Our crew at the Huehuecoyotl Ecovillage, Tepoztlan, Mexico
On November 10, 2003 twenty-six of us aboard two school buses and a pickup truck all running on recycled vegetable oil departed Berkeley, California on a journey through Mexico and Central America en route to our final destination, Punta Mona, Costa Rica. We ranged from a 20 year old hippie from Ohio, a hobo anarchist from Los Angeles to a 55-year old radical clown named Brino, and we lived in very close quarters. Ecological Missionaries
Our goal was to connect and interact with the existing environmental movements in each country we visited, while learning about their efforts and then sharing our experience using vegetable oil as a fuel as well as other sustainable technologies. We dispersed tens of thousands of packets of organic seeds, cooked incredible organic meals with the women of the towns and educated the local mechanics on how to convert diesel engines to run on vegetable oil. The tour received incredible media attention including gracing the front page of several newspapers and appearing on many international news shows. One newspaper called us "misioneros ecologicos" or ecological missionaries as we spread the green gospel through far away lands back before it was even really called "green". It felt so incredibly productive as our only mission was to live as sustainably as possible while traveling through all of these countries sharing information with all the people we met along the way. I was inspired to write about this journey tonight as I looked through my pictures remembering the people we met and the message we spread. Here are a few pictures from our trip.
In many of the cities and towns we would travel in we would fly giant peace doves all made from recycled materials. Good friends of mine created the idea behind the peace doves and it was later incorporated into Jane Goodall's organization Roots & Shoots. All over the world, young people craft Giant Peace Dove Puppets and fly the Doves in their communities in support of the United Nations International Day of Peace.
Veggie fuel for the government
The Sustainable Solutions Caravan also met with several government officials including the Minister of Agriculture in El Salvador and the Secretary of the Environment in Honduras (picture above). We certainly did not claim that we had all of the solutions, but only tried to demonstrate one way of traveling long distances without the use of petroleum fuel. The journey was magical and inspired all that we met along the way. It is pretty common now to read about using vegetable oil as a fuel, but only five years ago people's jaws would drop as it was often the first time they had heard that it was possible.
Where's all the veggie oil??
The most common question asked while talking about the journey was "Where did you get your vegetable oil?" The answer would vary depending on where we were. We were donated avocado oil from an oil pressing factory in Nogales, Mexico, visited tortilla chip companies and hit up the fancy sushi restaurants in Mexico City. In the more rural areas of our trip veggie oil became very hard to come by. The reason for this is that they would use their oil to fry and fry and fry till it became so thick that it was like sludge and then......they would add it to the beans!
More to come on this adventurous voyage!
Stephen Brooks is a jungle tropical fruit farmer in Costa Rica, the co-founder of Kopali Organics and is the Food Field Reporter on Planet Green's G Word.
More Links on vegetable oil as a fuel
Converting Diesel Engines to Run on Vegetable Oil
Veggie Oil Refueling Finally Going More Mainstream
LoveCraft BioFuels: Hollywood's Biodiesel Engine Maker