Located 45 minutes from the center of Buenos Aires, and rooted within the delta of the river Paraná, is an inimitable eco-village that's spurring an Echo Movement. Supported by an NGO seeking to promote a friendly cultural exchange within permaculture practices, this spot has become a magnet for international backpackers and Couchsurfers traveling off the beaten path. The project was first initiated by Leonardo Jara years ago, and after much hard work, Leonardo has developed his site into truly unique village that includes a house made from recycled wood and local Tacuara cane, a system for filtering river water for in-house use, three grey water filtering ponds, an organic garden, a compost, an earth oven, and currently under construction, a dry toilet and multicolored glass bottle shed. We recently paid a visit to the Echo Village. Flip through our images ahead and discover what life is like within this corner of Argentina.
Upon arriving, it’s difficult to believe that you’re still in Buenos Aires. But it takes just 1 hour by train, 45 minutes by boat, and a short 5 minute walk through a green tunnel, you’ll find yourself at the doorstep of the Echo Village. Immersed in the wilderness and wetlands, this Swedish-registered NGO was started by the Argentine after spending years studying permaculture while backpacking around Nordic countries and Latin America. Leonardo started the Echo-Movement about 5 years ago, and the first thing he did to kick it off was to bring bags of Californian red worms to start the permaculture cycle.
Here, the project’s only house is made from recycled wood and it was constructed with the help of neighbors and local island builders. The balcony uses wild tacuara canes that grow fast all around the islands. Tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, pumpkins, eggplants, and peppers are some of the many delights that grow on cane structures or raised earth beds—which also happen to double as pond walls.
Reuse and conservation is at the heart of the movement, and examples of Leonardo’s heightened consciousness can be seen throughout the site. In the images above, yellow bleach bottles are cut out to catch wind while safely keeping birds away; beautiful pumpkins grow protected inside a tipi; and an earth oven provides for zero-energy pizza parties during warm summer nights.
Shaped like a tacuara-cane tipi, a dry toilet gives way to a great alternative toilet during the summer (but not much fun on cold winter nights or during the monthly river’s rise). Backpackers and Couchsurfers are encouraged to stay for a few days to help out with building out the space, and if they want, to swim in the brown water of the Parana. And for those looking to connect with the wildlife, there is plenty on show. Wonderful creatures such as the chiricote bird can be spotted within the islands.
The area’s inhabitants also try to keep an old world charm as homes are marked with names instead of numbers. Each of the homes on the islands have their own wooden pier and sometimes their own small boat. A boat-shop called ´Picaflor´ (humming bird) sells daily essentials.
Whether you are a backpacker looking for Latin wilderness, a Permaculture enthusiast or a Couchsurfer (like this writer, surfing in her own hometown!), we recommend you to dip in the Buenos Aires’ delta.
Photos © Ana Lisa Alperovich for Inhabitat