Costa Rica: Let's Visit a Sustainability Education Center.

Senor Coconut @senorcoconut4 months ago | 6 min read

True Eco-Tourism begins when you visit places like Rancho Mastatal.

Image Source: Visitor Welcome Guide (Rancho Mastatal)

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After an awesome bus ride, in which our four year old mini human did really well and had a lot of fun, we landed in a small village called Mastatal. Here we were visiting a group of people who have been experimenting with communal living, permaculture, natural building and sustainability for eighteen years.

I was inspired beyond my imagination.

Rancho Mastatal sits right between a dryer region to the north-west and the wetter region to the south-east, giving them exposure to many different animal and plant specie. It's a 300 acre property, mostlly a natural conservation, butting up against La Cangreja
National Park
and protected native land, so they're pretty sure to not have much development popping up all around them!

Over the years, to become an education center, they chose to focuse on a few skills: natural building, fermentation, agroforestry, permaculture and furniture building. Being completely self-reliant wasn't helping the local economy, it was taking too much time from educating and they wanted to integrate into the local way of life as well. A lot of places built by foreigners in costa Rica have kind of become these pockets of rich exclusive communities that only drive up the price if life.

Integration has been the most difficult part of the project, but they really seem to have found a way.

On arrival at the Ranch.

My first impressions were feelings of health and beauty, we walked in through a decorated gate and a green garden to get to the main house, where the abundance of natural materials for building with was clearly the norm.



When someone found us looking around we were welcomed with smiles and after a quick check in we were being lead to our dwelling in which we were going to spend the next few days.


Once inside I had an imidiate feeling of beauty. The smooth lime plastered walls in this new timber frame construction and the earthen floor made this place smell so good and fresh, I knew that a natural construction like this one would be our home one day!

We arrived in the late afternoon, settled in and took a quick look around near our new living space. There were two showers and a compost toilet being built as part of an amzing one year apprenticeship program.



The showers, made of earthen walls, under a timber fram roof structure, will be finished with a Tadelakt Plaster that is water proof and so completely pleasant to look at.


The compost toilet is a bamboo structure built mostly with scrap material from other projects. It will be finished in a Japanese wattle and daub technique that uses a fermented straw and clay mixture, which eliminates the need for imported sand.

You can see how gorgeous it's going to be with the larger pieces of bamboo exposed and a nice curve on one wall.


There's something about earthen structures built with curves that I really like... I'm not sure what it is but I know it's very pleasant to look at and be around, there's something really relaxing about it.

Warmth and hospitality.

Our first evening there was met with smiles and open arms. A delicious dinner was prepared for everyone on site. There were about twenty people including apprentices, who are spending a year on the ranch, community members and guests. The meal started with everyone holding hands, a few people expressed their gratitude and we ate a wonderful dinner made from all organic and locally grown foods. They cook with local lard instead oil because it would have to be brpught in from much further away, all the greens and some fruits are grown on the ranch. Grains and sugar come from near by farms and they produce lots of fermented condiments and a little alcohol. Everything was delicious!!!


Everyday, we ate like kings and slept like babies and they mostly cooked with methane from their biodigester and wood on built rocket stoves.



Overwhelmed with inspiration.

Tim took us on a tour of the ranch, it was really inspiring and confirmed our dream of building something similar, isn't completely insane. I can see clearly now that our multi-family homestead can become an education center with all the permaculture principles and a community setting.

We definitely want a huge dining table like this one!

All the structures they built over the years through workshops and their apprenticeship program are incredible. They're not only beautiful but they are all works of art and built with the intention to inspire.







The apprenticeship program blew me away, first of all it's one year long, a good length of time to get really familiar with different aspects of living sustainably. And secondly, the curriculum is amazing, students have the opportunity to learn skills in natural building, sustainable agriculture, homesteading and community development. The ranch will teach them furniture building as well as fermenting foods!

The main skills taught at the ranch are:

  • Permacuture
  • Agroforestry
  • Fermentation
  • Preservation
  • Carpentry
  • Natural building

There are many other skills being shared, but these are the most important ones they have developed over the years as part of their curriculum.

This place really is like a laboratory for experiments in community, sustainability, self reliance and fermented foods. It gave me so much confidence for our own project and confirmation that we're not completely crazy for wanting to build a place that teaches and inspires a life of self reliance, sustainability and community.

Keep doing the thing you do and until next time...

QUOTE OF THE MONTH: @StortebekerQUOTE OF THE MONTH: @Stortebeker

Tener derecho a algo no es lo mismo tener algo de hecho.

(If you want your quote featured here, lookout for the next contest!)


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Written by:

Franco-American Traveler, Artist, Homesteader and The Permaculture of Things with Anarchist Tendencies

Oh wow! Inspiring is the right word! I'm blown away. Those structures look fantastic. Isn't Tadelakt the most amazing thing? Now I feel like going on an apprenticeship for a year. ;-)
Btw, I just noticed that my quote is up, AGAIN. Thank you, I appreciate it a lot.


Yeah you won again!!!! I still need to deliver you sbi shares... and I will soon.

You should check out the apprenticeship for sure. It's a full emersion. The apprentices we saw had been there for just over a month and had already learned a mountain worth of knowledge!

The whole thing was really really impressive and inspiring for sure!



Yeah you won again!!!! I still need to deliver you sbi shares... and I will soon.

You should check out the apprenticeship for sure. It's a full emersion. The apprentices we saw had been there for just over a month and had already learned a mountain worth of knowledge!

The whole thing was really really impressive and inspiring for sure!


You've been visited by @thistle-rock from Homesteaders Co-op.

Oh my, I can only say wow, what workmanship and artistry all in one! You are making beautiful memories and experiencing a way of life unknown to most... enjoy it, I know I thoroughly enjoyed your post and beautiful photos!

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Thank you @thistle-rock, yeah I guess it is a way of life unknown to most! Thank you for the reminder, I do forget sometimes and tens to think it's the norm...

Thanks for your visit!

Roberto @raserrano4 months ago

That seems like a great place I hope I would some day convince my wife and probably baby Sofia as well to visit that place and ideally learn some techniques for a future project. How are you enjoying the experience so far?


We're loving it! In the end it's not much different than traveling without a kid. I mean yeah there's a bit of struggle with earing, but I thonk that's part of life when you're fpur years old!!!

We enjoyed our time at Rancho Mastatal very much and miss it quite a bit but we also just spent a week at the beach so life is good!!!

I hope you can convince you wife too, this place was worth the effort getting to it and it is very kid friendly 😁...


SOOOO NICE to see what other people and communities are co-creating. Inspired!!


Somehow we picked the right place to visit... I heard a lot of other places like this in Costa Rica that aren't so open to integrating to local customs. Very inspiring for sure!

Thanks for the visit


Healthy and organic food, Kind people, attractive design and decoration. It really seems to be worthy to spend time in such a centre. In addition, seems a very good place to work on both hard and soft skills. I guess


Oh yes it is. I am already planing another teip there for next time we're in Costa Rica. It was incredible!!!


I heard also that Costa Rica is a good destination for the digital nomads, isn't it?


Yes I think it is, I saw some sign for a digital nomad resort type of thing, but I never looked into it. I'm sure a lot of people work the internet here!

Funny enough no one I talked to was interested in learning anything about steemit.


Last year I travelled from Sofia to Belgrade I met some travel blogger who had no idea what a cryptocurrency or a blockchain is .


I hope you introduced them to this fun blockchain we're all playing on 😁!


I did, I do , keep doing and I will


Ah nice!


What a stunning post.. resteemed. You must be be brim full of ideas. Earthern buildings are darn sexy. Something so tactile about them.. and they are sooo beautiful.. works of art in themselves! You will have to start scavenging wood for a giant table!! Looking forward to seeing what the new year brings for you!!


Thank you so much for all the love!!! Yeah these buildings are definitely sexy. As for ideas, yeah I have tons but there's a small bump in the road... I must go to France for a month or so to help my dad sell his house!

At least we can build some toilets and platforms for the bell tents to rent out hopefully before I go.


What an amazing project. It's good to see ideas like this one fructifying.
The ideas of Thoreau and other precursors of environmentalism have survived and rooted deeply.

Do they charge visitors? apprentices? how much?


I'm not sure how much it all costs... At this time a one year apprenticeship I think costs US$6000, all included. Not too bad considering the costs of universities and food and house in the west!

porters @porters4 months ago

Wow! Amazingly beautiful, such an artistic touch put on every thing! Lovely to see projects like this being undertaken to inspire folks. Can't wait to see how your project progress. From what I've seen you've got a good start especially with all the inspiration you have derived from your visit to Rancho Mastatal!
Thanks for sharing! It makes me want to jump on a plane and go see it for myself!


Thank you so much, you message put a smile on my face! I'm happy to hear you would like to go. It truely was a very artistic place to be in. Let's not forget they've been working on it for 18 years now... but we'll get there too soon enough!

porters @porters4 months ago

Oh! 18 years! that explains alot. Lovely that you got to experience it and be inspired by it!


Yeah I feel really blessed to have gone there. So many fresh ideas to bring back home!

ErikaH @erikah4 months ago

That place looks like a dream, I would have loved it, I'm pretty sure of it. I'm a big fan of protecting nature, the 3R, so I'm all for this. They did and excellent job with the decoration as well, those walls are lovely, not to mention the showers and the toilet, really original.


It really was fantastic. They put in so much effort into their buildings, they're true works of art.

ErikaH @erikah4 months ago

That's how they can attract more and more tourists.


haha yes probably true!


Never ever thought such eco-friendlier and sustainable place does exist. Spending even few hours at these places always gives a great feeling. ..and belongingness to nature


Yeah I guess you're right, even spensing a few hours would do something good!

Yes these places exist, I couldn't believe it either. It's very comforting that they do. Hopefully ours will be as inviting!!!