A typical Day in Mastatal

31 05 2010

Maybe by now you are asking yourself…what is it that Morgan is actually doing in Costa Rica?  Tough question, actually…try what am I not doing?  At least that is how I feel sometimes.  I learn to do something new every day whether it is in the kitchen, in the  gardens, on the goat slope, on jungle trails, in the local school, Spanish lessons at Siempre Verde, Spanish lessons absolutely everywhere else all the time, building with earthen materials, and other things I maybe cannot even name they are so new. 

So, even though I might describe the average day at Rancho Mastatal as anything but typical (for me), that is how I will try to describe it to you. 

A Typical Day in Mastatal


Wake up…rooster, sun, or both.



Make breakfast for the masses (pretty small masses right now): Kiefer (make a new batch and re-start the bacteria culture for tomorrow), fresh mango, fresh papaya, a new pineapple from the plant near the gate.  Eggs or homemade bread leftover from baking day, or a quiche.  Gallos pinto, homemade granolla – the works.  Eat together, wake up for real this time.



Morning meeting: Gather as a group and record the rainfall, report on yesterdays activities, decide what needs to be done for the day and what is most important.



This is where the typical is lost on me.  Any of about a zillion things could occupy the next few hours.  What needs to be done?

Do some daubing on the coming biodigester (which convets composted human waste into usable methane gas for cooking in the kitchen).  Daubing is a type of earthen building, a mix of manure, sand, clay and straw that is plastered in bricks on top of a bamboo weave to build sturdy, beautiful, and very sustainable structures.


Construct new shade tents for the weeny new black pepper, pineapple, quail grass, coconut, yucca and giner plants in the front gardens out of bamboo, cloth and old rice bags. 


Harvest the ash from yesterdays paper burn and add it to the biochar pit, where it will dry out and break down to be used for plant fertalizer. 


Harvest quail grass, coconut, starfruit, lemons, cas, mangoes, pineapple, avocado, ginger, as they ripen.


Help feed the goats or set them out to graze, or collect eggs from the chickens.


On baking day, use the sourdough starter to make bread and bagels from scratch in the cob oven (more earth building).


Invent a new tool for harvesting the small red berries of the cereza tree that grow up high.


Replenish the sawdust in the composting toilets.


Visit the local elementary school (at least twice each week) and give a lesson on English, art, drama, science, conservation or weather, or just make friends and play games.


Put out the freshly cut straw to dry in the sun, and be ready to wrap it up and cover it when the rains set in.


Collect grass clippings from around the town for the compost piles.




Lunchy lunch!  Handmade tortillas with refried frioles negros, avocado, pineapple salsa, local cheese.  A delicious cuban soup…roasted squash from the gardens, and homemade mayonaise, hot sauce and sauerkraut. 



More choices…what else needs to be done?

Plant the seedlings from the nursery. 


Make soap.


Collect the cream from the milk pasteurized on the stove in the morning and whip it into butter.


Spanish lessons at Siempre Verde.


Weed the many gardens.


Cut old glass pop bottles into drinking glasses.



Hike to the waterfall or swimming hole, draw, write, paint, get your butt kicked in soccer by seven year old athletic geniuses. 

Burp the starfruit, cambucha or banana vinegars fermenting, and check on the fermenting ginger beer starter.




Circle time.  Gather around the table, turn off the lights.  Hold hands and say a thank you for the days work, share a story, say goodbye to people on their way out or welcome to those on their way in.  Buen Provecho.


Supper:  Homemade bagels with a zillion yummy toppings, or stratta, a delicious cheezy bread pudding.  Whatever it is, it will surely be delicious. 




Music, stories, reading…sleeping – so sleepy – bed.


Though I sincerely believe that all of the projects, including routine maintenance, that happen at Rancho Mastatal are beneficial, sustainable, and pure of heart, the most exciting projects are those that you can see directly affecting the community.  For example, work on the cob bus stop bench where many women wait to catch the bus each morning but have never had a spot to sit.  For example, school visits and lessons in the one room elementary school.  For example, the construction on the towns first library that will start this week or the next. 


I feel fully engrossed in being here, and yet I think of home often and cannot wait to be able to use more than just the one word bridge of my blog to describe Costa Rica through my eyes.  Although, I must learn to start pronouncing my Rs with more vigor, as the standard answer to the “where are you from?” question (Regina, obviously) is netting a little too much laugher these days. 


Talk soon,







7 responses

8 06 2010
Elizabeth Sells

I will be creating a summary of my comments for you on my personal class blog which will post on June 30, 2010. You can find out more information about my class at the EDM310 class blog.

6 06 2010
Elizabeth Sells

Hey Morgan! I am commenting from Dr Strange’s EDM310 Summer class. I’ll be following you for the next three weeks. I so envy your opportunity and nerve. The world is your classroom as well as your instructor. Life there looks simple in a way but so complex in another. You are having to learn a whole new way of life and the way you describe things puts your readers right there with you. I can’t wait to hear more about your daily activities with even more details. Are you able to take videos and include them in your blog? I would love to actually see where you are and what you are doing. Best wishes for another great day!

7 06 2010

Thank you for your comment Elizabeth! This truly has been an incredible experience and it is very fulfilling to be able to even attempt to share it. I am looking forward to adding lots of photos and videos once I get home. I thought about trying that from here, but am worried about connecting my camera up to a computer that constantly power surges and loses connection…dont want to lose all those precious photos! All the best and we will talk soon.

2 06 2010
Emily Paz

Hellooo!!! I too love reading about your experiences in Costa Rica:) Sounds soooo amazing. Like a land you only dream about (howler monkeys, exotic fruits, gracious people… the whole nine yards) but you are actually there!! I just can’t wait hear all about and to see you in August!!! (you are coming to the fam reunion… right??) Missing you.
p.s it took me a long time to get used to waking up and not seeing anyone but the Baydas:)

7 06 2010


Was it ever incredible to hear from you! I have been thinking a lot about what I like to call “The Week of Baydas” lately and remembering fondly. Still in withdrawal. Need living room dance parties…need early morning chalk drawing. August is going to be awesome. Cant wait! Ill talk to you soon!

31 05 2010

Morgan! I am loving reading your updates and am glad that you are doing well there! It sounds amazing- and such a great learning experience to be so intuned to the cultural aspects! I cant wait to hear more- and to see you when you get back:)
Miss you!

1 06 2010

So awesome to hear from you Jill! I hope you are having an awesome summer. Saskatoon good?

Talk to you soon!

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