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An ecologically focused community overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Guanacaste, Costa Rica






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Another Perfect January

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A Lot of Work, a Little Fun

Better do it Right

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Note: All videos and most photos on this site are provided by community members.

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 Camping out on the finca and staying the course


While many developers and builders in Costa Rica have recently skipped town or stopped construction, Finca Las Brisas is as usual moving in the opposite direction – forward.

We were at the beach  for a month. But first…  a campout !

Early in January 2009, some of the lot buyers and other friends had a cookout at the finca and then camped out in tents (Al slept in the top of the ranchito and was kept company by some ripening hands of bananas).  Music was provided by Vidal (playing a plastic cup), his son Rudolfo and Jose Antonio on guitars along with Hector and his brother Javier and our friend Alberto the school teacher joining in on vocals.  We dined on coconut Thai-style lobster with fresh cilantro and lemongrass from our garden prepared by our contract project manager and part time chef.  The meal was served on flame tempered banana leaves that performed surprisingly well as plates and bowls (a truly renewable/compostable resource that we will use regularly for sure).  The stars were incredibly bright, and a pleasant breeze was blowing.   The fire crackled and popped as Costa Rican folks songs lingered in the sweet air. 

Water:  As this update is being drafted, our permanent 3 inch water distribution lines are being installed to all lots.  A much larger water tank is replacing the current tank (this one will be re-located to the community center location and positioned under a deck out of sight).  Solar powered booster pumps will move the water to all lots. 

Work trailer:   The attached outdoor work area has finally been covered with standing seam roofing material which will soon be covered with peel and stick solar panels.  We will be taking down the existing and visually offensive solar panel frame on the “can” and re-locating it to the  community center lot, placing it on concrete footers down below on the south slope in front of where the infinity pool will go so it is out of sight.  We will also soon be adding a solar hot water system on that bank....syphon pressure will move water back up without power.   We completed our outdoor shower stall - made from local teak, Madera negro (wood that last 100 years and was fallen on site) and fallen Espavel from down near the river....All espavel (wild cashew) was milled on site at the river with a chainsaw and the boards were trucked around and stored - plenty of nice wood for trim and rafters - looks like mahogany.  A living fence/wall of passion fruit (for wine) and Chiote (a delicious green vegetable) will soon be planted to hide the container completely within a year.

The road:  An additional large drain pipe is being added, and the public access road has been completely re-graded the entire length, and will soon have drainage ditches cleared.  All exposed soil areas will be covered in gravel by the end of February.  Our internal road is in great shape and will be touched up by Jorge, our local machine operator when he returns to finish covering all our new internal roads with fresh lastre (gravel).

Community interaction:  We decided to make level the severely sloping soccer field at the nearby school, creating a much more desirable destination for futbol matches.   In return we received several loads of soil for fixing wash outs caused over the years by over-grazing and for our earthbag and earthen plaster construction techniques that will reduce the amount of concrete needed.  This leveling project was our official “ground breaking” ceremony... no gold plated shovels, just a win/win for the local community and the finca. 

Wood:  Our Project Manager is working w/ a local wood dealer who is sourcing farm raised teak and dead/fallen hardwood timbers and palm thatch for us from surrounding fincas.  We will also be using some thatch and teak from the neighboring Morales farm and some thatch from palms that are out of sight lines on our own farm – cutting during the proper moon phase is critical to ensure a long lasting roof for our community area rancho.  We also located several down/dead Madera negro trees for rancho posts on the finca (these can last 100 years).  Al even swam a large post across the swimhole from the falls and hoisted it out onto some rocks to dry.  A hand winch is being purchased to pull these logs out from their resting places.  The teak and Madera from the nearby Gomez farm will be pulled out by Oxen. 

Farm:  Most all of the bamboo, heart of palm, coffee, and fruit trees that were planted are doing great...some really taking off now w/ compost.  The workers and community members have been sharing LOTS of bananas - delicious for sure.  A large veggie garden w/ sprinkler system and shade cloth has been established not far from the community center, and another site is earmarked on lot 23 for a sizeable garden as well.  A chicken house, along with sheep and/or goats is planned in the coming months, as are fish and shrimp ponds in the not too distant future. 

Trails:   BIG improvements here.  We have cut in a new main trail to the swim hole falls...it zig zags down the side of the mountain past a large Guanacaste tree....Lots of hardwood steps have been made from fallen logs and pinned w/ hardwood stakes or rebar.  Some stone steps have been installed as well.  The pre-existing trail to the upper falls has been completely re-done w/ lots of steps as well.  Both trails are MUCH more enjoyable. We are also adding a connecting trail to the plunge pool, and eventually all river trails will connect.  The corral area and old fruit trees have been cleaned up.  Any visible old internal fence lines have been removed.  Cows are all off the property, and lots of pioneer trees are starting to re-establish, but site lines are being preserved and lots are well groomed. 

Accommodations:  We have three locations picked out for platform tents....these will allow visitors to stay on site and in the future will eventually provide for student intern housing.  We will start constructing the first platform down from the community center with an ocean view during February and March – it should be ready with beds and furnishings by April for visitors. (stop on down and check it out…we now have hot showers as well J).

Fuel:  Our Toyota work truck is now converted to run on veggie oil, and about ten area restaurants are saving used oil for us.  We are also working on separating oil from the fruit heads on the thousands of wild oil palms that dot the surrounding hillsides.  Another sustainable trick – our muy intelligente work staff informed us that we were real Gringos for paying for chain bar oil for our newly acquired chain saw (purchased from Antonio).  Now we just pull up to the local mechanic shop and pick up jugs of used motor oil for free – it’s even better than new bar oil for this use.  It also eliminates the need for the mechanic to dispose of the used oil. 

Yet another Fiesta:  A lamb roast put on by our Argentinean friends and restaurateurs, Fernando and Roxanna from El Colibri in Carrillo will took place at the finca on February 2nd.  Many local people from the Carrillo, Samara, and mountain communities were invited to tour the property and enjoy a traditional meal afterwards. 

Hilary Nelson who is helping us with a variety of Finca activities on the ground in CR is now running a very informative blog with lots of to the minute Finca updates – visit the site at: http://www.fincalasbrisascr.blogspot.com/ 

We have just eleven lots remaining with interest in several of these…If you have been a fence sitter for a while regarding this project, you might want to get down to CR sooner than later.  With construction starting this month, and several interested parties visiting soon, we don’t expect many of our remaining lots to be around a whole lot longer – particularly if the challenging times worldwide continue or intensify.

Nature Note:  Two Gavilon Blancos (white hawks) have been spotted circling our river valley on more than one occasion – a rare and welcome site in this part of Costa Rica, and magical to watch from above…
The Benners (and Domi) Watering trough found on finca Lobster tails



Click to view entire picture

Al Benner and son Coleman

Core samples being taken for the community center site

Early morning brainstorm

Gone bananas - Hilary and Jeff

Retrieving log for rancho

The versatile sour orange

Hand-milled Espavel boards

Hojancha school girls

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Located (near Playa Samara, Playa Carrillo, Playa Garza, Playa Buenavista, Playa Guiones, Playa Nosara, Playa Ostional, and Playa San Juanilla) on the Nicoya Peninsula overlooking  the Pacific coast of Costa Rica