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The Cupolog

The northwest passage : Live without dead time

Second time at the supermarket / Segunda vez al supermercado
Puerto Guadal, Chile - © Diego Cupolo 2013

Second time at the supermarket / Segunda vez al supermercado

Puerto Guadal, Chile - © Diego Cupolo 2013

Pollo Alcalde
La Merced Alta, Ecuador - © Diego Cupolo 2012

Pollo Alcalde

La Merced Alta, Ecuador - © Diego Cupolo 2012

On the farm again
La Merced Alta, Ecuador - © Diego Cupolo 2012

On the farm again

La Merced Alta, Ecuador - © Diego Cupolo 2012

Man with the Chicken
Sisquili, Ecuador - © Diego Cupolo 2012

Man with the Chicken

Sisquili, Ecuador - © Diego Cupolo 2012

Chicken Flavored Potato Chips
Cali, Colombia - © Diego Cupolo 2012

Chicken Flavored Potato Chips

Cali, Colombia - © Diego Cupolo 2012

Bienvenidos a La SoñadaWe walked through the clouds to get there. Posada La Soñada. It was a small, family-run organic farm way up in the mountains of the Miraflor Nature Reserve. They had cows, horses, goats, chickens, ducks, rabbits and one big tree house.Corina, the woman in charge, welcomed us to stay and work in exchange for a free cabaña. We’d have to pay for the food, but we’d be eating real Nicaraguan home-cooked meals.
It was completely worth it.
La Soñada was one of the few farms in the area run exclusively by women. They were independent, strong, and tired of Latin American machismo.“Nicaraguan men always want to buy you things,” Corina said. “And they think buying you things gives them ownership over you. That’s not how I want to live. I stay alone because I don’t want anyone to think they own me.”
Corina also served as a nurse for Sandinista guerrillas during the revolution.
We had many questions for her.
From the beginning of our trip, Ania and I wanted to learn about local politics and local coffee production. We figured staying at La Soñada was the best way to do both.
The next morning, we fed the goats and began our lives as mountaintop campesinos.
La Soñada - Miraflor, Nicaragua
© Diego Cupolo 2011

Bienvenidos a La Soñada

We walked through the clouds to get there.

Posada La Soñada.

It was a small, family-run organic farm way up in the mountains of the Miraflor Nature Reserve. They had cows, horses, goats, chickens, ducks, rabbits and one big tree house.

Corina, the woman in charge, welcomed us to stay and work in exchange for a free cabaña. We’d have to pay for the food, but we’d be eating real Nicaraguan home-cooked meals.

It was completely worth it.

La Soñada was one of the few farms in the area run exclusively by women. They were independent, strong, and tired of Latin American machismo.

“Nicaraguan men always want to buy you things,” Corina said. “And they think buying you things gives them ownership over you. That’s not how I want to live. I stay alone because I don’t want anyone to think they own me.”

Corina also served as a nurse for Sandinista guerrillas during the revolution.

We had many questions for her.

From the beginning of our trip, Ania and I wanted to learn about local politics and local coffee production. We figured staying at La Soñada was the best way to do both.

The next morning, we fed the goats and began our lives as mountaintop campesinos.

La Soñada - Miraflor, Nicaragua

© Diego Cupolo 2011

Collecting Eggs and the “Red Point”
Each day ended in the chicken coop. That’s when we collected fresh-laid eggs.
Adèle, the oldest child on the farm, came to show us how to check for eggs. It was simple. She grabbed a metal rod, slid it under a hen and lifted it to see if there was anything underneath.
We each gave it a try. The eggs were warm in our hands.
On the way back to the barn, we passed the new water fountain by farm’s entrance. It was the work of a very peculiar artist. I was told he once called a hospital to ask for surgery tools: scalpels, clamps, rib retractors, drills … anything they had lying around.
The hospital called the police and officers rushed to the artist’s house. When they asked him why he needed surgical equipment he said:
“I simply wanted to hold each tool in my hand and look at it.”
That said, the fountain at the farm’s entrance had a special energy. Literally. Adèle explained how water moves through the fountain in a series of figure eights.
“The same way water moves through my body,” she said. “There are five levels and it’s all connected to my red point. That’s where my strength is and that’s where your strength is too.”
She was nine years old. A Waldorf in the making.
© Diego Cupolo 2011

Collecting Eggs and the “Red Point”

Each day ended in the chicken coop. That’s when we collected fresh-laid eggs.

Adèle, the oldest child on the farm, came to show us how to check for eggs. It was simple. She grabbed a metal rod, slid it under a hen and lifted it to see if there was anything underneath.

We each gave it a try. The eggs were warm in our hands.

On the way back to the barn, we passed the new water fountain by farm’s entrance. It was the work of a very peculiar artist. I was told he once called a hospital to ask for surgery tools: scalpels, clamps, rib retractors, drills … anything they had lying around.

The hospital called the police and officers rushed to the artist’s house. When they asked him why he needed surgical equipment he said:

“I simply wanted to hold each tool in my hand and look at it.”

That said, the fountain at the farm’s entrance had a special energy. Literally. Adèle explained how water moves through the fountain in a series of figure eights.

“The same way water moves through my body,” she said. “There are five levels and it’s all connected to my red point. That’s where my strength is and that’s where your strength is too.”

She was nine years old. A Waldorf in the making.

© Diego Cupolo 2011

Pinky, Gannondorf, Doreta, Proust and Steiner
At the end of each day, just before dinner, Fabien would check the chicken coops for eggs. In the process, he also fed Pinky, Gannondorf and Doreta.
They were a special group.
Pinky and Gannondorf were rejects from a neighboring pig farm. It was a large commercial operation and they couldn’t afford to keep irregular pigs. Instead they gave them to us and we nursed them back to health.
Pinky had stunted growth, he was a midget pig, and Gannondorf should have died at birth. When he arrived at the farm, Gannondorf was a newborn and extremely ill. He was given a special organic grain diet with ground flax seeds and now he’s entering his third month of life. He seems happy.
There was also Doreta, the one-eyed chicken. A severe infection caused her left eye to puff up like a big wad of bubblegum. Her face was too sensitive to compete for food in the chicken pen so Fabien let her eat outside with Pinky and Gannondorf. 
Watching the three of them eat together, separated from all the others, reminded me of a loneliness only experienced in middle school.
Later on, after dinner, after the beet salad, the red lentil curry and the crème glacée, I read while others played piano. Fabien sat down next to me and started reading too. He was reading Proust.
“Hmmm,” he said after a few minutes.
“Hmmm, what?”
“Here, the author is talking about how our love for someone, our feeling of love, deepens when the love comes to an end. I would say that’s true to my experiences. What about you?”
“Love deepens at the end?” I said. “I don’t know, for me the end has always been a big mess that doesn’t make any sense. A panic. New love affairs, fist fights and yelling. I wouldn’t say my love ever deepened at the end. It was already gone by then.”
Fabien didn’t respond and went back to his book.
I waited a moment and then asked him to explain biodynamic farming.
“It’s very complicated,” he said. “It’s hard to explain.”
“Okay, well, can you just tell me some basic stuff? I don’t know anything about biodynamic farming. Nothing. And here I am working in the fields every day without knowing what’s actually going on.”
“Alright, then first you have to know about Rudolf Steiner …”
Fabien told me Steiner, the creator of biodynamic farming, Waldorf education and a fine architect, went to India to study under Annie Besant, a theosophist that influenced many well-known western intellectuals.
Besant had a strong interest in Hinduism. For this reason, biodynamic farming shares many core principles with traditional Indian agriculture.
The cow is the center of the farm.
Everything from the horn to the urine is used to enhance the vitality of the farm.
The position of the moon and the planets is also important. They dictate the day’s activities. There are root days, leaf days and flower days. On root days we only work with roots and leaf days are reserved for leaf activities.
Okay, Fabien’s explanations were vague, but at least we were getting somewhere.
He said the main goal of biodynamic agriculture was to treat the entire farm as a single organism. Resources are recycled, crops are rotated, external products are rarely used, and all fertilizers are made on farm.
It’s about self-sufficiency … the way we used to do things.
Then Fabien went on about the kinds of teas that go in the fertilizer. He showed me charts and moon calendars, but couldn’t explain them. I got the feeling he didn’t really understand biodynamic farming either.
Maybe no one did.
I spent the rest of the night watching the full moon rise. It was pink on the horizon, then yellow and later became silver. It lit up the fields so bright I could see my shadow. I could also see bats flying through the air and satellites orbiting the earth.
There was an eclipse in Egypt.
Ania and I biked to Montreal the next day. This time it took four hours. We only got lost once near the Jacques Cartier Bridge.
The farming experience, though strange at times, proved soothing to my brain and we knew we would be back soon.
© Diego Cupolo 2011

Pinky, Gannondorf, Doreta, Proust and Steiner

At the end of each day, just before dinner, Fabien would check the chicken coops for eggs. In the process, he also fed Pinky, Gannondorf and Doreta.

They were a special group.

Pinky and Gannondorf were rejects from a neighboring pig farm. It was a large commercial operation and they couldn’t afford to keep irregular pigs. Instead they gave them to us and we nursed them back to health.

Pinky had stunted growth, he was a midget pig, and Gannondorf should have died at birth. When he arrived at the farm, Gannondorf was a newborn and extremely ill. He was given a special organic grain diet with ground flax seeds and now he’s entering his third month of life. He seems happy.

There was also Doreta, the one-eyed chicken. A severe infection caused her left eye to puff up like a big wad of bubblegum. Her face was too sensitive to compete for food in the chicken pen so Fabien let her eat outside with Pinky and Gannondorf. 

Watching the three of them eat together, separated from all the others, reminded me of a loneliness only experienced in middle school.

Later on, after dinner, after the beet salad, the red lentil curry and the crème glacée, I read while others played piano. Fabien sat down next to me and started reading too. He was reading Proust.

“Hmmm,” he said after a few minutes.

“Hmmm, what?”

“Here, the author is talking about how our love for someone, our feeling of love, deepens when the love comes to an end. I would say that’s true to my experiences. What about you?”

“Love deepens at the end?” I said. “I don’t know, for me the end has always been a big mess that doesn’t make any sense. A panic. New love affairs, fist fights and yelling. I wouldn’t say my love ever deepened at the end. It was already gone by then.”

Fabien didn’t respond and went back to his book.

I waited a moment and then asked him to explain biodynamic farming.

“It’s very complicated,” he said. “It’s hard to explain.”

“Okay, well, can you just tell me some basic stuff? I don’t know anything about biodynamic farming. Nothing. And here I am working in the fields every day without knowing what’s actually going on.”

“Alright, then first you have to know about Rudolf Steiner …”

Fabien told me Steiner, the creator of biodynamic farming, Waldorf education and a fine architect, went to India to study under Annie Besant, a theosophist that influenced many well-known western intellectuals.

Besant had a strong interest in Hinduism. For this reason, biodynamic farming shares many core principles with traditional Indian agriculture.

The cow is the center of the farm.

Everything from the horn to the urine is used to enhance the vitality of the farm.

The position of the moon and the planets is also important. They dictate the day’s activities. There are root days, leaf days and flower days. On root days we only work with roots and leaf days are reserved for leaf activities.

Okay, Fabien’s explanations were vague, but at least we were getting somewhere.

He said the main goal of biodynamic agriculture was to treat the entire farm as a single organism. Resources are recycled, crops are rotated, external products are rarely used, and all fertilizers are made on farm.

It’s about self-sufficiency … the way we used to do things.

Then Fabien went on about the kinds of teas that go in the fertilizer. He showed me charts and moon calendars, but couldn’t explain them. I got the feeling he didn’t really understand biodynamic farming either.

Maybe no one did.

I spent the rest of the night watching the full moon rise. It was pink on the horizon, then yellow and later became silver. It lit up the fields so bright I could see my shadow. I could also see bats flying through the air and satellites orbiting the earth.

There was an eclipse in Egypt.

Ania and I biked to Montreal the next day. This time it took four hours. We only got lost once near the Jacques Cartier Bridge.

The farming experience, though strange at times, proved soothing to my brain and we knew we would be back soon.

© Diego Cupolo 2011