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This Brazil­ian Man Has Spent 22 Years Liv­ing Inside an Incred­i­bly Intri­cate Sand Cas­tle

A fool­ish man builds his house on sand… but a smart man build his house
WITH sand. Image: Screen­shot
Rent can be a real bitch some­times. Unless you buy a house out­right with cash, you’re either pay­ing some­one else’s mort­gage or you’re pay­ing the bank.

You’re nev­er real­ly the king of your castle—unless it’s a cas­tle made of sand and you live inside it, like Mar­cio Miza­el Mato­lias.

Nick­named the “sand king” for obvi­ous rea­sons, the 44-year-old Mato­lio as has lived in a sand cas­tle on a Brazil­ian beach for a stag­ger­ing 22 years. Sup­port­ed by drift­wood and com­plete with tur­rets, his cur­rent home mea­sures in at around 32 square feet. Which, if one is able to get away from all the trap­pings, is more than enough space to lie down. Sure, there’s not much room to do much else, but the sand king’s hap­py with his sit­u­a­tion.
Accord­ing to the BBC, there’s a par­tic­u­lar archi­tec­tur­al style he goes for when cre­at­ing a sand cas­tle. Antoni Gau­di and Oscar Niemey­er are his inspi­ra­tions and it shows. Gau­di, a Span­ish archi­tect who is wide­ly regard­ed as one of the mas­ters, “inte­grat­ed into his archi­tec­ture such crafts as ceram­ics, stained glass, wrought iron­work forg­ing and car­pen­try.”
Mato­lias’ cas­tle sits on Bar­ra da Tiju­ca beach in Rio, where rents are through the roof. Accord­ing to Quartz, the res­i­dents’ aver­age wage is rough­ly half of the aver­age month­ly rent. Years ago, Mato­lias lived in an apart­ment. At first, he nev­er real­ly intend­ed on liv­ing on the beach, but as time went on, even­tu­al­ly he real­ized that for him, a life on the beach made more sense than strug­gling to make enough mon­ey to keep a roof over his head.
The sand king makes a few dol­lars here and there sell­ing used books to tourists from his cas­tle, which he spends on food and the occa­sion­al show­er at the near­by fire depart­ment. “I have become a sort of tourist attrac­tion,” he explained. “Peo­ple pay exor­bi­tant rents to live in front of the sea, I do not have bills and here I have a good life.”
He spends his days fix­ing up his house, enter­tain­ing tourists, and read­ing in the sand. He’s even got a throne, crown, and scep­tre for good mea­sure. Of course, since it’s Rio, some nights the heat is unbear­able. He occa­sion­al­ly spends a night or two at a friend’s house, but even­tu­al­ly heads back to his own lit­tle par­adise. If a man’s home tru­ly is his cas­tle, the sand king is the king of his. You know what they say, though: a fool­ish man builds his house upon the sand. In this case, how­ev­er, that doesn’t seem to be the case. “I’m hap­py,” Mato­lias said. “As every­one says—and as you can also read in some books—happiness is a spir­i­tu­al state.”
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