from that Junta.  People whose parents had bloody hands.  It’s why I don’t take the American political system seriously, I know it is fake.   I was there the day the real system died.

I was there for the Vietnam war, with its death count for corporate profits.

I was there when it ended, with a rout called “peace with honor” at the time, and the POW’s were abandoned rather than Nixon keeping his word about reparations…

Most people today haven’t a clue about these things. As the national memory is erased one generation at a time…

What everyone takes as normal now, is deathly wrong. The culture is a washed corpse, and the funeral directors give their sermons on TV about how great America is.

Nobody has any guts. There are no heroes, even the truth is now considered politically incorrect. People are more into their vanities, than anything decent.

A great country is made up from the cloth of a great people.

And now we are in the twilight of what is America.

Veterans are homeless, Banksters are rich,
And if you are stupid enough to be honest,
Life is a bitch.

I was born in America, on a military base, but I am unlikely to die there,

As I will try to die free.

And that’s why I planted seeds, to grow food. Because I am starting over again, re booting civilization alone at its most fundamental level.  Yes the body isn’t buried yet, that was America, but it is beginning to stink.  Its statesmen are liars, its Generals are kiss asses, And its companies are greed driven and destroying the planet. Its mothers are spoiled children of the nanny state, and its children are little minds with brand names for thoughts.

What are its men?

 

G

Gary’s Blog: Driving Tami to the bus stop and other happenings and perspectives

March 31, 2015

From: Gary

Afternoon,

Home alone, Tami went to Bugaba on truck plates paper chase.

She is learning the ropes here, and limping along gamely on her current Spanish.

Yovany the neighbor kid has been doing his job well, he spends an hour or two most days, chattering with her, and helping her do things. Tomorrow he is sked to come help her cut more ripe banana stalks, it keeps them both busy, lugging them up to the shack etc. and dividing the loot.

It’s the biggest banana sale that Tami has ever been to… fill your cart ladies, get more carts, hope you drove a station wagon.

I drove Tami up to the bus stop in Whistler, the usual 6×6 practice. Today picked up a neighbor who rode on the running board and chatted with me as I dodged the holes and wound around the corners, and shifted gears up and down the hills.

I’m looking forward to more visitors, so I can give them that ride. This ain’t Kansas Dorathy… most of the culverts as you get near home, are too short for the wheel width, and I’m often hanging the outside duals off the edge, or relying on the other axles to get the one biting air to bridge the gap. The worst part is where a land slide took out the road, and after clean up, I can just make it though, by using the truck’s outside mirrors as feelers, so that the truck stays in tight to the upper cut, and doesn’t go over the edge and down into the creek 50 feet below.  I noticed this morning that I was driving most of the road on auto-pilot, but still gearing down to absolute Granny, and paying real careful attention through that spot… ‘Wouldn’t want to test that roll-bar that I built and installed. It needs a couple braces to the floor first, before I go driving in that creek.

And that’s how life is here, somewhat of an adventure, whilst one is attempting a semblance of normalcy.

So far the herb starts we bought last trip out to the big city are all doing well,   Tami seems to really like her little plant friends now that there is more rain, and we are done with the terracing.  We are starting to try to use up the boughten dried seasonings we brought all the way from the United Snakes, Because we will soon have fresh home grown organic replacements. And the live plants cost less than the little plastic jars of the corporate version.   Soon, a “Super-Garden” instead of a supermarket….

It’s a hard one for people up north to wrap their cerebral cholesterol lump around, with factors like no bleeping winter to connect the dots on. What that means is we can have fresh everything all year long. Even corn if we want to dribble some spring water out of a hose on it during the dry season.  Realistically though, one gets lazy, and tends to grow things in the easy season for this or that item. Even Tami has figured that out; that one needs to vary things a bit to take advantage of seasons.

Lately I have been thinking about ordering some 3/8ths steel rod to use as cloche wire,  for chicken cloches and some rain cloches for tomatoes in the wet end of the wet season.

I will make the chicken cloches as one piece welded units that we can pack around and set where ever we need the hell scratched out of an area. Tami seems to have an attraction to chickens, I suspect it is latent farmer’s wife genetics from being a flat-lander.  She reads these books on animal trainers, about people who talk to dogs, or are horse wisperers,  But I think her expertise is in being a Chicken  “career councilor”.

She is the only person I’ve ever met, that squeals with delight at chickens in the road.

While I am doing the driving and trying not to get them stuck between the aft duals.

Anyway, the great weather has gotten even better lately, getting enough rain to make the plants grow, but not enough to be unpleasant, especially at the temperatures here.

This morning we were talking about skiing accidents, as if they were something that happened on another planet. It’s also that way now for shoveling snow etc. we hear about it on the news. It just happens to less fortunate people in far away places that are difficult to even contemplate living.

It’s like a bad dream the night before; one wakes up thinking about how it is in the US now, with the thieves realizing the power of government, and doing what is basically a great train robbery advertised as a charity drive.   With the right and left wing of the thieves guild firmly in power on the TV sets.(Much like the pigs in Orwell’s Animal Farm.)

Oh! Master Thieves!  How far have we come since farmer statesmen?

And why doth no-one think about the obvious outcome of perpetual legislation?

You would think there should have been an excess of laws generations ago.

But I guess if the dynamics is control of small people for the robber barons, there is no limit. You can always use just one more law to squeeze the chickens out of more eggs.

Yes, it is April!  The joys of spring; Cherry blossoms, Daffodils, And nightmares of government forms, where you subtract from line 28A what you got when you multiplied 5C, after you entered line 36 from your W2 form, and woe to anyone who doesn’t look normal, the Wolves of IRS will be on you quicker than a limping calf in a buffalo herd.

Yup! Minimalism means letting go of April tax rituals, and just being smugly happy that one’s Tax liability is a big fat goose egg.   Let me know if you want out. If there is enough of you, we can schedule a seminar.  ; )

Normalcy looks so boring, except for the fear parts.

You have to really think about what you are doing now and then. And whether it’s in your own best interests? There’s like a few billion sheep eyeing each other trying to figure out exactly where normal is, so they can stand on that line.

Later, picked Tami up at the bus stop, almost two hours late, she got the run around at the Bugaba bureaucracy on truck papers, a Chinese fire drill would have made more sense.

About four hours to get one piece of paper,  with maybe four trips down the street to a copy machine, sometimes for copies of the same page she just had to go get copies of etc.  But that’s the way it is here, things don’t have to make any sense, and sometimes you get knowledgeable people and good service and sometimes it’s a shoot them all and let God sort them out situation.

But we only supposedly have one more office to do to get the truck plates, so if true, seven office visits not counting the customs which was another four visits, to get the truck legal in country.

The good news is it gets easier; next year should be a cake walk. And the funny part is the RP government thinks scads of foreigners want to live here.  Usually 90% don’t make it more than a couple years.  After they go through the residency process, they are fed up with bullshit and go back to the US. Tired of having their economic udders squeezed flat. 

The problem is the limits of Latin imaginations; they can only think Americans have a wallet with a printing press inside. So they pile on bureaucratic “necessities” until they break the camel’s bank.

Most Americans come here thinking to retire in a more affordable place to live.  They are herded through a gauntlet of bureaucratic ‘Paja” with all kinds of absurd requirements, all designed to create jobs for worse than worthless bureaucrats and office workers, and every document requires certification, stamps, signatures, copies, and trips to banks to pay fees.  Documents from the US government have to be recertified by the US government and the Banana republic consulate in the US, who don’t like to answer emails or phones, and the fees can often be several hundred dollars for a fancy seal and a signature just to certify a US document.  Basically its Alice in Wonderland level absurdity.  And all this so you can go buy an overpriced house in a gated community, or in an area with a high density of foreigners, while your rights and security issues are at best a façade in front of a wink-wink, nod-nod corrupt reality.  Mostly what Latin governments are best at is shooting themselves in the foot; all of these requirements limit the number of retirees who live here. And in the interim they are constantly hassling those who try to live here without jumping though all their corrupt hoops, or who don’t qualify. (These people invariably bring money into the country, but are undocumented, i.e. have not played the paper-chase, and pay absurd fees. And probably add up to a fair section of the overall expat community.)  and for instance: I have a Costa Rican daughter-in-law, who is planning on making me a grand father soon,  but because she wants to use their medical insurance in the US, the kid will not be born in CR, and so I can’t qualify for residency…   Same genetic mix, but sorry, has to be born here etc.

All the other residency status qualifications are about as absurd, hundreds of thousands of dollars of investment required, to live in a country where most are poor unless working for the government, or otherwise preying on the poor, It is basically “ECONOMIC DISCRIMINATION”, (and the US government does the exact same things),  and here,  where you can have your house broken into, or be robbed on the street, and nothing will ever be done about it, except a form filed.

So basically the game is; beating the game, and trying to live here cheap while they try to milk you to the last man, and to your last cent.

Really you have to be crazy to live in Central America. They should pay us to live here. We long term expats may be a bit strange, but we probably better the local honesty and sanity stats. Personally I expect the mega crash to happen eventually, and pretty much all government to slide into the black hole it deserves. What a bunch of bull. We probably don’t need ANY government to get by.  And instead we have tiers of government everywhere all over the planet.  In the highest Himalayas there are government offices, in the farthest deserts, and the most back-water ports.  There to hold you up for hours, and make it seem like a favor to charge you fees, for a rough grade of toilet paper, with their rubber stamps and signature flourishes.  People you hope you never have to look at again. The world would be better off if we just paid them to stay home. 

Governments used to be a “necessary evil” in the American revolutionary period. This was before internet, and its person to person internationalism, or its “Big Brother” Police state tech,  it was before semi-automatic arms for home and village defense, and it was before nukes..  which all adds up to big governments now being more of a dire threat to common man,  than a benefit.

And the thing to remember, is these hassles with the government are universal, Tami stood in line for hours with truck drivers etc. wasting their lives so the government could hold them up for money.  This stuff holds back the economy.  And it’s the same all over Latin America.  They literally can’t be involved in online business because of government hold ups.  This means they will fall farther and farther behind.  

“Poverty is caused by the functionaries eating up all the money in taxes.” (Tao)

 

 

G

Tami’s Blog: Visiting Boquete for the first time

Tami in Town Center in Boquete

Tami in Town Center in Boquete

Jen and Don Tito at Milagrosa coffee farm

Jen and Don Tito at Milagrosa coffee farm in front of some of his coffee plants.

Tami in Boquete countryside

Tami in Boquete countryside

March 28, 2015

From: Tami

It was fun visiting Boquete for the first time.  It is a pretty town (about 40 minutes north of David) with many gringos.  Unfortunately gringo prices follow gringos.  But Jen and I stayed at Mamallena Hostel right in town and it was very clean, cheap and a great place to meet other travelers.  Hostels aren’t just for youths anymore and since they usually provide a community kitchen and dining area, you end up meeting many folks from all over the world.  

I made some contacts there at the local Farmer’s Market.  One of them is a local expert on trees in the area.  I haven’t met him yet but his American wife was working their booth at the market and she told me that she would share cuttings from their trees if we had some rooting powder.  Of course we would share any unusual trees that we find with the too. I would like to find a tree whose leaves produces a lovely smelling soap.  Jen tried some of these leaves in Equador and said it made her hair feel and smell great.  I did pick up quite a few herbs and a lemon, eucalyptus and avocado tree that I carried home on the bus in a cardboard box.

The countryside around Boquete is very hilly and green. I couldn’t believe the cost of real estate here compared to where I bought land. Granted, my location is more isolated and has few gringos, but the soil and weather and scenery are just as lush….if not better.

Instead of going on a coffee plantation tour for a chunk of money, Jen and I just jumped on a local bus for $2.50. The bus dropped us off at the Milagrosa coffee farm.  The tasting room must have been closed since we weren’t on a scheduled tour. We walked up the path to the workshop to find a humble guy sitting in a chair sorting through a tray of coffee beans by hand.  Come to find out, Tito, who they call Don Tito (a sign of respect), is a kind of local success story.  He served us a small taster cup of his well-known coffee and we tried to communicate in spite of our language barrier.  He brought out a magazine article written in English and it contained a big glossy picture of himself and also pics of his farm.  http://www.hablayapanama.com/blog/2014/07/interview-with-don-tito-from-la-milagrosa-coffee-farm-in-boquete/.  His story illustrates the difficulties the small coffee grower often faces here in Central America.

Our local internet provider in Rio Sereno sent me to David (which is on the way to Boquete) to get a faster package. After having difficulty understanding what the gal at the Mas Movil office was trying to tell me, she called her brother on her cell phone. He spoke some Spanish and helped me understand what she was trying to explain. I was disappointed to find that there is not a better internet package for the area of Ville Santa Nela where I live.   I have a 2 gig chip for my modem and I can’t usually open youtube without constant pauses. Just trying to connect to email and update my website can take hours. Apparently, that is as good as the service gets in my area for now.  So if I want to Skype or watch Youtubes I would have to use the internet cafe in Rio Sereno.  :-(.

I did find a PO Box address using Mailboxes etc.  They give you a Miami address and the mail is forwarded to the Mailboxes Etc. in David.  They will email me when I get mail and I have to pay $3.00 per letter.  Bundle smaller letters into a bigger envelope if you send more than one envelope.  Packages will get mailed to the street address of Mailboxes, etc. and I pay $15 per kilo.  Don’t send junk please.  I don’t expect to get much mail and that is why I chose this plan.  Let me know if you need the address…..

Jen and I said “bye for now” at the bus terminal in David.  I was on my way back home to the farm and she was continuing her travels on to Bocas Del Toras….I had a great time seeing Jen again.  I hope she comes back soon.

That’s all for now…

Tami

Gary’s Blog: Encounter with a snake and small sermon etc….

 

Gary terracing

Gary terracing

The dogs love being with us in the shed.

The dogs love being with us in the shed.

March 28, 2015

From: Gary

Morning,

This morning we finished carving the last garden terrace, in the lower downhill section along the creek. Yovany the neighbor kid showed up and was helping, chattering happily with Tami, as they dug with hoes. I was around the corner digging a through trail in a small landslide area, out of sight. Suddenly I hear them getting excited, Yovany had dug up a snake in a leaf-cutter ant hole. He told Tami to get back, and she saw that he was afraid himself as he shu-ed her away. They called me, and I got my machete, asked Yovany where it was and what color it was etc. he told me it was a toxic snake.

I finally spotted it in a hole in the carved bank and levered it out with the machete and hacked its head off. Tossed the body and buried the head etc. It was a “Vivera” (local name) and was orange-ish red in color with a brown-ish pattern, the head was small like a coral snake, but the body was a little fat, which is often common on toxic snakes. Then I had to yell at Tami to get away from where I buried the head in the loose dirt from digging, she didn’t realize that just the head could bite you. This particular type of snake is the most feared in this area. Our neighbor Daisy’s father, who homesteaded this whole valley, was killed when his foot went into a hole and one of this type bit him.

We looked in Tami’s tropical animals book, and it is not listed. Which isn’t uncommon. We often see things not in the books here.

So this was a fun way to finish off the garden terracing, making it a more memorable morning. And Tami was very appreciative of Yovany, who is her little buddy most of the time, and this morning may have saved her life.

She is learning more Spanish from Yovany than from anyone. He comes over most mornings when not in school, and they chatter away together, learning each other’s words..

Yovany also asked me if I gave his cousin Monica a homework assignment. It took me a minute to remember, and yes, I had written “Volunteers in technical assistance” (VITA) on a slip of paper and asked Beto to get it looked up, as a turn-on to their web site, so they would be able to see how low tech devices could be built for small agricultural projects like they want to do in their local co-op group.

If we can build the hydro powered vacuum food dryers, I would like to do a write-up for VITA, as it would be an appropriate technology in many places on the planet, and could be used to help alleviate some of the affects of the food crisis planet wide..

I have been thinking about the design, and have come up with several concept improvements in my head. Which is something I am addicted to; thinking on designs long term, until I get to what I call an “Absolute Design” where I can no longer think of any way to improve it. Usually after several epiphany steps.
I am also thinking on ways to get numbers on my experimental models, in a place where finding a vacuum gauge might be difficult to come across.

I have been a physics student since before I could read. I used to look at the drawings and pictures in physics books and figure things out.

Anyway, I am hoping the local co-op folks check out VITA, as it’s an amazing group and site. They have done much to empower people living in rural situations that are often ignored by their own governments. To me it is amazing that people can forget who grows the food, or let them live in poverty, whilst those who eat their produce live fat and with all the amenities.

“Tis the “human condition” usually caused by egocentric thinking or ignorance of the on- the-ground reality. I find it surprising that so many can be caught up in vanity and materialism, when life is so very short. What kind of legacy does self centeredness leave?
A house several times bigger than you actually needed? That you glorified in eating delicacies while children went hungry, that things passed though your hands from slave labor factories on the way to land fills, And that you drove around squandering fossil fuels and destroying the environment for the vanities of normalcy etc. Yeah-yeah, I know, nobody wants to hear it. And I am a rude jerk for even mentioning these things.

But if we do not look at ourselves, we are collectively blind.

Anyway, I am happy the terraces are done. Tomorrow we will start hoeing the slopes and planting corn etc. It’s another hard enough job, working on the slopes removing brush clump roots, and hoeing under the lighter stuff and under the chopped brush, but it will go faster, and soon the garden will begin to shape up into something very pretty. Tami has started planting manicillo, and has been keeping her herb plants watered. And soon we will be able to start propagating them. After planting, we will be working on the dog fence and getting the drive way rebuilt and rocked. And somewhere in all that, I need to get the tarps up for shop expansion of the shed, and eventually get tarp shelters up in the valley bottom and start working over that area into the permanent living area, so we can turn the shed into the cottage industry shop.

This piece of land could easily support a dozen humans at a subsistence level, and do so at a surprising standard of eating, due to climate and soil. But I think it is also wise, to be able to create things, or manufacture for sale etc., to be able to go beyond subsistence.

Plus there is so much unused potential here and over-looked logic, as in most of the developing countries, They go for things in an out of order priority because they see what they don’t have on the TV etc. and don’t realize that Americans didn’t get rich playing service industries, that there was a period of industrialization based on an agricultural foundation, and people who made things rather than bought them. So development tends to be patchy, and disjointed, and not an evolutionary process. They try to buy rather than make, accept rather than think for themselves, And they are often unaware of the current problems in the first world, caused by a society that has gone beyond practical into obvious decadency. They want what we have without realizing that we have made many very grave mistakes. And they don’t often realize, that they even have an opportunity to do something better.

Industrialization is not Nirvana. Credit is not wealth, and if you don’t build from the bottom up, structures tend to not hang in the sky.

We in the first world have some backing up to do. We are lost in the maze of our own lesser motivations. It would be good if we could do so very quickly, so that others would realize in time. With power comes responsibility. And we have been anything except responsible. Oh! Well! Huh? Certainly a cause and effect universe wouldn’t really do anything unpleasant to us? We are so special and wonderful! And so what if there are so many less fortunate. They must have made bad decisions, right? It couldn’t be that we were too piggy!

Anyway, that’s the news from the trenches here, along with the usual sermon. Hopefully by now people who don’t like what I write, have quit opening it. I don’t consider myself in a popularity contest, and mostly I write as a form of self expression, just as I wrote a journal for many years. Some of those notebooks are being digitalized by my son. Thoughts, drawings of inventions, something fun for the grandkids to dig through. I think maybe 40 notebooks…

G

Gary’s Blog: The planting season is starting

 

Gary and bananas (800x533)

Gary and a small sample of our ripening bananas

The countryside from Whistler

The countryside from Whistler

March 26, 2015

From: Gary

Morning,

Tami arrived home from Boquete yesterday, I waited for her with Whistler at the little San Antonio/Santa Clara bus stop, about 100 meters this side of Santa Clara gas station and super market, where our road starts to Valle Santa Nela.  I got there an hour plus too early due to a miscommunication, as it went through a Spanish only speaker, from a couple of women who are lucky if they are asking for what they think they are….While I was waiting I discovered that the neighbors had been tossing old rotted-off fence posts into the ditch. They were Locust, in the Acacia family, and everything above the ground level was still rock solid under the surface. I got half a dozen, and will keep my eyes open for more, as they are really a great resource for making tool handles etc.

While I was waiting I discovered that the neighbors had been tossing old rotted-off fence posts into the ditch. They were Locust, in the Acacia family, and everything above the ground level was still rock solid under the surface. I got half a dozen, and will keep my eyes open for more, as they are really a great resource for making tool handles etc.

We are talking about wood that makes Hickory look like a joke, on all levels.

Anyway, I finally saw Tami’s feet under a micro bus that pulled up to the stop, and when it left, there she was, with a box of plants.  Mostly herbs that she had had with her for days in a hostel room.  

She had traveled around with her good friend Jen, and made some interesting connections into the gringo community in Boquete, which I will let her tell you guys all about.  But most interesting was she asked local real estate prices, and was quoted $20 to $50 per square meter for empty land by the hectare. That works out to be $200,000 to half a million dollars, for what she got for $7,000 total, and probably with better soil and water, and the same climate.

Boquete is maybe 50 miles as the Toucan flies…

And probably a day of travel to the border. Where we can be there in an hour or so.

This morning, we were able to start planting things, after at least three different nursery stops.  And she got a couple things our neighbor Beto had never seen before.

So Tami is well started now towards her dream of growing an herb garden. We will baby everything, see what makes it, and propagate into large numbers from there.

She now has several types of mints, oregano, two types of sage, and maybe two types of Tarragon, Mexican and French,  and sundry other plants, including more Avocados, and also she found some Amaranth seed that we will test and see if it grows, as it would make excellent chicken feed and a high protein additive to breads etc.

One very minor success we have already gotten, is I found a few noodle wheat seeds in locally boughten lentils and peas, I have been told it will grow at our altitude, and we did get a head of seeds grown by us, and today I replanted a few and Tami covered the rest with a nylon stocking as the birds were getting them.  So hopefully we can multiply and get a patch of soft white wheat going to use in her pasta maker etc.

She also planted her first pineapples this morning.

And she is currently going crazy trying to keep up with all the ripe bananas. The dogs are being chastised if they don’t eat enough, and her blender is working over time, making banana smoothies…

Just something to do while not worrying about the heating bill, or frozen pipes…..

And by the way, found out that propane for cooking is about $5 for a cylinder here.

So when we get our water system in, we will hook up the propane hot water heater that my buddy had us buy.  A warm shower sure would be nice when it’s cooler out.

While Tami was gone, I finished the steel rod electric fence posts project. I made 92 posts, all 5 feet long, and painted the tops two tone pink.  So after the last terrace and a month of planting, I will finally be able to fence half the place for the dogs, who can then keep the Pizotes out of the corn etc.

It has been raining in the afternoon or at night for the last week, temperatures are cooler, and more clouds, but still very nice, and the soil is moist and warm, and time to start planting like crazy. 

And we have a huge garden now, about six to seven terrace deep and 50 plus yards wide.  It’s a bit over-kill, but in this climate, and all year growing, you can plant a lot of area in permanent food producing plants. And we have several times more land for fruit and nut trees etc. on the other side of our little valley.

Tami is getting quite adept with her pick hoe, attacking brush root clumps like they were G men from IRS….  The killing snakes analogy comes to mind.

I also learned from the neighbors that they had the local government representative out to look at the road, so if that gets fixed, land prices will rise.

One of the mistakes I have seen people make repeatedly here is assuming things will stay about the same forever. NOT TRUE!  I have seen real estate prices increase in Central America, doubling every two years until the ’08 crash, and now they will be coming back as people in the northern continents are just starting to figure out that climate change means a dusty pocket book.   They are just starting to hear about the drought in California, and still do not understand that it will be entire continents in their life times, and that what they think is a fat retirement will be a not funny joke ten or 15 years hence.

It’s all going to come down to food and water, and if you think a plastic card is a garden or a spring,  you are most likely in for many tears, on your way out to your personal nirvana after retirement.

In the future there will be two classes of people;

 Those who have food growing land with water.

  1. Those who have food growing land with water.
  2. Those who work for them, so they can eat.

I think I can hear the canned laughter in the audience. He who laughs last…..

Is probably a survivor.

One funny example is, even here in Panama in the low lands, they have desertification happening. They cut all the trees to make cattle ranches…   They now have a problem due to water shortages, and have yet to realize that it’s going to be a major crisis, and that they had better become tree huggers real quick, and lay off the cowboy swagger, unless they like drinking sand. 

The five C’s of environmental destruction: 

  1. Cars
  2. Chainsaws
  3. Cattle
  4. Chemicals
  5. Cities

 Suicide, spelled with a C.

And yes, this means you. Change now or maybe watch your children or grandchildren die.

It’s not going to continue how you want it to just because that’s what you want to believe. Reality is no respecter of persons.

Anyway, on a lighter note, Tami did her border cross with out undue hassles, and she managed a several day outing meeting up with Jen etc., and getting along on beginners’ Spanish.  They rode the local micro bus system, which is the very best mass transit system I have ever seen in my life, and I have been to over 25 countries now.

Basically you can retire here and not need electricity, a car, or buy much food.  Or you can watch it all go down the drain faster than you can use it, thanks to increasing taxation, inflation, and soon currency restrictions.  I have always been a student of the Great Depression, World War II rationing, and Subsistence and Survival skills. I hope you were paying attention to your grand parents when they told stories too.

 

 G

Gary’s Blog: Some factoids and thoughts

Terracing almost complete

Terrace detail

Gary driving the deuce

March 18, 2015

From: Gary

Afternoon,

Another pretty day, temperature about 80 F, bright and sunny with the occasional clouds drifting by.

We worked in the garden this morning, on the last full length terrace, and will finish it up in the morning. After that I see about two and a half mornings to finish the last stub terrace, and then maybe a week working the slopes…  So basically we are a couple weeks work from having the garden ready for planting, with the planting season starting in April.

Yesterday we went to town, and did some minor shopping. We got lucky and ran into another down-sized pick hoe, Truper, a Mexican brand, and bought it for $16. In the same store got a Miracle Fruit plant for $30, that looks about 5 years old.  Miracle Fruit is rather amazing stuff, the fruits are small and red when ripe, and a rather large seed inside, so there is this thin layer of fruit under the skin.  If you eat one, for about 15 minutes after that, you can eat anything tart and it tastes amazingly sweet. I have literally drunk glasses of pure lemon juice with miracle fruit, and it tastes like Anita Bryant’s finest orange juice, with several times the vitamin C.  The lemons here are NOT like the ones in the US. They look like oranges, and are called Limon Acido, and are several times stronger than commercial lemons you are familiar with…

Anyway, Tami is waiting until the rains of Primavera to plant the tree of Miracle Fruit. She also bought a couple pineapples, and so will be planting the tops, which will take about 2 years to start producing pineapples, so she will be buying more fresh pineapples in the interim,  and by the time the first arrive from her plantings, she will have a herd of them coming behind.

This morning we cut another stalk of Bananas, she has bananas setting everywhere..  quite the sale on them. Probably 75 lbs in the last week for absolutely free…

We may be poorer than living in the US, but we can have some cereal on our bananas instead of vice versa.

This morning on terracing, Tami got into a rocky spot, and when I looked over, she had a big pile, She is getting pretty good at worrying out rocks and brush stumps. I think she has come to realize what an effect doing dirt work can have,  that it changes everything.

I’m looking  forward to finishing up the garden slopes etc, it will look nice then.  And we can start planting soon.  It’s a huge area, and what we don’t have seeds for we will plant in corn.  Which will give us pretty good food security for ourselves, dogs, and coming chickens. 

Corn is an interesting study from the subsistence and survival perspective.  I have long said that if I had to go to another planet, and could only take one seed, it would be corn.

It’s a plant that seems designed for processing manually. And it is a heavy producer with also a very large ratio of grains from just one seed. Generally hundreds of times what you plant..  The stalks are good animal fodder and can be pressed like sugar cane, and the shucks and leaves have been used for everything from bedding to making dolls for little girls. One can search images for corn husk dolls and be enchanted by the creativity of something that started out as a Native American tradition, and is probably more mentally healthy than plastic Barbie dolls for young girl’s minds.  Kids who play with plastic toys grow up to become plastic people.

I’d be interested in trying to do a traditional Christmas, that contained no plastic..

When I was a kid, we got a lot of home made gifts, My mother sewed a lot, and my aunt liked to sew and also make other things for gifts. She would make Christmas gifts like wooden tool boxes, and wooden gun racks, or boards for spools of threads and sewing notions etc.  These things and the home made clothing were always more of a delight than boughten stuff.  My family made and built things for themselves like it was the normal thing to do.  I used to see other kids just get plastic garbage.  It seemed they were creatively impoverished to me.

People used to make the things they needed, now they just have time for working wage slave jobs, and buy everything already made.  It is a slow form of cultural suicide. And every generation sees its children more molded into the roles of stealth slavery. The American founding fathers had it right, without freedom, you really have nothing. And the average American is now buying his way into a steel collar, when they could be working their way free instead. Before it’s over, they will squeal like pigs.

If you don’t make things for yourself, You can’t have anything better than what ever some capitalist thinks you will be stupid enough to buy for the most money and least actual value possible. It also has created a society of people who buy their mates with economic strata levels, and get exactly as they deserve; shallow and vain mates, to produce dumbed down children, who think life is all about money.  It’s a down hill trip, but won’t go on much longer, because as Arthur C. Clark pointed out; “We will never run out of matter or energy to manipulate, we will run out of brains.”

What you don’t use, you lose..  be it freedoms, skills, or brains.

Anyway, after digging, I sharpened a small pick hoe, and also epoxy bedded a small forged garden hoe head onto a home made Cortesa handle. It should last a couple of life times now.  The pick hoe was one of the down sized units, a copy of the old military one hand pick hoe head, but with a long handle.  They are available now in hardware stores in the US, and would be my recommendation for what to buy for a survival hoe. Light enough to pack, and heavy duty enough to build a garden from scratch just about anywhere.  Funny how I never see any survivalists on you tube talking about such hoes. You would think they were going to make gardens with Semi-auto rifles.

I think most of them are more security insecure, than subsistence wise…

Anyway, teaching subsistence skills is no popularity contest.  It’s not romantic, it’s not a kiss your aft end educational course.  It’s just learning how to work smart, the antithesis of city people trying to be smart and not work.

But I never have to wait until 5:00 to go home. My life is my own to order. And I would rather work for myself than have to pretend to be working.

We also found a nice larger forged hoe for Tami a couple of weeks back, an Imacasa, made in El Salvador, with a long 9 inch by 7 inch wide blade. The perfect hoe for digging in raised beds, a tillage hoe. Suggest any gardeners check out imacasa.com, a  good company, they make the best machetes and Rulas in the world, and their other tools are good quality, but a bit less finished than American tools. Their axes are very good and use slip handles like a tomahawk. Which is a good idea for a post crash tool. It facilitates making and installing handles. And this in a full sized axe.

Such tools, axes and forged hoes, run $10-$15 here for the heads. A very wise investment in steel. With way more post collapse value than gold.

And the Imacasa 28 inch Rula is probably the best edged weapon ever made for fighting unarmored foes….

I sent several as gifts to the martial arts instructors teaching my kids.

It was nice having Jen here, she and Tami seemed to have a good time together, and I got to listen to all kinds of Traverse City talk.  And I had fun teasing them about their flat-lander Michigander accents. Jen is doing a lot of traveling around Mexico, Central, and South America, and she seemed to like it here, and why not? Perfect climate, great soil and water, good neighbors, and affordable real estate for retirement or escape and evade survivalism or homey subsistence, and a good area for business start ups and small investments.  She liked one of the neighboring properties a lot, and had me ask about it. It is not for sale at the moment because of paper work issues but the owner said they wanted to sell it after the problem got cleaned up.

It is a very pretty place, with a house on a small ridge between two creek valleys, beautiful view, and gravity water. It was 4 or 5 hectares, so maybe ten to fifteen acres, with some forest, nice pastures for horses etc. and garden areas etc.   We also heard of several other properties in the area that are for sale. But I suspect that most will wait until the food crisis really hits before they begin to think, and by then places such as this will be out of reach for all except the very rich. And everyone else can stand in line to buy water or some shriveled vegetables.  There is a saying; that as goes its agriculture, goes a country.  And the US has two remaining major exports; food and weapons….

And the food is going away. 

So prediction is fairly easy;

Live by the sword….  Die by the sword.

Those who stay, will have interesting times, and rather exciting endings. But probably not too happy on the endings part….

It’s all simple cause and effect working through personal choices.  Bad decisions make for bad stories….

 

G