Wednesday, August 3, 2011

(continued from previous post, more or less)

All my visitors gone, I got back to work on the house.

I had a few weeks of work in front of me, and a lot to complete before taking advantage of Jill´s truck for an Ecua road trip I was planning around the middle of June. Although walls were up and windows were in, I was still door-less and the floors in the original part of the house were still dirt.

Before pouring the floors we had to lay in the water and waste lines to the kitchen and bathroom. This was relatively easy work and took only a day. I plan to someday build an inodoro seco (dry toilet) a few meters away from the house, along with an outdoor shower, but thought it a good idea (being 2011 after all) to have indoor plumbing as well.

We got to work hauling rock and sand and cement up to the house, which due to lack of road access is at least half the battle. Literally thousands of rocks, maybe tens of thousands, who knows, I didn´t count them. But I´m sure that I touched every one of them. The sand we hauled in from the local “mine” – thousands of shovelfuls and hundreds of wheelbarrow trips up the hill.

I had considered doing compacted earthen floors in one or two of the rooms, but in the end my concerns about dampness convinced me to go with concrete floors. We excavated to level, laid down a plastic vapor barrier, then started putting the rocks in place. Every one of them placed and tamped, just so. Many of the larger rocks we broke into pieces with the combo. The concrete is mixed with arena y tierra y ripio y agua outside on the dirt. A big pile of ingredients, mixed to one side and then the other, then wetted and mixed again. Then we pour, wheelbarrow by wheelbarrow, pushing the mescla into the spaces between the rocks. Little by little the concrete comes up to level, and then is screeded off. Lastly we sprinkle pure cement over the drying floor and trowel it smooth for a nice finish. We tried mixing some pigment into the mix to give the floors color, but it did not work out very well so we abandoned that idea. We worked on the floors every day for a week and a day, and needless to say it was quite a relief when they were done.

With the floors poured I could now install the 2 exterior doors, which I ´d already purchased in Ibarra. Don Fernando, whose help and knowledge has been indispensable, was taking some time off to work on other projects and to plant his fields, so I had the better part of 2 weeks alone to work and putter as I pleased. I installed the doors, did some more work on the roof to ensure it was watertight, planted some tomatoes, spinach, and zuchini in the garden, got the place cleaned up and moved a bed and cookstove up into what someday will be the kitchen. A few nights later I slept up there for the first time – built a small fire outdoors and when it died down I spent a long time looking up at the stars scattered across the super clear sky.

Back a few years ago, when I first moved into the house I was rehabbing in Dayton, for the first few nights I slept with a baseball bat next to my bed. Never had to use it, though the house did get broken into, twice, during daylight hours when I was away. Here, lacking a baseball bat, I gently laid my machete on the floor next to the bed. When I woke up in the morning, I laughed at my silly fears, and put the machete back in the bodega, where it belongs.

- (next post – Ecua road trip!)

No comments: