Rancho Mastatal is a sustainable education center. Rancho Mastatal encompasses so many different aspects of living sustainably. It seems to have found ways that work and not just in an educational setting. The people here live what they teach.
We only stayed for two days and one night, but we tried to absorb as much that we could of the Rancho lifestyle during our stay. We arrived an hour before lunch was served. They welcomed us in and let us know about a short hike to a waterfall. We were off, ready to stretch our legs after being in a car for an hour and a half. A pathway quickly led into the jungle with it’s LOUD bug and bird noises and its most welcomed shade. We hiked for about 15 minutes and found ourselves at a beautiful waterfall coming down through a canyon with a very deep, clear, and refreshing pool at the bottom. Eloise didn’t waste time. She was in the water and swimming around like a little jungle fish in no time. On our way back up the jungle path we saw some sort of bird. I didn’t have my birding book on me but I think it was some sort of trogon, with brilliant colors.
We heard the lunch call and shortly emerged from the jungle cover out into the scorching sunshine. Lunch was delicious and wholesome. My favorite dish was the green banana ceviche. Meals are self served buffet style and then enjoyed at a very long communal table. After lunch we attempted to get Eloise to nap, with no success. Too many unfamiliar noises, smells, and sights. We then gave ourselves a tour of the property. We walked through permaculture gardens, chicken yards, and past architectural gems of houses and outdoor bathrooms. A toucan decided to perch above the chicken coop and check us out like we were something to look at, not him. Dinner was another hearty meal straight from the gardens that we walked through earlier. Then off to bed.
Eloise slept like a rock, despite the fact that the dog kept growling and barking right outside of our room, and the local bar across the street sounded like it was the new years party in Times Square. Let’s just say that Randy and I did not sleep. We were staying in a room in the main house. The office, kitchen, library, our room, and general meeting spaces took up this space. If we return we will try to stay in another building. All the other buildings were in places away from the road and were like little architectural paradises in themselves.
The next morning before brunch we got an official tour of the land and buildings with one of the founders, Tim. I have an strong interest in biogas/biodigesters. They have two different biodigesters on the farm there. One is purely human waste and the other is majority cow manure. If you aren’t familiar with a biodigester, basically it takes waste and collects the methane output, that is harnesses and directed to a cook stove. You can then cook a meal with gas created by your own pee and poo. Fascinating right?! I first saw one of these in China and have been mesmerized by the idea ever since. I think I will have to do a separate post about these one day. The other type of toilets they used on the farm were composting toilets. After the poo and pee was composted they spread the compost around the fruit trees. Nothing goes to waste at Rancho Mastatal.
After our tour it was time for the final meal of our stay, brunch. Yum! My favorite part of this was the homemade Tapa Dulce in my coffee. They got cane juice from a local farmer (juiced by an oxen walking around in circles to run the press) then they cooked it down to a thick syrup. I usually don’t put a sweetener in my coffee, but I just couldn’t resist. Apart from being sweet, it’s quite nutritional. Or that’s what I keep telling myself.
We did another hike down to the waterfall and then packed up our gear and started the journey home. We took another way home and it ended up being about forty five minutes long, half the time of the other road. It felt so good to arrive back at the beach and jump out of the car and into the ocean.