Today is our last day in Puerto Rico. I finally have substantial internet (it’s free in the Parque de Bombas) and I’m not really sure how to update! Michael’s slurping up some coco ice cream from our favorite ice cream shop, King’s Cream. We’ve eaten there once, sometimes twice, everyday we’ve been in Ponce. Icy flavors like guanabana, passion fruit, peanut, coconut, and tamarind have helped us beat the heat here. Absolutely wild that it only gets hotter here.
WWOOFing was once again an amazing experience. We have been working on an old coffee plantation in the mountains overlooking Ponce and the Caribbean. It was pretty basic but we were prepared with our tent and positive mental attitudes. When we arrived there had been minimal work done on the farm, mostly by the caretaker Angelo and some by previous WWOOFers. There are garden beds with blue corn, cucumbers, tomatoes, avocados, onions, belladonna, etc all in a 20×20 feet area. Not much space for the growth as many large plants were sharing a small bed! An old coffee sistern is utilized as the compost area, and WOW will it hold a lot of compost.
In our time at the farm, or Finca as it is known here, we helped build a compost latrine and five large terraced beds. We cleared a good bit of area, pulling weeds and using the pick axe to remove ceiba saplings. Hopefully Angelo can use the new beds to plant some herbs, pineapples, and pigeon peas. He promised to plant one of mine with tomatoes, if I send him seeds from a Jersey tomato plant. In just the two weeks we lived on the Finca, the tomato plants grew two feet and little baby tomatoes began to appear. The cucumber plants just blossomed and are now putting their energy into the little baby cucumber sprouts. Basil and mint are thriving in the herb garden and the banana trees that were replanted are growing with serious intent. It’s amazing how quickly things grow here with a little TLC – especially since this part of the island is so much drier than the north. So dry that we’ve spotted two brush fires just last week. But Angelo treats the plants like small children and will benefit from this in no time at all.
The amazing thing, is that even without all of the newly planted fruits and vegetables, there are tons of wild mango, guava, coffee, banana, orange, grapefruit, and coconut trees, not to mention the wild yams that can be found everywhere you look. Camping in the mountains was an interesting experience. We slept really hard every night and were awoken in the morning by roosters and parrots getting a head start to the day. Before putting our small tent in place, we piled up huge Ceiba leaves to make it more ‘fluffy’ which worked pretty well BUT we were under the Ceiba tree where the parrots like to sit and eat the seeds. SO LOUD!
I really enjoyed starting this project with Angelo and Mark and truly hope that it succeeds as it could feed so many people. We’ve met some great people and really loved the ‘welcomed with open arms’ feeling our neighbors in the mountains provided. In fact, we’re headed shortly to La Guancha boardwalk, five minutes from Ponce, to enjoy a day of salsa and music with some of our new friends. It’s Sunday tradition of course :).
I’ll put up a link of our pictures to my picasa site so everyone can see them. But for now, here are a few of the Finca: