It's 5.30 am in the dewy morning rainforest of Mastatal – the cacophony of squawks and birdsong remind us that the winged beings have begun their daily business of foraging for themselves and their young, the toads have tucked themselves into the nook of a tree or within a pile of leaves to avoid the relentless heat of the new day, and one by one the guests at Rancho Mastatal stretch and yawn their way out of their abodes and ease their way towards their first cup of coffee.
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.
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.
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.