Casa Maderas is an ecolodge located close to the very touristy San Juan Del Sur in Nicaragua, in a location still preserved and quite difficult to access except by shuttle or hitchhiking. It is close to playa Maderas, a beautiful well-preserved beach favoured by surfers along a very nice rocky coast.
Managed by Crisanto, this lodge made up of beautiful warm wood is quite high standard even though the prices for a bunk bed in a dormitory remain reasonable.
Most of the walls have been built up from recycled plastic bottles, formed with wood and held up by metallic rails then covered in cement. The wood used for construction accross the property comes from the trees that where torned off during the hurrican Felix. The rest of the material used is: paint to protect the wood, cement for the fundations, some metallic tubes to build balconies (aeronautic principle to lighten the whole construct rather than plain beams), roofs made up of sheet metal to be waterproof and doubled with tiles, and some
other modern material which are light in some places for the balconies floors. The arrangement of the bungalows is alongside the hill slope in a way that water can be transported solely by gravity through each of them. Numerous canals are dug alonside the walkways in order to evacuate the huge rains of the rainy season and avoid erosion. Air circulation is optimised with this arrangement and roofs slightly elevated from the walls letting a space, protected with a mosquito net, that enables the air flow to come in and out. In fact, in the dormitory where we were, it was fresh and the air circulated well leaving the room rather dry. The pool, a little indulgence from the owner, is nestled in the middle of this mini-village just before we find the entrance building. All the way up the mini-village and battered by the wnds, there is a beautiful platform sheltered by a rooftop which serves as a meeting place for events or yoga sessions. Up there, there is a beautiful view above the valley. The plastic bottles are also used in the small walls that make the alleyways. These alleys are made up of bricks without cement in order to absorb the water and avoid floods. They are boardered by trays planted with veggies and flowers which also retain water. A small shed with sand inside is a nesting spot for turttles when they are relocalisation as Casa Maderas is part of a program aiming at re-implanting torttles in the areas around.
WATER AND ENERGY MANAGEMENT
The electricity is used with care and is turned off during the day in most of the propery. There are regularly shortcuts and a propane generator takes over in this case. The project is to install solar pannels to reach autonomy. Regarding water, there is a well in the property and a pump that brings the water all the way up the hill to a reservoir. From there, water flows down by gravity. Water usage aside from the pool is also done with care. Used water are all chaneled to reach a certified phyto-cleaning system with several stages that end up in a big area full of aquatic plants before the water is thrown back into the field. There is a project to arrange a vegetable garden in this field in order to provide with fresh ingredients for the restaurant.
We mainly note down the recycling of bottles for the construction. more than 11000 bottles have been used to create the place.
THE WAY IT WORKS
It is a good quality hotel for the individual rooms and a hostel with its dormitories. It also has a restaurant which is good but a bit expensive. Two volunteers are present and ensure partially the check-in service and the restaurant service. The rest of the employees are locals. They are 36 in total, 16 for maintenant and 10 for the cooking, in order to cover rotations. They have their own building with a kitchen and a resting space. Some employees are hosted on the property. Crisanto makes a point to recruit, train and keep his local employees.
Food production is not the aim of the place even with the vegetable garden project. We still find eddible plants in the plant trays around the property.
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