What an experience and a whole bunch of precious memories!

At the end of rainy season in November 2023 we arrived through bumpy and winding roads at Centro Verde (CV) near a small village of Rio Limpio. It was already dark in the evening and there was a bonfire at the yard welcoming  us warmly with the most friendly host family: Chicho, Marcia and their little daughter Kamila and the founder and visionary of the CV Mikko Tuononen. After delicious and colourful dinner we were shown our lodgings in nice houses built of unfired clay tiles. There were toilets and showers in each room. Water came from the mountains by the pipeline with its own pressure.

The next morning Mikko took us around in the beautiful surroundings and introduced us several fruit trees growing in the premises. Centro Verde is surrounded by green mountains so we really felt lilke being wrapped in verdancy around us. We had meals three times a day. Healthy and tasty food was made mostly of  home grown vegetables and fruits. Menu included also some meat and rice. We all felt good  and our stomachs loved the diet!

Each day we had a chance to take part in various tasks in CV like maintenance, cooking, working in the garden and even roasting coffee and making tar. We also did some hiking and went to refresh ourselves in La bonita waterfall. Sun was shining everyday and it was quite hot for us Finns, so it was lovely to get to go to sauna and indulge us with eucalyptus whisks.

We felt priviledged to get to visit the local school and meet vital and brisk kids there. They were interested in hearing about Finland and they also were proud to show us their school work and sing us their morning songs. We also got to visit the clinic of the village and meet the doctor who kindly introduced her work and answered our questions dealing with the local health care.

Every Sunday there is a market in the center of the village. Local people bring their things for sale and spread them on the ground by the streets. Quite soon we were recognised by the village people and they were greeting Mikko and us with smiling faces. In the center of the village there stood a beautifull Village House built in 1990´s. Building process has been a huge joined effort by the local people and the project workers. Nowadays it looked a bit sad and not serving the people as well as it could.

One of the special things in CV is the Finnish community work coordinated by Mikko. It includes childrens club and assistance of local families with their building projects. During our stay we got to be helping with building kitchens for two families. Some people seemed to be a bit amused seeing us (elderly Finns) carrying timber, nailing and sawing and making cement for the floors. This kind of doing together however united us and really made us feel somehow equal and part of life there.

At the end of our stay each of us noticed that our blood pressure had gone down a lot and that we had been sleeping well! We will be missing the easy going daily rhytm, silence and peacefull atmosphere, sunshine, fresh fruits, all the friendly people and above all Mikko who made a great job in  interpretering and guiding us and also warming up sauna and making eucalyptus whisks!

Arvo Lehtovirta
Helena Soljama
Outi Vallius
(visitors from Finland)

What an experience
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