Finally coming out from under an “update embargo” due to the delicate nature of discussions with CO2 Bambu shareholders, creditors, customers, partners and employees, but FINALLY we can share what’s up.
So what’s up is a fundamental move along our Green Global Trek Trajectory. Faithful readers of this blog will remember that when we moved to Nicaragua 5 years ago, our vision was to live sequentially in global destinations of our choice, always with intent to become actors not just mere observers in our chosen communities. There is much to be said about being travellers as opposed to tourists in a new destination. A traveller is less bound by return ticket deadlines and as a result is more prone to be opportunistic. But if a traveller has an opportunity for a greater appreciation of the destination than a tourist, so does a sequential global resident have more of a chance for a truly authentic experience than a traveller.
Our mission in Nicaragua was nothing short of launching a bamboo industry. We funded bamboo plantations, then eventually formed a business that grew to be the dominant actor in Nicaragua, for bamboo construction. We shaped legislation and government regulations, we created projects, we convinced global actors such as the World Bank to opt for climate mitigating eco-constructions for victims of hurricane Felix. We trained and employed over 200 employees and we built over 150 homes. Such was the vision and the reality we created through perseverance, creativity, political engineering, strategic alliance and a healthy dose of personal resilience. We made great friends and had countless opportunities to have impact.
We moved to a new land, Nicaragua and made it our home. We learned the language, explored the rich landscape of Nicaragua, from its Pacific beaches to its cloud forests atop volcanoes. We became Granadinos. Our home became a thriving stop for yoginis, bamboo enthusiasts and animal lovers.
Our four boys visited Nicaragua, at different times, and on one occasion we even found ourselves in a sort of “Highland Park South” – with Adam working at a Sushi restaurant in San Juan del Sur, Ezra camping on Ometepe island and Oren launching his career in the sports industry, meeting for week-end playtime in Calle Corrales.
We are thrilled that our vision of creating a space for our sons to experience life in a developing country and pick up some Spanish language skills in the process, was fully realized. Oren turned out to lead the pack, having become quasi “native” in Granada, with a full fledged support and friends network, being able to converse in Spanish no problem, participating as the only gringo in a basketball league and even taking significant steps to create a career of his choice that relates to the sports industry.
Beyond our kids, we had a multitude of friends and family visit us in Granada as they explored our host country – Chantal, Dina, Shani, Stan, Bluma, Loie, Chris, Emma, Mike, Sharon, Aaron, Karen, Clay, Gili and Maya. We also grew our circle of female friends exponentially, welcoming Noelia, Maya, Naieli, Ananda, Heather, Kari, Brook, Nikki, Rasa, Kris, Charo and Loarnna, all independent, smart, brave women making their way through Latin America, into our inner circle.
We saved many lives. At last count, Peta had nursed at least 25 kittens from discovery to release into the hands of loving adoptive families. These poor kittens, most of them scrawny, malnourished, frightened, flea infected bundles of love, rescued by neighborhood boys “on alert” to spot these babies, discarded as they typically were like trash in the street, with no concern for their imminent death. Yet, with tender, loving care, most of these babies made it through their fragile beginnings. We lost a few, but not many.
While less dramatic, there was also the canine contingent. These animals, long favorites of Peta who captured their undaunted spirits through her series of paintings “Stray dogs of Nicaragua”, eventually came to realize that they had a friend and reliable safe haven on Calle Corral. Of course, first there was Teddy, the small, furry mess who became one of Peta’s foremost canine love and “models”. The word (or bark?) spread and Peta’s daily ritual started to include the feeding of nearly a dozen frequent canine visitors. Two dogs in particular will always be remembered. Princessa of course, as her soulful eyes combined with “love me now” antics earned her an “open door” invitation to sleep in our house.
Princessa came and went freely, depending on the weather (more visits during the rainy season) and her desire to connect with her “Nicaraguan family”, who lives down the street. She gradually became more of a permanent feature in our home, though always relishing her right to go in and out of the house, roaming the streets as she pleases with none of the constraints of more domesticated “pets”. Princessa was sweet and loving in the house, yet ferocious and highly protective once in the street, barking and chasing away cars, bicycles and pedestrians alike, to ensure “our safety”.
The other dog who stole Peta’s heart is “Scarface”. An old, tired, extraordinarily skinny german shepherd, who not so long ago roamed the streets, walking head down, no longer expecting anything positive from life… Then Peta started to talk to him. She offered food, but that was not what all he wanted nor needed. He simply needed acknowledgement of his existence and friendship. He would lay his heavy head in her hands, just taking a break from life on the street and life in general. He started to visit daily for a ration of love, as well as food and water. He is an old dog and we don’t expect him to survive the harsh conditions of Granada’s street life for much longer, but we know Peta made a difference. His last weeks are punctuated by a strong, human connection – such an important dimension of a dog’s life.
We secured a renter two days before leaving. He fell in love with the house and was a good match given his willingness to keep our “network” going. There is a “scarface and princessa” clause in our rental contract. He is to keep loving (and feeding) them.
It is therefore with a bittersweet mixture of excitement toward our next adventure and sadness at leaving our “extended family”, furry and human, and home, that we close the Nicaragua chapter (for now) and turn the page.
The title of our next chapter: INDOCHINA.
Of course, it has not been as easy as just flipping the switch. We have had to sell our bamboo loft (Peta managed to do it in 2 hours!), rent our Granada house (Peta did that 2 weeks!), sell or give a large chunk of our material possessions, pack that which we will store for when we return to Nicaragua and generally reduce our belongings to the strictest minimum, in order to be able to travel light (ha! We still need to shed 40% of what we took with us).
Meanwhile, Ben focused on repositioning CO2 Bambu into a business development / program management focused entity, transferring technical capability and assets to a “successor company” that was started by CO2 Bambu’s technical director. Weeks of tough discussions with shareholders and customers constituted Ben’s contribution to our transition. CO2 Bambu’s “business” was due to be completed by mid June, allowing us a fairly comfortable budget of 4 weeks to deal with personal affairs. Double ha!! In fact, Ben worked well into the very last night, signing off on proposals on Monday evening, as our flight departed Tuesday morning. The hoped for “downtime” proved elusive. The stress level was “off the charts”, as there was much to do in order to leave everything in good order, in Nicaragua, as we launched into the next life adventure.
And now here we are on a plane, on the way to California, for a three-stop trip to Los Angeles, then Portland, then San Francisco to see family members before the big jump to Indochina.
Where will we live?
What will we do?
How will we adjust to the language barrier?
What furry and human friends will constitute our extended family in Asia?
These and oh so many questions are the reasons we invite you all to read on… as we start the SECOND tranche of our Green Global Trek.
Our opening move:
Hanoi and Hoi An in Vietnam, before visiting (per today’s plans) Luan Prabang and Vientiane (Laos) and Chiang Mai (Thailand).
See you all on the other side of a long airplane ride.