Published On: Tue, Nov 11th, 2014

British Expat lives on island he made out of 150,000 recycled bottles in Isla Mujeres

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Richart Sowa, 61, from Middlesbrough, lives on a 8,000 square-foot green paradise called Joyxee Island, in a lagoon on Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, Mexico.

A British DIY Robinson Crusoe has found love with a former supermodel on an island he made himself from 150,000 recycled BOTTLES.

Artist Richart Sowa, 61, from Middlesbrough has spent the last seven years carefully constructing an 8,000 square-foot free-floating eco-paradise.

Called Joyxee Island, it sits in a lagoon on Isla Mujeres a few miles from Cancun, Mexico.

Humble beginnings: Joyxee Bottle Island when it was first built - just four-foot wide (Photo:

Humble beginnings: Joyxee Bottle Island when it was first built – just four-foot wide (Photo:

Despite being 30 yards from the shore and having a base made from air-filled plastic bottles, wood pallets and sand, Richart insists his island has all the mod-cons a lady could want.

Stand-out features include:

  • A three-storey house
    Rain collection for running water coming out from conch shells
    Three shell showers
    A kitchen and bathroom
    A dry compost ecological toilet
    Two bedrooms
    A Jacuzzi
    Internet connection
A view of Joyxee Island (Photo:

A view of Joyxee Island (Photo:

The house is surrounded by palm trees, mangroves, fruit trees and edible herbs and plants, which all grow from the sand and soil of the hand-made island.

Richart has been so busy creating his super-green island – and dedicated to finding Mrs Right – that he was celibate for 10 years.

Richard Sowa and Jody Bowlin (Photo:

Richart Sowa and Jody Bowlin (Photo:

The only thing missing from Richart’s life was a special somebody to share it all with, which is where former-supermodel, Jodi Bowlin, 47, from Knoxville, Tennessee has made all the difference to Richart’s life.

Jodi said: “We first met on Facebook in March 2013 through a mutual friend.

Richard even has his own DIY Ferry to get from Isla Mujeres to Joyxee Island (Photo:

Richart even has his own DIY Ferry to get from Isla Mujeres to Joyxee Island (Photo:

“We immediately clicked and instantly began sharing all our life experiences through our online relationship.

“I have always been interested in architecture made from reclaimed materials and I have a love of Mexico.

Recycled Plastic Weights (Photo:

Recycled Plastic Weights made by Richart (Photo:

“So when we met I was thinking to myself – wow, here’s a man who is already living my dream life and we have so much in common.

“I think most people would think living on a floating island is pretty strange, but I guess I have more of a liberal view on life.”

Richart, a carpenter, artist and singer songwriter moved from the UK to Mexico in 1997, was married twice and has four children and six grandchildren.


He added: “Living on my own floating island has been my dream for over two decades.

“Now I’ve succeeded I have the freedom to create and move my whole home and garden anywhere I like.”

Joysxee Island floats on over 150,000 plastic bottles and has a 100ft ‘umbilical cord’ to the shore which connects solar-generated electricity, water and internet.

Richart plans to become self sufficient and grows plants on the island. But he admits he nips to shop on his bike for supplies.

He added: “I have a ferry I also made from plastic bottles which can carry up to eight people to and from the shore.”

Richart’s 17-year Mexican adventure has been full of highs and lows.

Joyxee Island is his third bottle island – the previous two were in unprotected waters and destroyed by hurricanes.

He makes a living from music and art and showing visitors around his private island.

A cross section of the walls on the island showing the plastic bottle bags it is made of (Photo:

A cross section of the walls on the island showing the plastic bottle bags it is made of (Photo:

Jodi, a single mother of one, runs a small community art shop but in the 1980s she was one of Japan’s most well-known supermodels.

She said: “I was making over £19,000 per month and as a famous model I could get into all the best nightclubs and eat and drink for free.”

It’s a far cry from Richart’s DIY life in Mexico.

And Jodi added: “I went to Mexico to meet Richart in July 2013 for the first time.

The happy couple (Photo:

The happy couple (Photo:

“My first impression of the island was that it was an upgrade from camping – luckily, I’ve always liked that Swiss Family Robinson experience.

“Living on the island looks like a carefree lifestyle, but there is a lot of physical labour involved in keeping it up especially in the early years before the mangrove roots weave through the base and strengthen everything.”





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  1. tim melvin says:

    Weird –talk about having a double life! I just her on a Real Money with Ali Velshi special on Aljazeera TV – “America’s Middleclass – Rebuilding the Dream”. Same person, same name – an ex-model, single mother living in Nashville with a Craft Store. On the TV show there was no mention of Mexico and her other life, just hard times, no money to spend and working full time to save her business.

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