These are guidelines that we hope can help everyone living & volunteering at Tierra Cristal come to agreements on how to live together with more harmony
and respect for one another in a culture of compassion.
Your presence and suggestions are welcomed as we strive to create a better everyday living situation moving towards healing, connection, and deeper understanding.
We practice Non-Violent Communication and Dragon Dreaming as an integral key part of the structure at Crystal Land. Non-Violent Communication (NVC) A Language of Life by Marshall Rosenberg is available in the community, (as well as other NVC books &
Dragon Dreaming information in the library) it is the first book recommended
to read to learn the basics of NVC. Please keep all the books in the designated
area or borrow them and return them before leaving the land to the library.
We also offer ongoing NVC & Dragon Dreaming classes at the community and
like to include these practices in our everyday living situations.
We also enjoy the -Jackal show! (We can explain if you want to know what this
means) So we do try to keep it light and bring laughter and gratitude in when
With the practice of NVC we can become aware of the strategies of guilt,
blame, and shame, gas-lighting, judgment and criticisms, we won’t always be
free from using these strategies together in community but have a way to
translate them with NVC and raise awareness of possible other strategies,
this is a community where we are a work in progress, a living experiment to
raise consciousness and heal ourselves while we heal with the forest.
If an empathy session is going on please try to give privacy to those involved,
sometimes they happen spontaneously.
We use a specific form of consensus designed for our community if you would
like to know more about consensus and how it works with NVC let us know.
Some of our consensus meetings are closed to guests or volunteers that are in
the community temporarily, at times all people staying in the community are
involved, depending on what the issues are.
We hope to have Internet installed soon, it is taking some time to get set up in
our rural area, but we can show you how to set up a local telephone number
that gives you mobile data services on the land.
We have electricity available and you can charge your cell phones and
electrical items and we will show you how to do that.
Internet is available in Coopabuena at some restaurants and bakeries if you
purchase an item you can use the Internet for free.
In Case of Emergency
– Police call is 911 and they can also call an ambulance if needed.
HOSPITAL SAN VITO -Closest public hospital for emergency services
Call 2773 1100
We ask that you sign a waiver that holds you responsible for any injury or
interactions with wildlife on the land as a volunteer or guest.
-We usually avoid wearing shoes in the house and kitchen area, in the rainy
season, it can get really muddy!
-Wearing boots during the rainy season can be very helpful so you’re not
falling or sliding around in the mud and they are very helpful for safely
working in the forest. You can get a pair of boots for about C 6000 or $10.00 in
San Vito or Coopabuena.
-The evening time is when the mosquitos and noseeums are prone to get more
active around 5 PM, we recommend using a natural mosquito repellent and
using long sleeves and pants to protect yourself from mosquito bites if you are
prone to them.
-Tierra Cristal is an alcohol and drug-free community, we strive to live in a
healing & healthy atmosphere.
-We recommend that you keep all electronics and valuables locked in our
storage shed for safety. We ask that you be responsible for your electronics,
the area we live in is safe, yet electronics can go missing. I usually take my
electronic items with me when I leave or stash them somewhere as to be out of
sight. Do what feels best for you.
-Noise pollution is a factor when living in Costa Rica since we live close to a
small town we are learning to have tolerance with the differences in noise
-Always offer respect to the local community and Ticos-Ticas in our
neighborhood and small town and respect cultural differences.
-We request that when you go into the small local towns of Coopabuena or
Aguabuena that you dress in clean clothes, especially after working in the
forest and look presentable to the local community. We wish to be interactive
in the community and strive to have a good reputation for our project.
-Please only go onto a neighbors land if you have permission, refrain from
trespassing onto any land. This has caused problems in the community in the
past and is a sensitive issue to regard.
-If you see someone on the land and you are not sure if they have been invited
or are a part of the community please tell a core member in the community
right away so we can go and greet the person, be kind and respectful.
-Smoking is best done outside the living and common areas in a designated
area if others are sensitive to smelling smoke, make agreements as needed.
Dispose of cigarette butts in the trash properly, we only use natural tobacco to
smoke on the land and don’t bring any commercial tobacco products onto the
-We are at times a 420 smoking community. Be aware that it is illegal to buy
and sell medicine in Costa Rica although it is tolerated in small quantities for
personal use. It is best not to smoke in front of our neighbors or people
passing by the river as some neighbors may not be favorable with this
medicine. Smoke in private on the land and not in town or in public, it is
advised that you don’t go to town with medicine on you or carry it around with
-Quiet time is between 9 PM and 7 AM please be quiet during these times and
aware of noise levels and others who may be sleeping or taking a nap at any
time of the day. Discuss what works best for all in the community especially
for families with children, elders or those that are healing that may need more
quiet time and rest. Communicate with each other if you have some special
needs or requests. Remember the sound of drumming can carry far and try to
prepare in advance for celebrations that will happen at night with music
festivities or ceremonies after 9 PM.
-We are very careful about who we invite to the community and ask people to
be mindful of our privacy at the land. Crystal Land is a place of healing. Be
discerning and meet people in public places to get together or ask us first if
you would like to invite someone onto the land.
-Arrangements must be made prior to visiting the community, we ask that
people contact us by email, website or by phone first before showing up on the
-Whoever invites a person onto the land must guide that person to a core
member and take the time to receive the new guest to make sure they receive a
warm welcome and understanding of how our community functions.
We have three categories of people staying on the land:
1) Guests that have been invited, for a stay of 3 days or longer to be cared for
and managed by the person who invited the guest who contributes healthy
food daily, and or money for food and a minimum of 3 hours per day work
trade on the land and follows the guidelines.
2) Volunteers staying a minimum of a month who have meals provided and
have a set work-trade schedule.
3) Long term community members. Some community members are new and
going through a process to become members of the community and some have
been on the land awhile and are what we refer to as core members.
-Tierra Cristal and Finca Sylvatica are separate projects, if you want more
information on the history and how it is set up between the two projects, we
can share with you the story and details.
-If there are problems that need fixing, with the water, the structures, the
outhouse etc please advise us right away so action can be taken.
-If you need extra blankets, or other items to make your stay more comfortable
please let us know right away.
-Occasionally we may need to conserve water if our spring water is running
low. Usually, this might happen during the dry season or if one of our water
lines is broken or needs adjusting.
-Be aware of wildlife and snakes, always use flashlights at night to walk
around outside, wear closed shoes or boots while hiking in the forest or brush
where you cant see the ground. If you go somewhere during the day and come
home late, remember to take a flashlight with you.
-Remember that snakes like to live in warm hidden places, and up in the trees,
be careful where you put your hands, shake out your clothes, tennis shoes or
boots before putting them on. Living peacefully in the forest requires knowing
the nature of the animals, reptiles & insects living around you, their intention
usually is not to harm you. Anti-venom is available at the local hospital if
-Avoid touching frogs and caterpillars as they can be poisonous too.
-We have many trees and plants that are being propagated on the land, do not
cut any trees or plants unless you have been asked to do so by a core member.
-Remember that trees and plants also are beings and feel pain, be mindful of
the forest and the beings that we live with to not cause unnecessary pain or
disruption to the forest. The forest protects us and we protect the forest as
caretakers of the land.
-After using tools in the garden or around the house please return them to the
storage shed, we prefer to keep all tools in the designated area for safety when
done using them and it is easier to find them when you need them the next
time. Wash shovels and picks if they are muddy and return all tools clean. If a
tool happens to get broken or goes missing please let us know right away.
-Ask us about the best way to wash your clothes.
-When washing clothes and leaving them on the clothesline to dry make sure
to take them off the line and bring them inside as soon as the clothes are dry
as clothing can get sun-bleached easily.
-We request that you use only biodegradable soap and detergent as well as
soaps and personal hygiene items. Bioland is a name brand in Costa Rica that
offers some organic biodegradable soaps and shampoos, in San Vito you can
buy coconut based detergent to wash your clothes or natural biodegradable
cleaning products offered at the local farmer’s market. Remember everything
you put on your body will get into the river when you go into the river. Since
we live very close to the river we are very careful about the products we use on
our bodies and to wash our bodies and clothes.
ATM & Money- Visa Renewals
-For those staying longer than 3 months at Crystal Land please ask about the
process of renewing your visa and making a border run, we can give you all the
details needed to renew your visa. We are located about an hour and fifteen
minutes from the Paso Canoas border crossing of Costa Rica and Panama.
Please keep within all the local laws in Costa Rica as a foreigner.
-Recently the rate is around Colones 590 to one dollar, check the online
currency converter websites for the exact conversion rate of the day if that is
needed. The local shops take credit cards usually and the B&M Supermarket
will give cashback on a credit card of up to C 15,000 for a small fee.
-An ATM machine is located in Agua Buenas which is about 15 minutes
walking from the land. There are also ATM machines in San Vito from
different banks if your credit or debit card is not working locally.
The San Vito Feria or (Local Farmers Market)
San Vito Feria-Saturday from 8 AM – 12 PM
This small farmers market is a fun place to meet local farmers, some offer
organic produce or products! You can also find out what is going on locally in
the community, eat, buy treats & delicacies for the week that you may want
besides the Vegan-vegetarian meals offered at Crystal Land.
Having Fun! Some Local Activities
-Local activities are in abundance-many hikes, waterfalls, and beaches to visit.
Ask us about what is in the area and for suggestions.
-When going for hikes and out to the waterfall or beach make sure to take
water, snacks, natural sunscreen if you use it, a hat and good shoes for hiking.
It is easy to get a sunburn or dehydrated as the sun is strong here, be prepared.
-Cacao ceremonies are offered on the land, ask us about arranging a session if
you are interested.
-We also offer guided hikes in the area to some very special places for a small
-A favorite Italian restaurant on the way to San Vito is called Ristorante La
Casa Italiana, they serve pizzas and authentic Italian cuisine at affordable
prices. Call 2201 6690
-Small stores called macrobiotics have herbs and natural products available in
-There are a few stores called Americanas and they have used clothing at great
prices in San Vito.
-So much time is spent in the kitchen as we gather to share meals, prepare
food and sit together to eat with one another, we do encourage all in the house
to eat together and stay connected by sharing meals.
-You will hear the sound of a conch shell blown 3 times that is the mealtime
call and it is sounded off about 10 minutes before a meal will be served, so you
have some time to get ready.
-Please help keep the kitchen clean, everyone has different standards of
cleanliness and hopefully, these guidelines will help meet the need of general
-Wash your hands well before preparing food for the good health of the whole
-We suggest washing all fruits and vegetables before cutting them, as in the
tropics certain worms and bugs are toxic.
-We try to share in preparing meals and planning meals together to meet each
individual’s different dietary needs. Ask before preparing meals if everyone
who will eat has any suggestions on what they may prefer to eat.
-Try to prepare a reasonable amount of food so everyone is satisfied and the
food is stretched out and conserved for the week since we usually only shop
once a week for food at the farmers market, not too little, not too much.
-We have a couple of neighbors who offer eggs, milk, and cheese products
fresh from their farms, ask us about this if you are interested, we usually ask
for an extra contribution to purchase these products for a meal.
-Those who cook usually let those who have not cooked clean up, do the
dishes and put away food.
-Any person who is new to the community must first learn to prepare meals
with a person who understands how the kitchen functions in the community
so you get a good understanding of how our kitchen works and everyone stays
healthy before you start cooking or preparing meals on your own in the
-Keep food covered and leftover items so the gecko’s droppings don’t enter
uncovered food as they are poisonous, also flies, gnats, rats at night,
cockroaches and other bugs might want to eat! Having a clean kitchen in the
forest is important, as having rats in the area will attract snakes.
-To avoid rats in the kitchen at night please put away all foods and wash the
dishes before going to sleep. Foods can be stored in the grain box, check the
kitchen at night to make sure leftover food gets put away.
-Sweep daily and make sure the floor is clean and the compost container is
covered at all times and emptied by taking the compost bin when it is full to
the designated larger composting area regularly and keeping the larger
composting area covered and clean. Wash the compost container out before
returning it to the kitchen each time it is emptied.
-Use containers to put leftover food into or keep leftovers in pots with the
covers on them at all times.
-Keep on eye on foods that are going bad and use them quickly to avoid
-We are using propane gas to cook and have a rocket stove set up, it is better
to cook yucca and beans etc (Soak the beans the night before and discard the
water the beans have been soaking in overnight and use fresh water to cook
them) on the rocket stove as the beans take a lot of gas to cook and we try to
conserve the propane gas. Have some wood that is dry always available to cook
on the rocket stove when needed.
-Make sure to turn the propane gas off all the way so gas is not leaking from
the stove, we turn the gas off and on using the main propane gas tank to make
sure it is off completely and conserved.
-Clean the tabletops regularly, the area near the stove, and keep the food bin
-Keep personal items such as backpacks, jackets etc at your place to avoid
clutter in the kitchen.
-We like to keep the dogs out of the kitchen and house and don’t feed them
while we are eating. Also, we ask that you don’t let the dogs follow you into
town if possible.
-Keep hand towels for use on the kitchen countertops and use separate towels
for the floor. Wash the kitchen towels and floor rags regularly.
-During the week if you notice items that need to be purchased at the Saturday
farmers market, make a note on the board in the kitchen and let those doing
the shopping on Saturday know about items that need to be bought.
– Separate plastic, glass and paper, we burn the paper that doesn’t have plastic
on it and recycle the glass. Plastic is taken to town and dropped off in public
waste bins. We don’t have a trash pick up at the land at this time.
-Take reusable bags to market on Saturday to carry food back from the market
and onto the bus.
-Keep all items from the kitchen in the kitchen, try not to take things out of
the kitchen, where they can get lost, if you need to take an item from the
kitchen please return it right away.
-We try as best as possible to keep the food at Crystal Land healthy and
refrain from bringing unhealthy food onto the land. Diet is a key component
in the healing process at Crystal Land. We use the local brown sugar (panela)
and buy sea salt or Himalayan pink salt that both have lots of minerals, the salt
at the supermarket contains fluoride in it and is highly processed. We also
avoid white flour and most processed foods as much as possible. If you enjoy
eating these items, we understand and the town offers an abundance of this
kind of food, that you can partake of on your own and in town. We honor the
Vegan and lacto-vegetarian diets from our local neighboring farms in our
kitchen and ask that you refrain from bringing meat into the kitchen
including chicken and fish. We usually use olive oil, coconut oils and other
quality oils depending on what is available, but refrain from using all
processed oils in the kitchen.
-If someone has left the community for the day and is returning we try to have
a plate of food available for them when they return, if they request us to do
-We offer a light breakfast with tea and fruit or oatmeal-hot cereal and like to
spend some time in silence or meditation before starting the day, if you need
extra food for breakfast or at other meals we offer a private food box in the
kitchen for volunteers and you can store your extra food there, as it is better
not to keep food in your tent or living area to avoid attracting rats and
animals. Also if you leave your private food in common spaces it may get
eaten, so make sure it is put away in your private food box marked for
-Lunch is the main meal of the day and we usually make enough to have
leftovers for the night time if you feel hungry later in the day.
-We drink the water from our local spring that is purified. Since we depend on
our drinking water to be filtered and purified we must keep an abundance of
water available for a sufficient supply of drinking water, we will show you how
this is done in the kitchen.
-Check the bulletin board in the kitchen for events and classes coming up and
post messages there on the whiteboard for others or the community. Feel free
to offer classes yourself if you have a skill you would like to share.
Creating Community & Working Together
We offer this free pdf file link of The Man Who Grew Trees, as we feel it gives
a sense of the direction and atmosphere we wish to create in the reforestation
part of this project, enjoy the story!
-We usually start working around 8 AM as especially during the rainy season
at around noon the rains can come in and it may make it hard to continue
working depending on the type of work we are doing.
-If you are unsure how to do something, please communicate and ask for
guidance or help.
-Work trade is 4-5 hours a day 5-6 days a week, depending on the type of
project. In order to complete projects and have a harmonious working
condition we ask for you to show up on time and be prepared to work in the
morning and consistently during work hours, breakfast is served at 7-30 AM
ish and lunch is served at about 1 PM ish, we designate those that will be
cooking each day so they can take off early and prepare the lunch for everyone.
If you need snacks in between these meal times please buy them personally
and have them available for yourself.
-It is helpful that you work with one person who is guiding you on what work
needs to be done, it can be confusing if two people are asking a volunteer to
work on different projects, let us know if this happens so we can ask for clarity
in your work trade.
-Use a hat to work in the sun and make sure you have your own water bottle to
keep yourself hydrated while you work. It is recommended that you use
clothes that you can get dirty or you don’t mind being ripped when working.
-Always put safety first when working!
-There are core members of the community, visitors, and volunteers, if you
have questions it is best you go to a core member of the community if possible
and they can guide you or help you out in most cases.
-If you leave the job to go get tools or get something please come back to your
work right away as sometimes people tend to get caught up in doing
something else or talking to people etc.
-Remember to clean the area up after you are done working and put all the
tools away clean and in good condition after you are finished working.
-If there are jobs that you are not able to do please let us know, we want you to
have a positive experience!
-We wish to work to create together a beautiful healing environment where
life thrives in cooperation, working half a day we have the other half to
celebrate and have time for our personal affairs and spiritual practices.
-If you must leave the volunteer position before the commitment of a month is
up, please do your best to let us know at least 3 days in advance so we can fill
your position with another volunteer. If you would like to stay longer please
also let us know in advance. We are in the process of forming a conscious community and if you have an interest in becoming a community member we can discuss the process with you.
Using the Dry Composting Toilet & Bathing in the River
-It is helpful if everyone keeps the bathroom area clean. By sweeping the floor
with the broom that is located in the bathroom, using the vinegar spray bottle
to wipe off the toilet seat, etc.
-Always wash your hands for the health of all the community with soap after
using the bathroom, do this outside of the kitchen area in the designated area
where water is located for washing hands, after using the toilet or during or
after work. Please refrain from using the kitchen sink to brush your teeth.
-We consider hygiene as a very important aspect to staying healthy on the
land, some people might be new to living outdoors or close to nature and we
are happy to introduce you to the system we have set up to ensure cleanliness
and the well being of all living together.
-Keep the dry composting toilet lid on the top of the toilet seat at all times
when the toilet is not being used.
-Keep the dry composting toilet dry by not putting any liquids in the toilet and
do not throw anything in the toilet that is not completely biodegradable, we
will compost this human manure eventually and use it for earth on the land
especially for the trees.
-We don’t have a separate area inside the composting toilet that divides urine,
you can use the forest to urinate in if it doesn’t cause the area around you to
smell, so go far away enough from the composting toilet area, your tent or
where you are living to not cause an odor. It is best not to urinate in the dry
composting toilet if you can avoid it.
-We use the following items based on availability to cover our waste, either
ashes from a fire, earth which we have always by the bathroom, sawdust and
dry leaves that are crushed up to cover up each time the toilet is used, cover
your waste as evenly and completely as possible.
-If you have to use toilet paper we ask that you don’t put it in the composting
toilet put dispose of the toilet paper on your own in a healthy way. We can give
-We usually use in the community fresh leaves instead of toilet paper but
understand this might not work for everyone.
-We currently use the river to bathe daily and find this very healing! You can
go naked in the river if you are mindful to cover up if someone drives or comes
by that can see you and get dressed and undressed discreetly. Nudity is not
part of the culture here in Costa Rica and we want to respect our neighbors
-Keep your personal towels and items with you where you are staying.
-There is a small first aid kit in the kitchen, bandages, alcohol, hydrogen
peroxide, cotton, and gauze for small cuts are available.
-To shut down all the water if needed in an emergency ask to see where the
main water pipes are located up the stream and the shut-off valve is located,
just in case you are alone in the community and need to do this if a water pipe
-We ask that you be aware of all trash and items that you brought to the land
and make sure that when you leave you take all your trash and personal items
-If you see trash down by the river please pick it up and keep the community
and river clean.
Hope you enjoy your stay at our place!
If you feel genuinely moved to do so leave us a positive review on Workaway
and we will be sure to leave you one too!
Local Bus Schedule
Tracopa Buses service our area, see the website at http://www.tracopacr.com/
You can find the local bus schedule online going in and out of San Vito and
It is best to show up 10 minutes early as the bus can be a little late or early.
There are local buses also that go from Coopabuena or Aguabuena to and from
Thanks for visiting Crystal Land!