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Man Lives Rent-Free In Giant Sandcastle For 22 Years

A Rio de Janeiro man has been living in a sandcastle on the beach for 22 years.

Marcio Mizael Matolias, also known as “the king,” has been living in a series of sandcastles on the beaches of the Barra da Tijuca neighborhood for half of his life. He’s a local phenomenon and a tourist attraction, and he’s delighted to pose for photos with a crown on and scepter in hand. “I grew up in the Bay of Guanabara (near Rio), I always lived on the beach,” he told La Voix Du Nord in a recent interview. “People pay exorbitant rents to live in front of the sea, I do not have bills and here I have a good life.”

Matolias was born in Duque de Caxias, just north of Rio, but left when he was young. He struggled financially in Rio, and so he quickly saw an opportunity when one of his friends taught him how to build a sand pyramid. Since then, his little “homes” have gotten more and more elaborate, requiring the aid of sandbags, driftwood, and logs to stay standing.

On the inside, his sandy home is more cozy than regal. His bedroom inside the castle is a room of about three square meters (approximately 10 square feet), much of it taken up by his collection of books and his fishing and golfing gear. The room is supported by a sturdy wooden framework and has just enough floor space for him to curl up comfortably. When he needs to use the bathroom, a public bathroom less than a minute away (with toilet and shower available for less than a euro) works just fine. Best of all, he doesn’t have to pay rent.

Of course, there are some downsides to living in a sandcastle. During the day, Matolias needs to water the turrets and spires of his castle frequently or risk it drying out in the hot Rio sunshine. And all his hard work (the towers can take 10 – 20 hours for him to sculpt) can be destroyed in a moment when it rains. One time, the tide rose high enough to lap at the foundations of his castle, flooding his “bedroom.” But if you ask Matolias himself, the most annoying thing about living in his little beachside empire is the heat. “The sand holds all the heat, so sometimes at night I can’t sleep here, I’ll spend the night at a friend’s house,” he told La Voix Du Nord. “But I prefer it here, even if I have to lie outside by the sea.”

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