Editor’s Note: This article from Keveen and Gina from Korakor was the featured article of issue 8 of the magazine. This was their first article and sets the stage for who they are and what you will expect to learn from them in each upcoming issue. They are truly an inspiration. Please visit their facebook page at www.facebook.com/iheartkorakor to see more of what they’re up to. To see all of their work for the magazine, click here- Keveen Gabet
My wife and I live a happy and meaningful life. Our simple hut-like cabin is nestled in the hills of Oaxaca (the indigenous region of south west Mexico) and the first tiny village is some 7 miles of dirt road and a riverbed away. If you were to take a 360° look around, all you would see is a collection of human-shaped cacti, thorny bushes with spines that pierce through your flesh, agaves that grow in the most unexpected places and an exciting variety of wildlife (from hungry coyotes to cheerful hummingbirds).
With an ocean between myself and my native south of France, 2 hours from the first decent hospital, 20 miles from the first supermarket and a 30-minute drive to the first electrical plug, many still wonder why we chose to live in such a remote location. We could sit around a cup of homemade coffee and discuss the validity of our choices, but to put it in a nutshell, it was for the food!
Like many of us reading this magazine, we love, no we worship food! Now, to save us time and energy, letʼs just say that over the years we have grown more and more frustrated with the food industry (from the moment the seed is planted to its final result on our plate).
Getting the quality of food we want is expensive. Regrettably, we cannot always afford organic food nor can we sit at the best chefsʼ tables. So, in a conscious effort to claim our basic human rights (access to rich, nutritious and healthy food) while conserving the integrity of the land, we chose to build our own self-sufficient oasis.
Living such a lifestyle requires a combination of many skills, skills we had to learn from books, the internet, personal encounters and an endless series of trial and error. We are extremely happy and excited to share our venture with you and hope to help you reconnect with the land, yourself and above all, your food!
I first would like to give you a brief introduction on how we ended up in Mexico because I must insist that no one needs to go ʻawayʼ to grow organic food. My story is a bit different — building our nest in Oaxaca is the result of 13 years of traveling on the less-travelled roads.
Very early in life, I started exploring my surroundings. I collaborated mostly with local farmers because I loved being outdoors and I felt agriculture made a lot of sense to me. I grew up very far from conscious/hippy talks and encountered the organic movement much later in life. As soon as I was able to travel abroad on my own, I lost myself in tiny villages to offer my hands in the service of humanity. I picked and cured tobacco in Cuba, fished shrimp and harvested tea in India, made apple cider in Normandy, reforested parts of the desert in Senegal, kept goats in Malaysia, harvested coffee in Indonesia, and made mezcal in Mexico. Working at the heart of the people is what fascinated me the most and over the years I developed a life philosophy that I named KORAKOR. It comes from the French ʻcorps à corpsʼ meaning a ʻbody to bodyʼ connection with life. It encourages collaborating with people and connecting deeply with all that surrounds us. Needless to say, knowing how and where your food comes from is a major aspect of this conscious lifestyle.
Over the years, I ran a handful of free educational projects, inviting locals (mostly children) to explore new horizons. Mexico was one of those countries. The only difference being that I fell in love with a quiet indigenous village, its people and their artisanal tradition: Mezcal. I rapidly found myself on the path of becoming a ʻmezcaleroʼ (the person mastering the secrets of this elixir) while running another free school with my wife for the village kids. Our alternative school is always an opportune platform to share our love for art, collaboration, and nature.
In the state of Oaxaca, and more precisely in smaller villages, each adult member of the community is assigned a ʻtequioʼ (a required community service ranging from road building to weekly flower arrangement in the church). In turn, this tequio gives you rights and privileges. Like most Mexicans, I asked the village authority to lend me a bit of land to cultivate (amongst the hundreds of thousands hectares the village owns).
And this is how, as I write this article from the little battery left I have on my laptop, we were able to build the life we dreamed of. We still run a free supplementary school when we are not happily cultivating the land, experimenting with new ingenious ways to keep our food fresh, reforesting the desert and taking care of our animals.
Every month, I will gladly share with you the trials and tribulations of living entirely off the grid. Nevertheless, before delving further into this highly rewarding lifestyle, I would like to share our vision and intention.
We decided to live a life of voluntary simplicity while making the best use of modernity. Although we do not have electricity, we perfected energy efficient systems that allow us to have a fully functioning household: natural fridge, stove, clay oven, hot shower, and toilet. (I charge my computer with a simple device connected to a car battery).
In order to generate an abundance of time, food and enjoyment, we joined forces with many entities.
As mentioned before, we did not purchase the land (nor do we believe anyone can truly own land) but were granted permission to build a temporary nest.
Our allotted plot is providing us with hours of entertainment and in turn, we do the best we can to add more life to it. We take great care of the ecosystem by making sure to use as little resources as possible.
We live harmoniously with the animals present at the oasis. Everyone contributes in making this vision possible. The animals work their share while being much appreciated company. They provide eggs, honey, milk, and transport in exchange for food, shelter and protection from potential predators (humans and coyotes mostly).
They help us carry heavy loads, scratch the soil, spread seeds and convert our food surplus into nutrient-rich manure. We are so grateful for the help, the entertainment and the valuable lessons they offer.
We honor their presence here and allow them to be fully themselves. By honoring their lives, we also honor their death. We do not eat our animals and offer them heartfelt burials.
They are at the core foundation of this oasis. In exchange for creating the most habitable place for them to thrive, they shower us with an abundance of food, medicine and knowledge. They add great energy to the oasis along with colors, fragrance and music.
We are lucky to have a natural spring coming out of the hill. The water is fresh, energized and flows abundantly enough for us to meet our needs. During the summer rains, the rivers fill up and enough water can be stored to quench everyone’s thirst until the next rainy season.
Over the years, we have developed a profound love and respect for the villagers. We can always count on them to lend hands of support when needed — they accept us as much as they can (understand that it goes against reason for any Mexican to live in the hills where dark spirits and dangerous animals dwell) and encourage us in our venture. We are also always eager to help them with their projects, harvests and share the surplus generated at the oasis.
We also offer our time and love by running creative classes and focusing on boosting their wellness with yoga, meditation, and English classes.
We created a place where we live life to the fullest. We worship every day, every living entity and it is here that we chose to give life to our children.