The Sunday Edition

Life inside a travelling school bus powered by vegetable oil

With artists, engineers and musicians, the mother and son at the heart of The Soulfire Project have travelled 30,000 miles in a colourful, rickety bus, using vegetable oil for fuel. They're on a musical/artistic/environmental mission. Brittany Amodeo's documentary is called "The Magic School Bus."
Cooper Morgan performing in front of children in Nicaragua (Soulfire Project)
Listen15:08

Nestled between rows of lush coffee plants, just outside a village in the Chiriqui mountains of Panama, there really is a magic school bus. 

Children in Central America aboard the bus (Soulfire Project)
Not the one from the beloved children's story.

There's no Ms. Frizzle, and this bus doesn't go on science expeditions.

But it is a wildly colourful 1979 supercoach with the name Soulfire painted across the front. 

It has travelled over 30,000 miles — from Oregon to Colombia — with an engine that runs on vegetable oil.

The Soulfire bus (Soulfire Project)
And its denizens do have adventures.

Over 200 artists and musicians have been part of its mission to promote environmental change and sustainability. They support themselves by performing — cumbia, afro-latino, and reggae music.

But at the heart of Soulfire is a mother-son team, Andrea and Cooper Morgan.

Andrea and Cooper Morgan (Soulfire Project)
Backpacker and producer Brittany Amodeo encountered them in Boquete Panama, where they were preparing to leave for a new continent: South America. They'd been parked in Boquete for the better part of a year, next to the home of an Indigenous family who worked on a coffee plantation. 

Click 'listen' above to hear Brittany's documentary "The Magic School Bus."

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