If you asked me years ago before I started traveling if I could see myself living in an eco-community, I would have laughed in your face. There’s no way I’d see myself there. It would have been way too crunchy, way too granola, way too hippie for me.
And yet, here I am.
By the time I leave, I will have spent seven weeks (this time) living in the jungle of Ometepe Island in Nicaragua. In all of my years traveling, I’ve never spent more than ten days in one place – until now. In total, it’ll have been nearly ten weeks on this island, six of those at InanItah.
I’ve had a bit of a love affair with this place. And while it’s time to move on, to take the lessons and knowledge I’ve learned with me out into the world, I’m sad to leave. I hate goodbyes and I leave behind a piece of my heart.
I never thought, for one second, that I would enjoy living in an eco-community. After living in one, I understand why people are drawn to this lifestyle. I also see why I fell in love with it.
I’m a small town girl. I grew up in a nurturing community of fewer than 10,000 people in the Rocky Mountains of Idaho. As I talked with somebody one day about how I never expected to enjoy living this way, it hit me and all made sense. Of course, I’d love living in a community. I grew up in one. My small, beautiful mountain town held me, supported me, and loved me my entire life. It’s watched me come and go for the last 23 years of my life and has always welcomed me with open arms when I return home.
InanItah has been the same way for me.
The beauty of InanItah is that it’s created to support you. Yes, you, my reader. And me. To support all of us. Families and children included. Nobody is left out. We hold each other together when we’re falling apart, and help each other with what we need. We love each other for being unique, and the bonds developed here grow quickly and with strength. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced on my travels, which usually consists of a few nights in an impersonal hostel where I learn a few names of faces, have some empty conversations about where I’m from, how long I’m traveling, and where I’m going next. The connections do happen, some of my favorite people in this world I’ve met in hostels, but it’s harder and happens significantly less.
The Daily Flow of Community
The daily flow of living in a community, I believe, is what draws people to it. Every person, whether they’re visitors or volunteers, contributes in some way to the overall well-being and continued success of the place. Each person has a required amount of shifts per week, with volunteers contributing more depending on how long they’re staying.
Shifts can be anything from cleaning the kitchen to working in the garden to feeding the pig to cooking communal meals. You choose what you want do, and it’s your responsibility to make sure it’s get done. You contribute at least four hours a week of your time to the community.
- Every morning, Monday through Friday, there’s optional group meditation starting at 6 AM.
- After meditation, there’s a daily yoga class at 7 AM as well as 4 PM.
- At 8 AM, breakfast is served communally and consists of anything from Pinole (similar to oatmeal), banana pudding, fruit, eggs (if they’re available), rice pudding, and maybe, depending on who’s cooking, you’ll get a variation of a kish or gluten-free cake.
- The morning meeting starts at 8:30 AM, and we all come together, check in, and divide the day’s tasks. This meeting is mainly for volunteers, but twice a week the entire community comes together also.
- Lunch is served at noon, and other than that the day is yours to complete your tasks and do what you want.
- At 2:30 PM, time is set aside for people to hold workshops and share their knowledge and talents with the community. Workshops have included tarot readings, AcroYoga, macrame, and salsa dance classes.
- Near 6 PM is dinner. We come together each night (except Friday and Saturday), hold hands in our Grateful Circle and share what we’re grateful for during our day or in our life. It’s a beautiful, beautiful thing.
Nearly everything, except for your designated work task, is optional. You can speak if you want, or you’re silent. It’s all based on what you need, and the community is here to support you.
InanItah is different from other more traditional communal-style living situations because it’s small and made up of mostly travelers. People coming and going can stay anywhere from a week to six months.
So, why do the relationships here grow so much faster and deeper than elsewhere? Consciousness.
InanItah draws a specific type of person to it. It attracts somebody with a level of consciousness and spirituality, and usually someone who is looking for healing or some kind or self-discovery (even though they might not know it yet – like me).
Yes, I’ve been living with a bunch of hippies talking about my feelings and the universe and society and my goals and my dreams, and I’m thankful for it because, in a way, it saved me.
Every day, I come together with these inspiring people, hold hands and in a few words say how I’m feeling that day. We give each other what we need, be it a hug or space from everyone. I’ll admit that it was a bit difficult to get used to, looking inward and asking myself how I’m feeling and paying attention to what’s going on inside. But now, I don’t know why I haven’t been doing this every day.
Since being here, I’ve participated in my first ever Women’s Circle, coming together with strong women in the name of sisterhood and feminity to share our deepest fears and desires. And yes, the men also have a Men’s Circle because we’re all equal.
There are yoga classes twice a day; guided meditation every day during the week; communal meals; reflexology, breathwork, shamanic healing workshops, and cacao ceremonies. My favorite is the Transparency Circle, where the community comes together once a week in the evening for one hour and holds space for anybody to share whatever they want. The circle is confidential and is an opportunity to laugh, cry, scream, love, be seen, and be heard, with no judgment.
If you’re seeking to grow your consciousness or looking for something deeper, one week in a spiritual eco-community is your answer.
I can’t speak for all the communities in the world, but I have a feeling that most have a significant emphasis on environmentalism and sustainability. It’s why we hippies are drawn to them.
The buildings are made from local and reclaimed materials. There’s close to no trash or waste created here, and all of our food is composted or fed to a giant pig named Chancho.
Every meal is grown from our garden or on the island. There’s no meat, dairy, gluten or artificial sugar in any of the food, and frying food is forbidden. I look good, I feel good and am surprised at the delicious meals created with the many restrictions.
The majority of us sleep in tents, one couple sleeps in a teepee, and all of the electricity is generated using solar power. We even have a few hot water showers, not that you need them, and the water is heated also using solar power and composting heat.
My least favorite part of this lifestyle? The toilets. They’re composting toilets, which means I go to the bathroom in a wooden shack that has a hole in the ground and bucket of rice next to it to throw over the waste to produce compost. It’s also full of lovely cockroaches and maggots. Sometimes I can feel the heat that’s created from the compost as I sit. Yes, that’s very disgusting and rather visual. It’s also the very real truth of my life for the last six weeks. But, on the not so offensive side, there is essentially no waste created. Which is pretty cool.
What if We All Lived This Way?
Imagine what the world would be like if we all lived this way. If the majority of the world lived consciously, talked about how we were feeling, worked on healing our deep-seeded issues we all have because we’re human beings and all a little f**ked up. What if we told each other how much we loved each other without any hidden agenda attached to the word? If we all respected each other, helped each other when we needed help, and very consciously took care of our bodies and this amazing planet that’s loved us unconditionally since the day we arrived. The world would be a more peaceful and beautiful place. Is it possible that we could see hate, war, and famine disappear?
Think about that for a minute.
This is why I travel; to open my mind to new people, experiences, ideas, and ways of living.
Now, when I leave, it’s my turn and my job to take the knowledge and love I’ve gained and shared it with the world. I believe the planet is moving in this direction, slowly but surely we’re getting there, and I’m excited to be a part of it.