April 29, 2013, Isla Mujeres, Mexico
We could see the floating island from our boat in the marina. One day, we took some time off boat work to visit it. Part artwork, part ecological experiment, the floating island and home need to be seen to be believed.
We were fortunate to arrive at the island at the same time that the island’s charming owner/creator/mastermind, Richart Sowa was showing it to a Chinese film crew. We were invited to tag along. Perhaps our faces will appear on Chinese TV. I wonder what the Chinese will make of it. Richart is delightfully eccentric with a spiritual bent: telling the TV crew of seeing a space ship and of his investigations into assorted religions from Jehovah Witnesses to Buddism.
The island is made from reclaimed materials. It floats on thousands of plastic bottles, held at first in net bags and then, as time goes by, by the roots of the mangrove and other plants that grow on the island and also by corals growing on the bottles. The center of the island is the oldest and feels quite solid. The edges are newer and less robust — at the edges, we were advised to stand at least a meter apart so that we didn’t sink.
There are holes (usually covered) in the island; these are access points for more bottles.
A small boat made from scrap materials is used to ferry (hand-over-hand along a rope) visitors to the island. We arrived on our own (rather more seaworthy) dinghy.
Energy and water come from the sky. There are solar panels to supply electricity. Rainwater is gathered on the roof and used for washing and showers. (The toilet is composting.)
The house itself is delightfully whimsical.
The home is three storeys high: The ground floor contains kitchen, bath, shower, bedroom and living/dining areas — all diminutive but efficient.
The next floor is the guest quarters. The guest bed is quite charming. The ready-installed “ShellTell” allows guests to chat from their bedside to the ground floor below. Yes, it really works.
We really enjoyed our visit to the floating island. We thank Richart for the tour; it was an honour and a pleasure to meet the man whose passion and ingenuity created such a unique place.
Should you be interested in some of Richart’s writing, be sure to follow him on Facebook, where with a simple “like”, friends are offered the opportunity to learn more about his discovery of higher powers and the development of the floating island. Updates about the island growth can also be found by clicking here. Also of note is that Richart has raised some money for his floating island via KickStarter.