Climate change, after decades of lulling at the bottom of the news cycle, has belatedly made it into the headlines as increasing numbers of people become aware, convinced and concerned about the environmental and social impacts of the Earth’s evolving atmospheric conditions. I frequently think about disrupted weather patterns and what my role in this unfolding story should be.
The rainforests of Central America might not be the first place that you think of when you hear the term “timber frame construction”, but with initiatives in Monteverde and Mastatal, Costa Rica is starting to make a name for itself in the region for this post and beam building technique. We started to build the infrastructure of Rancho Mastatal Sustainability Education Center in the small rural community of Mastatal, Costa Rica in 2001.
My hands are grappling the rumbling, rusty wheelbarrow handles, and as we walk half a mile through the village, everyone can hear the five Rancho apprentices clunk on through. In a village of 120 people, your whereabouts are everybody's business. Don't worry, I want to say, this will all make sense soon. They'll be having a chuckle by the end of the day. For now, we are five warriors defending alternative energy. We are making the best use of our woman power (and Dan power) when the white pickup truck is out of commission. We are going to pick up poop.
Poop. Shit. Mierda. Caca. Crap. Boñiga. Excrement. Feces. Dung. There are countless ways to say what comes out of an animal’s body as solid waste. As most visitors to the Ranch realize soon after their arrival to Mastatal, we talk about poop more than the average learning center or household, and it’s not uncommon for it to be the center of a meal conversation.
You wouldn't guess that in the tropics having hot water was so desirable, but at our elevation, it gets quite chilly for me in the evenings. During the rainy season the nights can get particularly cold and if you've been in the rain working, a rejuvenating warm shower is just the ticket!
Over the years we have trialed two different types of hot water systems: composting hot water and solar hot water. I've personally installed and used both systems and would like to share what I've learned.