[Contributor Darci Pauser writes extensively on renewable energy at her blog The Field Trip ]
On the “scruffy side” of the tracks in Marathon, Texas, sits La Loma Del Chivo. An eclectic variety of buildings occupy this city block of land, from a kiva to a sweat lodge, to a bedroom sarcastically entitled the “McMansion.” The special thing about all of these buildings is their DIY flavor– all have been built not according to some professional architect’s idea of what a building should be, but according to the vision and creativity of those actually building it.
The hostel is an inexpensive option for those traveling through West Texas, or going into the Big Bend National Park. It’s even free for bicyclists traveling down highway 90. If you cannot afford the $15 a night, there is also a work-trade option, and the hostel is host to several folks in the WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) program. How refreshing to find a place where so much creativity and property is allowed to flow and the feeling is so laid-back. WWOOFers are encouraged to start whatever project they would like, and owner Guil funds the materials cost. A workshop is available for all who desire to use it. The result is papercrete buildings– some big, some small– a brick pizza oven, an organic garden, and pathways made of crushed glass tumbled smooth.
One WWOOFer, Jarrett, showed me around, and explained to me his vision for La Loma. He stays in a small steel trailer on the property that he hopes to collect rainwater from. The water would run off from the roof and onto a garden adjacent. A kiva-in-the-making will have a domed roof. At the time I was there, the kiva had been dug, lined with papercrete, and large tree stump set up in the middle to support the roof. In the warmer months, a movie projector is set up on the roof lounge of the main building, and pizzas are made in the brick oven. The roof lounge wall is decked with block letters forming the phrase “malls and malls of dessert in every direction,” which Jarrett interpreted as a commentary on suburban sprawl.
While I was there, a delivery of lumber, cinder blocks, and pavers was made, and everyone helped to unload, along with several neighbors, who Guil pays by the hour. Once the materials were unloaded, one WWOOFer exclaimed “beer time!” I really wished I could have stayed and enjoyed that beer time with everyone, but, alas, I had to depart on my way to San Antonio. See ya later, West Texas!