A Travellerspoint blog

November 2009

Very Thank-FULL

Thanksgiving and other highlights from the week

sunny 21 °C

Hi! We've had another busy week on the farm, transplanting tomatoes, turning compost, creating plant supports, milking the goat, weeding, mulching, and of course, eating...
DSC_1979

DSC_1979

Temperature of Crystal's compost

Temperature of Crystal's compost

The poor, hungry interns...

The poor, hungry interns...

Thanksgiving meal

Thanksgiving meal

Quite the feast

Quite the feast

ECHO had Thursday and Friday off as holidays so all the staff and interns got together for a feast and games outside for Thanksgiving on Thursday. Everyone brought something for the meal, David made Roselle tea and lemonade which went down a treat. There was something really special about seeing much of the harvest fresh from the farm as part of the meal. Americans certainly know how to make a meal out of an event! We went to a park yesterday for the daughter of one of the interns, who was celebrating her fourth birthday. Another lovely event with games and food, there seems to be a strong sense of family here, and people have been so welcoming to us. Le Boule

Le Boule

Another highlight was the visit by our roaming Nomadic missionary friend, Graeme, a Tasmanian guy who divides his time between Papua New Guinea, Romania, and visiting Romanians around the world. It was a visit similar to an espresso, short and intense, lots of deeper issues discussed, and we picked his brains on various questions we had about next year. The roaming missionary, Graeme

The roaming missionary, Graeme

Graeme and David

Graeme and David

We enjoyed going to a bonfire at some people's home last night, they had 3 crazy fluffy dogs who could jump really high on their hind legs, and the daughter, Candy, dresses them up in dog t- shirts etc. We went to see Fantastic Mr Fox this week with some of the interns, which was entertaining and well worth seeing! David is currently at the library, making up for lost time and I need to continue with En Route studies... Au Revoir! PS... it seems fitting for a blog about Thanksgiving to verbalise how very thankful we are for the friends and family who have supported us in so many ways, and to our God, who gives all good things. :-) DSC_1971

DSC_1971

DSC_1961

DSC_1961

Posted by africraigs 07:28 Archived in USA Tagged food Comments (0)

To pee or not to pee?

(And other issues related to soil fertility)

sunny 28 °C

DSC_1915

DSC_1915

DSC_1903

DSC_1903


HI! I can't believe we've only been here a week. We've been really busy on the farm and feel settled here. We've got into a routine of shadowing the interns in their various 'zones' in the mornings and studying/ having seminars etc in the afternoons. One particularly interesting seminar this week was led by an intern, Andrew, discussing urine as a fertiliser for soil. (Apparently it is very effective as long as it is diluted.) He has been working with another intern on a trial, and had a big plastic bottle of urine on the desk throughout the seminar.
We have been involved in various tasks, including making an enormous compost heap with an intern in the 'mountain' area, going on a wild goose chase (well, ducks) in the 'rainforest', trying to coax the ducks into their new home in the pond, and plenty of weeding.

One intern, Sherril, the animal lover...

One intern, Sherril, the animal lover...


DSC_1855

DSC_1855

Weeding

Weeding

Spot the difference between the hair and hay stack (clue... there is no difference)

Spot the difference between the hair and hay stack (clue... there is no difference)

Crystal's mammoth compost heap

Crystal's mammoth compost heap

The ducks' house needed to be moved near the pond, which was a team effort, and involved plenty of 'good job's' being said. We've noticed how readily the American give praise and encouragement here, which has been amusing. Compliments such as 'hey, neat compost pile' and 'great job fertilising' fly around, creating a super positive work ethos!

Trying to figure out how to move the ducks' house

Trying to figure out how to move the ducks' house

Lifting the ducks' house

Lifting the ducks' house

David received an email from Roger (from REAP) with specific plants & techniques to study whilst he's here, which has helped him feel a bit more focused and a little less overwhelmed.
Once again, my En Route course has been relevant this week, all about Christian development work and poverty, which has tied in really well with the work that ECHO promotes.
David organised a trip tonight to see an ice hockey game between Florida Everblades and the Reading Royals (not my home team...) The Florida Everblades

The Florida Everblades

After the Ice Hockey match

After the Ice Hockey match

It was an interesting experience, although strange to see all the Everblades 'fans' traipse out 5 minutes before the end of the game as their team were losing. I guess the 'good job!' culture of support and encouragement isn't everywhere in the States....

Posted by africraigs 21:30 Archived in USA Tagged ecotourism Comments (0)

Getting my goat

sunny 26 °C

Sunflower

Sunflower

Had a fairly relaxing weekend trying to find our feet here and get to know the interns and staff. We went to a nearby church yesterday and were very warmly welcomed, and were given the ultimate cheesy 'first timer gift' bag- with a rainbow and 'Smile, God loves you!' emblazed across. Again, though, we were incredibly blessed and encouraged by the warmth and generosity in the States as an older couple took us out for dinner at "Sweet Tomatoes" and then showed us Fort Myers in their car. Their son, we heard, is an alligator trapper! I can't believe how measly the pay is for such a dangerous job (about $25 per alligator). We are both perpetually afraid of being attacked from any bushes by a wild and hungry alligator...
Planting agussi melon

Planting agussi melon


We had a strange start to the day on Monday, being once again slightly baffled by American culture, the devotions meeting turned into a very open meeting where live issues were raised and openly discussed, with tears and emotions running high. We felt quite awkward. We worked with a lovely intern, Joy, in her 'patch' on the farm. She gave a great overview of her garden, and even I could follow... or should I say fallow. DSC_1828.jpg'Semi- Arid' zone that we worked in today

'Semi- Arid' zone that we worked in today


We were shown around the library, by the very organised & well- read librarian, who tries to encourage/ bribe students to the library with candy on her desk... (even more reason for David to work in there).

A feeble attempt to milk a goat

A feeble attempt to milk a goat

I tried to help milk a goat this afternoon- an interesting and tricky job, especially as Freckles the goat kept trying to sit down. David had to hold up her bottom whilst I tried to squeeze out some milk. I think I was more of a hindrance than a help, but it was a good experience.
David wishes he was here for the full year, like the interns, and is excited to be learning by doing and having a 'hands on' experience... even hands on a goats bottom.
Makes a good brew...roselle tea

Makes a good brew...roselle tea

Posted by africraigs 18:20 Archived in USA Tagged food Comments (0)

On the Funny Farm

sunny 24 °C

We've arrived at ECHO (Educational Concern for Hunger Overseas) demonstration farm in the sunshine state of Florida. We were surprised and delighted with our home, named and themed 'West Africa' with lovely colours and prints throughout the house, and a slightly disconcerting large zebra skin in the entrance, and a deer head watching us from the kitchen wall. It's lovely to have our own space and a place to unpack our suitcases and hopefully get into a routine for the next few weeks. The farm runs tours for the public 4 days a week so we caught a tour on Friday morning with a funny little lady who rode in front in a golf buggy and was super enthusiastic about the moringa plant. We met a nice couple who were visiting the farm with the girl's 90 year old gran (also in the golf buggy), they both work in different departments for Starbucks, so were probably very interested in the coffee beans...
Zebra Skin

Zebra Skin

Kiss me dear

Kiss me dear


The farm is amazing, over the last 15 years they have created different environments and climates, and have different types of housing and land which would be common in developing countries, so there is a ramshackle shed made of iron, wood etc, like homes in slum areas, and an area for people who live in built up concrete areas without much space to grow. The students and interns learn how to utilize these situations and see the potential for growing plants for food, shelter, nutrients and natural medicine.

We met the director of ECHO and spoke about the opportunities for hands on experience and learning over the next few weeks. David is keen to get stuck in and spent the rest of Friday in the library reading a book called 'two ears of corn' and making copious notes. I had to drag him out before they locked up. I hope this enthusiasm lasts... There are 9 interns who stay at ECHO for a year and work on the farm and study and picks the brains of the experts and then go overseas to put some of their knowledge into practice. The interns all seem lovely, down- to -earth and warm and friendly. We have been lent a car within a day of knowing one of the girls. We made a pathetic attempt of cookies (aka 'friendship bribes') last night and watched the interns make their own ice-cream by cranking a handle for half an hour... well worth the wait.
ECHO

ECHO


We made the most of our hired car by going to a beach and exploring a bit today. (only after swimming in the sea and wondering why no one else was in the water did we see the sign saying there had been shark sightings recently...) We went to a supermarket to do our grocery shopping for the next 3 weeks before giving the car back tomorrow. Being in another culture makes us appreciate how tiring the most simple task can turn into, like fueling up the car (you have to prepay for your fuel - how weird...!), or choosing a salad dressing when there is a whole aisle dedicated to salad dressings. I hadn't really anticipated this time in the USA being such good preparation for Africa next year, but it has got us thinking much more practically about how to set up home and live when we're away from the life and culture we're used to.

The farm is typically American in that it is only accessible by car, and miles and miles from anywhere, so we are not looking forward to giving the car back to the rental company tomorrow and being stranded here. But the interns have been generous with offering their cars so hopefully I will be able to get David out of the library sometimes...

If any of you are interested, here is a BBC report on the work of ECHO and its attempt to deal with the problem of hunger in the world:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MXJJmr2HHg

Posted by africraigs 20:30 Archived in USA Tagged educational Comments (0)

Living like Kings in Kingston

actually, Ocho Rios

semi-overcast 32 °C

I came to Jamaica to visit me roots. It was great to meet family while I was there. It was very confusing to figure out how we were related, I was wanting to draw a family tree and maybe I will still do that. We stayed with Hugh and Elaine Vaughan who is my grandpa's nephew and wife. They are the most hard-working people I have ever met - they got up at 3am 3x a week to go jogging 10km(even though they are over 60!). Hugh is an opthamologist -one of the top eye doctors in Jamaica and his wife works with him. Their son Bobby is an optician which complements his dad's work. The photo shows the family. I guess those early morning genes didn't get passed on to me.
Hugh Vaughan and family

Hugh Vaughan and family


One of the other family members - Ilsa (who is a 2nd cousin once removed or something weird like that) popped in to visit on the day we were leaving. She also brought her son and his wife and child. Ilsa has her own business and also seems very on the ball. Ilsa was very kind and was keen on showing us Kingston as we hadn't seen much (having been robbed at knife point on our last outing...). It was great to see a little of the town and get to go shopping, although it was slightly stressful watching the time tick away with our plane to catch. She told us a little about my grandpa's dad who was a part Indian and who loved gardening and was passionate about the environment. It was funny hearing that because grandpa loves the garden and plants and that is how I got into agriculture and the environment.
Aunt Ilsa duVerney and family

Aunt Ilsa duVerney and family


While we were at Hugh and Elaines, they very generously put us up a night in a hotel in Ocho Rios on the north coast of Jamaica where all the beautiful beaches are. All the food and drinks were included which is an amazing way to live I can tell you....! It was an idyllic place with the warm turquoise sea, white sandy beaches and sun. I guess a little bit like Portobello in the height of summer...? Emma was in her element bathing in the sun and swimming.
Swimming Pool Fun, Ocho Rio

Swimming Pool Fun, Ocho Rio


Hotel Riu

Hotel Riu


Sandy Beach, Ocho Rios

Sandy Beach, Ocho Rios

Posted by africraigs 19:32 Archived in Jamaica Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 5 of 8) Page [1] 2 » Next