One of the few fixed plans of our trip would be visiting Costa Rica, more specifically Fincita Organica. This is the farm of Bram and Maarten, which has been their home for two years. In 2013, Sieger traveled together with them for almost 9 months. With a camper they crossed almost 10 countries and over 15.000 km! “The three musketeers” became brothers long before that though! Together they spent a lot of time living in Ghent, talking and dreaming of living sustainable with nature.
In contrast to Sieger, who went to work in Belgium, Bram and Maarten never got back home after leaving in 2013. From Europe and the Canary Islands, they continued towards Asia, Hawaii and the Americas. Eventually in Costa Rica they found a place where their hearts could flourish. Their dream of creating a permaculture farm became reality. From the moment they arrived, ‘La Fincita Organica’ was born. Building everything themselves, they learned to live as individual as possible and completely connected with nature. This has only been possible because of Juan, the owner of the land, a lovely man who is extremely friendly and allows them to do anything they want on his property. Every time again he is helping them accomplish projects and in return they help him with whatever he needs. Together they are like family, a relation where everybody gives and receives without money being of any importance.
Our first week, the richness of Costa Rica left us speechless several times. Uvita was our first place to stay. We arrived to Bram and Maarten, Renée and Nico – two other Belgian friends – turning their strong group of four to six. They had the responsibility to watch over the house and a dog of an American couple. Our introduction into the jungle was high in the mountains where half of the mountain lives sustainable, using only solar energy. Within a few days we already witnessed the true jungle vibe. We saw crocodiles on our first day and then the second day during a hike we had monkeys swinging above us. Toucans fly from tree to tree and countless bird types sing the most beautiful songs. We even spotted two tiny poisonous dart frogs (the black-green and the blue jeans). Up at the jungle house of the American we saw blue morphos flying around numerous times and in the night we were often visited by a cuatro ventana (four window’s moth), sometimes even two at a time.
The energy of the jungle is a whole new frequency and our first week was one of welcoming. We went on hikes to rivers where almost no tourists ever go and had swimming holes entirely to ourselves. One day we hiked to the peak of the mountain of Cerro Tigre where we followed along an unknown path, almost completely untouched by man ending at a giant waterfall of 30m! We quickly learned that no matter where you go in Costa Rica, you eventually find a waterfall along the path.
The land where Bram and Maarten spent the last two years has flourished since their being there. In the beginning there was only a small house and a few trees – now, there are two ranchos, one small and one large, completely self made. The garden is filled with colors and goes into every crease and corner of the land, 80% of the plants are edible, from salads to pineapple and root plants such as yucca. Not only are majority of the plants edible but also they are medicinal and healing. We definitely had a lot to learn when we arrived but now we can recognize majority of the plants and know which are edible for making fresh salads! Between the mango tree, bananas, and manzana de agua (Malay rose apple) tree, we had fresh fruit to eat daily. Up from the land is Juan’s bar where he has an avocado tree which means we had more than 100 avocados for a week! Tuanis mae! (meaning: too nice dude!)
Green parrots swarm the land and live throughout the trees. These colorful beings are quite talkative. Mating for life you hear and see them flying as couples, how beautiful! Costa Rica is such a rich country. The nature is incredible, with over 23,000 different types of trees – and that’s only trees we are talking about – compared to North America or Europe, which only have 2-3 thousand different types of trees. This little fact can give some insight to how extreme the diversity is. One of the reasons for this is because the area of the equator was the only land that didn’t freeze during the ice age. Resulting in an environment with ancient species of plants.
This climate is perfect to grow whatever you want in your garden because practically anything will flourish. It’s as simple as breaking a branch off and sticking it in the ground, not even joking! We learned a lot about planting and also following the lunar calendar with gardening. We helped with various projects while staying on the farm, such as building a plant nursery and how to pair certain plant species with specific soil. On top of learning permaculture we spent time crafting and learning to make handmade pouches using recycled leather and cheap second hand fabrics! One day we went for a trip to Pancho’s – biologist, architect, artist, in short; visionary. His crazy looking house located right on the edge of La Amistad International Park, is open for artists to create things from everything he collects. Bones, seeds, plastic, tires, wood, trash, buoys and so on.
After one month at Fincita Organica we had a week long visit with Patricia’s parents. In Uvita on the border of the jungle we rented a house and throughout their trip we explored the land and showed them our pura vida lifestyle. We did relaxing hikes, walked the Whale Tail, went to the Dominical local markets, visited a wildlife sanctuary, checked out a waterfall and even went on a boat tour through the mangroves.
The wildlife sanctuary taught us that the animals from Costa Rica are vulnerable. Modern roads and power lines cut harshly through the jungle, making it harder for monkeys and sloths to move around. Sadly, the parrots are not the only animals which are being captured to be sold in a black market. The feathers of many birds are being cruelly plucked to be used as jewelry and handcraft decorations. Luckily there are sanctuaries in Costa Rica that work towards healing wounded animals and give them back their life in the jungle. Our mangrove tour was perfect for spotting tons of creatures living the jungle life.
During the boat tour, we relaxed and saw countless birds types and monkeys (and made photos with the help of binoculars). Another highlight of their stay was driving to the farm, showing them the beautiful atmosphere where we’ve spent our time. Together with Nico we taught and played our handmade board game, ‘Hexabob’! Throughout the week, many laughs were shared, tons of nice food eaten and hugs exchanged. The visit was very meaningful – it had been a year since Patricia saw her parents. And Costa Rica was a special place for Sieger to meet them for the very first time.
We’ve described only half of our stay in Costa Rica thus far but haven’t finished soaking in the beauty of this country just yet… More for later!
From our hearts to yours,