After our work in Condega, Eva and I decided to trek out to an island in the middle of Lake Nicaragua: Ometepe. We knew we needed a little break after the first workshop and before the second, so we headed to the island in hopes of finding some fun natural building and permaculture projects. We visited Bona Fide and Inanitah, two permaculture/natural building farms on the island. We spent some time at several different little hostels, checked out the petroglyths, laid on the beach, and watched the sunset over one of the volcanoes on the island. Overall a pretty incredible week, and instead of telling you about it...here's a little slideshow of photos from the week...more or less in chronological order. Enjoy.
Week two of the workshop in Condega is complete! All the posts are up, and the group is working well together. We've all been getting to know each other, and everyone's been helping me with my spanish. We all get a good laugh when I mix up my words.
This week we focused on naturally constructed wall systems, and I'm going to take some space in this blog to explain what that means. The photo to the left shows you the "bones" of all many of the natural wall systems we are using to construct the eating space for the canteen we are building for the women's construction school. The first wall system we started is wattle and daub. You can see this far right in the background of the photo. The workshop participants have dubbed it the "canasta" wall, or the basket wall because bamboo is woven between vertical posts, and then the wall is covered with mud. It's a great wall for non load-bearing internal walls in the states, but since we are in a tropical environment, and the walls aren't load-bearing, we can use it wherever we want!
Notice the curvy branches used to outline the tops of each wall. This space will be partially open air, so Liz (earthenendeavors.com) had the idea to make the wall shapes fun. We cut branches directly off the trees on the property and used our artistic sides to decide what would look best. I think it turned out pretty great.
Felipe and Suleydi are standing behind the chorizo wall. We created vertical channels for horizontal sticks to slide between. Then we rolled the sticks tightly with slip-covered rice straw. This wall system is good for building quickly because on the strong internal structure. You don't have to worry about the weight of the mud and straw making the bottom of the walls bulge. We built three different spaces for the sticks to fit so that the wall could curve and create the arched effect at the entrance of the canteen.
Below you'll see photos of wattle and cob. Wattle and cob is a wall system that uses posts as its internal wall structure. Then cob, packed densely with straw is used to weave back and forth between the posts. If you are careful, and you build slowly, the finished wall ends up with a beautiful woven pattern. This makes for nice texture on the wall. It's also a perfect place for bottle work in the walls. We created a mock wall for people to practice bottle design work as well. We decide next week what bottle designs will go into the final building.
At last, but not least, the local vernacular building style of taquezal. This wall system is found in many Nicaraguan homes. It involves vertical posts and horizontal cribbing to help hold the wall material in. We used a cob mix, but people here also throw in stones, and whatever they have lying around, from bricks to shoes. This technique allows one to build a thinner "cob" wall, and it allows for faster building because the risk of the weight and wetness of the wall causing the material to press outward is lower. Below is a photo of taquezal, and a photo of what my mid-day and end of day looks like.
Enjoy, and sorry this blog was extra natural building geeky. If you have questions of comments, or are interested in learning more about any of these systems, leave a comment here!
natural builder, traveler, teacher