This question on the website was instantly appealing to me, so I wrote a quick email and before I knew it a month of living in the Intentional Community Intercambiamos, Costa Rica, had passed.
Intercambiamos is an intentional community in one of the most diverse jungles of the world in Costa Rica. It’s as much immersed into nature as human comfort allows (took me a little to adjust). Everything is alive, I saw beautiful red Aras, Kakadus, Spider and Howling Monkeys daily, but also leaf-eating ants and mosquitoes where a frequent companion. It feels like if you accidentally drop a seed, a week later a tree will have grown.
Part jungle, part farm surrounded by really loving neighbors, a lot of animals and a rich, abundant eco-system. The goal is to use these strengths, but not to be self-sufficient, but to be sufficient within the local community and live of an exchanged based trading style.
Intercambiamos was founded by Allison, a former New Yorker lawyer with a background in Activism, who followed her intuition by building up this space to explore living in a community and exchange spiritual/ energy work without exchanging money.
She envisions this space to be one of many like-minded communities across the world to form a network.
It is encouraged to openly speak your needs, be vulnerable with your emotions and communicate in a non-violent way. I found this created room for deep connections and I feel a strong bond to the people I’ve met during my stay there.
There is generally no money exchanged in the community, you contribute your work instead. But there is no need to follow a schedule, instead in the morning meeting a 8:30 we talked about two questions; ‘How do you feel today?’ and ‘What would you like to do today?’. Some of the daily tasks include Goat herding, feeding bunnies or cooking the communal diner.
Okay, but let's talk about money?
Sadly, the world is not at the Utopy just yet and you need actual cash. Allison bought the area, with money of her fathers life insurance for over 200’000$, since then she has continued to put up money from her savings. Trying out different strategies volunteers currently contribute during their stay:
- 2$ per week for gas money for the communal car vehicle, the car mechanic helps out in exchange for English classes.
- Food is grown, exchanged with neighbors or bought individually.
- A gift (e.g. couch cushions)
- A project, including the materials, could be a Tile backsplash, a fire pit, a portable bunny cage)
Who can come?
Allison explained to me, she selects some people that can give to the place and some people that she thinks need the place to heal. It was amazing to see how everyone’s interests came together to form a whole, functioning place. One tiny women loved to do physical labor and was mostly seen with a wheelbarrow or a machete. Another one liked fixing stuff and thinking up new designs building them into reality. One guy was into gardening (along the moon cycle) and composting. I like organizing, daily and 2 ‘excursions’, driving the car and goat walking (among other things).
Would I want to live there?
During my travels I’m very grateful to come across a lot of beautiful places, but only on very few occasions I KNOW that I will return. Intercambiamos is one of these places. Even though it’s ever changing (what isn’t), I find a lot of comfort in knowing that I have a home there, which I can come back to and recharge at any time. Thank you so much for having me!