Sunday, October 28, 2007

Team Pun Pun

At the counter of the Internet cafe where I printed the directions, a nice young British guy offered me a ride to the truck on his motorcycle...I normally wouldn't do this, especially in a foreign country, but he was friends of the owner of the Internet cafe, and he seemed very well respected, so I though, what the hell. IF I don't take him up on it, I may miss the truck!

I gathered my things quickly, tied up all my loose ends, and made it to the pick up spot with 10 minutes to spare. Joe (whom I later found out is the owner of the farm) greeted me with a big Thai smile and explained to me that the truck would take about 2 hours, and that it would stop at a few village markets on the way to drop off produce and fish for the people. HE said not to worry, and to sit back and enjoy the ride.

They began loading the back of the truck (the sangthew again with benches in the back) with heaps of fresh produce, and about the biggest fish I'd ever seen dead. I mean, the whole back of the truck was filled to the brim with stuff including me and two elderly Thai women. We began our journey down winding corridors of Thai garage-warehouses. I realized that this was the very place where all those little do-dads that say "Made In Thailand" came from. We continued out of town and into the countryside, stopping at local markets and dropping off produce, and boxes and rugs. It was really cool to be a part of how it all works. To actually be the middle-man! I helped in the best way I could.

When we pulled up at the entrance to the Pun Pun Organic Farm, it was almost exactly what I had imagined given Peggy's description in the directions, except turned around a bit. What I found when I walked onto the farm was a totally different story.

I was greeted at the beginning of the rice patties by an English-speaking Monk (every village needs at least one) who lead me through the patties and up the hill to the farm. I took my flip flops off and greeted the residents, none of them speaking any English except for the broken vocabulary of the monk. HE offered me lunch, and I was famished, so I accepted. I asked if Peggy was around (I'd never met her before) and the showed me to where she was working.

She greeted me up to her elbows in mud. I gave her a hug, and thanked her for having me, already completely amazed by what my eyes had seen, but the best was yet to come! Peggy was right in the middle of working on a project in one of the Earthen houses. It was then that I realized what amazing treasure I had stumbled upon. This place was like an ewok village! She led me up to the project, and I asked if I could help. She smiled and said "of course, we'll put you right to work". I walked with her to the site and got my hands dirty with work...literally. She had made a mixture of mud, water and tapioca to "paint" the walls of one of the earthen houses. For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, it looks like an Adobe house, but it's made out of mud instead of clay, and boy are they beautiful. It would literally blow your mind if you could see what just mud is capable of, it blew mine alright! I stuck my hands in the mud mixture and began smearing the walls in a reddish brown colored natural paint, and loved every second of it. I even covered my arms in mud so that I felt really connected. I guess that's kind of a childish instinct, but it was fun!

When the work was done for the day, Peggy showed me around the farm. She gave me the full tour of the orchards, all of the 10 or 12 buildings that they had made from the ground up, and introduced me to all of the residents along the way. She showed me to my house which turned out to be the VIP house (how I scored that I had no idea!) The place was lovely. Terra-cotta in color and decorated perfectly. IT had bottles protruding through the walls to allow for light, and an open floor plan in the entry way. The bedroom was separated by an archway clad with various bottle caps. It was marvelous. Before I knew it, the dinner bell rang, and it was time for a beautifully organic dinner.

Everything we ate at Pun Pun, 3 meals a day was grown there on the farm (except the mushrooms I think), from the rice, to the herbs and vegetables to the passion fruit wine. Everyone contributed to the meal in one way or another. Some helped gather while others cooked and others cleaned. It was quite symbiotic. It was perfect. You could walk around the farm all day pulling fresh berries and passion fruits from the trees and drinking rain water. How much better does it get?

I don't want to call the farm a commune, because it didn't fit my exact connotation of one. To me a commune means that there is a leader and a lot of little worker bees, bu that everyone benefits from the fruits of their labor...and there is usually weed involved. Not Pun Pun. Pun Pun was simply about living healthy, helping each other, and making things with your natural surroundings, and not wasting a bit. I mean not even a seed or a piece of wood or your own urine! Everything had a way to be re-used. It was quite remarkable really. I could go on and on about the operations there and everybody's jobs, but I'll wait to tell you all in person.

During my time on Pun Pun, I learned a bit about farming and permaculture, natural architecture, construction, cooking, and living a perfectly harmonious life with the people, plants and animals that surround you. I learned how we should all be living, and I think I learned how I'd like to live. I could seriously consider living there for a few months and learning the ways of the farm in depth. To me, this was heaven on earth, and I was lucky enough to spend three waking days on it.

I could write so much more, but in the best interest of your eyes in mine, I'll end it there. Dont' worry, I wrote about 10 pages in my journal while I was there too!