Pippin the Arch-Wizard in Venezula
In October nineteen ninety four , I left England forever. I burnt my boats and did it. I sold my business and my house, said goodbye to my family and friends and left. My plan was to spend half a year traveling around to confirm the studies that I had done. I had a list of favored places, most of them in South America. I knew it was going to be a dramatic change of life style. Finally after six months of searching I found what I was looking for in the Northern Mountains of Venezuela. I bought a farm. If I said it is approximately one mile square, that will give you an idea of its size. The farm stands on the side of a valley. Rich mountain air blows down the valley keeping us fairly comfortable even in our dry season. The mountainside is heavily forested and inhabited by many animals. The monkeys are very much in evidence. We have both Red Howlers and the famous and mischievous organ grinder monkey, the Capuchin. Most notable too are the large number of tropical birds. A group of canaries sing outside my window every morning. The multicolored Macaws are a remarkable sight as they wheel in formation across the valley., making a hell of a din with their cries.
The arable area follows the line of the valley although the mountain fields are first class grazing for our 100 cows. The soil in the valley is rich red volcanic stuff, deposited thousands of years ago. We usually have a heavy planting program, firstly two large fields of tomatoes. We hope to catch the market early when the price is good. We have been carefully cultivating a number of different types of sweet potato. The one available here is very gray and tasteless. Potatoes of course will not grow here we are too hot. We are only a few degrees off the equator. We have planted a large field with thousands of Papaya trees. This is an f1 variety from Taiwan and proved very popular here last time we planted it. A special type of French bean, called 'yard long 'also did well last time and we have planted it again this year.
We always hope to have two crops of maize. The first is sold fresh on the cob for the preparation of a national dish called Jojoto, Js are pronounced as h. The second crop will be allowed to go dry and will be used by our small chicken farm in the dry season.
Although we have a heavy planting program we are always aware that we share this land with the animals that were here before us. We use the fields that have been traditionally used by the farm and make no incursion into areas that are occupied by the many animals that are too numerous to mention.
When you live in a remote area, you find yourself using some of the old skills not necessary in more civilized places. For example we make our own sauerkraut. I love it others hate it. You may recall that I lived in Germany for six years; it is just a matter of sophistication. We smoke our own chicken and fish. I make kipper and haddock look-alikes, I swear I cannot tell the difference from the real thing. Then we make a blue cheese and Brie, from our own milk of course as well as an excellent mango wine to wash it down. On the animal front, we were blessed with another baby horse and much to our amazement Jenny our lovely donkey arrived at the house with the most beautiful daughter. We have named her Tessa. Only some of our 12 horses are tame.
We have a total of eight howler monkeys living around the immediate compound. The last two, Marco and Donna have only been here a month. Donna is tiny and needs 24 hours attention. Marco very quickly integrated into the group and we only see him at mealtimes now. Of course this is monkey country, and there are about twenty families in the forest surrounding the house. My advice is, if you don't like monkeys don't come. They do tend to get involves with just about everything on the farm. They also have their likes and dislikes of people. In fact they behave much like humans in that respect. We have two cottages and this year we have been refitting them extensively. Most people, when they visit us, stay in the main house but a number have said that they would have brought family with them if we had the facility. The refurbishing of these cottages will make that possible. I am well. In fact I have never felt healthier, the air here near the forest is very oxygen-rich and is very invigorating. In fact many people say that for the first few days they find the richness of the air rather tiring. Pollution is at zero. The fresh fruit that we eat in large quantities every day, is also very good for well being. My day starts with breakfast which I gather from the garden and the forest. There is a bounty of fresh fruit.
Well you can imagine that with all the activities here, there is never a dull moment. But I have to say that I have never regretted my decision to come here. We have no landline telephone although we are well served with cell phones. This means of course no navigating the web from the house. We do have e-mail via amateur packet radio. The local town also has a couple of cyber cafes for when I need to do any serious internet. Finally if I were asked if there was anything that I miss. I would be bound to say that I miss the company of fellow middle earthers. What wonderful and enduring friendships I was able to form in my years active in Multi User Games. Fortunately many of you have kept in regular touch with me by e-mail and a few have even visited.
To old friends and foes and to new friends, please keep in touch. I love to hear from you. See you in the Shade
|Pippin and Domina|
|Roberto and Iguana|
|Amstar (centre) and Richard meets Govenor|
|Richard last night...|