I think I’ve unintentionally carved out my role in the whole permaculture process. What started as a simple question to Paola – Were there any notes from previous volunteers about how the land was managed – has snowballed into my new responsibility of keeper of the garden archives.

The group of volunteers who completed the same six-week program before us, stayed at this hostel from October through December 2013 and were led by a Canadian woman schooled in permaculture design. Our group, however, and all of our garden tasks, have been led by our perma-man, Andres. These two are both very capable leaders, but differ on many levels – including the interpretation of permaculture principles and their cultural backgrounds. Andres is a Colombian native and delights in hacking into the lawn to create a terraced garden. This Canadian woman – as I’ve heard – would cringe at the thought of rearranging the earth to fit it into a design. This dichotomy, coupled with constant coming-and-going volunteers, makes creating long-term goals a challenge. I felt like I was transported back to my 9-to-5 today after sitting down with Andres, Carlos who could translate, Mike who had ideas, and Dave who is tuned into permaculture, to hash out what exactly we’re trying to accomplish here. We should have been sitting around board table in a climate-controlled meeting room, but instead we were gathered around a small white board and Andres would excitedly gush about his ideas in a string of Spanish, Carlos would nod and help translate, Mike would offer opposing view and Dave and I would exchange glances. Even still, I think I managed to get the idea. Now I just have to archive it.

January 22, 2014