29 July 2009

Brief Encounters

I know. I know. Doesn't it look so perfectly communal? Doesn't it look so perfectly hippie? Right down to the old green Volvo?

I wish to write something about these people so that I do not forget them.

Actually, this little group came together as an ad hoc family for a brief few days last week. An ad hoc committee, an ad hoc anything, is by definition formed for a particular purpose only and thereafter dissolves as this ad hoc “family” now has. What was its purpose? Quite apparently, my own amusement and great enjoyment. That is now accomplished, and I am back in town. The three young people are gone their separate ways.

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Again, the lady in front of me on the left is Terresa, who has lived in the San Miguel de Allende area for thirty years. In her younger days she owned and operated a restaurant here in town. She knows everybody worth knowing in these parts.

I must mention the following briefly because it is an integral part of why Terresa is who she is. She lost a son and a daughter in a mountain automobile collision in México some years ago. Surgeons had to put Terresa's brains back in her skull and cap it to save her. They did a wonderful job because while her synapses fire a little differently, she is extraordinarily kind and quite obviously brilliant.

Terresa has been working in the field of Permaculture in recent years. In addition to that obligatory Wikipedia article, the internet is loaded with resources concerning Permaculture, more than you would ever want to know. I provided you with some pictures of Terresa's homestead earlier.

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The Frenchman immediately to my left is Fabien (corrected spelling) to whom I also introduced you earlier. Fabien is funded by some damned organization to hump around the world studying different “primitive” but sustainable agricultural methods and report on them. He was staying at Terresa's home to do just that, and has moved on to the Mexican state of Chiapas down south. He will then go to Guatemala. His most interesting stories are about his time in Africa, which he tells with eyes the size of saucers. He is lucky to be alive.

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Then there is Chris, the Belgian backpacker, whom Terresa puts up periodically. Chris was the male master of ceremonies at her Temazcal Ceremony. He is now on his way further north going in the opposite direction from Fabien. He is a big personality who fills the room and is addicted to the road. He was working on one of his art projects here.

The face of the comet.

I acknowledge that I am given to hyperbole. But allow me to say that I have never in my life before met a man so out of joint with his time and place. Chris ought to be living in 1876 and riding a pony with circles painted around its eyes and black hand prints on its rump. He ought to be heading toward the Little Big Horn in Montana with an eagle feather in his hair for a showdown with the white man. Everything about his walk and his talk and general demeanor conveys that image to me. It is more than a bit eerie.

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And lastly, there is little Maria, a student originally from Columbia who was staying at the place to study the Permaculture. She worked her butt off there during her two-week stay. Here she was reading The Unbearable Lightness of Being while Terresa cooked utterly healthy, unadulterated something. A beautifully quiet time in the early evening after a quick hard rain. Maria is back in Mexico City now.

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Steve and Frank looking over the water collection system and solar panels on Terresa's roof.

What I did not appreciate earlier is that Terresa has succeeded in putting together a facility that ever so closely approximates the nirvana of Permaculture, the perfectly self-sufficient living space. She has come so close, as a matter of fact, that she has become somewhat of a celebrity in the world of Permaculture. That is why people come to study her operation.

Stuff happens there like the water being completely recycled through the garden, and all the while the sun generates electricity during the day. And stuff grows on the used water while cleaning it at the same time, and that stuff is food. It is a combination of square foot gardening, intense gardening, and something else. The water coming out of the faucets is potable, believe it or not. Going to the restroom is a bit of a complicated deal, but I will spare you those details. Taking a shower is an exercise in water conservation, so much so that the Frenchman simply dispensed with showers altogether much to the Belgian's very vocal chagrin.

I do not pretend to completely understand the systems yet. I call it a “terrarium.” Terresa prefers the phrase “life boat.”

In any event here is how I have this deal sized up after having hung around there for a few days. Do you remember Neil Young singing about “flying Mother Nature's silver seed to a new home in the Sun?” Well, one of those ships is going to take off from Terresa's place.

Chatsie and one of her damned bones.

These photos were taken for the most part on July 23.


Candy Minx said...

What a terrific group of folks you met. Wonderful. I have been interested in permaculture a long time and have several friends on the west coast off Tofino who have no electricity or running water and exist quite comfortably.I am a longtime advocate of vertical farming for urban and high density rural areas.

I think more important than anything is that you've met people who might have loosened up the thinking process. Half our battles our our own restrictions of being open-minded. Theres nothing so inspiring as meeting others who have a different way of thinking and living. You're very lucky Steve.

In relation to permaculture and verticla farming these are concepts very tricky for those who are thinking in the systems built by industrial agriculture. I mentioned vertical farming many times over at Constant Reader where I was scoffed..but now it is a story in the headlines!



Here is an author you might find interesting Senor Steve...



Stagg said...

Wow! You are so lucky to have met such a wild group of very cool people!