dear readers! as we have received complaints from ramon about this page detterring some potential members from visiting falconblanco, we would like to stress what a rich and warm experience we had and that communities tend to change over the years. this report was written back in 2001! in other words, enjoy our story below but please go and see for yourself!

An overnight ferry from Barcelona has shipped us to Ibiza, an island 120km away from the mainland of Spain and about the same distance from Africa. We came here to experience an ecovillage named Falcon Blanco, after getting a good impression from the founder's website.

Laura greeted us at the port of Eivissa City and drove us through the somewhat familiar scenery. Pines, Oaks, Fig, Carob, Loquat (shesek) trees, very similar to Palestine's hilly areas, yet farm houses are scattered around and it is less populated (70,000 locals and 12,000 foreigners). We ended up in one of the farm estates somewhere in the middle of the island - our new home for the next six and half weeks.

Prior to our arrival, Ramon, the founder said that all the rooms were full of volunteers/guests, but then recalled that he has all the parts for an Ineepee (Teepee is a cone and an Ineepee is more like a dome) and we can build it in no-time. Until the Ineepee is up, we had the choice between the meditation dome - a big sky lighted dome where every word you say echoes all around for some time (quite fun to sing, clap, and play an alto recorder all at the same time), or a big tent. We chose the tent and went with Laura to find a spot for it in the woods while she gave us a small tour of the place.

Read Chris's article,
A Different Way to Live,
a positive view at life in
Falcon Blanco!
Over the years, the people at FB collected an amazing amount of stuff that was destined, mostly without much thought, to landfills. By bringing it here, it might end up somewhere else. Piles of broken wood pallets are everywhere, thousands of them, most waiting to be repaired, or cut into firewood. Refrigerators and other big appliances, ceramic tiles, old cars, windows and mirrors,  scrap metal, furniture, the list goes on and on. It is quite overwhelming. There are also big compost heaps and several unfinished projects in various locations.  Chickens (just before we left one had chicks), dogs (one was supposed to die while we were there but she actually got better!), cats (one scratched Momo in the eye) and a horse (with green teeth). A few buildings made with stone and very small round windows provide housing that are cool during the hot days and warm at night. Then there's a swimming pool that seems to always be partly filled and mainly used by nude female mosquitoes and their many descendants who later party in our room and last, a sweat lodge that we never used.

Have a look:

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Pallets with olive, fig, and pine trees in the back.
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View from the tower.
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The "street" - lots of material for all kinds of projects!
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Zoltan's Zone.
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One of the compost heaps and emptied food boxes for recycling.
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Bio-diesel area.
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In front of Laura's house.
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Our tent was in these pinewoods.
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Entrance to the Meditation Dome.
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The swimming pool.
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The sweat lodge - young flexible pines provide the dome's skeleton, reeds and seaweed fill in the spaces, then earth applied as plaster.
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Cactuses by the guest apartments.
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Vegetation with tower and guest apartments.
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This is the tower.. Martin and Reuben slept  there.
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Guest apartments from a different angle.. we stayed in the middle one.
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Chicken and newborn stay close to eachother.
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Cowbo the retired horse.

The Daily Cycle
Everyday, the yellow van, running on bio-diesel (fuel based on vegetable oil), goes into town to collect wood pallets from supermarkets and food distributors, Keeping and eye open on trash bins and waste spots for anything usable. A business can not just throw the pallets with the rest of it's garbage, it is in fact taxed for every pallets thrown away. The FB Van therefore provides a service for these businesses and in exchange, they give all of the wood pallets (including ones that do not require a repair), and they put aside any product they would throw to the trash - this includes expired food products, produce that is rotten or which only has a few days to go, damaged packaged food and cleaning products (i.e. one broken jar in a box, and they give the whole box). It is amazing how much food goes into waste, some days the van comes with boxes and boxes of cereals, perfect bananas, hard red tomatoes, chocolate, jars and cans... Once the van returns, we sort the pallets and later process the broken ones, we sort the food, whatever is bad goes to the compost (where else can you see compost full of chocolate bars and gelatin powder??) and the rest is for the community (humans and animals) or sold to people who are looking for a bargain. Oil is used to make bio-diesel. Alcoholic and sugary drinks (a lot of these come in), are waiting to be distilled into ethanol to replace the methanol in the bio-diesel process. We found ourselves using all kinds of products we would never buy, suddenly since a product would go to waste anyhow, it doesn't really matter that an oppressive multi-national corporation such as Nestle has it's name on it, though we did draw are lines and did our best to choose the most ethical and healthy choices.

Here you can really understand how affluent society is, so affluent, that with little effort you can live at no cost off the waste of others and have everything you wish for, even make a good income. Here you can observe some of our projects and activities here:
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The first thing was too build a chair for Momo. This baby-chair is made from a broken supermarket cart, a broken car seat, a Pepsi shelf, and some old electric wire. Momo used this chair for a few weeks until we actually found  a "real" chair buried somewhere on the property that was easier to clean...
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Here we are building the Ineepee... It was never finished though.
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This is Ramon's attempt to build a room from pallets, it actually looks pretty good, though who knows when it would be finished.
Making Bio-Diesel
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This time we used virgin olive-oil that expired in 1998. The recipe is pretty simple as you can see. First we opened 178 bottles of olive-oil into a barrel, and with mirrors heated the barrel up to 60 degrees C. We added a little caustic soda (lye, which Ramon ground with a mask) and little methanol and it is all mixed together for a while. Then you let it sit overnight, and the next day it is ready to fill up the van and forklift.
There are many websites and email groups about how to make your own fuel and gas (alcohol, hydrogen gas, wood gas, etc.) saving a lot of money, often reducing pollution and using renewable resources, and of course, playing with explosive stuff!!
This page: http://www.jrwhipple.com/sr/fuel_making.html will lead you do different websites with information on how to make different types of fuel.
And this page: www.veggievan.org tells the story of a guy crossing the United States using used frying oil from fast food restaurants!
San Francisco has recently opened it's first bio-diesel station: http://www.infobeat.com/fullArticle?article=407475119
Unloading the Van
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The van arrives around lunch time full of pallets, food, etc. The fork lift has no breaks so you have to drive it with a certain "touch" using random objects and techniques to slow you down. OfeK actually moved a few pallet piles around one afternoon, but Ramon is pretty much the exclusive driver, 'woo hoo'ing as he goes downhill.  Depending on the quantity it can take a whole afternoon to sort the food out.
Pallet Work
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Many, many trees are saved in the pallet yard. There is much more to pallets than you think. It takes about 3 days just to understand the different types and sizes so you can sort them properly. Then there is no end to how creative you can be in repairing them. You can choose to be more ecological, and use only old  nails (bending them straight) and repair a few pallets less that day, or use new nails and more machinery and end up repairing a few more. I didn't find much of a difference between pallet repairing and computer programming (my ex-profession), it's all about problem solving, if you're a good hacker, you'd probably be a good pallet repairer.
Compost Work
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Triple packaged junk food, sour radiated cow-puss (milk, that is) pumped with antibiotics, chemically sprayed vegetables and fruit - in landfills (mizbaleh) it would not compost properly. Here we find good use for it! though so far from the origin, it all ends up as the same brown mush called compost. Momo was very helpful, and practiced her first word 'toda' (which means 'thank you' in Hebrew, click here to hear her), as she hands over one choco-moko (or whatever it's called) after the other to be emptied into the heap. Momo uses 'Toda' with any action that is related to giving and receiving. Karen really felt inspired working here with her boots (wellies), and it's always fun stopping by for a chat as the compost steam goes up your nose.
Solar Box Oven
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It was just so sunny in Ibiza most of the time, it was heart breaking to watch the gas burner heat up the food, when the sun is everywhere, and for free. A solar oven had to be made, and out of two cardboard boxes, a rectangular glass and aluminum foil, a simple sun oven was built. There was no glue to be found for the aluminum foil to stick to the cardboard so we had to make our own from cornstarch, vinegar, little corn syrup, and water. We also wanted to make a more advanced solar oven from an old TV satellite dish.. but we didn't quite get to it.

This is a very enjoyable project, for kids and adults alike. Check out plans and instructions for many types of solar ovens, including this one, here (includes some recipes): http://www.solarcooking.org/plans.htm.
For glue recipes click here: http://www.track0.com/canteach/elementary/artrecipes7.html
Solar Dehydrator
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Apples, pears, bananas, some days you get lots of these, and we were craving something sweet other than junk. This is made out of pallet parts, a glass-like plastic sheet, and an old net. In 2 days we had delicious dry fruit that would cost $10 a kilo in the natural food store (if they even have it and without sulphur). The idea was to save it since it has long shelf life now, but we finished it all up in a few days.
Sheet Mulched Potato and Onion Plot
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Though Falcon Blanco is listed in WWOOF listings, besides a few fruit trees it had no real gardening. Betsy took the initiative and planted a tomato plot, and a day later, we added a potato and onion plot, implementing Sheet-Mulching (or Lasagna Gardening), using layers of compost, cardboard, compost and straw. No tilling, no weeding, easy work!
For details about this technique click here: http://agroforester.com/articles/Sheet_Mulching.html
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Chris has introduced us to the game of Snood.. a great game that develops long-term (ecological?) thinking (if you play it right). A few of us got quite addicted.

Besides all the practical experience we gained in FB, we've made many new friends and got to be part of a very unusual and interesting group of people. There are only two permanent people who have been living in FB for more than several weeks.. While admirable and full of good intentions, they both seem quite frustrated with their lives, taking it out often on the volunteers who are more easy to pick on. This had a positive effect, that made the volunteers get along very well. Though to us, the permanent people were very nice and accommodating (Thank you!), witnessing constant disrespect to some of our new friends was enough after 6 weeks, making us change our plans and cut our visit short, without finishing the composting toilet..

While Ramon has been living here for almost 30 years, trying to create an ecovillage community, it is hard to understand why it doesn't happen. In his article, Chris tries to explain : "I wish that [Ramon] would pay more attention to what is happening at FalconBlanco right now and not constantly looking to the future, wishing he had better, more spiritual people. I get the feeling that he expects that if he can just get the right people, everything will be perfect. He seems to suffer from the syndrome of those who think things like 'When I finally make enough money, everything will be Ok,' or 'When I finally meet that right person, everything will be Ok. 'Because he doesn't take advantage of those currently living with him, understand their value, and love them for who they are, he is cheating himself out of knowing and experiencing many wonderful people. If his perfect vision is never realized, he will be left with nothing, not even the memories of what he did have."

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Lunch is a communal meal everyday at three.
Starting from the front clockwise: Ramon, Laura, Chris, Erika, Momo, Isabel, Tanvi, Camiel, Uvaldo.
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Christian/Karen/Martin with Momo.
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Karen's Birthday..!
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Laura's Birthday..!
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Jocelyn with Momo, while Erika is improving her cook-out-of-rotten-food expertise. She couldn't just follow a recipe, she had to make up a recipe from the ingredients. Karen's lovely smile in the kitchen.
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This is Martin's favorite picture, he is very photogenic. He was good at making us laugh without meaning to.
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Ramon, the founder of FB, in the van, giving a speech, explaining to Momo about the 'right to react'.. 
And of course - what you've all been waiting for - Momo!
At the apricot tree area - where she hung out everyday. In her new chair. Her favorite game - communicating with other dimensions through the ventilation hole. Playing the soprano recorder (she also knows how to play an alto).
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Weekend Daytrips
One time we walked to one of the many touristy beaches, and another time we went to a nudist gay beach.
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The island's only organic produce market, sadly dominated by rich non-local people though the prices were very reasonable.
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EarthDay 2001: not like many "environmental" events we attended in the past that dared to use disposable cups and dishes.. here the trash bins were left empty, easily rinsing the glasses with very little water, and organic fresh juices and organic beer was offered.
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After EarthDay, we went on a walk in the old part of Eivissa city.
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Sadly, we didn't manage to get pictures of beautiful Casita Verde. Home of a seriously ecological English guy named Chris. Here on a rented piece of land with views of the ocean he created a mini-ecological paradise. There were small buildings made out of earth, aluminum cans and glass bottles (which he was inspired to do after a visit to Earthship workshops in New Mexico), a nice guesthouse made from reeds with a tree going through it, a sitting area, an outdoor shower, composting toilet, and so on, all beautifully made out of pieces that people had thrown to the garbage. Of course his electricity came off the grid, from solar panels (found them in the trash!) and wind generators and all of his water was reused. He is currently working on a project called "Eivissa Ecolandia," a 50,000 m2 site on a major road where he is now opening a eco-store, organic food market, massage practice, and eco-info center, in addition to a lot more planned for the future.
Check out his website (with some photos) at: http://ibiza-spotlight.com/casitaverde/

Whew!! Did you really read the whole thing? Well we hope it inspired you!  Until next time - ecologically yours - Momo, Erika, and OfeK.

Some of the photos were taken also by Chris, Laura, (using Chris's environmental camera that turns everything green) and Rafa.

In Loving Memory of my Dear
Slippers (1998-2001)

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3 years of loyal companionship
Help needed in finding a biodegradable replacement


Feedback, thoughts and questions are always welcome at erika@ofek.com.

No copyright! (but be nice please...) EcoNomads.com composed by OfeK.