Monday, March 7, 2011

Well for the past few weeks we have been busy as beavers learning about how a house goes together in Bolivia. We have been very grateful for the large collection of tools available to us, left here after the construction of the new TV station building for Red Advenir. This house project could nearly be happening in Texas or Georgia by the feel of it. There are only a few things that remind us we are working in plywood and ready made septic tanks being unavailable. Here are a few pictures to show what happens here.

The whole family watching as Jeff brings his homemade, and rather patchwork septic tank form around to the back of the house. You can´t buy plywood in Bolivia so these pieces have been used and reused with the minimum number of cuts possible. The forklift deserves a word too. It has been a great blessing both in work accomplished and character building....When we arrived it had been sitting because nobody could get it to run. The gasoline here is very old and varnished by the time you can buy it at the gas station, so rotten or dirty gas causes about half of the mechanical trouble here. Jeff suspected the carb so I took it apart and found it surprisingly clean and in good order except the plastic venturi was broken. We put it back together and discovered it will start on full choke and run halfheartedly on half choke with lots of babying and good head pressure from a full gas tank. Jeff is hoping to get parts on his next trip to the states. We joke that a forklift ¨type rating¨is needed to drive the beast. An extra foot would be helpful too do the fact that it won´t idle.

We approach the hole cautiously. The forklift is rather heavy and if the walls caved under its weight we would be very stuck. It can hardly pull itself through a large mud puddle. The backhoe that dug the hole is being used at the TV station so our friendly forklift is the only thing for the job.

Jodi and I helped guide the form into the hole. The next day we stubbed pipes into the form and poured concrete all around the form to create a tank. After that was done we dug a drainfield with the backhoe and a laser level. It is sooo nice to have tools. It is rainy season and the back yard where we were working is all clay, making for quite a mess when wet. Laying the perf pipe (homemade perforations) between almost continuous rainshowers took a while, meanwhile we framed up some metal stud walls for the bedrooms. Finally we were ready to backfill the drainfield. By then the back yard was a swimming pool. And our drainfield was starting to silt in. We started to backfill with clay and though better of it. The way the clay was trapping water on the surface we figured it would seal off the drainfield too and prevent and septic liquids from evaporated or filtered at all. We came to the conclusion that we needed sand but not before the backhoe had to do so serious one armed swimming to get out of the clay pit in the back yard. Thankfully there was sand nearby for free and we had the use of a dump truck to get it.

A few days later I poured a floor in the tank and after it cured Jodi built a center dividing wall with block.

The lid was poured on a flat (mostly) piece of ground and left to cure a week. Here I am working to make mostly flat into flat. As you can see we always have plenty of help...

Here is another look at the finished roof from inside. The steel was scrounged from the construction of the TV station and the roofing material was well under $1000. Labor-free of course. We are learning lots of skills by being involved in this project. We are also learning how much work it takes to create infrastructure for a project.

1 comment:

Alex said...

Thank-you for the pictures and update - you are in my prayers