Meet the man who gave up gave up his job, family and possessions to run away and live on a secluded private island paradise – a paradise made up entirely of plastic bottles…
You’ve got to have a lot of bottle to give up everything you know and start afresh. Fortunately, British artist Richart “Reishee” Sowa had no problems in this respect, leaving behind his job, family and personal possessions in order to create own his private island paradise using hundreds and thousands of plastic bottles.
Fed up of the grey skies of Great Britain, Sowa decided to swap his humble home town for the sandy shores of Cancun in search of a simpler life. Giving up his job as a carpenter, the start to Sowa’s life in the sun was by no means plain sailing, however, with the free-spirited Englishman initially forced to make a menial living by collecting bottles for cash.
It was during one of his many strolls along the beach that the creative thinker came up with an idea that would change his fortunes forever, transforming him from a humble bottle collector to a proud private island owner in only a matter of years. Making use of the items immediately at his disposal – plastic bottles – Sowa embarked on an incredible project which is still going strong to this day.
“The collecting of the bottles started slowly at first – it took about six months just to source the base, just walking around the local towns and picking up the bottles by hand,” explains Sowa. “It’s taken my about two and a half years since the first bottle collection to get to this point now. And I’m quite happy with the progress so far.”
Now the size of a tennis court, the floating island now has a diameter of almost 25 meters and can be found floating within the waters of Isla Mujeres (The Island of Women) just off the coast of Cancun in Mexico. Known as Joyxee Island, the plastic paradise actually forms Sowa’s second island initiative, after its predecessor, Spiral Island, was destroyed by Hurricane Emily in 2005.
Joyxee Island has thus far proven to be much more seaworthy than its forerunner – already surviving two hurricanes and several tropical storms to boot. The island also looks set to weather a diplomatic storm, with the Mexican government allegedly prepared to recognize the private island paradise as sovereign soil and encourage tourists to visit and get involved with the project.
Sowa has bolder ambitions however, adding to his island every day, with the ultimate aim of sailing out to sea and drifting around the world on the island he built with his own two hands. “One day, we will sail out on the ocean and become a small floating country,” he promises in a video interview featured on internet blog Neatorama.
And why not? Sowa’s private paradise is all but self-sufficient, home to a small banana plantation, lemon trees, coconut trees, tomato plants, spinach plants and even almond trees – not bad for an island whose foundation is made of hundreds and thousands of plastic bottles, stuffed unceremoniously into an array of fishing nets.
Further to its homegrown foodstuffs, Joyxee Island boasts dense mangrove coverage, a smattering of palm trees and even a private beach, painstakingly created over months of paddling back and forth to the shore, sourcing the softest sand Cancun has to offer. The island isn’t short of eco-innovation either, with solar panels, a wave-powered washing machine (actually a plastic oil drum which rolls about in the waves) and even a home-made solar cooker.
In true Robinson Crusoe tradition, Sowa has a team of four-legged Man Fridays to keep him company – including his two pet cats, Bonita and Evie, a little dog called Rainbow, two chickens and even a duck. Indeed, it seems that this plastic bottle paradise actually has everything one needs for the ultimate private island escape. The Private Island News team hopes to see it floating our way soon!
Enjoyed reading about this private island eccentric? You might like the following Private Island News stories too:
- Brendon Grimshaw: The Brit who bought a cut-price private island in the Seychelles and lives in solitude with 120 giant tortoises. (Private Island News, May 2012)
- David Glasheen: After 20 years of solitude, island hermit an island hermit based in Australia is forced to find a new home. (Private Island News, August 2012)
- The Kingdom of Elleore: Schoolteachers create independent private island kingdom close to Roskilde in Denmark. (Private Island News, April 2014)