We were escorted to lunch with the family who would become great friends over the following week. Chris, an eccentric and brilliant American, and Sol, his equally wonderful wife had travelled the world for much of their lives before settling in this isolated valley to build a self-sufficient family home and farm stay. Their children: Dizzy, Ginger, Orchidea, and Eclipse had been raised there, and it was a home away from home for Chris' brother Jeff and his partner Carolina.
Facilities were basic, with cold (!) showers, communal sleeping, and a sawdust toilet with views of the fecund valley to which it's contents would return. The circle of life.
Each morning wed get up and go pick lemongrass leaves for tea, find salad greens and tomatoes for our salad, and look for any ripe papayas or bananas. We'd get back and help Sol make coffee and breakfast, while Chris and 4 yr old Orchedia milked the cow. Greg laid a few bricks of a mudbrick cottage, and enjoyed the therapeutic benefits of getting filthy.
We fed the local sandlflies, and Jade was dined upon by a friendly tick (thankfully located by little Orchidea). In return we learned to make soy milk, tofu, yoghurt, cheese, pineapple jam, fresh coffee, and Sol's now-infamous pesto, which has delighted the mouths of Australian family and friends. We washed our clothes in suds from soap berries, and powered the washing machine with an adapted bicycle. Living without refrigeration was eye-opening, realizing how long it takes fresh food to turn bad and how dependent our eating habits had become on potentially needless preservation techniques.
Our nights were spent talking to the family and meeting other travelers who passed through during our stay, listening to Greg and Chris play guitar, and drinking homemade hibiscus wine. Between chores we ducked into the river with Ginger and rode the rapids on our 'Jimmy Boat', a hollowed out log that served as a sort of canoe.
Goodbyes were hard on us all, and a few tears were shed on both sides. We will miss everyone! Love to you all!
You can have a little touch of paradise, watch our video of the Ginger's Paradise experience below!!
If you'd like to visit Chris, Sol, Ginger, Orchedia and Eclipse please go to their website: www.gingersparadise.com