This blog's for ME

Almost 25 years old, asking my parents if I can sleep in their bed with them. I had thought I was going to be the 25th Prime Minister of Canada. Things had changed. 10 years later, I was still a scared little boy. The time had come to slap myself awake. One Saturday morning, November 19th, 2009, I declared to the world I would be riding my 10 year-old motorcycle from Vancouver, BC Canada to Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, and back.

The official departure was August 28th, 2010. A group of well-wishers saw me off at 8:03 am.

I arrived in Rio de Janeiro around 6 pm March 1st, 2011.



My return to Vancouver came on July 5th, 2011 about 2:00 pm.

Drug & alcohol abuse, ADD, social anxiety, health, chronic pain, night terrors.

So many concerns. But I am far more interested in this question: Do I have the capacity to make this trip despite all my shortcomings?

My mission: To inspire myself to face my fears, enlighten myself on how all living things can peacefully co-exist, enjoy every moment, and see the world as plentiful and generous.

Go ahead. Call me crazy. Call me anything you like.

I'm out to save my world.



I LOVE YOU ALL



Questions, comments, concerns, threats? Contact me: jason.chapman99@gmail.com


La Finca

"Why would you want to come all that way to see us? It's not that special!" Dee exclaimed. I assured Dee, a down-to-earth British citizen I had met in the restaurant of our hotel it would be worth it for me. Somehow she gave me a vision of a couple fighting against the odds in the Costa Rican wilderness, comitted to sustainability and self-sufficiency. I had no clue exactly where in the country her finca, (spanish for 'farm') was, but I was determined that night I would get there by Saturday. As I made my way through the rainy, cold mountains of Arenal Volcano on a 2 hour detour, I began to regret my decision.

Already one day after promised, I looked at the 2x3 card with the instructions on how to get to her place. "Hojancha to La Libertad Guanacaste 1 km de la escuelita 2 wooden gates Ray". 14 words were all I had to go on. Arriving safely in Hojancha, Guanacaste, I stop at a roadside restaurant, tempted by the ad for BBQ chicken. The waitress confirms that La Libertad does indeed exist, and is close. I confirm this with a fellow that spoke perfect English: it's about 3 miles away. He cleared up for me that La Libertad was just a store with a couple houses around it; like a village of sorts. As I suspected, I hit a dirt road going straight through the town, watching carefully for the school, or escuilita, Dee referred to, assuming the 2 wooden gates, and the entrance to the farm, would be just another 2 km away. Driving around a bend about 3 km later than desired, I flag down a couple bikers going the opposite direction; the first guy waves back and keeps going, the 2nd doesn't even acknowledge my attempt. The first guy ends up turning around and stops to help me.

I explain what I'm looking for, and he motions back the way I came. I turn around, thinking I was on my own, ignoring him turn left about a 100 m back on the road, and, thinking twice, turn back again to follow him. By this time, he had noticed I wasn't following him, and returned to fetch me. Turns out he was going to show me the way. Meanwhile another fellow was following me and almost hit me as I stop suddenly to talk to him. Now I've got two guys helping me, and I explain again the limited directions I had. The first guy is now sure he knows where I'm going, and I follow. Down the road and to the left, another km and we are stopped at some gates, which were not wooden, but he was sure it was the place. He explained to me who he was and his job, but I wasn't exactly sure but I think he was an insurance salesman, and was explaining himself to me in hopes I would put in a plug with the finca owners I was about to meet.

I hastily bid farewell and headed up the road, which degraded quickly into a washed out area quite difficult to maneuver; one false move on the bike and I'd be in the ditch, or at least the deep gullies saved only by the high spots. A house comes up on the right, and a local is sitting on the front porch. I tell them I'm friends with Dee Ray and he shakes his head in acknowledgement and lets me through another gate. I'm now faced with a steep hill at about a 45 degree pitch, the steepest I had ever tried on my cruiser. Slowly, and surely I climb, up and around a long bend, only to be met with another gate, but this time, heavy but with a single pneumatic wheel to assist. There's a large bolt I figure needs to be removed before I can attempt to move the gate. Down another road, and i come upon a large spread, with a couple houses, both magnificent in their own right, and a covered area with two Range Rovers.

The house is dark, and I stop to have a look around on the verandah to catch my breath and wonder how the hell I was going to get back down that hill. I wasn't ready to give up quite yet, so I rapped loudly on the two wooden entrance doors, and waited for an answer. Nothing. I try again. Still nothing. I take out my camera in hopes of at least getting some photos of the place I had so valiantly achieved in finding when a tall, bald fellow opens the door with a quizzical look. I explain to him I was a journalist and had met Dee at the Best Western, and he starts to soften. "What was your first name again?" I ask him sheepishly. "Ray", he replies with a why-don't-you-know-that look, and I defend, saying "Oh, geez I'm sorry I thought Ray was your last name." Note to self: ease up on the rum and coke when you're writing down crucial information about people, or at least write down more details. I decline his offer to come in for a drink, and he decides to fetch Dee, who is down with the horses. I tell him I'll wait and have a much needed cigarette.

I quickly surmise Ray is not one for idle chit chat, as he quickly jumps on his Yamaha ATV, burns out of the yard, and returns before I finish my cigarette, with Dee and her black rubber boots sitting behind him. Now recovered from the shock of seeing me, Dee tells me she left a message on my hotel phone saying "if you really intend on coming you should really get better directions." Turns out it was that same message that Eddy had tried to retrieve 3 days earlier; I thought it was an error and foolishly ignored his pleas for help with the phone technology.

"Would you like to join Ray on a tour of the fina?" Dee asked. "Would I? That would be great!" I reply enthusiastically. She looks at my black cowboy boots and says "It can be a bit treacherous walking, would you like some other shoes?" she asks. "I'll be fine," I say, wondering if my independence was ill-advised. It turned out to be the least of my worries, as holding onto the back of the trike as Ray flew up and down the rocky roads became a test of arm strength. I felt awkward grabbing onto the waist of a grown man I had only known for 5 minutes, and chose instead to tenuously hold onto the back rails. We stop on the top of the bluff, and Ray tells me a bit about his cattle, and teak operation. Here's a clip of him:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVZgsQH3IBE

Ray caught on to the natural filtration system for the abundant water on his farm, and tapped into it. Through a series of pipes and tanks, he is able to not only store water for the farm's use, but for him and Dee and their five workers. The only maintenance required is a twice-a-year cleanout of the tanks; eschewing the modern-day addiction to chlorine and water treatment, the Davey's haven't had a problem in 5 years. Storing the water in the rainy season, they are able to have drinking water year-round without any form of outside water supply.

This doesn't take anything away from the forest of teak he has planted, which has a miraculous ability to regenerate, and grow quickly. Originally he would arrange to ship the teak himself, but after too many headaches, chose to sell them FOB his door. After only 6 months, these trees can grow over 10 feet after being cut to the ground. There are other uses for trees in the local area. You can see 'live fences' of trees, strewn with wire, that were once branches pruned from their mothers, growing tall and strong after a 48 hour 'dry-out' period, and a simple push into the soil.

Their cattlemen use horses to check on the cows 3 times a week, and move them from pasture to pasture to avoid over-grazing. Each of their workers, including a maid, are able to buy into the herd with the money they earn from their work. As Ray mentioned, their money can double or triple in just a year and a half. They've taken to buying quarters, and halves of cows separately, as a cow fully owned that is bitten by a snake could represent a 100% loss in investment should it die. It has also forced the workers to care much more about the health, and safety of the cows, due to their vested interest. With an unemployment rate around 50%, these 5 seem gracious for the opportunities given to them. As Ray and Dee don't care as much about making heaps of money, they have room in their lives to make heaps of difference for others.

We sat down for a nice pasta dinner, and talked about their experience of Zimbabwe from '93 to '00, and got out just before Mugabe went crazy. They wanted a place that was hot, and their sights led them to Costa Rica. There are many problems in this country, but the Davey's are doing their part to make it just a bit better.

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Videos of my journey

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