Creating our nest in Sri Lanka

Had I known what we were getting into at the start of this project, I might not have gone for it…

Having restored a very old house years back in Granada, Nicaragua, I would have been quite happy this time around ~ ~ in Sri Lanka, to find a “ready to move in” rental house. Ben, however had other plans….

He was intent that it would be fun to build up what really was a storage shed, in my opinion. After all, it had no running water, no electricity, no plumbing, no kitchen, no toilet. Hmmm, what DID it have?

Location. Location. Location.

Next to the rice paddies, well away from the maddening traffic of the main road that runs along the Southern coast with crazy bus drivers hurtling by at lethal speed.  The reliably temperate Indian ocean is but five minutes motorbike ride away and a beautiful yoga shala is but a five minute walk up a forested hill. .

So…. it has indeed been a long haul to turn this “storage shed” into a comfy nest. We both enjoy the creative process ~ taking a blank canvas,  envisioning something aesthetically pleasing and making it happen.

We now finally have a functioning roof over our heads (this was not always the case as we discovered during the first monsoon season of rains), a functioning kitchen and a super cool outdoor bathroom with tons of hot water.

A lot has happened since our first post on this project…..


Our nest is on the right of this picture a bit beyond the trees. The rice paddies are always tranquil and are a constantly changing landscape. The rice has just been harvested and the rains have created small reflective pools which attract egrets, peacocks….. and us.

The grand entrance

BEFORE: The  dirt road led right up to the front of the house. This means that tuk tuks or bikes would drive right in  and get pretty close to the front door. We prefer a bit more privacy.

AFTER: Okay it is not exactly a huge security gate, but that is not what we wanted. Our goal was to create a conceptual gate which would prevent tuk tuks coming right to the front door and define the space as well as give privacy by keeping traffic at bay.

The gate is made from branches from the cinnamon tree. Cinnamon is a big export commodity from Sri Lanka. (Here Ben Is making his own piece of fencing.)

Front of house

BEFORE: What to do about this ugly, non functioning water well?

AFTER: We got half the concrete block wall of the well removed and created a thick circular wooden platform to permanently cover up the well. We created this platform to be for yoga, meditation, picnics, and monkey watching,

Now THAT’s a pretty cool spot for pic nics!

We used shredded coconut husks to spread everywhere around the house. This is to encourage the growth of ground cover and in the meantime, it is soft  as a carpet to bare feet.

The hammock is positioned strategically at the edge of a little piece of forest, or jungle as they call it here. It is a great spot in the morning to listen to the birds heralding the new day and to be entertained by grey langur monkeys eating fruit in the tree tops above us.

BEFORE: Ben inspects the space on the left hand side of the house, and together we envision a greener garden of sorts for this side. Herbs? Veggies?

AFTER: step one was to have some green growing on the ground… then pots with herbs…two papaya trees and two avocado trees and a dog shelter for the 3 dogs that predate us on this land.

Our basil “bush” is yielding quite a crop of pesto. And soon the ginger and turmeric plants will be ready for some harvesting.

BEFORE: This is how the structure looked when we first saw it. Workers cutting wood outside the front, garbage and black mold on the side. “Um Ben, do you really think this project is a good idea? Looks like a shit load of work to me.”

AFTER: A definite improvement. Alas, no ground cover seems to have grown due to the shade in the front. Ongoing…

BEFORE: The right side of the house was being used as a cement block making workshop.

AFTER: French doors now lead out from the large master bedroom to what is now a greener  garden facing the “jungle”. Okay it is not the salt water pool Peta says she envisioned here, but it is fun to open our bedroom doors in the morning and be able to look right into the forest. Green everywhere.


A grey faced langur hangs out on our bathroom wall…

A great sight to wake up to in the morning, Ir is always green, and often rich with bird life.

Living room.

BEFORE: Ben “This area will be great as an spacious open living room.”

AFTER: He was right! It is spacious and definitely has an airy feel to it. The arch leads to the kitchen on left and straight through to the garden bathroom in the back. We are doing our best to not accumulate “stuff” and strive to keep the minimalist approach to this house.

AFTER: A clean lined contemporary couch  makes a nice sitting area and goes well with the straw mat flooring. The coffee table we had made using 2 old wooden painted window shutters..

Peta’s painting on the wall provides a wink to a former living room (when our 4 sons were teenagers).

Much as we were not keen to go through the process and expense of a new roof, we really had no choice. The original roof made of ceramic tiles was not sufficiently hermetic,, i.e. there were many leaks during a rain storm. Now think monsoon season! So off it finally went, and for a day we were open to the treetops above.

As soon as the roof was completed, there was a very heavy rainstorm. We got it installed just in the knick of time.  The rainy season began and we got to test out the new roof. Yay, no more leaks, no more buckets. Nothing like having a bad roof to make one grateful for “a good roof over ones heads.”


AFTER: The kitchen was an empty square cement room before we put in the painted concrete counter tops in an L shape, terracotta rust tiles on the floor and teak wooden shelves. End result: A small, but workable kitchen space.

Garden bathroom

BEFORE: This was the back of the house. A door that opened to nothing…. Since there was no bathroom space in the house we saw this as a perfect canvas to create a dreamy outdoor bathroom.

INTERIM: Walls were built in a curved organic shape enclosing the back area. A bathtub was made using a large industrial pipe. And we started to execute our vision for a lush garden bathroom  (Rather bare at this point in time.)

AFTER: A lush garden a year later! Completely as envisioned and more….. We love it!

The shower is behind the large elephant leaf plant which creates a green shower curtain. An old door with layers of textures of paint was turned into a base for the washbasin. Nothing beats showering outdoors in the dappled sunlight accompanied by birds and/or monkeys overhead.

A few years ago we discovered the reflexology rock path in the Singapore Botanical Gardens. We loved walking on the pebbles and wanted to recreate that feeling on our feet in the shower. Free daily foot reflexology.


We imagined a canopy created by a passion fruit creeper at the entrance to the bathroom and here it is, just a year later, We looking forward to when it flowers and bears fruit.

The door into our “secret” garden gets a lilac shade of paint.

As we write this, it is pouring outside.  It is monsoon season in Sri Lanka!  So happy for the elephants!  They need the water as the drought had severely limited their food supply.  Rain is a good thing around here.


82 thoughts on “Creating our nest in Sri Lanka

  1. Charles

    Hola Petita!

    Qué linda es tu casa!

    What a lovely sanctuary from the world outside. I love the open air feeling that you’ve created.

    Pardon the practical question, but, aren’t there mosquitos in that environment?

    I saw you playing an instrument. How is that going?

    Best wishes and hugs, Charles

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Hola Charles,

      So nice to read your feedback once again!

      We both love being so immersed in nature as we are here and definitely enjoy spaces that have high ceilings and good air flow. Yes, you are correct that there are mosquitoes here, especially after the rains in monsoon seasons. We use a mosquito netted tent over our bed and lots of natural repellant. Ben has had dengue fever before (in Thailand) so we do try to be extra careful especially at dusk when the mosquitoes are up and about.

      I just started teaching myself the Native American flute, and am really enjoying the process of learning to play this beautiful instrument.

      Abrazos xoxo

  2. Judith Westerfield


    You’ve really created a special sanctuary.

    I, however, can NOT imagine the work that went into making it a real home.
    So enjoyed the before and after photos which makes it all the more impressive.


    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Judith for recognizing what it took to get to where we are. Glad to hear that you enjoyed the before and after photos. I think that if we had just posted photos of the current state, there would be no sense of the evolution that occurred.


    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Ooh I like that description… “hideaway”.

      After living in the busiest hippest part of Chicago for 1.5 years, where there was a noisy bar below us (till all hours of the a.m. on weekends), we both vowed that our next temporary home would be one nestled in nature if at all possible.


  3. Patti

    This is such a lovely nest you’ve created. We’ve bought, lived-in, remodeled and sold 8 homes in our life together so I well-know the undertaking, but can’t imagine doing it in another country where I imagine there are very different cultural norms of how to get things done.

    I’m curious… were you able to actually purchase the land, or is it a 50-year lease kind of a deal? And, did you have to gain residency in order to take this on?

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Patti, you hit the nail on the head.

      Remodeling is ALWAYS challenging, but doing so in a different cultural environment brings its own set of intricacies as you rightly point out. The one big cultural surprise we have had, is what seems to be a pattern (a very clear pattern) of workers, no matter how capable, friendly and eager, who will repeatedly leave a job 90% done. This one has us baffled!

      We have an option to buy the land, but currently are thinking we might just keep renting. The money we have invested went towards a year of free rent and thereafter we have a below market rental which allows us to rationalize the investment in the house. To answer your question, in terms of legal aspects, a foreigner can own 49% of the land, or can own 49% of a company that owns 100% of the land. We do have residency as a result of Ben’s work, but that is a separate issue.

      Thanks for your comments. 8 homes, wow, that is impressive!

      Ben & Peta

  4. Shari Pratt

    It was so interesting to read the earlier articles about this house, and now to see it so near completion, it’s very enlightening.

    You’ve built a sanctuary from the world without locking yourselves behind concrete and barbed wire and you’ve created luxury without without sapping resources. There are wonderful ideas throughout, especially about learning to do with enough and not over do anything.

    Peta, I’m very impressed by your art – you are truly talented. With Ben’s vision for a low impact footprint and the hard work both of you have invested, your home has come true.

    Thanks for inviting me over.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Shari thank you for your thoughtful and supportive comments.

      The balancing act of having enough “luxuries” yet attending to our desire for a low carbon footprint and “not sapping resources”, is an interesting and dynamic one. The bar of what we consider minimal creature comforts has evolved over time. The investment in a new roof for example was not a priority until we realized that it had to become a priority in order to stay dry…. My priorities (Peta) were and are, to have plenty of hot water, fresh air, and an uber comfy bed! Ben always seeks places with high ceilings (plenty of volume) so as not to feel claustrophobic and good wifi.

      You really do get us, “learning to do with enough and not over doing anything”. One interesting border line topic was whether we needed a sofa. After all, we are both prone to sitting on the floor and were quite happy with our Japanese style floor mats and yoga blocks and floor pillows. Now that we have started to use our home for home exchanges, we realize that a sofa is a core requirement for most people.

      Thanks too for the compliment on my art work, much appreciated (PK)

      Peta & Ben

  5. Kelly

    Ben and Peta: Great to see the before and after! Such an amazing journey and home you’ve created. Very inspiring!

    Also love the dog hanging out next to Ben as he makes the fence. 🙂

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Kelly thanks for the lovely compliments. It definitely has been a journey and we are amazed that we have been living here now, for a year!

      The 3 dogs who were living outside the house from the get go, have now been joined by another 2 dogs from the neighborhood…= 5 dogs. One of them is a 15 year old female, who has special privileges by way of her seniority, has her own cushy dog bed in our living room to use when we are in the house as well.


  6. Gilda Baxter


    Wow…I am so impressed with what you have accomplished there. I love the bathtub surrounded by so much greenery…plants appear to grow so fast there? It is a fabulous home, well done?

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Gilda!

      The bathtub fulfills a dream of mine to one day have an outdoor tub surrounded by lush greenery, but I am enjoying the outdoor shower equally well. Yes, everything grows fast here as it is warm and tropical all year round with a good amount of rain. The bathroom garden is definitely the highlight of the house!


    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Anabel, we were pretty surprised ourselves to look back at the before photos. This place has come a long way and if we do decide to buy it, then we have plenty more update ideas. But for now, we quite enjoy the feeling of freedom that renting brings as opposed to owning a place.


    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Cheryl for your positive feedback!

      Actually, the main bedroom is pretty cool too, but we decided not to post photos of it on the blog. We took two small rooms and knocked a wall down between them, to create a large room and added windows and French doors to the outside garden. As a result we have a very spacious bedroom.

      Re your comments about the journey. It is true that we normally think of our journey in terms of geography, airplane landings, new cities discovered… but taking on a rebuilding project is a journey of its own which has only served to deepen our experience here in Sri Lanka. Our experience in Nicaragua (first 6 year chapter of our Green Global Trek), creating a company, building bamboo homes, employing workers etc, taught us that the quality of our experience is broadened as we deepen our ties with the community and take on more complex projects.

      Ben & Peta

  7. Yvonne Daniel

    Wow and wow, very impressive and cozy as well. What happens to the dogs when you decide to move on to another adventure? I know they where there but who will inherit them if and when you decide to move?

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks for stopping by to read us and comment Yvonne. We are both huge animal lovers and whenever we move we always make sure that any animals we have adopted or that have adopted us, get well cared for. We have gone so far as to transport 2 dogs to Nicaragua and back, and 2 cats from Nicaragua to the U.S. We have vowed not to do THAT again…. 🙂

      Here is just one of the many animal posts on our blog:

      Ben & Peta

  8. Sharon Rosenzweig

    Thanks for the very interesting before and afters. Y’all really know how to transform a space.

    I’m curious about your comment that workers consistently complete 90% of their jobs. Does that mean you do 10% yourselves? Also curious about where your water comes from and how you handle plumbing. Composting toilet?

    Great work in any case. It’s cozy and open at the same time. Very inviting.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Well thank you…

      About the 10% left undone by workers.. we have either found someone else to finish the task, or in some cases, we have done it ourselves such as painting. On the other hand 90% is pretty good. We have had some funny experiences.

      Water comes from the municipal system and the reserve gets built up in a water tank behind the bathroom. We also have a solar panel on the roof to heat water. We do not have a composting toilet, just a regular one and two septic tanks that were put in.

      Cosy and open is what we like! Glad we achieved it.


  9. Joanne Sisco

    Peta, I have really enjoyed watching this space unfold as a jungle retreat. Clearly you and Ben have the ability to see the potential of a space. The outdoor bathroom is amazing and at the beginning, it really had me puzzled, but now it looks like a private oasis. Obviously things grow so much faster in your tropical paradise than they do here in the north!

    I get the impression that you and Ben are the type of people who don’t go for very long without a new project on the go. So the question is … what’s next? ?

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Joanne. Private oasis was what we were striving for. Those who knew us before the Asia chapter of our adventure, followed as we turned a run down derelict house in Granada, Nicaragua into an oasis and so are probably less surprised. It is definitely fun to do dramatic turn arounds.

      Ha Joanne, you have us pegged! You are right.. there are always many projects that are in the pipeline. Lets wait and see…Your guess is as good as mine!


  10. Lynn

    Oh my gosh, what a beautiful space you have created! It looks like you & Ben have been hard at work but the rewards …. Wow! Thank you for sharing the transformation of your little piece of paradise!

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Lynn, there were definitely a ton of challenges a long the way, but much of it was also fun. The setting of course contributes directly to the success of this project. If it were in a boring location it would be nothing special. Thanks for your lovely comments.


  11. Heidi

    I have been to your lovely home and what fun to see how it all came together. I have built my home in Montana, I should say Tom did nail by nail so I am somewhat familiar with three times as long and twice as much money. I have tons of admiration for making it happen in lovely Sri Lanka. I look forward to going back.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Heidi, nice to hear from you! There are definitely challenges to be had when doing anything in a new country. Cultural differences and expectations and so forth. But hey, that’s all part of the journey. It seems that almost all construction ends up costing more and taking longer than anyone initially anticipates.


  12. Janis

    You two have created such a beautiful sanctuary for yourselves. I love how you have integrated nature into your decor (an elephant leaf plant as a shower curtain, passion fruit welcoming you into your bathroom, etc.). I had the same question that Charles did regarding mosquitoes. I’m afraid that they’d would pretty much eat me up and spit out my bones. I’d love to learn what types of natural repellants you’ve found useful.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Janis thanks for such lovely compliments. Every time we take a shower we enjoy being surrounded by lush foliage, it really is our dream bathroom come true, which is fun.

      Anywhere you have rain in the tropics you have mosquitoes. Ayurvedic medicine is very big in Sri Lanka and as a result they make a lot of natural products here, one of which is insect repellant. It contains primarily citronella oil. If the mosquitoes get really bad, we use those coils that one lights, as a further deterrent.

      We also get ants… more of them when it rains as well, and they make a chalk here that you can use to discourage the ants from crossing it and it does seem to work (so far).



  13. Jacqueline Bell

    I can’t begin to tell you how proud of you I am….Your creativity and passion is seen at every stage of the rebuilding of your nest..Using the local material makes this endeavor such a inspiration for people to follow in your steps and build something as unique as you did . The magnificent vegetation bring its own miracle every day in your bathroom. Your living room is also very inviting….I could go on and on complimenting you both… BRAVO!!!!!!!!!!

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      WOW, Madame Bell, coming from you, this are high compliments indeed. Quel enthusiasme! Of course we recognize that our lifestyle is probably not appealing to many and a bit on the rustic side, so we are impressed that you can see beyond this and still appreciate and enjoy what we have created.
      We think of you often when we encounter somewhat exotic insects flying through our habitat and typically say “JB would NOT like this!!” ….

      Gros bisous,
      Ben & Peta

  14. Anita @ No Particular Place to Go

    I remember your posts about creating your lovely outdoor bathroom and a glimpse of your airy living room in another post but how fun it was to see it all come together. Every marriage needs at least one visionary of what things can be but I can see that yours has two! Absolutely lovely and not only that, you have magical creatures to share your outdoor surroundings with as well as a warm sea close by. Looks pretty damn close to nirvana to me! ?

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Anita we too have enjoyed the process of seeing the space “come together”. We had a big push to get things moving along when our house got booked for its first home exchange. Having two visionaries in a couple is not entirely restful, as each of us is prone to generate projects, as you have noticed!

      We definitely appreciate being nestled in nature and the serenity that this brings to our life and then as well, being so close to the ocean. We are very much aware that our lives and this stage in it, is of course ephemeral. We are enjoying this phase of our life knowing that at some point we will probably be looking back on it fondly for its nirvana quality!

      Peta & Ben

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Aaron, that’s nice to know. It is small and simple but it meets our current needs. Hot water, comfy beds, fresh air, nature all around… pretty dreamy indeed.


  15. Darlene Foster

    Things grow so fast there! I love that outdoor bathroom and remember when you were creating the bathtub. It certainly turned out well. You two are so brave to take on this project. We were happy not to have to do much to make our little place in Spain liveable. Were the dogs there when you moved in?

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Darlene, the tropical climate indeed is wonderful for people who enjoyed fast results in a garden. We had this once before in Nicaragua and now here again in Sri lanka. In one year, the bathroom is lush and green and as we imagined it would be! There is one particular large bushy plant with tiny little lilac colored flowers which attracts butterflies to the space.

      Yes, the dogs were here on the VERY first day we visited the space. One belongs to a neighbor and the other two are strays. Of course we started feeding them and we also arranged surgery at the nearby dog clinic for one of the dogs (Teddy) who had a large tumor protruding out of her stomach. She is doing fine now, which is great. Lately, two more dogs from the neighborhood seem to be “crashing the party” and hanging out here. Five dogs can definitely be a bit much when they start barking and break the peace.

      Ben & Peta

  16. Lexklein

    Every time you post anything about the house, I pore over it intently, taking in every little detail and imagining the amount of creative thought and physical labor that went into making it a reality. Your home is so impressive, not just aesthetically but in terms of your thoughtfulness about its creation and its function within the bigger world.

    A practical question about that green, beautiful outdoor bathroom: what happens during monsoon season when you want to brush your teeth or take a shower, etc? I think I’d always be leery about stepping outside in the nighttime and coming across a creature on the ground or dangling from a tree!

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Lex for taking the time to digest the details of this undertaking. It definitely takes time and thought to make the decisions that are necessary to make a house feel like a home. So one should probably only undertake this if the actual process is enjoyable, for the most part. Of course, it is never painless, haha.

      Given your level of interest, you might enjoy these two posts which highlight the 2 homes we built in Nicaragua. They don’t show the before pictures, which were also pretty striking in comparison to the end results. We loved both of these homes, and it was hard to say goodbye to them after 6 years in Nicaragua. The first link was our main home and the second link was a house we built using 100% bamboo as a demo house for our bamboo business and our son lived in that one for a while.

      As to your practical question, somehow the main strong rains seem to come late at night and through the night. And should you happen to need to use the bathroom, its about grabbing an umbrella or a towel as cover, but it actually has not happened often. The ground is ceramic tile around the part we use so we don’t step on the soil/muddy part, and so far, thankfully no creatures dangling from branches….:)

      Peta & Ben

      1. Greenglobaltrek

        Since I wrote this, it has been raining a lot during the day. We just use the bathroom in the rain, and get rained on. Neither of us mind much as the air and the temperature, is almost always warm and we like rain 🙂


  17. Rusha Sams

    I’m really lovin’ this transformation, and maybe you should contact HGTV to see if they’ll put you into a Fixer Upper-type show for international re-do’s. Wow, I love the exterior color, the details inside like flooring and your art, and the fence is so natural and nice! Thanks for sharing all of this with us.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Rusha…Ah yes, we will contact the TV channels in our spare time 🙂 Funny thing about the exterior color was that we thought it was a pretty unusual color for the outside of a house, and was inspired by the homes in Hoi An, Viet Nam, but turns out, tons of houses here are a deep yellow ochre color! When and if we repaint, it will be going LILAC!

      Glad you enjoyed this post and thanks for commenting on my art works. They are mostly very large works done in oil on canvas and it is nice to have plenty of wall space to be able to hang them and enjoy them.


  18. Sue Slaght

    I recall those early posts and I couldn’t imagine how it could all come together. Now seeing the before and after it is absolutely remarkable. I love the outdoor tub and how the plants have flourished! What a great idea about using the coconut as outdoor flooring. Brilliant. The living room looks so inviting and I love the open and airy concept. Best of all I’m sure the non leaky roof. Well done you two. What an inspiration to the possibilities of making a home.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Sue thanks for your enthusiasm and appreciation of the process! I think those people who have followed this project from the start (a year ago) are the ones that can really appreciate the transformation. During the challenging times, we had moments of doubt as well, but as the garden started to grow things started to look up and fall into place. And the roof was a game changer of course!

      Just yesterday we went to buy more coconut shredded husks directly from the factory and it was a fascinating place. They export almost 100% of their products, such as coconut fibre rope and twine.

      Peta & Ben

  19. Lisa Dorenfest

    I have loved watching your home come alive as I have followed you and enjoyed it even more in your recap here. ‘ I love what you’ve done with the place’ as they say and still think the bathroom is my favorite place in the house. I could stay there for hours. You’ve built a beautful nest in a magical country. Inspirational

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Lisa, thank you. The bathroom is our favorite place too… it really is great to go outside every time one uses a bathroom, such an unusual concept. But it totally makes sense. You really feel the times of the day in a different way… Early in the morning the sun beams are soft and birds greet us and at night there is the sound of frogs and crickets and little light bugs that sparkle like fairies around us.

      Peta & Ben

  20. Bespoke Traveler

    WOW! You two are amazing and your space looks truly beautiful in the after photos. Especially loving that outdoor bathroom. Having once experienced this luxury on a Caribbean island, I agree: “Nothing beats showering outdoors in the dappled sunlight accompanied by birds and/or monkeys overhead.”

    What a lovely, thoughtful, sustainable, locally sourced, handmade nest.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks so much for your positive feedback. We call it “rustic luxury”…:) Some days the luxury part is predominant and other days, the rustic element is predominant ~ depending on the weather. The rain, lovely as it is, definitely brings out the ants in droves and mosquitoes. But, it is a small price to pay for the joy of living in nature.

      Given our limited budget for remodeling, sourcing and repurposing materials (such as the old wooden doors being used as tables, countertops, shelves etc) was not only a way to save funds but also a way to make our home more eco friendly and interesting.

      Ben & Peta

  21. LuAnn

    This looks absolutely intoxicating…so rejuvenating! You both are so very creative, an ideal location for the two of you. I love the outdoor bath! This looks to be your Shangri La.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Luann…. we just got back from a night in a really lovely hotel, which we stay in when Ben has meetings in Colombo (the captial city). And even though we enjoy the luxury there, it is always so nice to come home to our little nest in the jungle where we are surrounded by green everywhere and lots of fresh air!


  22. caroline helbig

    It’s so nice to see your vision come together. I’ve really enjoyed coming along on the journey. You guys are so creative. Love the platform over the well. I have major outdoor bathroom and basil envy (neither do very well in Vancouver)! You’ve created a totally lovely nest!

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thank you Caroline. It is especially nice to get feedback from those that have followed the process from its start a year ago. The platform over the well was definitely a “game changer”. Something so ugly became not only aesthetic but also very practical as we use it almost every day for something or other. Ahh the benefits of a tropical climate!

      Peta & Ben

  23. Sylvia

    What a great job you’ve both done, and what a lot of effort has gone into creating your comfortable abode in your chosen part of paradise. I don’t know that I could live with mosquitoes, as they think I’m the tastiest piece of meat ever. 🙂 I love your picnic/yoga area. I’m so happy for you that your new roof was installed in the nick of time and proved itself to be watertight.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Sylvia. I guess that mosquitoes come with the tropics and certainly with the rain. We have a cool huge mosquito tent that goes over our bed at night, which makes us look like we are inside a French cheese plate 🙂 What a novel pleasure to have a roof that actually keeps the rain out…. Definitely a no brainer good investment.


    1. Greenglobaltrek

      Thanks Ann…Luckily we both enjoy the process, even though this definititely entailed more than we initially anticipated. But that is often the case with renovation projects. It is simple but cosy and comfortable.


    2. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Ann, you would enjoy watching a series we found recently on Amazon, called “You can’t turn that into a house!” These guys are pros and do most of the work themselves, but the process of transformation of old unused structures, is amazing to witness. Thanks for reading and taking the time to leave your feedback for us!

      Peta & Ben

  24. Laurel

    Such an inspiring transformation! I’m with you on keeping things simple — allowing for more spaciousness in life, thoughts, being. Of course, there must also be beauty to nourish the soul! Your home is both beautiful and serene. And your outdoor bathing area is exquisite!

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks laurel for the enthusiasm and positive response! we know you guys get the simplicity, given your nomadic life choice of taking your wheels with you where ever you go. It is quite true that with less clutter, one’s brain has an easier time of relaxing and therefore being more creative.

      The outdoor bathroom is definitely a realization of a dream bathroom we experienced in Jakarta, Indonesia a few years back.

      Peta & Ben

  25. Pamela

    As I sit in my home office looking outside at the fallen leaves and the falling rain with the temperatures hovering around 40°, I almost read your post as if reading a story of fantasy. I so enjoy imagining you two in your amazing spot that you have created. Every detail is specified to what you both believe in and need. And of course I love seeing the dog or dogs – can’t tell if it’s the same one in the photos. You have made a home for them also. Thank you for sharing your beautiful space with artwork and music of flute in the background. All virtually!

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Pamela, isn’t it amazing how through our blogs we are able to immerse ourselves into different lives, halfway across the world. It is really nice to get such positive enthusiastic feedback, such as yours.

      There are 3 dogs, (and sometimes now an extra 2 that hang out as well). One of the dogs, a 15 yr old female has special privileges, and we let her sleep inside in a bed we bought for her. The others have a dog house outside. But yes, this is definitely their home and they are quite the welcoming troop whenever we come back to the house.

      Ben & Peta

  26. James Vance

    Peta, you guys must be over-the-moon with the results. How fabulous! I remember one of your early posts about plans and ideas, and it’s come to fruition with wonderful results. We’ve done quite a bit of renovation, and in fact, we had a pretty extensive redo on a house in Khartoum, Sudan. So I can relate to the material and contractor issues in place like Sri Lanka. I particularly like the living room. Impressive and very well done. ~James

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Well thank you James. We are pretty happy with what we have created. I admit to feeling overwhelmed at some point in the middle of the rehab, as it felt like we would just never “get there”. But here we are and of course it was a lot of work, but it is satisfying to have imagined, dreamt up, thought up and then put into reality a home to live in.

      Khartoum! That sounds very exotic… Wondering how long your redo on the house took and whether you were happy with the end results? How long did you live there?


  27. Janice Abramowitz

    Love how you’re living surrounded by nature and with only what is really needed. We all have too much clutter ! Your home reflects so much about both of you and is so peaceful and harmonious. So great to see your creativity come to fruition! Love the bathroom and picnic table!
    Thanks for sharing xoxo

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      That is the funny thing about “only whats needed”… it is such a subjective thing. For instance, our living room could seem bare ie limited stuff, and yet because the house was just a skeleton structure before, we have in fact had to purchase everything to make it functional, so it did feel like we were buying a lot of stuff! The bathroom garden and wooden platform are our favorites as well!

      After 1.5 years of living smack in the hippest noisiest part of Chicago, we vowed that the next place we lived would be in the middle of nature. So here we are…. Mission accomplished!


  28. Aixa

    I love your adventurous spirit. I lived like this for awhile in Venezuela but at this point in my life, I don’t think I’d like finding frogs in my toilet anymore and lizards all over the house 😆 I was bitten twice by scorpions, too, hiding in the clothing.

    This is fun blog to read! I admire you two so much!

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Aixa. The only frogs we have encountered are tiny little ones after the rains which sometimes hop across the doorway from the garden into the kitchen. Ben thinks that these creatures are super cute. I am not crazy about their unpredictability of movement and definitely prefer them to go right back outside. Do you mean the little geckos? Oh thanks for reminding us of those… we forgot to mention them, they are so much a part of the backdrop we hardly notice them anymore.

      OOh scorpions… I once got bit by one in Nicaragua walking on a pathway at night.


  29. J.D. Riso

    Such an amazing job. You got a lot done in a year. Do you do everything yourself or do you hire workers for some jobs? I know the physical and emotional work involved in renovation. I painted our pied-a-terre entirely by myself and it was tough. I love the simplicity of your place. It’s amazing how easy it is to accumulate stuff, even if you are a minimalist. I’m dealing with that now as I pack all my belongings for yet another move. (Books are the killer, but I can’t toss them because my work is in them) It’s incredible how little we can live with comfortably. So, is your castle finished now or are there more things to do?

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      J.D. or role was primarily in the design, material selection etc but we do not have the skills to do the actual construction work. Dealing with Sri Lankan workers is challenge in and of itself, haha.

      We were determined to keep it simple and resist the temptation to accumulate stuff. We have done our share of moving and downscaling and I must agree that the first big move from Chicago to Nicaragua entailed the painful process of getting rid of books as it just did not make sense to move most of them. Stuff does accumulate and we find the process of moving often is a good way to shed anything that is not strictly necessary. Our paintings and albums came with us, but even now I realize it was probably an unnecessary move but we had no alternative other than paying for long term storage which didn’t make sense either.

      There is always more to do, but given that we do not own the house we are living in, we are trying not to invest more funds into it even though of course we have tons of improvement ideas….

      Peta & Ben

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