Daily life around the Fungi Academy begins, as all days should, with breakfast. Banana porridge and cacao, accompanied by breathtaking views of the San Pedro Volcano, are enough to start any day off well, even if you were woken from slumber by the barking of dogs or the live music from the local churches. After breakfast we generally try to spend time together as a family, whether in the kitchen making jokes or in a more organized morning circle. The circles are a way of connecting with each other, a space where we can sit together with intention and let each other know how each individual is feeling that day.
Though the circle itself is generally a contemplative space, there is a playful air to them as well, and we close each gathering with a game or silly ritual. My personal favorite was a morning when we all made animal noises together, filling our yoga platform with barks, moos, whistles and roars. Although the circles are used to unite the Fungi Family, they also serve as important focusing tools. Every morning we lay out a set of tasks that need to be accomplished on that day and then people choose which task they would like to take on. Some tasks are staples on the list; there always needs to be someone to cook lunch, and there is usually some sort of cleaning to be done around the house. Other tasks are less consistent.
As the community is centered around the Fungi Academy project, there is often daily work associated with mushroom cultivation. The location of our community moved about two months ago, from an abandoned structure near to the center of San Marcos to a partially finished house located well above the actual town. This change of scenery caused some disruption in the actual mushroom growing taking place at the Academy, and we have been working to re-establish a functioning mushrooming operation. We recently harvested a first batch of white oyster mushrooms from a log which was inoculated with mycelium and left in the garden to grow on its own. From this harvest we were able to take a spore print, which will be used to expand our collection oyster mushroom mycelium. More mycelium means more mushrooms! We have also been working on an indoor shroomery, which will contain areas for both incubation and fruiting of the fungi and will allow for more precise control over our mushroom crops.
Beyond mushrooms, our family also has an interest in locally sourced foods. To this end, we have been working to expand the possibilities of growing produce on our property, using as much recycled material as possible to reduce waste. We have created a seedling nursery, using halved beer cans which will be suspended from a bamboo and wire frame. This will hopefully allow us to be producing our own herbs and veggies in the near future! We even plan to incorporate mushrooms into this facet of the community, for by introducing mycelium into a garden space you can boost the immune systems of plant crops and increase yield of both mushrooms and vegetables. In the meantime, we do our best to form relationships with local vendors. We are never out of bananas due to our numerous banana dealers in town, and we frequent a stand in the San Pedro market where we procure vegetables at low prices as well as large amounts of too-old-to-sell product for free. Our biggest success story, however, is with our avocado missions. Once every week or so we will head up into the hills behind San Marcos in search of bountiful trees from which we can harvest a load of avocados. We return with backpacks full of the beautiful green fruits, which slowly ripen over the following days. Currently we are experiencing a glut of ripe avocados and have eaten guacamole for every meal for three days, although no one seems to be complaining yet.
For all the activity of the days, evenings here are calm. People read in hammocks, play cards, or talk amongst one another. Dinner is served communally, as are all the meals here, but on the yoga platform rather than outside as the sun has always set by mealtime. By the time food is served everyone is hungry, and with the meal a silence settles as everyone becomes absorbed with their own plate and not much else. During dinner Chacala, the family dog, joins the circle and harasses everyone in turn, hoping for a tasty morsel. An after dinner daze falls upon the family and we all lie around on the floor, tired and content. Our nights are quiet, making them the perfect time for contemplation and appreciation of the natural beauty that surrounds us. From our perch on the mountain we are treated to incredible starscapes, and occasionally even an eerie red glow emitted from the Volcan del Fuego across the lake. Slowly, as the moon moves across the sky, the family drifts off to their respective beds and back to sleep again.