Friday, August 7, 2009


This is my pet turtle- Heman. I believe he is very young because of his size but he has grown very little over the last two months. I found him on the farm. We are still trying to figure out what he likes to eat and if he is a water/land or primarily water turtle. Any turtle advice would be great!

August Vacation

The first week of August is a holiday for many Salvadorians. I had the entire week off. Some friends and I went to the Ruta de Las Flores where we were able to enjoy cooler weather, beautiful waterfalls and hot springs.

Permaculture Institute

I have been dividing my time between the farm and working for the Permaculture Institute that is based here in Suchitoto. The administration office is here in Suchitoto but they also have a piece of land near Suchitoto that is used as a demonstration plot for the communities they are working with. On the land they are currently growing corn, eggplant, okra, tomatoes, peppers, red beans, green beans, green onions, yucca and cucumbers. Since the land is used as a demonstration plot, experiments with natural pesticides and fertilizers are constantly being applied. There are also experiments with planting according to the moon cycle to compare the yields of each crop.

The mission of the Institute is to work with rural communities in areas of food security and biodiversity. They also work over long periods of time teaching the importance of experimentation of natural pesticides and fertilizers along with understanding the ecology of their land. It is important for each person to be able to identify pests and deficiencies in the plant and not just know the recipe for the insecticide. Deforestation has lead to an immense amount of soil erosion all over the country. Conservation work with natural barriers and terrace farming is also an important.

Costa Rica/ Nicaragua

In July I had to renew my visa in Costa Rica. What a shame! The countries surrounding El Salvador; Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, share the same immigration rules and entry and exit dates. To renew my visa, I had to travel to Costa Rica, Mexico, Belize or Panama. Costa Rica was the most economical option, plus I had friends from Louisville that were in Nicaragua- the bordering country. Unfortunately, I only spent a night in Costa Rica before heading up to Nicaragua. The first few days I spent on my own at the Isla de Ometepe in Nicaragua. It is an island in one of the largest lakes in Latin America. The island has two large volcanoes that don’t seem to be active but you never know! There are many monkeys and wildlife to enjoy and the entire island is very laid-back. The island is also famous for petroglyphs. I spent three nights on the island before meeting up with my friends, Amy and Marlon, from Louisville. Amy’s family was also visiting and we spent the majority of our time at the Lago de Apoyo- a beautiful crystal clear volcano lake. Great swimming! We took a day trip to Granada, which is a very picturesque colonial town with great food. Instead of traveling back to San Jose to catch my flight home, I decided to take the bus back to San Salvador. The border has been closed intermittently over the past month because of the military coup. It had been closed for several days before I traveled but luckily was opened the morning my bus was passing through.

Costa Rica is the most stable and wealthy countries in Central America. The main industry is tourism which is very evident when you are there. They are miles ahead of El Salvador in promoting what the country has to offer and making it easy to access. I could see the difference in economic status most strikingly in the structures and houses in the country side. Costa Rica does not have a military and I have been told that a large portion of money has been invested in not only tourism but also education about the environment.

My House

Yes, I finally moved into my house in late May. Although there has been much remodeling the house has about a thousand leaks. Since this is the rainy season I have become an expert at bailing water out of my house quickly. The houses here are open to the elements so it is a losing battle to try and prevent water or anything else from the outside from coming in. Apart from the leaks the house is comfortable. It is great to have my own space. I have a roommate from England that will be here until September. Jess is volunteering for the Permaculture Institute and we met when she was here back in February.


Suchitoto is a small town of only about 6,000 although it often feels smaller. It is a colonial town with character and history. It was nearly deserted during the civil war because this area was hit hard with constant fighting. Over the past 20 years, many residents have returned along with people outside of Suchitoto that have worked to build up the tourism industry. The town is safe and picturesque but hot as hell. As a small town would be, everyone says hello and the night ends around 8 or 9:00 at night.

Malte's Going Away Party

Here are some pictures of friends from Suchitoto. Malte, a friend from Denmark, was returning home and we had a going away party at my house.