By: Joseph Licata
Photos by Jacob Pritchard
If you are looking for a new adventure, something a little off the beaten path, both figuratively and literally, Maderas Village just might be the place for you.
Nestled in a quiet spot on the coast of Nicaragua, this little community has just what is needed to help you disconnect and recharge. There is something about the simplicity of the village that brings you to a center point, allowing for a concentrated dose of relaxation.
Surrounded by perfect waves, an unbelievable shoreline, a great community of people and home to some amazing cooks, this little paradise will be like no other experience that you’ve ever had before.
So, in order to get an inside look at this magical place, Surf Collective hopped on a plane a few months back and sat down with Matt Dickinson – aka Dickie – one of the founders of Maderas Village, to find out how it all started, why Nicaragua, and what makes this great little getaway tick.
What was your life before Nicaragua?
I was living in Toronto, working 80 hours/week in commercial real estate, and uninspired, but optimistic about the future.
Since Nicaragua is a surf-destination, though less frequented than say Mexico, was surfing the main motivation behind starting Maderas?
Surf definitely played a major role in starting the Village in Maderas. Along with yoga, healthy food, and good company, we deemed surfing to be a critical component in creating a home where people could live a balanced & productive life. Having great waves at our door step 340 days a year makes dealing with the challenges that come up in business and life significantly easier to cope with and work through.
What was your inspiration behind the idea of creating a community rather than just a boutique resort?
Boutique resorts are just static buildings where people tend to act in predictable and repetitive patterns. It’s the communities that inhabit them that drive the development of new ideas, interesting projects, and forward thinking concepts. Our primary consideration when designing the Village was determining which elements would best foster the development of a modern community of creative professionals through creating spaces that we felt would inspire people to think fresh thoughts, share ideas, be comfortable with themselves, and live passionately.
The story behind Maderas reminds me of The Drifters written by James Michener. It’s a novel about discontented youth finding their way in life through travels in Spain, Portugal, Mozambique, and Morocco. What have you learned from your experiences at Maderas and being surrounded by like-minded people?
The Drifters is actually my all-time favorite book. Typical of Mitchener, what made that book so special was the detail and complexity of the characterization. Each individual looks like a hippie on the surface, but once you learn the backstory you realize that they are all intelligent, educated, thought-leaders questioning the status quo and seeking a better way to find balance and live purposefully in a rapidly changing world. Every new adventure brings with it a new set of life lessons & epiphanies reflective of the changing times. At Maderas you constantly encounter these characters, whether as guests or residents, who call into question the generally accepted rules of normal society with the goal of figuring out a better way to live well & work passionately.
Do you find Maderas to be isolated or have you integrated yourselves into the Nicaraguan community around you?
Between the Nicaraguan surfers at the beach who we surf with daily, our 27 employees from the local community that we live/work with, and all of our incredible Nicaraguan partners (masseuses, surf shops, restaurants, transportation companies) that we interact with daily, we are very much one with the community surrounding Maderas. We just try to play the most purposeful role that we can for the community, while complementing the natural development of the area in a meaningful way.
Are you the only community of expats/travelers living in the area?
The San Juan del Sur/Maderas area is home to a large population of expats/travelers living, working, or just passing through. While this has some potential detrimental effects on an area, it certainly keeps the perspectives fresh and the area filled with dynamic characters.
Maderas seems like a creative haven for interesting people. What types of people does it bring around?
Maderas is home to anyone looking for respite from the noise & pace of the modern world; a quiet place to think, where people can be surrounded by like-minded thinkers and operate at their own natural rhythm.
How does Maderas mesh such a dynamic group of people together?
The vibe of the Village encourages people to be exactly who they are. The effect of this is an environment in which collaboration & debate occur naturally and ‘meshing’ doesn’t really need to be forced, it just happens. Everyone is more honest with their opinions, more open minded to different perspectives, and less defensive. It changes the tone of conversation from who is right to which collaborative solution best solves the issue or problem being debated.
Do you have any future plans/aspirations for Maderas?
At this point we’re focused on planning & building Phase II, which will consist of another twenty rooms, a restaurant, dark room, and pool area. We’re also working on the launch of Maderas Concert Series (semi-annual intimate concert), Maderas Radio (online radio station), Maderas Life (our online magazine), and figuring out where we’d like to build the next project. Eventually, we’d like to have 5 or 6 homes in interesting places around the world that allow people to live where they’d like, for however long they’d like.