On The Edge of No Where: Maderas Village, Nicaragua
Imagine a world not yet tainted by social conventions. A world in which societal conformity is actually frowned upon, rather radical self-expression is celebrated. Rules don’t exist, except of course community cooperation. Which includes respecting yourself and others, and baring nothing but authenticity. Similar to Burning Man in the 80’s before hundreds of thousands of ‘burners’ defeated the root purpose of the event by massive amounts of acid, camper vans, and... trash that left a trace.
This utopian society exists in the middle of the juggle in Nicaragua, hidden away enough that it has been untouched by the outside world. Maderas Village is not unknown, it’s actually become quite popular amongst millennials, the hipster generation, a group of young naysayers, whatever you want to call them.
With many seeking deeper spirituality, what has practically become a trend, I predict Maderas Village will actually become even more popular than it already has.
Regardless, most travelers show up to Maderas Village knowing it will be much more than just a beach vacation. Something special happens here, but they aren’t sure what it is yet. After the bumpy two and half hour drive through every corner of Nicaragua you’ll quickly realize that you’re far from the life you live on a daily basis. Too far out of reach for society to inflict it’s grimy little hands on you.
In the open air, and communal, dining hall villagers collide over local fruit and ice cold coffee our first morning at the village. We stick out like a sore thumb as newcomers, sweating from the extreme humidity, and unsure of how to hold ourselves in a seemingly perfect environment.
Conversations spark around the books they’re reading, with titles like Untethered Soul, or the photograph they’ve captured of the howler monkeys in the jungle, or the music they’re creating in the Gibson decked music studio up the hill. And suddenly any sense of time has melted away.
That day might as well have been a week, when we showed up to the family-style dinner that night, we knew everyone staying at the village. We had become one, but their arms only slightly more open to us, and the conversations picked up where they left off.
There was much more depth to them though, instead of just brief discussions around their creative work or their daily lives, the conversations turned toward societal convention, nonconformity, and as cliche as it may sound, the meaning of life. Suddenly I found myself wondering if the life I’d been living was anything close to what I’d always wanted.
My world had been shaken in a mere twenty-four hours, and the fact that I was in the middle of nowhere dawned on me again while the atrocious sound of howler monkeys surrounded us. With the breeze cooling the sweat off my body, it felt as though I was hanging off an edge deep within the jungle of Nicaragua.
When you’re pulled far enough away from society you start to realize what is authentically you, and what was merely your environment inflicting its views onto you. Suddenly you’re dissecting your ‘issues’ with clearer light, but you’re teetering on the edge of who you really are, unsure of whether you should fall completely in.
Your mind and body haven’t quite given way to that utopian lifestyle that surrounds you. And at Maderas Village, this means you haven’t quite ‘made it’ yet.
But you have a purpose there, and it is to validate those who have made it. You’re there to prove to them that the village they’ve created is doing it’s job. That the lives they’re living are at a much higher frequency than yours. You remind them of the life they left behind.
We’re in it, we’re drinking the kool aid, as we rock back and forth in the hammock chatting with Dickie, the Father of Maderas Village. We ask him, what’s the one thing we have to do before we leave? His response was a classic representation of how society had created our complicated thinking, when all really life should be is simple. ““I’m not a big checklist guy. Just do what you’re doing. Chill on a hammock and relax…de-stress.”
Maderas Village is not a homogenous experience, it’s not planned, and if you try to alter that experience you’ll be shunned by the group who has ‘made it.’ It’s not defined, the village is whatever you need it to be. It didn’t start with a comprehensive plan and there are few signs that it will ever have one. Like it’s visitors, it is a work in progress constantly expanding and growing into it’s most authentic life. The only thing consistent is change.
The following week involved witnessing the evolution of ‘making it.’ We were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to join Maderas Village during Wellness Week. A week of yoga, spiritual healing, acupuncture, massages and of course the ultimate spiritual experience, ayahuasca ceremonies.
How do you really make it though? Is it within one week of wellness? Is it an ayahuasca ceremony? Or is it a personal choice to propel yourself off an edge into the complete unknown.
I know for sure that in society you learn what you don’t want in life, but very rarely do we get to the root of what we do want. With Maderas Village, it give us the space needed to teeter on the edge, to look deeper at one’s soul purpose in a way you can’t do with everyday noise.
The best part is that everyone is one, you and Tove Lo, who spent some time recording her last album at Maderas Village, and attributes her creativity throughout the process to the village itself, have no difference in life. You are both human. Being surrounded by creatives forces you to become one. Wellness week is simply the cherry on top.
It may not sound real, and honestly I’m not even sure it was real, but I’ve never felt more authentically myself. I was in the most natural state, and if you go I must warn you that you may never leave.
This article was written & photographed by Shadi Farahi & Merritt Spangler.
We’d like to thank Maderas Village for inviting us to cover the incredible Wellness Week. While Wellness Week was enjoyable, we felt as though we must shine light on the environment at Maderas Village because it made the week that much more special.
Check out a short clip from our Wellness Week at Maderas Village on YouTube!!