Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Mud, glorious mud!

The first week of December was crunch time for the adobe house! Ben, Josh, Isaac and Chris were all due to leave for Christmas on the 13th and the house had to be done if it was going to survive their month-long absence over the holidays. Luckily, we'd found the factory in Port-au-Prince where rice bags are manufactured and I was able to order 400 meters of un-cut sack for the house. So the final 20 rows were laid using a continual cylinder of sack which we measured, cut and tucked on each row. Much faster and much more aesthetically pleasing.

I was there for 2 of the last 5 days of work. We toiled from 7am to 5pm every day, filtering dirt, hauling water, tossing buckets up the ladder, filling sacks, compressing sacks, laying barbed wire between rows, placing windows, installing cross-beams for a loft...It was great fun and very tiring work.

On December 9th, the boys laid their last bag and the house was complete!

With their precious remaining days, the boys tried different mixtures of mud, clay, sand, horse manure and straw until they found an acceptable product to skim the outside of the house as protection against vandalism, decay, and the elements. They had time to do the highest section of the house before they left, entrusting the rest of the task to me and Sam (the Brooks' youngest son).

On my first morning as an official resident of Gonaives, Sam and I went to work on the house. He had already done much of the upper part and with the help of our loyal teenage boys, we made good progress. The winner of the mud combinations was a mixture of clay, sand and straw so we alternated between squishing clay in our fingers, running the cement mixer, filtering sand, and spreading the mess on the house.

By the end of that first day, my t-shirt looked like this...

...and the house looked like this:

More of the same for our second day of work.

By the end of that second day, my t-shirt looked like this...

...and the house looked like this:

For our last day, December 23rd, we only worked 2 hours to finish off the house.

By the end of the last day, my t-shirt looked like this...

...and the house, that beautiful house, looked like this:

Proud Keziah, proud Sam, proud Jubilee teenagers! I can't wait to see the boys' faces when they get back.

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