2010 in review

2 01 2011

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 5,000 times in 2010. That’s about 12 full 747s.


In 2010, there were 48 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 345 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 366mb. That’s about 7 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was May 29th with 154 views. The most popular post that day was untitled.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were johnstrange.com, twitter.com, ecmp355.ning.com, google.ca, and facebook.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for morgan bayda, jeopardy labs, self portraits grade 2, geometric portraits, and “morgan bayda”.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


untitled February 2010


An Open Letter To Educators February 2010


Who I Am January 2010


I Believe… (Philosophy) February 2010


Resume February 2010


Pictures and Projects

27 06 2010

My first experience with volunteer travel was nothing short of incredible.  It is so fulfilling to be able to participate in such a wide variety of projects that contribute to healthy, happy communities as well as sustainable living.  I was able to plant, grow, build, harvest, teach, sew, lift, dig, paint, research, cook, clean, connect and play.  Doing the work alongside others is a big reward.  I wish I was able to capture more of the projects and processes on film.  However, being there in the moment is enough to remember.  Work hard, play hard and keep your eyes wide open the whole time!

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Pictures and People

27 06 2010

Meeting people from the United States, Britain, Germany, Denmark, Holland, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Argentina, Bulgaria, and, of course, Costa Rica, opened my eyes to new ideas and ways of living and laughing.

The best things I am taking home from Costa Rica are not souvenirs, crafts, or even (gasp!)  coffee beans, but are links and connections to lives being lived all over the world.  I get excited each time I think about staying in touch with the friends I made in Costa Rica, and continuing to grow and learn through travel.

Ranch volunteers getting ready to teach a lesson at the elementary school

Basketball at the Salon (community centre)

With Fernando, Kattia and their grandson, the extremely generous Ticos who hosted me on my first night and helped me get to Mastatal.

Friends from Germany and the United States at the Wide Mouth Frog Backpackers Hostel in Quepos

Ranch volunteers preparing for the long hike home from the bus stop in the rain

Friends in the Hankey House

A surprise visit from a Mastatal student

Two students, C and M, visit the Ranch for some afternoon fun

Mastatal's Galacticos get ready for the big soccer game

A full kitchen!

Practicing Spanish with a frequently visiting neighbour and farmer

Posing with the Soda owner and Ranch confidant who answered my thousand questions patiently and walked me through the forest.

In San Jose with a friend from La Tortuga Feliz

Meeting friends from Britain, New Zealand, New York and Australia at La Tortuga Feliz!

Pictures and Places

27 06 2010

Thanks so much to all those of you who have been following my travels through my blog!  It means a lot to me to be able to share experiences and thoughts.  It has been a great way to connect and keep in touch while in far away places.

The time has finally come to get some pictures out there!  If you live anywhere within a near radius of where I live, chances are you’ve already sat through these.  If you haven’t, then in the next few posts you will find slideshows of the places, people, and projects that filled my trip to Costa Rica.

Thanks again and enjoy!

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To the end of that beach and back

21 06 2010

From Saturday-

I think if I eat one more coconut or drink the juice of one more pipa, I may have an issue.  I cannot resist honing my machete skills with the huge, husky cocnuts that fall from the trees (look out!) here in spades.  I have shamefully used coconut to help ease me out of the mango dependence I developed in Mastatal…I can only hope something just as splendid and healthy can take over when I get home.  Hmmm…lets see…multigrain cheerios?  Now that is a craving I could stand to satisfy!

Time, as predicted, has flown by for me at La Tortuga Feliz, on this island that has a local community, but has no name.  Endless opportunities for reflection exist around every corner – while guarding the hatchery at night, or just as the sun peaks up (if you are not busy relocating and digging a green turtle nest of releasing leatherback babies), during the 14 km of beach walking in total darkness each night patrolling for turtles, during yoga in the morning, beach time in the afternoon, or a gentle kayak down the canal that splits the island.  There has been no shortage of time to think, and I am still happy to say that I will be leaving Costa Rica with more questions than answers.  A wise and good humored physics teacher taught me repeatedly that there is no better way than the one full of wonder.

Speaking of wonder makes me think of the awe I am still in from my first encounter with a full grown, 1.7 metre long, leatherback turtle nesting.  A dinosaur in a trance, focused solely on the 100- some eggs she has carried  gently up from the sea, dragging her massive body across the sand with incredible strength and determination.  It is determination you can see right from the first day in a turtle´s life, when it crawls up from the nest and arrives at the surface, however exhausted, it´s flippers start propelling relentlessly.  It is going to reach that ocean!

It has been very peaceful working with turtles this past week, however physically exhausting and sleep deprived.  Young or old, you have this moment with a baby or a mother, and you know they are both coming from, and about to set off on, an incredible adventure, being tested by about a zillion obstacles along the way.  The one thing that does get in the way of peace is the poachers.  Turtle poaching (all kinds for their eggs, and green turtles for their meat) is a long tradition here and, though illegal, is still abound.  Many times I have walked past a group of poachers on the beach at night…and the rule is whoever gets to the turtle first gets to work with it, either to save it or poach it.  It is sad, but a lot of progress has been made in the community.  All of the project´s local guides, who accompany volunteers on beach patrols, used to be poachers.  Instead, they now can make a living by doing just the opposite.

The ocean tides certainly have a way of pulling things out of a person.  Each time they sweep inward, it is as though they seep inside me and tug out of me a new thought, question or emotion on the way back out.  So as much as I have been thinking in the past week, I have been feeling more.  It is sort of like a midnight beach patrol…without light and the ability to see, your senses end up turning inward instead.  Feeling my way in total darkness, I always make it to the end of that beach and back.

So, while I leave Costa Rica (tuesday morning) with more questions than answers, I also leave with more feeling, more emotional direction, than either of those put together.  The greatest thing Costa Rica has probably given me is a new sense of posibility…the absolute knowledge that doors are opening for me in all directions, all the time…that my life is made of choices.

My life to yours, and yours, and yours

13 06 2010

The time vortex that, it seems, is Costa Rica, has swept over me again, as I find myself entering the last week of my time (this time around) in Costa Rica.  I have officially departed from Mastatal, onward to the big city, where I immediately got lost, sore, and tired.  As if I could ever have room within my heart to appreciate Masatal even more than I already do.  Or so I thought until this morning, when I found myself already longing for the easy, clean, natural, supportive atmosphere I have so recently surfaced from.  I did manage to make the switch in my mind though:  Surfacing from the easy, clean, supportive atmosphere is okay, because I will soon be ready to plunge back into the one waiting for me at home.

My last day in Mastatal was carried out masterfully.  Between the localvore harvest and meal (carmelized squash stratta, various garden greens in kombucha vinegar dressing, mango-lime-coconut-mint salad, and freshly squeezed starfruit juice) I cooked with Carolyn and adorable two year old Soledad, the World Cup games watched with an earnest mix of Ranch visitors and local Ticos at Kattia’s house, the beautiful sunny morning and gently rainy afternoon, and the final conversations and circle time that left me brimming with good energy, I had no short supply of wonderful memories to coast on as I rode the rocky bus out of the Puriscal region early this morning.  Looking out the window and taking a breath, I managed to identify the reason for the big smile spreading across my face.  Someone told me that to be loved is to feel the sun from both sides, which I guess is how I felt this morning.  I kept thinking about the love and support that surround me at home, and the amazing people there that have shaped me and will continue to shape me my whole life, while simultaneously celebrating the building of a new place within my life that is there for me too.  I guess it’s kind of like, if I were playing that game of trust where you close your eyes and spread out your arms and let yourself fall backward into (fingers crossed) a friend’s waiting arms, someone would definitely be there to catch me.  Eyes closed.  Plunging in.

I was reminded of theories of how people solve problems in their dreams when, the night before last, I spontaneously woke up at 2:00 am, wrote a poem, and went right back to sleep.  I had been struggling to try to come up with a message to leave with the Rancho that would adequately express the imprint that the past month, and the people that graced it, will leave within me.  The poem is about circle time, the moment that we all take to breath before digging into a delicious supper each night.  Holding hands, lights off except for the candles, anyone can share anything, or nothing.  Usually it ends up being a time of thank yous spoken, for the days work, for a listening ear, or for a really great joke.  The time it gives you to wind down really ends up being a time to appreciate the day you’ve just had, to laugh, de-stress, and be grateful.  It is beautiful, and is one of the spaces that has taught me the most in the past month.

With much to think about in the next week, I am departing from San Jose (another story for another time) in the morning for an obscure-but-definitely-there-island on the central Caribbean coast to get a taste of working with endangered turtles, before slipping back into Canada the following week, before you, or I, even know it.  With no means of outside communication, it should be a great time to look inward and onward and figure out just what on Earth it is that this stunning country has taught me. Looking forward to sharing pictures and stories from the comfy quarters of my home space.

Hasta luego, Mastatal, or as my friend Carolyn would say, hasta la pasta!

Circle Time

Palms to palms

My prints to yours,

And yours, and yours, and yours, and yours.

Lock souls instead of eyes,

Lock time, stop.

Stop thinking locked thoughts,

Stop stopping.

Lock into step, in rhythm

My breath to yours,

And yours, and yours, and yours, and yours.

Lock hearts, minds,

But not locked into anything, really…


Possibility seeps between us

And weaves in stitch our fingers,

My life to yours,

And yours, and yours, and yours, and yours.

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,