Jan 192011

una gran escuela

We’ve made it through our first “temporada” (high season) and, what have I learned?

Wow, so much…but let me start in the kitchen, where I’ve been spending most of my time.

I’ve learned that it isn’t so hard to make many of the “processed items” that one gets at the grocery store.  Bread, tofu, marmalade and yogurt making were great mysteries before we got here two months ago, and now, I’d say they are reasonable endeavors for even the weak of heart in the kitchen.  Surprising, no?  We’re thinking of offering classes on how to make these things.  Are you interested?

I’ve learned that sometimes, you have to sacrifice a batch before you get a good one.  For me, the making of a good marmalade came with this sad fact.  My first batch of mandarine marmalade was bitter…i mean puckered up-painful-without cure-BITTER.  It hurts me to even write the following words…it had to go to the compost!  I asked for help and, when I did, Angela, my kitchen angel, gave me a large batch of the best tasting mandarines I’d had to date and a second chance.  The second batch turned out to be well worth the effort.  Come on down and I’ll let you try some…if you like it, I’ll even sell you some!

I’ve reaffirmed that all natural is the best way to go.  Physically, I feel healthier than ever.  To this end, we’ve been planting our organic gardens.  We’ve got so many hopefuls here at the house:  parsley, cilantro, oregano, basil, bok choi, kale, romesco cauliflower,  padron peppers, mystery peppers, red cherry tomatoes, yellow pear tomatoes and garlic.  We also planted at our friend, Osvaldo’s, farm – okra, green squash, yellow squash, radishes, onions, leeks, corn, basil…my mind runs wild at all the possibilities of what we are going to eat and best of all it will all be fresh and organic, whatever choses to flourish here in beautiful Barichara.

Out of the kitchen, most importantly, I’ve learned that generosity is rewarded.  And that we have some neighbors that really like to party.  Thankfully, they keep it mostly to temporadas.

Jul 212010


Buenas noches!  Mary and I are running a hostel in the town of San Gil in Santader, Colombia.  It isn’t exactly the way we had it down on the business plan or even the way we drew it out when plotting out our stops on this research trip, but it works.  If you are in the area, please stop by Casa Monkora (www.hosteltrail.com/casamonkora) and stay with us.  But how did this all happen so fast?  Here goes…

IMG_7734We arrived in San Gil on the 12th of July after a quick stop in the nearby village of El Socorro convinced us that we needed to keep on rolling up the road.  San Gil is the burgeoning adventure tourism capital of Colombia.  It is here where you can do the best river rafting in the country, spelunking, paragliding, repelling from waterfalls, mountain biking, the list goes on and on.  It is also a conveniently placed hub between some of the prettiest and most well preserved colonial towns in the country with highlights such as Barichara and the nearby Curiti.

IMG_4169After  three days taking in the sites, we left for a quick stay in Bucaramanga/Giron knowing full well we needed to return to this awesome town.  The hostel we stayed in, Casa Mankora, is run by our new friend, Johana, out of an old colonial house just a few blocks from the main plaza.  As it turns out, her lease on this building runs out at the end of the month and she is moving the hostel to a town 20 km up the road.  At the same time, a friend of hers who runs a local coffee shop left suddenly to visit her sick daughter in Germany and has left Johana in charge of the aforementioned establishment; Cafe con Verso.  Why am I telling you all this?  Well, since Johana is a single mom in charge of a hostel and a coffee shop until the end of July, she is obviously in need of some extra hands on deck.  In steps the Greengoes crew, conveniently in need of some real time Colombian hostelling experience and eager to trade free room and board for making sure that Monkora’s travelers stay happy!

So until the end of July we will be doing the tourist thing by day and moonlighting as hostel owners by night.  Conveniently, the weather patterns are working in our favor with warm sunny days giving way to afternoon thunderstorms almost daily.  Happily marooned in the hostel, shaping our vision and loving every minute of it!


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