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Using Solar to Enhance a Simple Happy Life

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I have been blessed to have attended two of our 7 Continents in 7 Years journeys with my husband. This trip was especially exciting for us and I was even able to speak a little Spanish. The people of Planatal were very friendly and by the end of our trip new friends were made.

In order to install solar in the off-grid community of Platanal, the journey began with a smooth two-hour ride in SUVs and jeeps, then an additional 30-minute ride on a single-lane, extremely bumpy dirt road. Then we continued the trip to Platanal with a ¾-mile hike up a mountain. As a result of a recent foot surgery, I was able to ride a horse up to the community. It was a breathtaking experience up the narrow carved-out paths to the top of the mountain. The people of Platanal gave us a warm welcome and we quickly got started on our projects.

We split into groups; some of us went out to the homes to set up the solar panels on the roofs while others stayed in the school to put the solar electric boxes together. We were so involved in the construction, wiring and installation process that we truly learned how solar works from the ground up. It was surreal to see it all come together and watch the family members see light in their home for the first time. We knew it was going to change everything. All the homes had dirt floors, an area for food storage, a fire pit to cook and a couple of hammocks for sleeping. It is a simple life, but a happy one as well. I loved seeing the humble farming life of the people in Planatal. Stress free from the hustle of our lives back here in the United States.

Our names are Donna & Kevin French and we are Generation V.

In March 2015, Viridian traveled to the breathtakingly beautiful and still mostly undeveloped “Land of Lakes and Volcanoes.” To complete our most ambitious project to date, we hiked to the small agricultural community of Portrero Platanal, an off-the-grid village that’s inaccessible by car. With the help of the nonprofit organization GRID Alternatives, we were able to install clean, reliable solar systems on the homes of 40 families, bringing the opportunity for a better life to an entire community.