The wind is blowing and rain is falling. The kitchen is filled with smoke from the wet wood. It is going to take hours for the food to cook on the primitive stove made from a few bricks spaced just far enough for the pot to rest on top. This is the reality of how many of our neighbors here on Isla de Ometepe prepare their meals.
However there is a solution to this problem. The LORENA stove. Developed in Guatemala based off the ideas of rocket stove mass heaters, this stove is more efficient and cleaner burning. It is built out of cob, a mixture of clay and sand- think adobe, so the materials are readily available. It contains a fire box and a chimney. This means less smoke in the work space and less wood to burn. With enough help, the stove can be constructed in just a few days. That is just what we intend to do. We have a plan to help build five new LORENA stoves in our community in 2019. We are hosting a series of Community Development projects that offer travelers the opportunity to learn to work with cob while helping improve the lives of a family here on the island.
When we decided to settle on Ometepe one of the most important factors for Trevor and I was a sense of community. Immediately upon our arrival to the island we were embraced by people living here, both locals and foreigners. And that strong feeling of community has only continued to grow the longer we have lived here.
Every morning at 7 am Aurora and I go for a walk. She wants to go say hi to all her friends. As we walk down the street, everyone is quick to say “Buenas dias,” and wave as we go by. We stop and talk to people about the weather, about the harvest and lately about the lack of tourists on Ometepe. Tourism is a big concern for our community. Since we arrived in 2011, we have seen huge development on the island and in the quality of life of neighbors as a result of tourism. However, in the last nine months tourism has fallen and there is an economic crisis here. People are without work. More and more are leaving looking for better options in Costa Rica. And as Aurora and I walk down the street in the morning, we have less and less people to say hello to.
Trevor and I have been working hard to find ways that we can help those around us. We have always been proud of all the jobs we have provided and we both feel humbled that we can no longer offer the employment we have in the past. For several months now I have been offering free English classes to the local children who live near by. We also leave our wifi available for anyone who needs to check the internet. Yet we still want to do more.
So we have decided to start this series of Community Development Projects. We hope you will come and join us help make this dream a reality.
You can learn more at: www.eljardinometepe.com/
You can help support our project with a donation at: www.gofundme.com