Friday, December 10, 2010

We Are Blocked in By Angry Protesters

It has been raining  for several weeks now.  The campesinos have disrupted life in Colon while protesting  that a bridge that was washed out several weeks ago still has not been fixed.  They protest by taking over all the roads, including the back roads leading to a town, and cut off all traffic.  What causes this type of protest?  The campesinos feel, and rightly so, that this is the only way they will be heard.

Macho Man says there is  no gasoline in Trujillo.  That makes three days now and the taxistas are unable to pick up fares.  Buses cannot travel between here and Tocoa, the nearest town of any size.  It also means that no fresh produce was delivered  yesterday, so the produce market is pretty much empty.  The bread trucks cannot get through, so there is no bread.  The dairy delivery trucks......well, you get the picture.   MM just came from the market and the grocery store.  He says there is very little to be had, even rice and beans.  The citizens of Trujillo are angry.  They say the campesinos have kidnapped Trujillo and are holding her for ransom

There are semi's from Dole lined up for miles on either side of the road block.  If they are there too much longer you can expect to pay more for bananas, pineapple and other tropical fruits.  Dole uses Puerta Castilla as its biggest port in Central America, and the trucks headed this way are loaded with perishables.

The ambulance from our little hospital cannot get to Tocoa or La Ceiba and we have no ICU, orthopedic surgeons or other specialists, nor the ability to take care of trauma.  There is no CT scanner, no MRI, no NICU nor many other things you expect in a modern hospital.  There certainly is no air rescue. The government has promised in the past not to allow the campesinos to tie up the roads and take cities hostage, but the government knows this could get very ugly very quickly.  They are not doing anything right now because the Human Rights inspectors are coming tomorrow. 

Courtesy La Prensa
Campesinos blocking the road to Trujillo

Human Rights would love to report that Honduras abuses the rights of its citizens.  They will not report that soldiers and police officers are facing a large group of men armed with rifles, shotguns and machetes, along with big sticks and rocks, and have not made any type of aggressive move.

I don't know where this is going, but I hope it will be resolved peaceably.  That is not always the case. 

I will try to write about the construction and post some pictures this week end.

Please pray this will not end in bloodshed. 

We have food in the house.  We are blessed.'


This morning the Army and the National Police broke up the blockade.  It ended very peacefully, with the campesinos jusst walking away.  The government is going to set up a permanent  post at the entrance to the back road to prevent this from happening again.  That means that everyone going that way will be stopped, and if they don't like you, your car will be searched.  That's OK by me.  I would rather spend a few minutes telling the police who I am and where I live, than to have people blocking the road so that we cannot even get food into Trujillo.  The people here deserve better than that.

There was no bloodshed, so we are blessed.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I Believe in Angels

I believe in angels. I am sure they are sent to us by God to protect us, and sometimes they are sent to us by the prayers of others.  What happened last week  makes me believe in angels more than ever.

Last Sunday I found a white feather on the staircase going to the third floor.  We have no birds in the house.  We don't have feather dusters, feather pillows, or down comforters, so there is no logical reason for that feather to have been in the house.   I picked it up and said, "Thank you, Lord, for the gift of this angel" and then forgot about it.

Tuesday, Macho Man decided it was safe to take down the  2x4 supports to the form for the terrazzo, and then take down the 1 x12 boards that make up the form.  You can see pictures of those here.

MM did not like the way the crew was removing the supports, so he went over to show them a safer, better way to do this.  Well, it turned out to be a lesson in how not to take down supports.  All of the 2 x 4's and a lot of the 1 x 12's, which were studded with long nails, fell in on top of him, completely burying him underneath.    He says his first though was, "I am going to die, right here and now."  Then he thought, "No, I can't do that, not now."  Thank goodness he was in one of the smaller rooms.

Part of the crew started scrambling to dig him out, while others were running to the neighbors for help.  The neighbors turned out in full force with blankets, wet towels, ibuprofen, and anything else they could find to bring they thought would help.  These are people with little or nothing, but they will share what they have with those who have need.  Not only do I classify these as angels, but they truly live their Christianity. 

When  my sweet little Honduran Honeybun surfaced, the score was  boards = 0;  Macho Man = 1 split lip, 1 goose egg on his head, and 1 cut on his hand where one of the nails brushed him.  We both believe God's heavenly angels were there to cover him when the ceiling fell in, and God's earthly angels were there to get him out of what could have been a very serious situation.

Thank God for the angels, and if you are one of those who prays for us, please don't ever stop.

We are blessed

Friday, October 22, 2010

Hallelujah, The Second Floor Terrazzo is Poured!!

I have been promising this would happen 'soon' for a long time  The holdup has been the weather.  We have not had a single dry day since September 23 and there have been torrential rains since then.

The professional man who was going to supply the materials and manpower for the job told us it would take forty hours with 30-35 men and we would have to feed the men every 3-4 hours.  After figuring out the costs, MM decided that it was cheaper to rent a small mixing machine and hire our own manpower.

Monday the 18th, Macho Man made a command decision that it was now or never, even if it was raining.  When he got to the site at 4:40 in the morning there were about forty people waiting to start work.  MM and our usual crew, along with about thirty day workers, started pouring cement.  They did in about 10-11 hours what the professionals said would take 40 hours nonstop.  And they did it cheaper.
These poles are holding up the form for the terrazzo.  Before we can start pouring each of these poles must be equidistant from each other and perfectly straight; the rows must be absolutely straight; and they must all be exactly the same height.  The form for the terrazzo has to also be level, with no cracks between the boards, and the conduits for the electricity and water have to be in place. Before the pour, every room on the first floor must have these poles in place.  They will hold up a little over 2000 sq ft of concrete poured 5" thick.


This is the cement mixer.  Quite a bit different than the big cement trucks we are use to seeing.  You can believe this was filled many times Monday.  After filling the mixer and getting the mix to the right consistency, it is poured into wheel barrows and taken up to the form to be emptied and spread, then finished with a trowel to get it level

The red flex pipes are for the electrical lines.  The white PVC  pipes are the water lines.  You can see the form and the rebar for the floor. You can also see the rebar for one of the columns in the background.  The columns around the house are what tie the first and second floors together

The oblong box with no rebar in it is to keep an opening in this spot for the staircase.  The boards are for the wheel barrows to travel over to take the cement where it needs to be.

You can see here where part of the pour has already been completed and smoothed out.  Because of the rain, everything had to be covered with tarps, cardboard boxes, cement bags and anything else that would keep the rain off the cement.

This is lunch break.  My sister-in-law, Cheyna, cooked chicken and rice .  We provided Pepsi by the liters.  They seemed to enjoy it, since there was nothing left when they finished.  Look at the faces of these men.  These are not boys, even though most of them are between 17 and 25.  They were there Monday morning at 4:30 AM and they worked in pouring, cold rain most of the day.  Not one of them walked off saying it was too hard a job.  They didn't want to take a morning break or a lunch break until they were done.

Pablo and some of the crew

Getting a little bit of a break
This is what happens when the boss's wife tries to back up in the rain, goes off in the ditch, and hits a big rock.

This is what happens when there are 30-35 men on the job who know they have been treated well and that they are going to get paid at the end of the day; and the boss's wife backed into the ditch

So, now we wait until the cement is cured and we can start laying block again.  We can do a few little things on the first floor.  We can also do some grading so that we can see where the gardens go.  It is not time for the little house to go yet, because we still need it to store supplies and tools in.  

We have had a great work crew, even the temporary help.  The economy is very bad, and there essentially is no work. When there are rumors of work being available, the people will come to you. We have people every day come and ask if there is anything they can do.  The word is already out that Macho Man runs a tight ship, but that he also pays on time and he treats people like humans. 

We are blessed.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Customer Service in Honduras - Not

I wrote once before about how long it took Claro to come install the satellite dish. here  I did not tell you much about long it took them to come fix it after we lost the signal. 

To make a long story short, we called them the first week of June because  the World Cup started the 10th of June.  Nothing is more important to a Honduran  than the World Cup, unless it is when Maraton is playing against Olimpia..  Every time we called, they told us they would be here within the next seven days. The seventh day finally came the 13th of October
Macho Man missed seeing his games, which made him very depressed.  He doesn't like going to his father's house to watch them, because Don Miguel likes to talk and Juan and Lito like to scream and yell at the game, pretty much like we yell and scream at our favorite teams.  His children say their father could talk if he was under water, and that is probably true ;-D.

Almost a month ago my washer went kaput.  Some kind of  seal broke and I ended up with all the water, soap, bleach and softener in the load on the floor, and it was a large load.

We called the store where we bought the machine and told them the problem.  The owner said,  "Please be patient with us.  The technician has to come from San Pedro.  Because your machine is still under warranty, only a GE technician can fix it."  Then it was, "Oh, he didn't make it last week because the bridge between Tocoa and Trujillo is still out, but he will be here Tuesday.  And he is our technician because the GE Technician can't come".  Huh?  

Tuesday came and went. Of course he didn't make it because a bridge between Tocoa and Trujillo is still not repaired. Then we found out he was coming on a motorcycle because they don't fix your problem the first day.  They make a service call, diagnose the problem, and then they come back and fix the machine, after the part is ordered and received.  The next day.  Not!!

Macho Man called the company and they assured him the technician would come today, Wednesday, at 8:00 AM..  This is Wednesday 8:46 PM, 11:46 PM EST, and guess  who hasn't shown up.  Guess who won't answer the phone, because when he looks at his caller ID, he doesn't want to have to tell us another version of the truth.  I told MM to call them back and tell them his wife is running around naked because she doesn't have any clean clothes.

Thank God for sisters-in-law.  Chayna came today to wish MM Happy Birthday and went home with two loads of work clothes. Guess who will be washing clothes tomorrow by hand. 

We are still blessed. 

Monday, September 6, 2010

Things I Have Learned From Being on Water Restrictions

I talked about water restrictions last Thursday but I really did not know just how restricted it would be for us. The water company said they would turn the water on from 6-9 AM and from 2-7 PM.  They lied!  They lied! THEY LIED!!!

The water might come on somewhere between 6 and 8 AM and it goes off at 9:20 AM.  It might come on at 3PM. and go off again in 15 minutes, and repeat that cycle until 7 PM, but you never know exactly when that 15 minutes will be. 

There is very little water pressure, so little  it can take 20 minutes to fill the tank on the toilet.  Even when the water comes on, we are on the same line as the hotel.  Of course, they get first dibs on the water, and Rufina starts washing clothes and linens; Miguel starts filling the leaky pool; and we have no water, just the sound of the water trying to push the air out of the faucet.  Saturday, they were nice enough to stop everything until we could get a shower, but, it ended up being a bucket bath with cold water.  There was not enough pressure to fill the hot water tank nor to supply the shower.

I have learned some things.  I think I said I had learned pila etiquette, which means you don't put anything in the clean water.  The clean water gets scooped up with a clean bowl and poured over whatever you are washing or rinsing.  When you are throughyou scoop up a bowl for the next person, who might need to wash his hands, because you don't want him to put his hands into the clean water.

I can now take a bucket bath in less than two minutes using less than one gallon of cold water.  The average 8 1//2 minute shower in the USA  uses 17.2 gallons of water.  Have a teenager?  Ever seen him/her take and 8 minute shower?

The average American, if he lets the water run while he brushes his teeth, wastes 2 gallons of water a day.  We have learned to fill a 20 ounce glass and both of us can brush our teeth and leave some for the next morning.

Today we had to wash a load of MM's work clothes.  It took six 5 gallon buckets of water for each cycle and MM had to carry each of those  buckets up two flights of stairs.  That is 12 buckets of  water, 60 gallons.  We hooked up to the hotel's outside faucet, because we had no water.

If you take your bath late in the afternoon, you can use the same clothes the next day.  Then you put  the shirt in the dirty clothes basket and wear the pants again the next day.  Except Macho Man.  He is allowed to change shirts twice a day and pants every day, if he has been working on the house.

Baby wipes are great for wiping down if you have no water.  They are refreshing, really, and they take off makeup better than anything else I've tried.  I like the ones with aloe the best.  They seem to moisturize the best.  And you don't feel sticky.

If you go swimming late in the afternoon, you may not be 100% clean, but you feel clean.  The hotel will let us do that.  They even told us to bathe in the pool, but I have dreams of them turning on the aerater and mountains of soapsuds flowing all over the place.

The toilet does not need to be flushed every time it is used.  Unless you like lugging 5 gallon buckets around. 

If you get up in the morning every day, and you turn on your faucet and get water, you are better off than much of the world.  If that water is clean, you are even more blessed.

The biggest problem we have is that the crew is still mixing cement, and that takes water, lots of water, and in the next two weeks, when we start pouring the terrazza we will need even more.

Imagine this, my Honduran Macho Man was carrying a bucket of water in one hand, and a Coleman lantern in the other, muttering, "There is no water.  There is no electricity.  What I am doing in Honduras?'.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

We Have Water Restrictions

As of today, we are on water restrictions.  My friends in the US think water restrictions mean don't water the grass.  Water restrictions here mean we have no water, except at certain times of the day.  For now we have water from 6 AM - 10 AM and again from 2 PM - 7 PM.  This could change.  I have seen it when there was water from 7 AM to 10 AM   then from 7 PM to 10 PM on alternate days.  I have to plan my day carefully, so I have water to cook, wash clothes and do dishes.  Macho Man has to get his bath early.

My friends in  other parts of the country have been fighting torrential rains and flooding recently.  In Colon we have had no appreciable amount of rain since maybe June, when a couple of tropical storms blew through.  I have commented several times that the North Coast gets 144 inches a year, so it seams unreasonable that our river would run dry, but it is drying up.  We only have rain during the rainy seasons, and then it can rain up to 12" of rian per hour.  During the dry season it is exactly that, dry, except for the humidity. 

 In general, the rainy season in Honduras runs from May to November in the interior and from September to January along the north coast and Bay Islands (with a chance of severe storms any time of the year).
Hurricane Season is from August to November; direct hits are uncommon, but are devastating when they do come.  Remember Hurricane Mitch.  It stood off the Bay Islands for four or five days and did millions of dollars in damage, and took any lives, even on the mainland.

I wish I had known about the water restrictions earlier today.  We haven't had water except occasionally for the last two weeks.  It means we keep 5 gallon buckets of water in the bathrooms and one bucket in the kitchen for the dishes.  It means sometimes a quick shower and sometimes no baths at all, just using baby wipes.  Certainly, there has been no hair washed in several days.  Anyway, today about 9:45, I noticed we had water, and good water pressure, so I decided to  get in the shower, take a bath, and do my hair while I had a chance.  

I lathered up twice, rinsed, and applied the conditioner, and the water went kaput.  It is now 4 PM, the water is on, but just as I started up stairs about 2:15 PM, the woman who cleans for me came,  so I still have conditioner in my hair.  Oh well,  my hair needed a deep conditioning anyway.   

We usually sit on the balcony and enjoy the view from about 5:30 PM to about 7 PM.  Now we will have to eat and wash dishes during that time, so we will have to sit on the balcony during the late evening hours.  At night we can see the lights from the village of Rio Negro, the stars, and occasionally a cruise ship or a container ship with lights blazing, so we still have a view.  

We have a roof over our heads, and even though there is no glass in our windows, we won't get too wet. We cook with propane, so we won't go hungry. We buy water by the five gallon jug and we have three jugs, so we won't be thirsty. The bedroom will stay dry, unless there is a lot of wind, so we will be able to sleep comfortably. We have Coleman lanterns, so we will be able to see at night.

Ironically, there is a big rainstorm coming down the mountain even as I type.  It won't mean an end to the water restrictions, unless it rains 24 hours a day for several days.  Then the people along the rivers and in the mountains have to watch for flash floods and  mudslides.  Sometimes the bridges get washed away by the torrents of water coming down off the mountains.  That means Trujillo is cut off from the rest of Honduras.

We are blessed.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Another Trip to La Ceiba

We made a quick trip to La Ceiba last week that wasn't that quite as quick as we expected.  Macho Man and Chico both needed to see their doctor, and Chico needed a spa day because he was having multiple bad hair days.  I had to renew my green card.

As usual, we stayed at the Hotel Paris in downtown La Ceiba.  As usual, their staff was wonderful and very attentive.  The room was comfortable and we were able to walk to most of the places we wanted to see.  We also found a restaurant down on the beach, El Asador, where the menu was limited to four large entrees and several side orders and fast food items.  The food and the service was very good.  We will go back.

Macho Man had two full days of tests and doctor visits, and other than a minor infection seems to be in good health. We have to go back in two weeks for followup, after a course of antibiotics.

Chico got a clean bill of health; a good haircut and a pedicure, plus had a two night sleepover.

My trip to Immigration was quick, about 20 minutes, and not so bad.  The man in charge was very knowledgeable and efficient.  He stayed late through part of his lunch break, to get us taken care of.  That includes Juan having to walk two blocks to the bank to pay the fees.  You don't pay for anything in Honduras at the place you owe it, you get a ticket to show how much you owe; you go to the bank and pay it; then you go back and give the official the receipt saying it is paid.  He then gives you whatever document  you applied for.

On the advice of several friends I found two fabric shops within half a block of the hotel. Only in Honduras, but fabrics and sewing notions are not sold in the same place.  We were directed to a shop that supposedly had thread, needles, etc.  Ha!  it did have about 4 spools of thread in the primary colors, but nothing to match the material I was looking at.  No zippers, some bobbins, but not in the size I need, etc, etc, so next trip I will have to look again. 

On the way home we stopped at our friend, Dan's, beach house.  It is to die for.  What a view and what a beautiful, well arranged, comfortable home.  Oh, and what a view.  Just ocean as far as you can see, and almost deserted beach.  They only have three or four neighbors.  Dan and his wife are good people.  And we got a lot of new ideas for our house, like AC in all the bedrooms, and electrical outlets in the floor in the living room, to give more options for arranging furniture..

I will have more pictures of the construction next week I hope.  I am so ready for the second story to start taking shape.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Building the Dream - Continued

If the placement of the pictures look funny, don't blame me.  I have been trying to post this for four days, and Blogger will not let me arrange the pictures the way I want them arranged.  They changed something right in the middle of me doing this

We are getting closer and closer to being able to start the second floor.  The window and door openings  on the first floor are  done and you can really see what the front of the house is going to look like.

The rebar in the foreground will become
part of the columns on the veranda.
This is an arch for the veranda.  There will be
five or six of these, I don't remember, across
the front.  They form part of the support for
the balcony

Remember that big mound of red clay?  Well, it is gone now.  Marvin has been busy with his shovel and has leveled it out to the height of the retaining wall.  Now you can see where the portico will be on the back side of the house.  The portico will be about 12 feet wide and 7 feet deep.  There will be two steps up from the drive to the portico, then one step up into the house.  The portico will cover the back door on the first floor becausee it spans the area between the house and the retaining wall.  I call this area the most; sometimes the ditch

     This is where the portico will be.

Marvin leveled this with a shovel.
Probably a ton of dirt, moved by


Did someone say OSHA? 
Not in Honduras;-)

Now some pictures of why this place will be so perfect when we finally get moved in.  I call them the view from the balcony.

See That little patch of darker blue by the tower in the left middle?
That is the Caribbean, and we will really be able to see it
when the balcony is finished.

All these pictures were taken on one night from the balcony of our condo

I am so looking forward to sitting on my balcony whenever I want, especially at sunset.  I don't need  Key West. 

We are blessed.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Funny Things That Have Happened Lately

Funny things do happen around here. 

We have a cow that comes to a field next door to us to graze.  I don't know if she needs milking or what, but she moos all day long.  It is not a sweet little m-o-o-o.  It is a gigantic M-O-O-O-O that can be heard for miles.  Yesterday she was at it again, until I yelled, "Will somebody put that poor cow out of her misery!!!".  Almost as soon as it was out of my mouth I heard gunshots, then complete silence.  I sitting there then saying, "Not that way, Lord. I really didn't want anybody to kill her."  All of a sudden, she moo'd again and I felt better, until I heard more gunshots and she got quiet again, very quiet.  This morning, she was at it again, so I guess they just scared her enough to shut her up.

Tuesday I was going to fry some tajados (fried plantains) for supper, I peeled  my plantains and sliced them up, got out the frying pan and the grease, at least I thought it was the grease.  I put the plantains into the frying pan, and when I checked them, they just didn't look like they were cooking right.  Then I noticed that the grease looked funny, and finally I smelled the vinegar.  Vinegar and vegetable oil come in very similar jugs and I guess I had mine too close together.

Then there was the day I was working at the computer when it became a 'no hay (no aye)' day and the electricity went off.  I went into the bathroom and found out it was a double no hay day.  No water and no electricity.  So, I decided to go downstairs and do a load of clothes.  I actually had the clothes in the washer, the soap added, and the softener in the dispenser before it dawned on me I wouldn't be doing laundry, not that day, anyway.

There are the little things that keep you sane, because when you are laughing, it is hard to get lost in your mind.

We are blessed

ADDENDUM:   We don't keep many sweets in the house, and the other day I decided to dig out the ice cream maker.  I got all the ingredients and put them in the refrigerator to get cold.  I grabbed the fruit and mashed it up.  I thought they smelled a little funny, but I was in a hurry.  Before I started the machine, I  tasted my concoction and decided the problem was Ididn't put enough vanilla in, so I added  another tsp. of vanilla and started churning it.  The outcome was very sweet and vanilla, but taqsted strongly of plantrains.  It won't be my favorite.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The First Floor Walls are Almost Finished!!

No, I didn't run away from home nor join the circus, regardless of what you may of heard.  I did take a little break.  We are in the summer rainy season, and it has been a monsoon around here.  You cannot pour a lot of cement in the rain, although they have tried.  Here are a couple of pictures of what 15 minutes of rain can do.

The walls are almost up for the first floor.  We have about three more rounds of block, then another biga, and then they can pour the terrazzo for the second floor. 

With the forms for the arches over the windows you can really start to see what the house will look like on the outside.  Macho Man built all the forms himself.  As I have said before, some people complain that Hondurans are lazy.  Ours work from can to can't, even in the rain.  Marvin was told to go home the other day, and he asked if MM was leaving.  When told, "No."  he said, "Then I will stay as long as you do, Maestro." 

The rebar here is part of the biga.  The columns will be extended and cement poured around them. This cures for a while, and then the biga poured.  This ties everything together and gives the walls strength.


The rebar here has had its forms built and the cement poured.  Notice the crosses on the forms.  There are many of these crosses along both sides of the form.  They are tied together and hold the wood in place so that the weight of the cement does not cause the forms to bulge, or even collapse.  MM says the cross shape is an accident.  I prefer to think they are a sign of the blessings that have been given to us.

Things will slow down  a little until we can get the terrazzo poured.  We have decided to have  this done by a professional company.  They will need forty continuous hours to complete the work, and we have to feed them 5-6 times a day.   It would take us a week mixing the cement by hand.

So, the blessings continue to pour down upon us, and the walls continue to go up.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Not a Good Way to End the Week

This week started off okay, then on  Tuesday evening it started to start a downhill slide.  First. while I was just finishing up supper, the chimbo went empty.  For the uninitiated, a chimbo is a 40 lb propane tank.  We use propane to cook.  The spare chimbo we always keep was empty because we forgot to fill it when it gave out the last time.  Macho Man took the empty chimbo to get it filled on Wednesday and brought it home about 6:00 PM.  When he tried to hook it up, the valve was screwed up and the regulator would not go on.  I suggested we go down to El Centro, but MM decided he was too tired.  I threatened him with cold sandwiches, and when that didn't work I decided to get creative.  It was the first time I ever cooked a complete meal in the microwave and rice cooker.  It turned out not so bad.

Today MM hired a man to come and clean up the yard at the new house, particularly the mangoes that have fallen off the tree and started to rot.  We also had to cut weeds and make sure there was no standing water, because we have an epidemic of dengue fever.  Anyway, about 30 minutes after the man started working, he had a grand mal seizure.

At lunch, when MM was telling me about his morning, he was so proud that he moved the man into the shade, and when the man wouldn't wake up, he and the man's brother started CPR.  Silly me, I asked, "Was the man breathing?"...    "Yes."  "Did you check his pulse?"...."No."  "Macho Man, you don't do CPR on a live person, i.e., who is breathing and has a pulse."  "Oh."

Then, this afternoon, it was my turn.  I was going to the new house to take pictures of the progress we have made.  There is a narrow little red clay road through a residential area just before you get to the site.  I always go very slow here, because it is just in front of a school. 

I saw some children playing, and I saw a little girl on a bicycle, so I slowed down even more.  Thank God!.  Just as I thought I had passed everyone safely, I heard a big BANG, and when I looked in the mirror, there was the little girl and the bicycle on the ground behind me.  My heart stopped.

I got out of the car, and retired nurse that I am, I began a trauma check.  Then her father showed up and started screaming at me about why I didn't slow down when I knew there were children playing.  I told him I was going slow, and that is why the child wasn't hurt.  When he finally realized the child was not hurt, and that I was just as upset as he was, we parted as friends. 

Never underestimate the Honduran grapevine.  By the time I got to the site our watchman, who happened to witness the whole thing, had already informed MM that the child lost her balance and hit me, and that I was very upset about the whole thing. 

When I got myself under control, I started to take pictures, and the battery in my camera was dead.  I wanted to start crying.

When we have times like these, I try to find the silver lining.  It wasn't so bad that the chimbo was empty.  We had food in the house, and I have a rice cooker and a microwave, and the electricity was on.  It could have been worse.

The man MM hired hired had a seizure, not a heart attack or heat stroke.  He can survive a seizure.  It could have been worse.

The child was just frightened, and had a skinned knee.  We both survived.  It could have been worse.

I can go back tomorrow and take my pictures, and this weekend I can do my post on our progress.  It could have been worse.

We are blessed.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Walls Are Going UP!!!!

Yes, indeedy, the walls are going up.  I haven't written lately for any number of reasons,  but the main one was the girls being here.  In the meantime, Macho Man and the gang have been really busy. 

The foundations are in, the biga solera is laid, and the masons are laying block.  The biga solera is a continuous, 10"x10", band of concrete over a rebar cage that is laid on top of the foundation.  This goes around the whole house at the foundation level and again when the second floor is poured.  There is also a biga that surrounds the house at the top of the windows and doors on both floors, and again before the roof goes on. Did I mention the house is natural disaster proof?

Building the biga solera

Now that walls are pretty much in place for the ground floor, it is easier for us to see the layout of the house.

The picture on the left is the downstairs gallery; the man walking on it is near the front door.  As you come in the front door, the two guest bedrooms and bath are on the right. Macho Man's office is on the left. The large area in the center is a great room. The center and right hand pictures are the house from the back.  The back door is between the two men in the center picture.  The picture on the right shows the cistern and  the bodega (storeroom).   

There is a retaining wall around three sides of the house.  It serves as a walkway around the lower level of the house and it gives access to the back door.  This walkway is 4' wide and will be gated on both sides of the house in the front.  Right now we are calling it the moat.  It has weep holes every few feet close to the bottom and to the middle.  This allows the ground water to seep through rather than push the wall down.  Turning the blocks sideways to make the weep holes was my idea.  They are backed with gravel rocks and sand to keep them from getting clogged with clay.  There will also be a French drain about every 15' along the walk.  (Don't forget, we get an average of 142" of rain a year.)  We will be catching rainwater for the cistern in the house and also for one outside to use for irrigation during the dry season.  There will be a dry creek from the open ends of the moat wandering across the property to help with drainage.  We surely don't want to drown the neighbors. 

Right through the center of the first picture below you can see a green fishing line.stretched across the house.  This is the level of the second floor.  Macho Man kept wondering how he kept losing his fishing line, because it would be in place one day, and gone the next. 

This next picture is the solution to the mystery of the missing fishing line.  Much of this nest is made with it.

So far the building is  pretty much on schedule.  We have had no major injuries.  The workmen are great.  We are blessed.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Building the Dream - Continued

The foundation is almost completely dug, and the columns are being set, even as I type.  At least, the rebar skeleton of the columns are being set.  These columns go in a hole four feet deeper than the foundation.  They are about 18 ft long, and the rebar does not come pre-fab. They are held in place by a couple of feet of concrete, then large rocks are put around them and pushed down into the wet concrete and  and more concrete poured up to the level of the foundation.  The rocks cannot touch each other, the rebar, or the sides of the hole.  After they are all set the gang will build a wooden frame around each one and fill it with concrete.  After the concrete sets, the form is removed and the columns are kept damp for  few days.

These are our cement mixers.  We have used several hundred bags of cement by now, and it has all been mixed by hand, fifty shovels of aggregate to a bag of cement.  The cement and aggregate are mixed together until fully mixed and then water, by the bucket, is poured in and the cement mixed until it is a slurry.  The blue barrel holds the water.

This is our "cement truck" ;-D  That's Marvin filling the hole around the base of the rebar. The rocks in the trench will become part of the foundation.  We will use a total of about 1,200 bags of cement, .  The columns being set now will go up through the floor of the second level and the 2 ft of rebar that are not in the concrete will become part of the column that goes up to the roof.  The extra rebar on the second level will be twisted around the base of the trusses and tie the roof to the house.  This house is hurricane proof, mud slide proof, and earthquake proof, or so I am told.

Here are some of our gang.  Honduran men love to smile for the camera, and they will always fix their hair and clothing before they will let you take the photograph.


Who is that handsome man with the chain saw?  Why, it is Macho Man!!!  Macho Man forgets that he is not as young as our other workers, and he comes home wringing wet and so tired he just wants to lie on the floor.  I told him that he should remember he is the Jefe and he needs to sit under the mango tree and direct what is going on.  He disagrees.  He says he has to set an example, and also make sure everyone is working where, when and how he wants them to.

Under the mango tree - break time.                         
We freeze water in the big soda bottles to provide cool water for most of the day. That is Marvelous Marvin with Macho Man

The office of Ramirez and Company - inside the little house Macho Man built about 40 years ago.
We have been truly blessed. We have a good, hard working crew. It has not rained. The materials have arrived on time. Macho Man sprayed the property so the chiggers and ticks are mostly gone.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Building the Dream

I know most of you are wondering if we really are going to build a dream home here in Honduras.  After all, I have been talking about it ever since we got here, then posted nothing about our progress.  Well, here is what you have been waiting for.

This is the property before the bulldozer came

We broke ground last week, but before we could get the bulldozer in Macho Man and his helper, Marvin, and whatever family he could round up, had to move most of those rocks  have been bragging about.  Now, these rocks are another thing Honduras has with Georgia.....our rocks are not some soft old rock you can split easily.  Our rocks are pure granite.  These rocks have to be dug up, broken up, and moved by hand.

  Macho Man and Marvin working on the rocks

You will see piles and piles of these rocks, and when you see a new surface, that rock has been broken up with a pick axe and a sledge hammer.  Some of these will be used in the foundation.  The ones with the flattest surface will be the parking area and walkways.  I hope there will be enough to build the fence, too.   Some of the boulders will be left in place, because we can't move them.

Last Thursday the bulldozer came.  They worked Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.  The driver was so good at what he does that we will have to back fill only a less when we do the foundations.  I commented on Face Book the other day that Honduras and Georgia have red clay, chiggers and ticks in common.  Here is the proof of the red clay.

Once the excavation was complete, Macho Man and his helpers starting leveling off and marking where the foundation will go.  They did the leveling with a long, clear plastic tubing and water.  First they put stakes in all the corners and along the sides, and then, somehow they filled the tube with water and were able to mark the levels of the foundation.  They measured horizontally, vertically and cross-ways.  MM said they were off less than 1/4th inch.

                                                       Macho Man and Chico inspecting the work yesterday       

Today we have five workers out at the site digging the foundations with shovels.  MM as been tying rebar, getting it ready to put in the columns that go every 10' around the house.  They are 6" square of solid concrete with a 1/2"  rebar circular reinforcement the entire length of the column.  These are not decorative; they become part of the walls.  The columns help make the house hurricane and earthquake proof.  

Let me say a word here about Marvin.  Macho Man found Marvin when he was working on my SIL's house and offeredd him a job.  Marvin is 17 years old, and he works literally from sun to sun, and sometimes later.  He is on the job by at least 6:30 a.m. and he has to be told to go home at night.  He also has to be told to take a lunch break.  While they have been busting rocks, Marvin has started a fire under a rock and then come back later at night to pour cold water on the rock so it will split.    He is a blessing.

I will be doing more on this as we progress.  In fact, I am going out tomorrow to take pictures from today's work.