21 September, 2007

Construction is Moving Along

The past few days have been hectic. Acting as my own contractor makes for a busy, busy day, even with small projects.

For instance, just finishing the septic drain field entailed hiring two men to move wheelbarrow loads of fill to the top of the mound, covering it to a depth of six inches. Part of the project involved cleaning up some of the area around the mound near the tank. We had several huge rocks that needed moving.

Our plan originally was to have the guys roll the rocks out of the way. Back-breaking labor at best. They came up with the most workable solution - the Taiwanese Ambassador's place down the road from ours has some yellow gear (front-end loader, bulldozer, etc) there. I went down and talked to Leeno the foreman to see if I could borrow/hire the front-end loader long enough to move the rocks. He was amenable to the idea. So, about an hour or so later, here chugs up the front-end loader.
The Completed Septic Drain Field
Short work was made of the rocks, to my worker's relief. Not only that, but he also placed four loads of fill up on the mound, speeding up the project immeasurably.

For about 20 minutes work, the fee I paid to Leeno was $20BZ. Very reasonable. It probably went into his pocket alone, but that's between him and his men. We got our work done and were able to move on.

Now the only thing remaining on that project is to parge the exterior walls of the tank, so it looks nice and finished. That'll be happening near the completion of the well house project, when it's walls are also parged.

I finally got the "Economic Assessment" from Belize Electric, Ltd., the fee for installation of a transformer at our property. It came to a total of $6196.35BZ or $3098.18US. Besides the oddity, to us, of having to pay it at all, most folks around here seemed to think it was a reasonable amount. Now, having paid that, we should have it actually installed sometime this next week and get our "current" hooked up so we can run power tools and the well pump, etc. Yippeeeee! Finally!

The project that is currently underway is the construction of the well house and trash house. It's coming along fine. We would have had the block work all done yesterday if we hadn't run out of concrete blocks.
Mixing Mortar On Ferry Road - Literally
It was my fault. I ordered 180 8" concrete blocks and I didn't check the invoice - the girl had written 1oo on it, so that was how many were delivered. Yesterday morning, I went to the block factory to order the other 80, only to find they were closed due to a death in the family (indicated by a black ribbon and bow hung from the front door of the office as is the local custom).
Well House Rising
What to do? I went back and told my workers no blocks today. They said what about Belmont? I'd never heard of them, so they explained to me how to find them. I had no idea there was more than one block factory in Corozal. Turns out there's three or four in the area. Amazing what you find out.
Another View of the Well/Trash House
I headed off up the Santa Elena Road (the highway to the Mexican border) to find Belmont Block Factory. It's tucked away back from the road. Of course, they don't have a sign on the road itself (it may have been destroyed in the hurricane). And of course, there's no rush to replace that sign if that was the case. Anyway, I found them and ordered the additional 80 blocks.

I missed the morning delivery since that all went to the Free Zone for construction going on there as a result of a massive three-day fire they had up there that had fire departments from as far away as Belize City respond. It's coming on the afternoon shipment.

I went back and spread the good news. The afternoon progressed. About 3PM, there were no more bricks to be laid. The guys poured some concrete down the holes where the rebar had been pre-positioned and waited for more blocks. About 4PM, I told them, I don't think it's coming and to go home and get ready for the independence day celebrations to come on Friday - a national holiday.
Speedily Running Out of Blocks
After locking up the wheelbarrows, shovels, rake, and level, securing the unused cement under cover from possible rainfall, I headed home.

After taking a shower and putting on clean shorts and t-shirt, and relaxing with a cold Belikin, I was getting into the swing of relaxing for the evening. All of a sudden, Dianna said there was someone at the foot of the driveway, which is the usual way visitors show up. That is, they seldom come closer, because of watch dogs, and Tanya's a big dog, even if she is a bit of a wuss.

I trotted down to the gate to see what he wanted. Turns out it was one of Isidoro's neighbors relaying a message for me (Isidoro is actually the contractor for the block laying. The two workers I had work for him.). He had a phone number for me to call. Something about the truck delivering the block had gone to our property, but no one was there, so he was heading back and ran out of fuel (in this case, butane).

I don't have a clue how Isidoro's neighbor got involved in this, but I'm glad he did. I called the number, explained things as I understood them to be to whoever answered. They said "Oh Shit! We'll get fuel to him." and hung up.

I explained to Dianna what I thought was going on, grabbed a grilled cheese sandwich (Dianna had been making our favorite meal - tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches) and headed down toward the property.

Sure enough, about 200 yards from our property was the block truck dead in the road. I put on my flashers and parked right in front of it. I got out, talked to the driver and told him I had called and what they had said. He seemed happy with that.

About 20 minutes later, here comes a dump truck from the block factory. I thought that was an odd truck for refueling butane. Turns out, the two guys in the dump truck brought a small 2-gallon gas bottle for him to refill his truck to get it back to the factory. I thought they would help him unload the blocks and get things done in a hurry. Hah! They dropped off the bottle and headed back for the barn. They weren't going to be late for any independence day celebrations.

After he got the truck running, he backed up down the road to our place to unload the 80 blocks. I grabbed my gloves, and we made short work of unloading. I'll admit, the last 6 or 7 blocks were weighted down with lead, at least. The driver was very appreciative of my help, and as soon as we shook hands, headed off to drop off the truck and begin his holiday celebrations.

I headed back to have another grilled cheese (cold) and a hot cup of tomato soup. Thus begins my own independence day celebrations. Happy 26th year of independence, Belize!

1 comment:

Jay said...

Happy Independance Day!
I noticed two current/meter boxes on your monolith. Is that one for each house? Does the price you paid for hookup include both boxes?

Great pictures and fantastic blog... I applaud your dedication.
I'm like an addict in need of a fix when a day or two is missed.

Tell Dianna I said "hey"...
Take care!