Here at the Ranch the year long apprentices have various roles and functions that support the Ranch community. By taking on responsibilities and managing certain areas we the chance to learn and experience those areas on a deeper level . Part of the educational model created by the ranch team is a monthly rotation of these so called life skills. Each apprentice transitions their life skill to the next apprentice, passing on all of the relevant information to their colleague in order to complete the various tasks associated with each life skill.
When the rainy season arrived, it started with a sense of relief - dry season went on longer than expected and our trees and plants were scorching in the heat. For myself the cooler air was welcome comfort, and the rains a reminder of home and getting cozy. Mornings were beautiful with the sight of the sun rising through the dewy mist.
During my annual visits to see family in the United States, I oftentimes have the opportunity to catch up on some reading that regularly alludes me during the busy seasons here in Mastatal. More than any year in recent memory, I felt as if I hit the jackpot with the titles that I was recommended, came across, and picked up this fall.
When I was a teenager, I traveled for a few months with a Mexican shoe-shiner I met in Mazatlán. We thumbed rides across the country and were taken in along the way by a dozen or so of his relatives. I often found myself in the kitchen with his aunts, cousins, and nieces, making tamales, sopes, or other dishes that were new to me.
If you’re anything like me, then you will find Rancho Mastatal to be a place of incredible beauty, endless inspiration, and powerful community. Even if we have very little in common, you will certainly find it to be unique. Among ecovillages and permaculture communities, over the years Rancho Mastatal has developed a reputation for its intricate systems, well organized educational programs, and gorgeous natural buildings that sprinkle the 300 + acre Ranch.
"Everyone is looking at my feet," I say to my dad.
"No they're not," he scoffs back. Sure enough, he glances sideways at a group of teenage girls eying my dirty toes clad in Chacos.
We are not in the jungle any more. It's December in New York City, I am traveling on the subway with a large backpack, and five layers of sweatshirts, never having worn more than one at a time in the tropics. Fresh off the airplane, here I am with my exposed feet and disheveled appearance-- "Is she homeless?" the girls snicker.