Villas Mastatal

Sign reading 'Villas'At Villas Mastatal, an organic farm and education center, I saw many wonderful things and learned that when people get creative they are able to find multiple uses to everything in the world. Here, every item is unique in its own way and had more than one use such as the glass bottles, the food that became compost, and the trees that grew and produced food to eat and then was turned into compost. It all helps the environment, the people, the animals, and the insects. It’s like a cycle of life and it is amazing. The Ticos showed me how much of life they love. You’ll soon understand what I mean. 


We arrived early in the morning to Villas Mastatal and we were kindly greeted by Javier, the owner of Villas Mastatal. His home was so vibrant and alive that I was in awe of all the plants, colors, and structures that surrounded me. He had us sit in a common area that had no walls, like everything else in Costa Rica, that room was free and alive. Everything there seemed to be one with nature. 

Restroom Out in the Open

We began the tour around Villas and I was excited because as the week had progressed in Costa Rica I became more intrigued with all the things we were learning about: trees, plants, animals, farming, and most of all sustainability. We passed a few compost toilets that had a wooden frame surrounding them in order to create some privacy although the top was open. Even if it felt like someone could see you, it was great using the facility. The view was truly breathtaking and I have never been more at peace in an outdoor restroom than I was at Villas. To top it off, I knew the human waste that was being deposited in the toilet would one day be used as soil to continue to grow plants and trees. 

What a Bottle Can Do!

Javier demonstrating the reuse of glass bottles to cups or soap holders.
Javier demonstrating the reuse of glass bottles to cups or soap holders.

Javier demonstrated the multiple uses of the glass beverage bottles. After first consuming the beverage they would cut them by rotating the bottle while a razor blade slightly cut the bottle. Once the cut was made all the way around the bottle, Javier lit a candle and rotated the bottle above the flame directly the cut. He continued to rotate it and as he did the bottle was turning black. Javier then dropped the bottle in a bucket of water and it split at the razor cut. The second use was that the top part of a bottle could be made into a decorative water collector and the bottom became a cup. The bottle could also be used as a soap holder in showers as well as being used to allow sunlight in through walls, of which were made of waddle and cob. The multiple uses of a simple glass bottle was really great to learn about and to be aware of so that I can make use of any type of bottle. 

Tree of Life

We continued to walk on the farm following Javier, along the path he would point out the different types of plant and trees. There were hibiscus flowers, Guanabana trees, Jack fruit trees, “moringa” trees and much more. The Moringa tree is called el Arbol de la Vida meaning Tree of Life. The people in Costa Rica make tea from the leaves of the moringa tree and enjoy the benefits of all the vitamins it contains.

The tree has many vitamins and proteins such as:

  • 7 times the amount of vitamin C that is oranges
  • 10 times the amount of calcium in milk
  • 2 times the amount of protein in mile
  • 3 times the potassium in bananas
  • 4 times the vitamin A in carrots

Due to it’s benefits and extraordinary contents it is referred to as the Tree of Life. 

Creative Carpentry

At the end of the path through the variety of trees and plants, there was a sustainable structure that was so simple and yet magnificent all at once. It was the place where visitors are able to sleep and was also a yoga deck. The building stood facing a view of all kinds of trees, flowers, and plants. It was made of several types of wood found locally and was possible through the craftsmanship of Javier and his volunteers. The lower level has bunk beds and restrooms while the upper deck has a hammock and is a multi-purpose use room. The view from the top deck was breathtaking, for miles upon miles I could see the trees and to think that now so many different species had a home. For me this was a truly beautiful thing to see and feel. 

The Magic of Compost

Javier, the owner of Villas, explains the compost heater.
Javier demonstrating and discussing the method in which water is heated by compost.

We followed Javier towards several composting piles and bins. One in particular shined above the rest due to the multiple uses of it. The compost which sat and worked, as compost does, was wrapped in a hose of which would warm up the water as it travels upward around the compost. The compost cooks and reaches high temperatures that are able to heat the hose quite well, which allows the people who stay on Villas Mastatal to take warm showers if they so desire. This is also environmentally friendly and there is no need for the water to be warmed by gas. This is a great thing because compost is formed from the scraps of food that are left out. The compost soil then helps Javier and his volunteers to keep planting vegetables and fruit. This simply continues to be one wonderful cycle.

I enjoyed my day in Villas and I hope to one day be able to see it again. Who knows maybe one day you will see this place too! Pura vida amigos!!!


Kimberly Barling.