Permaculture, bio-construction architecture, well-being and more in a ranch near Colima, Mexico




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 Min stay requested: at least 3 weeks

  • Description


    In the ranch, we develop an eco project based on sustainability, with a spiritual touch and more.
    Updated/Actualizado 2021-July-8th

    The views from the ranch are incredible: 80 km open view towards the mountains of Michoacan to the East and, to the North, the crater of the Volcan de Fuego at 12 km. We want to protect this piece of land with its impressive pines trees, some more than 100 years old, a lot of biodiversity either vegetal or animal: weasel, squirrels, birds such as hawks, mapaches, an harmless boa imperator... and at night, sometimes, one can hear the coyotes yapping while roaming on the slopes of the volcano.

    The long term goal is to demonstrate another way of living, in order to motivate influencers and facilitators and help whoever dreams of starting a similar project.
    We also wish to welcome soon Masters, Teachers, Rimpoches and facilitate their delivery of workshops -e.g. bioconstruction- , trainings -e.g. on the permaculture "flower" themes- and retreats, such as yoga, meditation, personal development, digital detox... in an exceptional and beautiful location, on the slopes of the still active but quiet Volcan de Fuego, a few km from Queseria, in the state of Colima, western Mexico.

    => Please read this profile all the way to the end, since you may find answers to some of your own questions, and questions for you. Thank you !

    => ESP: Por favor, le este perfil hasta la fin porque encontraras respuestas a algunas de tus preguntas y nuestras preguntas para ti. Gracias !
    Si en la traduccion que harias con tu app favorita hay cosas poco claras, puedes preguntarnos, te contestaremos en español.

    In less than one year we have achieved dry toilets, hugelkultur (raised) beds, three composters, solar electricity mini plant, a sun heated water panel for the -primitive- shower, exterior kitchen, grey wastewater filtering ditch with live plants, a watering system for the trees and gardens and planted about 30 fruit trees, dug 200 meters of keyline ditch, a rain water catchment system feeding a 400,000 liters water pond. We produce and use our own bio-fertilizers... and enjoy a horseshoe shaped meditation place surrounded by 4 fig trees, courtesy of two volunteers, and fitted with a meditation bench made of recycled pallets from another wawayer, all designed and achieved during their free time.

    In the short term, we offer workawayers to help us with two main projects in parallel:

    germinating seeds, general garden maintenance, planting more fruit trees, relocating baby pines and parotas, follow-up and expand the vegetable garden... the start towards future food autonomy !

    We'd love to start a medicinal herbs garden if you are experienced in that field.

    Also a little work around the house and locating nopales (cactus), cleaning the vegetation around to get them more sun and grow better. Yes ! pine trees and nopales coexist in the ranch, with guayabos, wild cherry tomatoes, huisaches...
    A must would be your help to identify and document the many species of trees and plants in the ranch.

    If time allows, I'd like to experiment stabilizing small embankments using live plants (and more precisely their roots).
    And install gavions filled with stones to expand the log cabin terrace. This activity, practiced with pick, shovel and gloves (provided) allows good physical activity and burns a lot of calories !

    You are most welcome to suggest any project of yours, in particular when related to our way of living "low impact and frugal" with Mother Nature.

    We started 2021, with the building of a house planned with a wooden structure, "pajarcilla" : clay + straw walls, rainwater catchment, earth based plasters and related Art Projects such as "stain-glass" type windows with reused bottles, decorated rammed earth floors, wood stove, fire places, wood fire water heater, solar electricity system for the house, earth oven (pizza !)

    The foundations were achieved end of March, the carpentry should in July, the roofing mid-August, walls to start late August, etc...

    I have been trained and have practiced bio-construction and will be happy to share with you if you want to learn more about this field and maybe one day build yourself your own home !

    If you want to know more about bio-construction, don't be shy and let me know, I will send you some links.

    => If you have experience in carpentry, please give details. Thank you.

    If we have more than 2 wawayers at a given time, we would also welcome a "logistics leader" (shopping for food, checking the inventory, planing meals, cooking, cleaning) and if time allows and has a taste for it, help with the construction and the garden.
    The logistics leader will get help on a rotating basis from wawayers plus Miguel and Myself. Driving licence would be a plus and so would shift gear cars or motorbike experience.

    ARTS and more :
    The arts part -in the house- will start in September, so please keep in touch for an update on availability in the ranch...
    but... we have other artsy projects which can start earlier -or are already on-going- such as installing an already achieved partition for the shower (bamboo or cane or other local material), signs (wood carving w router), logo, web site, etc... You could also give a hand on designing paths, more meditation places, etc... in the ranch.

    we are looking for people capable of autonomy and initiatives. Please suggest ideas, improvements, we will certainly learn from you a lot. If you hesitate, ask for input either from others workawayers or from Miguel or myself. If you need materials or tools, ask ... and you will be given :-)

    We are open to any ethnicity, religion, country of origin, orientation as long as you share the same tolerance towards others.

    "Work hard, play hard", more on this at the "FUN" section below.

    Clean your mess if you use the kitchen (includes using sponge on the surfaces, the stove, etc...) and please care about the tools we lend you. You break, you replace.

    At the end of your first week we will have a group formal review to make sure everybody can express their opinion or feeling, talk about any issue or concern to help us, as a group, make the necessary adjustments on food, work load, hours, etc...

    DIET :
    We are open to vegetarian food, if you are cooking and are vegetarian yourself. We found having vegetarians cook for everybody a practical choice.
    We sometimes receive the visit of Mexican men, very rarely vegetarians, so there will be meat, but in this case, if you are vegetarian, you won't have to cook it (nor eat it of course !).

    We eat eggs, milk, cheese, all locally made. In fact they milk on the other side of the road and the milk is processed in town. We get organic eggs from a neighboring ranch. We get honey directly from the bees man.
    Of course, many fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, yes, we have.
    As for gluten free, you will have to look in Colima where we could get what you need, advise us on these purchases and manage the cooking.

    So, if you are pure vegan, we fear it will make things quite complex to manage, so the ranch isn't probably going to be a place to make you comfortable, food wise... sorry.

    Food is provided while you are working on the ranch.

    This is just to give an idea, we are flexible according to circumstances such as weather conditions, projects, outings, fun etc...

    We like to match the sun, in order to work comfortably in the morning and have free time in the early afternoon.

    Example in July, when first lights are around 7:00. Breakfast is from 7 to 8, work from 8 to Lunch at 1 pm, unless the climate drives us to work in the afternoon.
    Dinner is in general around 7:30 PM.

    Most go to bed around 9:30 - 10 PM. Quiet hours are from 9 PM to 7:30 AM in the cabañas/terrace, unless everybody is having fun together (playing music, singing, performing, etc...).
    Siesta quiet hours are from around 2 to 4 pm.

    If you cook (lunch and/or dinner) then of course, you will leave your work project half an hour or 45 minutes earlier to get in the kitchen, since cooking is considered part of your work time.

    Breakfast: you can cook something for you and companions, but please, clean your utensils and leave the kitchen tidy. No one else than you will clean the pots and pans you used.

    Everyone who did not cook lunch or dinner cleans h/is/er table ware or we take turns, informally, to respect and support those who have done heavy work in the late afternoon and are a bit more tired than others.

    We are fine if you want to use tools in your free time for a personal project.

    it takes time to teach bio-construction techniques to a beginner and then to have the beginner practice enough to really "absorb" them to be able to use them either in our project or somewhere else on the Planet. For this reason, we favor candidates who look for more than 3 weeks stay or want to follow the project in its whole. We are fine if after three weeks of work you want to take up to seven days "vacations" before coming back.

  • Types of help and learning opportunities

    Types of help and learning opportunities

    Art Projects
    Language practice
    Help with Eco Projects
    DIY and building projects
    Creating/ Cooking family meals
    Help around the house
    General Maintenance

  • UN sustainablity goals this host is trying to achieve

    UN sustainablity goals this host is trying to achieve

    UN goals
    No poverty
    Zero hunger
    Good health and well-being
    Quality education
    Gender equality
    Clean water and sanitation
    Affordable and clean energy
    Decent work and economic growth
    Industries, innovation and infrastructure
    Reduce inequality
    Sustainable cities and communities
    Responsible consumption and production
    Climate action
    Life below water
    Life on land
    Peace, justice and strong institutions
    Partnerships for the goals
  • Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    When partners deliver bio-construction workshops in the ranch, if you are interested and your work allows, I would get you an access for free. Note that they speak Spanish, but since most of the teaching is through practice you should be able to learn while burning calories and having fun !

    Robert can share about Mexican culture from an ex-foreigner view point since he has spent more than 11 years in, and visited most of, Mexico. Miguel can share about Mexican culture from a native's view point.

    We can practice Spanish, English, French and Italian (ja vahan suomea) and Robert can share stories and experience having traveled in several dozen countries.

    Miguel does not live full time in the ranch but he loves vegetables and of course Mexican cuisine.
    When time allows, Robert likes to prepare Italian dishes, or French, Moroccan, Thai, Vietnamese, Greek.
    We'd love to taste yours, if you fancy cooking ;-)

  • Help


    Please see the planning above about the main projects.
    In general, we do expect to get help in the kitchen.

    Be ready for physical activities (shovel, pick, wheelbarrow) in particular for bio-construction.

  • Languages

    Languages spoken
    English: Fluent
    Spanish: Fluent
    French: Fluent
    Italian: Intermediate
    Finnish: Beginner
    Russian: Beginner

    This host offers a language exchange
    This host has indicated that they are interested in sharing their own language or learning a new language.
    You can contact them directly for more information.

  • Accommodation


    - One bedroom in the log cabin... it is not airtight so you may see a few harmless spiders and Nefertiti the cat might come to visit at night. Since the room is also used for food storage, the door stays open during the day.
    The bed is for two people, so it would be given in priority to a couple, when one joins us.

    - We just opened another room, with a foldable camp bed (like in the military) and a mattress.
    In it we keep the books and a printer, and if in the dry season you decide to stay in a tent you can store your backpack there, since the door stays open during the day.

    - in the dry season, several tents are available -sized for 4 people says the label- but it will be only for you alone so you will have plenty of room and enjoy the soft "mattress" of pine needles... and above it, a wide mattress.

    Of course, first come, first served.

    With our fine climate and a warm sleeping bag, you may prefer to stay in the "tapanco del salón multiusos", unless you prefer sleeping under the stars ! A fold-able camp bed is provided if you wish so.

    Siesta time is fine, there are hammocks in the covered terrace and you are welcome to move one to go relax under the trees instead.

    The temperatures can range from 14 C in the morning (7 C during the last cold front in February) to 32 C around 2 pm (siesta time !) and around 18 C after sunset.

    The rainy season starts around mid-June and lasts until mid-October, with showers.
    The house we are building in 2021 is roofed, so you could also camp there.

    in 2020 we had only once 5 days in a row with fog during the rainy season... it feels then like being in a poetic movie, with a golden light all around us at sunrise and sunset !

    => Because bugs called "alacranes" may sting, please don't walk bare foot, especially at night, unless you fancy a painful experience. For the same reason, please wear gloves (provided) if you move rocks or old wood.

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    DUE TO THE PANDEMIC, we expect you to keep social distancing and wear a mask when driving with me for the first 5 days of your stay. Robert has been vaccinated.

    => WORKING ATTIRE... please use closed shoes while working in the ranch: Best if working boots, a must is with steel toes for carpentry.
    Bring also a hat (we can provide some) and a flashlight.
    We will provide gloves, lumbar belt and other protective equipment when needed.

    ATTIRE: In general, have at least one long pants, one long sleeves shirt and a sweater.

    There are very few mosquitoes (June to September), sometimes a few tiny flies at dawn and dusk. We provide repellent.

    Smoking is allowed ONLY on the covered terrace (remember, there are lots of pine trees around). Prefer tobacco with no cigarette butts. Please check the breeze direction and stay downwind from non smoker companions.

    Drinking reasonably is ok after 6 pm. Not during daytime for safety reasons, we want to avoid accidents since we use power tools and the hospitals are far away, not to mention they are already very busy during the pandemic.

    The introduction and/or possession and/or use of drugs that are illegal in Mexico is strictly forbidden within the limits of the ranch. We'll ask for a copy of your ID and prescription if you have one.

    We tend to impact our lovely environment as less as possible, so please do NOT bring waste and do NOT use shampoo (even if it pretends it is "bio-degradable"), we'll provide you with coco soap which works very well for hair and body.

    We like Jazz, Classical, soft music. Please bring your earphones if you need loud music (or rap, metal, ... we'll tell you :-) since your companions may want to re-connect with the sounds of Nature, breeze in the pines, birds, insects, amphibians, etc...

    If you have seen the documentary “The Social Dilemma” on Netflix, you will have a great opportunity to let rest your cell phone during the work hours in the ranch.

    We receive good Telcel signal for cel phones. Of course you are free to use your own cel phone credit during your free time.

    Please turn to silent mode to avoid disturbing your companions with the notifications "bing"

    If you don't have a cel phone and have a sick parent and want to be called in case of a REAL emergency, we'll provide you with an emergency number to reach us and we'll let you know right away so you can call back.

    There is only radio internet at the ranch (no fiber), so if you need to do a research for your project, and need a wider screen than on a smartphone, we will let you use our computer and our credit.

    We relax a couple days camping on the Pacific beaches every other two weeks or so, fishing, swimming, helping with the baby turtles release, watching whales or surfers riding waves.

    About cities: Guadalajara is at 200 km, Colima and the Comala "Pueblo Magico" are at 30 km, the closest beach is at 80 km.

    You can walk to our typical Mexican village in 25 minutes and enjoy lots of beautiful walks and hikes around the ranch and the volcano... and jogging opportunities too.

    We love outdoors sports: swimming, snorkeling, river kayaking, cañyoning, bouldering... just ask us about your preferred ones.
    Miguel practices MMA. Robert loves Tango.

    There are many wood benches located in quiet and beautiful places in the ranch for you to relax or meditate.

    We often receive Mexican volunteers or visit local friends, so you'll have the opportunity to meet locals and probably enjoy Mexican fiestas :-)

    After the first week in the ranch, we expect you to let us know AT LEAST a couple days ahead of your plans to leave the ranch to rest elsewhere or explore the region for a couple days. As an average, you will have two free days off work after 5 days work.
    And please a week ahead if you plan to leave the ranch permanently, so we can organize and give positive response to other fellow potential volunteers. Than you.

    We are happy to drive you around, and/or if we organize fun activities for you, in these cases, volunteers pay for the fuel/toll expenses and for their food while not helping in the ranch.

    Again, you should bring your working boots (better if steel toes, if you have already), hat and a sleeping bag. If you don't have, you could buy those in Colima, I will take you to shops. Working boots are around MXN 800, hat 120, yoga type mat 300 and a sleeping bag 800.

    We recommend : yoga type mat, flash light, warm clothes for the evenings, long pants (best is cotton, light color), one long sleeves shirt and of course a swimming suit (best if 2 for when we camp on the beach).

    If you come with a low ground clearance car, it can be safely parked on a private ranch just out of the village and we'll fetch you and your gear with a 4X4 vehicle, for a 7 minutes ride to the ranch.

    We can fetch you and your gear either at the Colima Airport (code CLQ) or at "La Central" de autobuses de Colima.
    If you need to go to and come back from Colima without us, a bus runs about every 45 minutes from the village to Colima "La Central" de autobuses. It stops in several villages in between so the trip takes about one hour.
    We'll give you more details if we decide to move forward together.

    Thank you for reading up to here, it shows you are really interested !

    On a scale from 1 (Urban prince/ss - heavy maintenance) to 10 (Indiana Jones - no maintenance at all) do you rate yourself at 6 and above ?
    Does a pioneer lifestyle suits you ?

    => please, start your request to stay with us with the word "Cristal" to confirm you have read, understood and will abide to the ranch's rules, in particular those above. Thank you.

    ESP => Por favor, inicia tu pedido de quedarse con nosotros con la palabra "Claro" para confirmar que has leido, entendido y cumpliras con las reglas del rancho y en particular con las que leiste arriba. Gracias.

    So, if you feel comfortable with the above and want to contact us, here are some questions for you:

    0- are you looking for a cheap vacation in Mexico or have you got a strong motivation in our project ? Please explain.

    None of the following question is critical, we assume you'd be happy to learn new skills and expand your comfort zone if relevant.

    1- which project(s)/help, you feel you would contribute best to ? Have skills for or experience in / would have more fun with ?
    2- what primitive camping situations have you already experienced ?
    3- are you ok with dry toilet (compost toilet), exterior shower, both with medium privacy
    4- how much practice do you have with shovel, pick, wheelbarrow, simple garden and/or construction tools ?
    5- how much practice do you have with power tools (wood working, garden weed wacker, chain saw ...)
    6- if you have a driving license, what about your shifting gears (NON automatic car), motorbike or 4x4 experience ?
    7- if we don't see any Workaway reference of yours, what kind of volunteer experience have you got if any ?
    8- what do you cook best (lol) if you do cook
    9- what experience do you have sharing a living space (kitchen, dining area, etc...) with others ?
    10- Planning : please confirm your preferred dates and your flexibility around them... so we can check there will be room for you at the time other volunteers will leave
    11- Is this going to be your first trip to Mexico ? Which other countries have you traveled to ? Do you usually prefer to travel solo ?
    12- where will you be during the couple weeks before your preferred dates of starting with us ? Already in Mexico ? Where ?
    Thank You !

  • A little more information

    A little more information

    • Internet access

    • Limited internet access

      Limited internet access

    • We have pets

    • We are smokers

    • Can host families

  • Space for parking camper vans

    Space for parking camper vans

    Low ground clearance vehicles are no recommended due to the access track from the village. During the rainy season, the shortest access to the ranch may requiere a 4x4

  • Can possibly accept pets

    Can possibly accept pets

    Non-Alpha cat should be OK. No dogs please (to not chase Nefertiti, and Markus, the cats !) Other pets, please explain in your request to stay.

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?

    More than two

  • ...

    Hours expected

    about 5 hours a day, 5 days a week

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Host ref number: 717759249946