It was great to have 10 - 12 people lodging in the Posada Rustica, and often Finca Rio Perla staff and guests joining us for meals that were deliciously prepared by Lauren and Vivian, and our visitors ... especially Melanie. It was great to have return guests like Melanie and her kids Kai (14 yrs old) and Alani (18 yrs. old), who helped with the horses and acted as guides and cooks and food servers and dishwashers. They and other kids all helped in activities around the farm, including collecting and cleaning eggs, milking goats and cows, making cheese with gas from the bio-digestor and worm compost from the solid cow manure. We had 8 families visit at FRP in March, and some young couples. Everyone fit in well, and kids of all ages roamed around freely along with our amazing dogs, led by Pero Pero and Frankie and joined by Lucy, and the others. Of course, having 11-year old Hannah around always keeps things active with the kids and lively for the adults. We wish that hannah could be at Finca Rio Perla more and more and more.
We are mostly getting families with mothers. It is also a good vacation for the parents because the kids can go off safely and have fun in an open and free manner with other kids and adults.
It has been amazing to see how children act and react in an open and free environment. They act like they are open and free. Duh!!! You literally see - before your very own eyes- that the barriers and inhibitions and fears disipate as children step outside their comfort zones at Finca Rio Perla. To be witness to this unfolding of potential for children, and the possibility to facilitate a space/place for a child to feel open and free enought to identify and unleash their potential is really what we strive for at Finca Rio Perla.
Anyway, the point is that, in March, we at Finca Rio Perla felt more and more that it has a special niche to fill as a destination for a family agr-eco tourism experience. There are a lot of parents and young grandparents that grew up in the 60s, 70s, 80s that want their children and grandchildren to have an authentic hands-on experience with nature, to better appreciate the links between people and their food and nature in general. We at Finca Rio Perla are excited by the opportunity and challenge to be a destination for family agro-eco tourism experience in a community setting. The community setting, with local Costa Rican families demonstrates that this time of lifestyle is real and achievable and sustainable.
So, to change gears a bit and be more practical and less philosophic, what did we do in April to better prepare ourselves to be a destination for family agro-eco tourism experiences -- and also to be a destination for workshops and trainings, and other group visits for a minimum of 2 days/nights and a capacity of 25+ people in beds and extra capacity in tents with mattresses.
Anyway, on April 21, a group of us rode by horseback up to the top part of the farm, at about 750 meters (about 2,250 feet). It was Paulo, Lauren, Efrain, Roger, Roger's son Fabian, Esteban, Jose, Miguel and Sandra and their kids Juliana and Camilla riding with them on 2 horses, Wilfredo, and his daughter Estefania on separate horses. So, 11 horses and 13 riders we dismounted at the newly finished fence to protect the coffee trees that have been planted there. About 700 coffee trees have been planted, about 500 from seedlings from the lone coffee tree remaining on the mountain (which is located lower down on the farm). Anyway, the view is stunning of the valley and out toward the Caribbean. We all discussed planting the additional 200+ coffee seedlings that Sandra prepared, and to continue to plant coffee (also with trees we can buy from our neighbor Rodolfo). Anyway, the plan is to continue planting coffee at the upper parts of the macadamia farm, where some of the macadamia trees are dead. And, we will start to seriously cut out dead macadamia trees and rennovate living macadamia trees -- that are now de facto "organic macadamia" -- and start replanting and reforestation with citrus, fruits, and others.
It was great to go horseback riding with most of the workers (and hiking to the lookout over the biggest waterfalls) and we had a great picnic lunch in the Salon La Perla, including delicious pizza made by Sandra and Vivian in the cobb oven. Narly our accountant joined us at the Salon La Perla for lunch and Dennis, our taxi driver, was in and out. There we discussed our plans, after passing through much of the farm by horseback. The horse stables, goat and cow milking areas look great. There is the new picnic table and bench in Salon La Perla so that we have 5 tables/10 benches for 30 persons (plus extra chairs to place at the table ends, if needed). Jose sanded and varnished the wood floor of the classroom, and will be making some additional desks and chairs.
Casa Central has been fixed up, the floors inside the house and on the huge patio have all been sanded and varnished and holes/cracks filled in. Casa Central is great for 4 - 6 persons, and can handle more. Now we will start painting the outside, but the house itself is in great shape. Johnny, our main non-resident "artist" was with us horseback riding and he brought some new paintings that we bought. We are looking forward to having some art classes and workshops.
After lunch we walked down to Casa Comuna to check it out. Wow!!!! Since the end of February, the Casa Comuna has undergone an amazing transformation to truely being "Casa Comuna". Starting with Nadya and Nikola, and continuing with the special dedication and love of Dan, and final workmanship of Jose --- Casa Comuna is colorful, clean, open, comfortable, cozy, etc. with a capacity of 8 - 9 persons. It is the ideal "group house", with a full kitchen and comfortable sleeping, eating and sitting spaces.
Then we walked to Casa Verde, the newly purchased house. We made plans of how to fix it up for Wilfredo's family and the backyard to house his 3 horses. Wilfredo and his family are a great addition to the community at Finca Rio Perla. Estefania is 12 years old and a great horseback rider and loves to be a guide and is an artist along with her mother. Wilfredo is an amazing "cowboy" and a great complement to Efrain when riding our horses. Wilfredo was living and working on another farm nearby, and the place was leased/sold --- so he joined us at Finca Rio Perla. The Casa Verde is a great little house with 2-3 bedrooms and a great location.
So, back at the Posada Rustica, which is still our main house, with a capacity for about 13 - 17 (depending if 2 persons per double bed), there were additional "touches" made to make it an even nicer place to sleep or eat or hang out. The kitchen and eating facilities were busy during much of March, and they were up to the task of providing a comfortable experience. Of course, in a group house with a lot of people we would like to have thicker walls, but we can't rebuild the Posada Rustica ... we can only love it for what it is and for what we lovngly call it, Posada Rustica.
So, we have a great place and great people working with us. Now, more attention to the plants. We can host 25 - 30 persons in beds, and have both decentralized and centralized cooking/eating areas that can also be used for classrooms, workshops, etc. We are ideally situtated for families because we are in fact a family farm that is actully a group of famillies living and working at Finca Rio Perla, and the "community" of Finca Rio Perla that makes it an ideal destination for family agro-eco tourism experiences.
Of course, similar to us being vegetarian/pescatarian and claiming that we try to be inclusive and not exclusive, we also welcome all persons of all ages and all types of relationships. We welcome everyone to have an agro-eco tourism experience at Finca Rio Perla. Pura Vida, Dr. Paulo.