The Dream Dome

“Create with the heart; build with the mind.”
― Criss Jami


Ron and I have known Francheco for over ten years. When we first moved to Ometepe Island to manage a youth hostel, Francheco worked at the hostel. In 2012, Francheco’s new yellow house and property were expropriated by the Nicaraguan government to make way for the La Paloma airport. He dismantled his house, brick by brick, dug up his newly planted saplings and flowers, and relocated to a beautiful piece of land south of the airport, near Punta Jesus Maria. The House that Francheco Built.

He married a beautiful Nicaraguan woman. They have a little son, now. Francheco built a temporary house for them and started a restaurant, Dos Mangoes. You would think this story has a fairytale ending, right? But, not so quickly.

Francheco’s dream was to build a dome home. He is extremely talented, which translates to his ability to create from the heart, yet build with his mind. With the help of one worker, he began building a dome home two years ago, one row of bricks at a time.

Francheco’s house from the back of the property.

I’ve watched him meticulously design and build his dream dome, but I wasn’t able to take photos until last week when we visited with a bag of homegrown sweet potatoes and lettuce for his family. This is the front view of the house. I was soon to be in for an eye-popping treat.

IMG_5844The porch entrance temporarily houses  some of his tools, and his motorcycle and bicycles. Let’s go inside.

IMG_5846Inside the porch walls, Francheco embedded glass bottles and blocks so that sprinkles of sunlight can filter throughout the house.

IMG_5853Through this rounded window, you can see Francheco’s temporary house.

IMG_5857The house construction is three domed rooms. The dome to the right will be their bedroom and bath.

IMG_5858Their bathroom is inside this mini-domed structure.

IMG_5860Bottles of sunshine are in every curved surface.

IMG_5866Their son’s bathroom and bedroom is to the left of the main dome room.

IMG_5868Looking out their son’s bedroom window, you can see the gardens and fields of fruit trees.

IMG_5871Ron and Francheco’s father admire the engineering of the domed roof.

IMG_5874The kitchen and living room will be in the main dome room. You can see the dome bedrooms to the right and the left of the main dome.

IMG_5879We’re headed out the back door to visit his garden and fields of plantains and bananas.

IMG_5867He planted 15 varieties of fruit trees and over 70 banana plants. His gardens are magnificent.

IMG_5888Francheco hopes to have his dream dome completed in June 2015. And will they live happily ever after? I wish I could say it is true, but the Chinese measured Francheco’s property for possible expropriation for one of the sub projects, the Ometepe Volcano Tour Resort.

We didn’t talk about it when we visited because it is too early to say what will happen. Francheco said that this has been his dream and all dreams eventually come to an end. He’s keeping an open mind and positive attitude, while he builds his dream dome, one row of bricks at a time. After all, he has some experience in the world of expropriations and with his zen-like calmness he can stay in the present and not worry about the future. I wish him the best. He is a remarkable man.

18 thoughts on “The Dream Dome

  1. Francheco is a man of many talents! His dome houses are amazing. I bet they are cool inside! I do hope that they won’t take his land away – again. How much bad luck can one person have? Here in Virginia, we are in the midst of a struggle against a huge pipeline that would carry fracked gas from West Virginia to North Carolina. People whose property has been designated and who don’t want the construction traffic and contamination on their property don’t stand much of a chance as individuals since the company can simply employ eminent domain against them, once they get the go-ahead from the federal regulatory agency. Everything seems stacked against the individual when the big companies move in…

    • Annette, it is very refreshing and cool inside the dome home because the ceilings are very high. I sit here and shake my head in disbelief that this could happen to Francheco again. Everything appears to be stacked against the individual no matter where we live in the world. So sad.

    • Morning. So lovely to see those photo’s and what can be done with limited tools but so much thought and effort. My wife will be back in Granada for Month of March and this time she’s putting foot down that we have to visit your island.

      The surveying of Francheco’s property with potential for expropriation sends chillls down my back. While it is unlikely a Nicaraguan Channel will ever be built (just not economic) there certainly is money to be made from confiscating (expropriation without fair recompense) land and property for tourist related purposes could well be economic (very profitable).

      The wording of the ‘give away’ seems to allow the Chinese to grab whatever catches their eye or be useful in any possible way to their project. Say they want a Hotel for there executives in Granada. May not be anything stopping them from just taking over one, two or more of the existing large Hotels there?

      I would think any property developer on the Pacific coast should be looking over their shoulder since what they are allowed to expropriate (at castral valuation) seems almost unlimited. Also appears they are about to start doing so. Of course they’ll say this is only in preparation for construction to put infrastructure in place but they’ll still have what they grab even if channel never gets dug.

      • Fred, the Chinese had originally planned 4 sub-projects or mega tourism resorts. One of them was located in the city of San Juan Del Sur. The local and powerful businessmen put up such a fuss, that they canceled that resort project. But, I fear for Ometepe Island because we don’t have rich and powerful businessmen here. I don’t think the canal will ever be built either, but like you said, it won’t stop them from a giant land grab. So very sad.

  2. Beautiful. Francheco’s dream for a future home for his family, built brick by brick, is inspiring. I love how you introduce me to your friends and the amazing people who live on Ometeppe. Each post I read makes me care about this area a little bit more, get a little more worried and even angry about the unfairness of life. Thanks for sharing your stories and for making me care. Merry Christmas to you and yours and here’s hoping for a 2015 where dreams do come true. Anita

    • Anita, what a beautiful response. Thank you. My intentions in writing my blog are to tell the stories of the amazing people I have met throughout Nicaragua…their hopes, their dreams, and their zest for life. Francheco’s dream inspired me. Actually, it made me look at dreams and goals in life from a different perspective. The best we can hope for is to accomplish our dreams, but like Frnacheco said, dreams are only temporary and the action itself is what counts. Have a very Merry Christmas in Colombia. I know you are living your dreams!

    • Thanks John and Susan. Francheco is such an inspiration, simply because he doesn’t let anything get in his way of fulfilling his dreams. He is Italian, and I get a big kick out of his broken English and his passion. He told me the other day, “We have to catch our dreams while we can.” Have a very Merry Christmas.

    • I understand how you feel because I felt that way, too. But, the amazing thing about Francheco is that he has been through the whole process of expropriation before, and it doesn’t stop him from fulfilling his dreams. Incredible, right? He reminds me of an Italian zen master. Haha. Thanks Claire. Enjoy your holidays in the states and we’ll see you soon.

  3. Wow his house is amazing!!! It is so beautiful and adapted to fit the beautiful natural surroundings. I hope that his home doesn’t have to be destroyed. What a tragedy that would be.

    • Nicole, his dream dome is incredible, isn’t it? I oohed and awwed the whole way through his house and gardens. He does it all with only one helper. He’s our son’s age, so he’s still young and has plenty of energy. Not like us. Ha! Have an amazing Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family.

    • I will be sure to keep you up to date on what happens, Mary. I wanted to mention that I saw your daughter in the Corner House last week. At first, it didn’t dawn on me who she was, and after she left, I remembered. So, I sent her a Facebook message and now she’s my friend. 🙂 Have a fantastic Christmas in Mexico and a Happy New Year.

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