09 August, 2007

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Just as a brief refresher, Here's what our property looked like just a couple of days ago (For a truer image, you have to imagine the marker stakes are not there).
Our Place in the Sun
And now it starts. Here's a couple of shots of Eddy, a local Belizian worker straightening the edges of the pit that was started to house the tank for the septic system.
Eddy Working on the Septic Tank Pit
Incidentally, Eddy is no longer working on the project. Yesterday morning, about a half-hour into the work day, he got into an argument with Canadian Bob, who I've contracted to ramrod the construction of the septic system and our electrical power tower (more on that later). Anyway, Eddy either quit or was fired, I'm not sure which. It was kind of a mutual thing.

Supposed to arrive at 7 AM to get a cracking good start to the day, about 9 AM the bulldozer arrived.
Ed Sosa's dozer getting off the lowboy
Shortly after arriving, we had Ed Sosa, the dozer operator (probably one of three of the best dozer operators in the northern part of Belize), begin leveling a pile of dirt left over from some previous effort.
Rumbling off to Work
Mechanical Ground-breaking
Just about the time Ed was finishing leveling that hill, the first truck arrived and dropped its load. Looking like he just dropped it in the middle of the road, it's actually placed to make it easier for the trucks to leave the road for subsequent deliveries. We're hoping for about 30 or so loads to arrive on-scene.
Our First Load of Fill
A couple of subsequent loads
And They Continue
Now, here's where it might get confusing. There are actually three separate projects going on simultaneously. There's our project to fill and level the site, another for installation of our electrical tower, and a third that is Bob's project across the canal. He's contracted with another property owner to build the foundation and first floor structure for a house the owner wants to build.

The following pictures are from that project. They're mixing cement, gravel, and sand, to make concrete, as usual. But, I'll bet you've never seen it moved this way. These guys are loading up and carrying on their heads, 5-gallon buckets full of concrete, carrying it up a ladder about 9 or 10 feet, then dumping it into the forms for the pillers. Tomorrow, they will pour the floor using the same process.
Mixing the Ingredients
Loading Buckets
Incidentally, the large barrels hold water that is used to make the concrete and clean tools, etc. The local city water pressure that is available won't support the volume that is needed to mix the cement.

You might wonder about the strange hats several of the workers are wearing. No, they're not from some strange religious group that hauls concrete for penance. The workers fashion these hats out of empty cement bags, making a flat, padded top to balance and make carrying the very heavy five-gallon buckets a bit easier.
Loading The Buckets
Carrying Them up a Ladder
Ok, back to our projects. Here's the start of the electrical tower that Bob is building for us. It will hold the incoming electrical (or "current" as they call electricity here) from the transformer on the power pole on the street, the meter, and a master on/off switch (required by law). We've positioned it right on the line between our property and that of Barb and Jeff. We'll share the transformer, and each of us will have a separate meter and switch on the tower.
The Beginnings of the Electrical Tower
You can see one of the concrete property markers in the photos above. That's what they use to mark property boundaries down here in Belize.

As you can see, Bob is a very hands-on kind of contractor. He gives a full-days work and expects the same from his workers (Maybe that's why Eddy is no longer on the project).
Bob Earning His Keep
Cool Truck, Huh?
Below is the result of the first day's effort on the tower. The tower will follow the rebar up about 5 or 6 feet or so.
Electrical Tower End of Day One
We've kept several Flamboyant or Silk Trees for our property. These have some sort of parasitic orchid-looking plant that is part of the tree. I have no idea right now what it is. It does make a nice flower however. About the size of birthday cake candles, they are pretty.
Flamboyant Trees
Flamboyant Trees
While we had the dozer on site, I took the opportunity to hitch a ride on it, having never ridden one before. It's really deceptive looking. From the ground, even close up, the dozer looks like it rides smooth and easy. On board, wow! What a difference. Bone-shaking, jarring and herky-jerky were my impressions of the ride. I was glad to get off.

From the Dozer's POV
as it's Working
Watching the truck dump it's load
Me and Ed Riding the Beast
One of the down-sides to everything is, well, the downside. This is it. Poisonwood. It grows everywhere in the bush. It's leaves are reminiscent of holly, but don't touch it. If you're alergic to it, it can raise huge blisters that itch maddeningly, and can take days or weeks to heal. There is, like a lot of irritating plants, an antidote tree that usually grows close-by to the Poisonwood. If you strip off a bit of the antidote tree bark and rub the underside of the bark on the affected area, it's supposed to lessen the effects. I don't know. I've never actually had to try it - yet.
Poisonwood - Don't Touch
Poisonwood - Don't Touch

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