Sunday, October 25, 2009

working the land

I've done a terrible job writing about the actual construction and transformation that's been going on at our land since we moved to the jungle. J spends backbreaking hours and days in the hot sun carefully planning, building, and creating our future home. While this doesn't do it justice, here are a few photos of our recently constructed earth bag structure. The whole thing was done by hand, the door and window frames were handmade, the bags will carefully filled with a mixture of sand and clay. J has spent countless, countless hours on this, not only in the building but in the art of learning how it's done.
While it looks simple, this took forever. Lots of dirt. We found pottery shards during the sifting which was pretty amazing. Earthbags are very heavy and the walls are thick. Thick walls means cooler temperatures. Natural respite from the heat. The round construction means it's not going anywhere. This will be here for a long, long time.
This may look like paint but it's actually a tint applied to the last coat of mud. Once the bags are done the whole building is covered w/ mud and then the final coat has some sort of magical mixture added to it. As you can see, J has spent an incredible amount of time on the details. It's been amazing to watch his passion and persistence unfold in so many ways. Every step of the process was looked at from a environmental lens, what materials are sustainable, what is the least harmful, etc. I am a particular fan of the window flare and the slate at the bottom which while beautiful, serves as a splash guard for those pesky thunderstorms.

We had to hire the roofing work out. Thatch is absolutely an art form, and the guys who did this spent several days cutting, weaving and then tying the leaves. It's an incredible process.
So there she is, our little jungle structure nestled on our little jungle property. We aren't planning to live in it right now for a number of reasons but we eventually might use it for guest lodging. We needed a practice structure before attempting to build any sort of living space and there were countless lessons learned. J's working on a different structure now that this one is finished, which will be the center of the garden. In the meantime we've planted over 50 trees, many of them fruit bearing.

It's a work in progress, but as it's progressed I've watched J become a botanist, an earth father, a laborer and a foreman. It's been a joy to watch his brain work in new ways and he's largely self-taught himself everything as he goes along. And there's no home depots here either. So he's been forced to think creatively and exercise his passion. It's not always easy but it's been amazing to watch. It's been an evolution of our partnership as well, in our former lives we both went off to the workplace, now so much more of our focus (at least when I'm not out of the country) is on meeting our basic daily needs and our land. We've both become more domesticated out of necessity. There is simply too much to do if we want to manage everything that needs to get done. But it feels more honest somehow, more deeply personal and less stressful.

This year has been a lot of things, ever since we took the leap and left our jobs and our lives and moved to the jungle but mainly it's been a year of discovery and of working things through.


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21 comments:

kristen said...

that is the perfect jungle guest house.

i never comment but i always read. always. xoxo

flutter said...

That is SO charming!

Pgoodness said...

WOW. That is spectacular and so very impressive!

deb said...

That is beautiful.

hgg said...

that is absolutely gorgeous!

Amber said...

That is amazing, and the construction process is fascinating. I have this image that building a house requires, I don't know, much more STUFF. It's amazing how it really, really doesn't.

Brooke said...

As usual, I'm amazed by the two of you. It's so beautiful.. and so simple, yet so not. :)

Anjali said...

It's so amazing it doesn't even look real.

Congrats on your new beautiful dwelling!

Z said...

My word. That is so interesting and impressive.

Cold Spaghetti said...

OMG, our collective household geek factor is OFF THE SCALE about this post!!!!

Is cooking done all outside, then, in a covered area? Is there a separate pila structure for washing via rain water (or pull from river?) or do you bring things down to river? (I know you mentioned the washer process currently in use, but how is water then piped?) Are there special places in roof or wall structure for hammocks? SO CURIOUS.

Did you weave the leaves for the roof while they were still green? And install them on the roof to dry, or dry in bundles before installation? (This is the process in the Amazon.) How long does the roof last before it must be replaced?

We're fascinated!!

Oh, and J? TOTALLY AND INCREDIBLY AND COMPLETELY WONDERFUL!!

Magpie said...

That is awfully cool. I can't really tell how big it is - like, what's the diameter? What's the floor made of?

deezee said...

Remarkable and beautiful! More photos, please. Such a delight to see this journey.

meno said...

That was so amert of you all to build a smaller structure first. Very cute.

Amy Y said...

It's perfect! Go J!! :)

Ms. H said...

A guest house?

Like for a teacher from Texas?

:)

painted maypole said...

amazing. what a beautiful thing you are creating... your HOME... both structurally and in your hearts

Kyla said...

That is AWESOME. Wow.

Wayfarer Scientista said...

It's beautiful. And cozy.

carrie said...

It's beautiful.

A beautiful structure and an amazing story...I never tire of reading your posts.

hele said...

WOW! WOW! WOW! I can't wait to show this to florian.

Janet said...

Just catching up on your life, gorgeous. Cool, cool stuff. Except for the ants (except when you went all bat-shit crazy on them).

xo
J.