We are two doctors who came to Belize in 2004 to find a different way to live. After working innumerable shifts in innumerable hospitals for innumerable years…we managed to learn something about life and society by having the unique privilege of listening to thousands of people’s lives in the course of our work. In taking medical histories and trying to help people with their problems, we had the incredible opportunity to learn about other people’s joys, their sadnesses, their successes and their failures. We were able to learn much about the consequences from the decisions that they made in their lives, often spread-out over whole lifetimes.
We have had the extraordinary honour to hear the last words of people close to death; in many cases being the only witnesses to a person’s passing from this world…a sobering experience that because of our work, has been repeated countless times. Hearing these powerful words from the oldest people in our Human Species, the distilled wisdom that comes from having a full life, has been the catalyst for making us change the way we live and look for something deeper than what society encourages us to find.
We have been witnesses to the passing of rich people, politicians, TV celebrities and other actors, other fellow doctors, nobodies, somebodies, poor people, WWI veterans (now long gone), WWII veterans (almost all gone), veterans of new conflicts (because we have obviously forgotten!), sane people, mad people, atheists, religious folk and all manner of people in-between. And this is what all of these people have told us: that all of the age-related goals dictated by society do not satisfy our needs as human beings at the end of our lives. Specifically:
Interestingly, the most important things in living life are few and simple:
As a result of these revelations from the Old and Wise of our Species, we have changed the way we live our lives. We have inadvertently taken on a very monastic and ascetic existence. Casa Mascia, is in a way, Casa Mascia Monastery; with Casa Mascia Apothecary as its extension into “the real world” to provide for our modest financial needs.
We grow our own food and live off of our farm. We try to live without the materialistic trappings of the world as much as possible. We are trying to do everything which “we always wanted to do” now, instead of waiting until we retired.
Our transformation started by putting ourselves in a position with no electricity or electrical appliances to work out what we actually “needed” in our lives — not what “we wanted as a matter of course.” For two years we laboured with manual tools and equipment. We scrubbed our clothes with a clothes-board and even banged our jeans against a rock. We learned to cook over coals and we ended the day by the light of kerosene lamps. We are now twelve years into this experiment, having acquired electricity at year two. We would like to take the opportunity to explore our personal findings and our evolving philosophy of living “off the land” and reducing our foot-print on the Earth.
Over the course of these years, we have learned to “take what we need” from the farm, which is not that much for two people, two dogs, a cat, a gaggle of geese, four ducks and a drake, and an harem of guinea pigs. In order to buy the things which we cannot make, we transform raw materials from our farm and the environment into hand-made products in batches. The batches are made so that they can be handled by two people only. We make the products from beginning to end; from the growing of the raw material to the hand-picking and preservation to the packaging and the actual gluing of every single label.
Our philosophy is to do everything ourselves in an effort to maintain the fun and the enjoyment in everything that we do. Each endeavour, we hope, makes us some money but money is not our primary motivation. What we are looking to do is to keep the passion in our lives without dulling it with the idea of “working for a living.” We want to listen to the words that the Old and the Wise gave to us as we witnessed their passing, so that when our time comes, there will be no regrets.
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