Waste Not

“Machigua” Nica for pig slop.

I’ve worked in restaurants for over 20 years. It’s fast paced challenging work; I’ve always enjoyed it. Though, as with all jobs, there are aspects that have frustrated me. The most upsetting thing about working restaurants is witnessing the mountains of food thrown away every day —breakfast, lunch and dinner… breakfast, lunch and dinner, 365 days a year.  Reputable research informs us that forty percent of the consumable food in the U.S. is thrown away; a statistic that has consumed me in the way thoughts of the ocean’s garbage gyres can drag me below the surface of despair.

When I lived in Chicago, I would leave the restaurant and sometimes see people sifting through the still nourishing food we threw into a vile trash bin; salvaging bits, tainted only because we’d put them in an unsanitary place. We also sent weekly meals to a homeless shelter, but it didn’t assuage the guilt I felt for serving piles of food that few could possibly finish, but to many who would complain if the portions were reduced. Some want their money’s worth, even if it is only to throw it away.

probecho!

probecho!

Finally, I have a restaurant job that has solved this dilemma. At La Finca y El Mar all of our waste is sorted: citrus rinds for compost, plate waste for pigs, plastics, glass and cardboard recycled, which creates a significantly decreased trash output .

Lucas. He was so emaciated and infested when Felipe took him in we doubted he'd live. But, He's gaining weight...yes, he was thinner.

Lucas. He was so emaciated and infested when Felipe took him in we doubted he’d live. But, He’s gaining weight…yes, he was thinner.

Felipe comes to the restaurant each morning and collects the food waste bins. The pigs get a diverse and tasty supplement to their feed, his adopted farm dog Lucas, enjoys the pork scraps and bones he and his coworkers pull out of the pig’s portion, the compost benefits from a boost of acidity for our alkaline soil, and I am freed from agonizing over my contribution to waste and indifference.

Probecho piggies!

Walk this Way

Daily walks are essential to me, so today I set out to chart and time my route to work and find a good daily stroll.

What my  walk to work looks like.

What my walk to work looks like.

About twenty minutes later…

I arrive at the club house.

I arrive at the club house.

Twenty minutes is perfect to clear my head before work, but for health and sanity at least an hour is required.

After an hour on the trails...

After an hour on the trails…

Playa Escondido

Playa Escondido

Kind of like home, but with a beach!

Kind of like home, but with a beach!

The end of the trail.

The end of the trail.

After a couple of hours on Rancho Santana’s clean but thankfully not overly groomed hiking trails, I will rest well and be ready for my first day at El Finca y El Mar.

What do you do the day before you start a new job?

Good Morning Nicaragua

Good Morning Nicaragua

Good Morning Nicaragua

I haven’t thought much at all about how I’m going to blog about my three month stay in Nicaragua, thus, for this first post I will write it as personal travel diary.

Entering Nicaragua was simple, it lacked the tension of Mexico’s immigration “will they or will they not give me the length of visa I desire”. It did however require ten U.S. dollars, which of course I did not have. Fortunately, there’s a currency exchange in immigration. The cashier seemed baffled that I would have only Mexican pesos, but was helpful and friendly .

My friend picked me up and I felt at home immediately though I had not seen him in 15 years. His car was covered in dust, just like the bocho, and we caught up on each other’s history on two and a half hour drive to Rancho Santana.

I was relieved when we stopped at a couple of artisans shops, where he’s having some things made for the restaurant, that I understood everything that was said.

We had another encounter with the dollar at a local grocery. The register rings up both in Cordova’s and U.S. dollars, but your change comes in Cordovas regardless of how you pay.

This morning is very blustery. Rancho Santana’s location, on the isthmus of Nicaragua, ensures ample breezes. Thus far it feels a lot like home, except that I listened to the ocean as I fell asleep rather than the waves of air pouring down the Cerro Frio.