Monday, July 25, 2011

Filling in the walls

I figure I’ll start out with the most recent progress – here’s what I left with you the last time I posted (about 2 weeks ago)

Since then, this is what the community has come up with:

The end gable is filled with bottles and has its first layer of stucco; they also started stucco’ing the lower parts of the wall. But we’ve already advanced way past this point.

The sun makes it a little difficult to make out the progress, but both the end gable and the entire back wall have their finish coats of stucco. The workers are placing bottles in the second level, and since I took that picture on Wednesday the remaining squares have probably already been filled in and have their first coats of stucco. We’re moving right along.

Some recent events…..above are some pictures from when we invited a bunch of local community leaders out to the project in hopes to dispel some of the mystery surrounding building with eco-bricks. They seemed pretty impressed, which is nice because most people look at me with incredulity when I tell them that we’re building with trash. Usually, they have to see it in order to believe it.

I’ve been getting my hands dirty, of course. Here I am up on the scaffolding, tying bottles to chicken wire:

And here’s the square that Don Miguel and I finished:

These next few pictures can give you another vantage point from which you can see progress. First, the “before”:

Then, the “after”

Gotta hand it to our head mason Frainer; he’s pretty good with stucco and a trowel.

Here’s a couple of community members pitching in with another part of the wall:

Bottom line is, things are going awesome. Here’s another “before” picture of what our school will look like from the front:

Final thing – we just confirmed today that our inauguration will be Sunday, August 21st! It’ll be a big party and some people are saying that we should slaughter a cow, but I’ll wait to see it before I believe it ☺ Regardless, there’ll be lot of different people present, including the Municipality, folks from the Peace Corps administration and some special Hug It Forward VIPs. I’m really excited - just one month to go!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Significant progress

Hey all – Bottle School progress has been going really fast, and I’m a little remiss for not sharing any photos, but it’s been so dang busy around here! Let me give you a quick visual summary of the past month:

Pretty crazy, right? This is what happens when you don’t post for a while! We’ve made awesome progress and we’re starting to look at late August for the inauguration. Currently we’re working on placing the bottles - here’s how it works.

First, cut yourself a length of chicken wire (cedazo) to match the opening between the columns and beams, weaving ¼” rebar through the edges like so:

That’s Chris Barry, head mason Frainer and community coordinator Don Miguel – see how they’ve interlaced the rebar through the holes of the chicken wire? Next, they’ll pull the chicken wire tight against the beams and columns, using the “pins” already poured into the concrete as braces:

Next, all you have to do is bend the pins back with a hammer, while someone pulls the chicken wire nice and tight. Now you have the surface onto which you’ll attach your bottles!

Attaching bottles isn’t rocket science – all you have to do is use plastic string. Watch this clip for an idea of how it works.

It’s pretty easy once you get the hang of it….

Here’s our first filled square!

Now the school is really starting to take shape – pretty much the entire first floor has been filled in with bottles:

The kids are cute:

The nice thing about how light the bottles are is that it makes our bottle schools safer for earthquakes – a definite concern in this country.

Here I am with my state-of-the-art sun protection system :)

Things are going great! We have about 3 or 4 weeks of work left, and then classes can begin. I’m both excited and thankful for how smooth the whole project has gone thus far!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Goata get a hold of myself (so bad)

As of this morning, I own a goat and he looks like this:

I know I was all confident in my last post that he’d be here within like 48 hours or whatever, but this is Guatemala and nothing ever goes to plan.

(I recently heard some great advice – “you can start enjoying your time in Guatemala once you rid yourself of any expectations. Just go with the flow and you’ll be much happier than if you had a schedule ”)

As you can see, he’s already pretty big, which is ok because that’ll mean more goat stew later on. I’m hoping that he likes to eat ☺

I also know I was supposed to get a baby goat, but that one got sold and so I went to this butcher with no front teeth who acts as the local goat guru and he lined me up with a replacement. So here’s my new pet (?):

He’s kinda cute, right? I think he’s pretty cool looking at the very least, although a bit feisty (definitely gotta watch out for those horns>

The twist here is that I don’t have space for him at my house, so my bottle school counterpart Don Miguel will keep him in his yard. I’m fairly confident that this arrangement will work out, as the village only has 52 families and pretty much everyone knows:

A: Me
B: the fact that I own a goat
C: and that I’m working to bring the community a school

So there’s the gratitude factor, which I hope will go a long way towards keeping my goat safe. Furthermore, I’ve made it common knowledge that I intend to turn him into a big community feast in about 6 months, so I’m hoping it’s in everyone’s interest to keep him fed for the future. Also, the kids like him!

I found the neighborhood kids checking him out when I finished helping with the bottle school this afternoon, so I let them take him out for a walk. “Just make sure to put him back in his pen when the rains start,” I told them.

Ok - most important part of this post - my goat still doesn’t have a name! What should I call him???