There are times you feel like the present situation is going to go on for ever and ever... and then suddenly you realize that it's about to be all over. The construction of our Earthship inspired tropical round structure with a reciprocal roof, and the Covid-19 crisis happened to coincide harmoniously. Since we could not leave as intended, we were forced to make use of the extra month of "quarantine" and finish the roof. On the other hand, as we were so focused on the build, we didn't have too much time to worry about the things outside of our control. Okay, we were low on beer for a short while, until we figured out how to circumvent the prohibition on alcohol that accompanied the local lockdown. And now, it looks like it's all coming to an end.
Now that we managed to reach our goal of putting the roof beams in place, some of us were all too eager to make a move. Stephane and Romain managed to book flights back to France, with an itinerary of five connections in six days. The rest of us remain here to admire our work, and do final preparations for closing the property for the rainy season when none of us is here. It's surprising it hasn't rained so far, though there is regularly thunder growling in the distance, and the constant humidity makes everyone wish it rained finally.
The Question of Protection
Protecting the logs from the rain is important, but we could not do much in terms of wrapping them up hermetically or varnishing them, as they are still a bit green and need to lose moisture. So to give them a bit of protection from above, we put a plastic tarp on top of them, stuffed cardboard underneath, and left the underside exposed.
As for the berm, we had to fill the hole next to the curved wing-wall, covering all the tires along the concrete beam with a layer of dirt. Of course the rain is likely to wash the dirt down, so we'll need some plants with good rootage that takes hold fast. Vetiver offers itself perfectly for this, but most likely it would not be enough on its own. The first raindrops are likely to wash the dry sand down the slope, which makes up most of the berm. So to prevent this from happening (too much), I went ahead and mulched the entire hillside.
What We Have Made
After it's done, I kinda like hanging around a structure that I've helped build, even though it may not be fully completed. It feels great to look back at experience of sharing it together. Since neither of us kept a journal during the build, we have challenged each other with the task of a chronogram: writing down as many events with dates as possible. This way, the we can put everything in a neat perspective:
January 29 was the first day we actually started working on the build, after arriving and setting up essential camp structures. In February we had lots of volunteers and no work permit, then no volunteers but a permit, and finally a fantastic Minka on Feb. 28.
On March 27 we completed the 13-course tire wall. It includes exactly 497 tires, though we pounded way more, since sever of them had to be removed in changing plans.
April was marked mostly by concrete. The most important pour was the bond beam was most important, using up 650 kg of cement, all in one morning, with nine of us all together, mixing by hand on the ground, pouring with buckets.
Finally, the vigas, which had been stripped of bark and soaked in boric acid for days, were put in place in about a week, positioning them on the roof on April 30. For this job there were once again nine of us.
All in all the construction was completed in three months, with a budget of $13,000 USD, including material cost, feeding the volunteers (and ourselves), gasoline, rental fees for the machines, and navigating across Mexican bureaucracy. What I particularly like about the whole build, is that the only machines we used were a back-hoe and a dump truck we had come for hauling dirt from right across the road. Otherwise, all the transportation was solved by the vehicles at the place mostly the bus and the pick-up truck.
Used My Gear Well... Used It All Up!
As for me personally, I saw a new pair of gloves get worked into the realm of uselessness, and a pair of boots which I also bought for the occasion get used up to the point where the steel toe got exposed. Beautiful symbolism, though I guess I'll manage to squeeze some good hikes, and maybe even a build out of those boots.
Follow our Construction Adventure in This Series:
A View From a Bird’s Eye
Moving Logs Around in Practice
Talking About Logs
Visual Concrete Pour by @redhawkrising
Pouring the Bond Beam
The Circle is Complete, We're Pouring Tomorrow
Starting The Long Finish
Concrete Plans and Concrete Actions
Earthship Build in the Time of Hive and Coronavirus
Machines Taking Over Work: The Day Everything Changed
Zome Building Workshop in Mazunte
The Ceremony of a Minka
Hay Pase, Got the Permit!
The Diverse Cars at Itínera
Waiting for the Man
An Impression of Hyperadobe in La Boquilla
Bending Rebar Like a Mexican
Working at Night for the Perfect Level
The Challenge of Scoring Tires
Creating Conditions to Work and Live
Previous series: A Theater on the Beach