Cooper Morgan is living the green dream: The 26-year-old Oregon native converted a school bus to run on vegetable oil, he’s driving across Central America, and he makes a living playing music with a few of his closest friends. His odyssey, known as the SoulFire Project, has a rotating cast of characters, including his adventurous mother Andrea.
After five years of roaming the continent, the SoulFire Project has finally hit a serious snag: They’ve run out of fuel. Historically, restaurants have been eager to rid themselves of used vegetable oil, and converted vehicles have guzzled the stuff for free. But in recent years, the rise of biofuel has encouraged private companies to forge contracts with restaurants. Biofuel entrepreneurs now pick up and pay for vegetable oil, making the stuff harder to find.
The Morgans and their crew are camped in a parking lot in Barrio Amón, just outside the Feria Verde site. They filter their own water, condense plastic into reusable “bricks,” and eat fresh fruit. While their Costa Rican visa is only valid until June 16, and the group is vigorously seeking large volumes of vegetable oil. Still, they are enjoying their stay, playing regular gigs at area bars, sleeping aboard the bus and maintaining a zero-impact lifestyle.
On a recent afternoon, Morgan gave The Tico Times a tour of the inventive digs. Check it out here: