Firefly Gardens is a small, spiritual, educational, experimental, natural-building, off-grid permaculture homestead and community in Bahia de Santiago. We are located just outside the Tzutujil Maya communities of Tzanchaj, Panabaj, and Santiago Atitlan.

We are passionate about offering hands-on earth-focused building experiences through workshops and volunteering. We help to facilitate cultural exchange between international backpackers and indigenous Tzutujil families. Our center is a home for learning and inspiration, where we can unplug and share natural building techniques and land-based ecological practices.

We are travellers and yogis, musicians and farmers, foodies and healers, dreamers and believers! Our aim is to build space for spiritual holistic healing and intimate educational retreats, through yoga therapy, cultural exchange, meditation, plant-based medicines. We are now looking for inspired humans to help co-create this community of light <3

Our home is situated next to the caldera rim at the southern edge of Bahia de Santiago and Lago de Atitlan. An area that is known for hosting the Cosmic Convergence music festival every New Year's Eve.

Located on an old coffee/avocado farm, the top-soil is incredibly rich and productive and well-suited for sustainable Agroforestry. We are planning to expand a diverse food forest while demonstrating the use of simple, shareable technologies like rainwater catchment, solar cooking, renewable energy, composting, thermal mass, fog harvesting, and contained waste treatment.

We are developing partnerships with local community organizations in order to develop in a responsible way and offer educational opportunities for indigenous locals and travelers alike. We hope to offer a peaceful space for spiritual growth and nature retreats. 

Jolene is an experienced yoga teacher and registered yoga therapist. Mateo is an international adventure guide and wildland firefighter. Joel Eliseu (Cheyo) is the local Tz'utujil manager and caretaker of the center. Together we are the Fireflies, trained in natural building practices at the Earthship Biotecture Academy in Taos, New Mexico.

We are living the intention to build bridges of culture between North & Central America, and transition towards a more sustainable, just, and mindful expression of life.
We aim to do this through creativity and love, by combining the ancient wisdom of indigenous practices with simple modern technologies.

It's a place of magic. Come and see for yourself!

Key Stats.

Year founded


Size of project site

0.6 hectares

Languages spoken

  • Tzʼutujil
  • English
  • Español

People on site

2 - 10

Dry season

November to April

Wet season

May to October

Living Conditions.


  • tent camping
  • private room
  • shared rooms
  • entire house
  • hammocks

Vegetarian Food

  • over 80% locally sourced
  • communally cooked meals
  • communal kitchen access


  • medium: voice calls (no video)


Firefly Gardens is currently offering the following opportunities:

  • Natural builder
  • carpenter
  • bamboo builder
  • permaculture
  • gardeners
  • treehouse builder
  • homesteaders
  • arborist
  • musician
  • Stone builder

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