Something else I found very interesting at the Rambala Jungle Lodge was Javier’s house. Javier is a Panamanian man who’s been the caretaker at the lodge for a few years, and he lives on the property. I have seen houses like this from the road, but this is the first time I have been able to visit one and be in it, using “in” loosely because living here is pretty much living outdoors. This is definitely minimalist living.
This is Javier talking with Eric before he left on his vacation. He was going back to his town for Mother’s Day. There he was going to go from house to house with two other men singing songs for every mother in town. He told me that he and his two companions had been doing this every year for many years.
This is the front of his house.
This is the front room with the hammocks. The log with the notches on the left goes up to the loft. I noticed there is a mirror on the support in the middle.
This is the side of the house, and that area outside the window is the kitchen sink or washing up area.
This is the other side of the house.
This is from the front room looking back into the enclosed room which is the kitchen. There are cooking areas on the left, and a small table on the right which looked too rickety to use, and no chairs so I imagine food is eaten at one of the benches in the front area.
At the top of the notched log is the sleeping loft.
He has an air mattress up there, and not much else.
There is quite a bit of space in the loft, but except for his sleeping area it was pretty much empty.
This is the kitchen. The gas tank fuels the burners for cooking. The sock looking thing hanging next to that is for making coffee. Put the coffee grounds in the sock, run the hot water through, and you have coffee.
A larger view of the kitchen area.
The washing area as seen from inside. There is a hose above it for water, but I’m not sure how it is turned off and on.
There is also this cooking area on the other side of the kitchen. You can build a wood fire here and put your pots on the stones. It wasn’t in use at this time though because a chicken was sitting on her eggs there. We thought they were due to hatch over the weekend but when we left she was still waiting.
Seeing this really made me think. How much do you really need to live? In this climate you mostly need somewhere to get out of the rain, somewhere to cook, to sleep, and there was an outhouse a bit behind the house. He didn’t seem to be carrying much when he left so I think this is pretty much all his possessions. His few clothes are hanging in the front room, and you saw what he had in the kitchen. And, this sort of living is not at all unusual here, and this type of house is quite common in this part of Panama.
Sitting here in this sturdy block home with all these rooms and looking at these photos, I feel like we live in a palace. It sure makes you think – what do you really need? What does it take to be happy? We were told that Javier is happy to live there. It’s a beautiful place, he has a lot of work to do, and he likes the peaceful quiet. Could I live like that? 3 sets of clothes, 4 plates, a sleeping loft, and a chicken in my fagon? I dunno, but I see I sure could live with a lot less than I have now.
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