Sorry everyone, I announced my blog to the world last week and then went silent. Terrible launch on my part, apologies. But can you believe I had over 1,000 views last week?! Bananas!

So, if you’re wondering what I’ve been up to, this post is for you.

For the last 11 or so days (they all blend together), I have been living at Finca Palmita. I hesitate to translate finca to ‘farm’, because it’s not… It’s more like a little piece of land on the outskirts of San Gil where they grow local medicinal plants. Some of you have suggested I’ve become a “hippy”, that my lifestyle is “Bohemian”, that maybe I’m a “flower child at heart”. Someone even called me a beatnik. Amazing to think that only a year ago I was sorting a 26 tab Excel spreadsheet and fumbling attempts to speak a bit of Czech to a distributor with a blank expressions.

Another favourite public artwork – Mother Earth on a wall of the finca

So, what’s life on our finca like? (Yes, I feel like I can say “our”… this little commune is a family). Well, there are 6 of us there are the moment: me, Miguel, Fabio, Peter, Jhonny and Jo (a British chica who lives at the finca part-time). Miguel and his brother Luiz (currently in the US) run the finca as a place to practice clean living and use plants as medicine. It’s completely vegan, with each person taking the task of making meals or cleaning each day. My load is pretty light as I’m the only person paying to stay there (25,000COP/day) as the rest are lifers, but it feels good to chip in when it’s possible.

The communal space where we share meals and I hang out with my new canine BFF, Mikey.


While it’s easy to get along with everyone, I’ve loved spending time with Jhonny. He’s a 21 year old guy, originally from Bucaramanga. He had a tough and bumpy road in life until getting to the farm, and here he’s found a great place. The last few nights he’s taught me salsa while I’ve introduced him to blues, jazz, funk and country music. I’ve been amazed at the reaction Alan Jackson has received… Everyone seems to love “Livin’ on Love” and Jhonny’s two-step is steadily improving.

Jhonny and I after caving yesterday.
The maloca (I sleep upstairs)
The maloca (I sleep upstairs)

Miguel is an ardent lover of his plants, with tons of aloe vera, a hearty coca bush, a sprawling ortiga tree, a baby Ayahuasca vine, new tobacco sprouts, and a flowering scopolamine in the back yard by the river. Each plant has different qualities which can be both healing and dangerous.

Coca tree – despite what you might be thinking, this is totally legal in Colombia. Each person is legally allowed to own up to 20 plans. The leaves are a mild stimulant when chewed, giving the user a burst only slightly stronger than a cup of coffee but lasting much longer. The leaves must be picked by women only, with 1/3 of the leaves taken at each harvest.
The path in the garden down to the river. Aloe vera plants, at right, grow in abundance. They can be excavated whole and hung upside down to purify the air in addition to more popular uses for wound and skin care.
Baby Ayahuasca vine. Miguel and his brother brought this from the jungle in the south of Colombia. They hope this vine will grow and wrap itself around a neighbouring tree, eventually growing to the width of your thigh. Ayahuasca has been used to treat addiction, mental illness, depression, and numerous other disorders. It is considered a sacred and powerful plant, the “Mother”.
Leaf of the ortiga tree. The branches and underside of the leaf have thousands of tiny thorns, and is used externally on the skin as a purifier and blood detoxifier (similar to nettles).
Scopolamine tree… If you’ve seen the Vice documentary* on people becoming being robbed after having powder discretely blown in their faces, this is where it comes from. Scopolamine makes the victim extremely succeptible to any suggestion and will willingly hand over anything the perpetrator asks for. On the other hand, it also has great anti-nausea and anti-inflammation properties.
The lovely scopolamine flower
Another sacred plant of the region – tobacco. Tobacco is believed to carry protective elements and in pure forms is an anti-inflammatory agent that has been shown to reduce risks/delay onset of Alzheimers and Parkinson’s. Tobacco is also used as an agent to increase absorption of other medicinal plants. Can be taken as a gum salve (like chew), smoked or snorted (ouch). Effects are calming and give the user a clear and focused mind for better discussion in group circles.

Among my other teachers, there is Mikey and his life partner, Lupé. After being attached by a German Shepherd as a kid I’ve always been afraid of dogs. Even when my brain says it’s okay, my body has always reacted with fear to a bark or even a sniff. These two have helped me immensely… While they look scary when they bark at passers by, they are love buckets and the biggest sucks for attention. I’ve spent many happy nights hanging out with these two.

Mikey and Lupé, life partners. Their puppies are spread amongst the other fincas in the region.

Today I’m off to the Chicamocha Canyon – the second largest in the world (after the Grand Canyon). I’m leaving late this afternoon so the heat might be intense, but I’m happy to just get out for a while… Sunday is the start of my yoga teacher training in Ecuador so time is getting short!

I’ll send an update out again soon. Thank you everyone for all of your well wishes and for reading this. Love you all very much!

-The Beatnik

*Vice documentary on scopolamine: (I haven’t actually watched it and Mom & Dad, I suggest you don’t either.)