Weeks 2 & 3

We started digging for the foundation of the house, and it feels both thrilling and terrifying to see the amount of dirt that is moved and changed in order to build a structure. We’re in the phase aptly named the obra negra, or the “black work” because of its physical demands.  We went to look at some different rocks for the foundation, and we decided to use hard, grey rock for the part of the foundation that isn’t seen, and we’ll use colored stones for visible part of the foundation.

Visiting the rock quarry – had to make room for a herd of cows to pass.

Miriam and Molly built a compost to start generating soil for the future garden. Oscar and Ángel have been working more on digging the well, and have reached 6 meters.  We’ll most likely need to reach 8 to 10 meters before encountering water.

The beginning stages digging for the well.

The maestros Beto, Toño, and Elias have been busy digging the trenches where the foundation will go.  At the beginning of week three, they started laying the first stones, and everything started to feel a lot more permanent.

Ángel, Miriam, and Oscar admiring their work.

Next week we’ll be making a trip into Oaxaca to buy a cement mixer to help with making the earthen mix for the walls, and stopping by San José del Pacífico to see Ángel’s family and check out a special rock, piedra caliza laja, to make the retention wall that divides the kitchen and living room.

The beginning

January 2017 – This week everything started to feel real. We completed the tracing of the house by using limestone to mark the perimeters and rooms, as well as using posts and string to check the level of the various sections of the house. This also gave us an opportunity to make a few last minute adjustments before we start digging for the foundation next week. We also created an access road (where a future public walkway will go) so that we can bring materials directly to where we will be using them.

Ángel and Molly marking the outline of the house.

We met with the municipal government and discussed permitting and the digging of a well, too. The remarkable news is that the representatives are excited about our project and let us know that they would like to see more projects like ours in the area. It was a tremendous relief to see that we have the support of the community behind us as we start this endeavor.   Our neighbors have also been instrumental in sharing knowledge and helping connect us with various individuals and contacts.

Plan and layout of the first floor of our project.

Lastly, we started building a small shed and shade structure to store our material in, and offer refuge from the sun during meals and break times.

This is what trust looks like.
Luckily Oscar isn’t afraid of heights….

As far as life in general goes, we’re all adjusting and getting used to the heat, humidity, insects, and different style of life here. Going for a daily swim in the ocean melts away all of the stress and frustrations that might emerge with manual labor in a hot climate, and we still haven’t shaken the feeling that despite all of the work, we’re somehow always on vacation. More to come next week.

Simba is getting used to the heat by taking lots of naps and digging makeshift beds in the dirt.