17 March, 2008

Construction Continues

Yesterday, Dianna and I took advantage of a "Half-Price Sale" - Abel was doing a two-fer, that is two hours for $25BZ or half price. It'd been several months since Dianna and I had visited Abel for one of his Mystical Mayan Experiences. Man, was it worth it! What a rejuvenating thing it is indeed. We were wiped for the evening. I asked Deema (Sort of Abel's manager or booking agent) to pencil me in for next month.

Construction Continues - or is this simply remodeling? I'm not sure. It sure feels the same. Some of the players are the same. I guess, the old saying, "if it looks like a duck and talks like a duck..." holds true here as elsewhere.

One change, Canadian Bob, as part of his on-going construction enterprise, has a new cement mixer, called locally a "machine". It's brand new - only been used on a driveway and part of a pour at the house across the canal. So we got to use an almost virgin machine. Bob even sprayed it with diesel fuel to keep the mix from sticking to it. That made the cleanup very easy.

One of Isidoro's brothers was the machine operator or "driver" as they call it. In fact, Isidor drove his pickup over towing the machine, so they haven't gotten too far afield.
The Machine Mixed 25 Bags For Us Today
Part of the construction process, necessitated having the gates open for most of the day. Since Cindy really has no traffic awareness yet, we had to chain her up for her own safety. The best place, out of the way and with adequate shade, is under the big truck. She spent the day supervising the mix crew, making sure they did it right and that she got her share of chicken bones as pay, when the workers were done with their lunch of stew chicken, rice and beans.
Cindy Busy Supervising The Work
I'm not really sure if her name is spelled C-i-n-d-y, or C-i-n-t-y. But, I digress.

As usual, the workers seem to gravitate to those tasks they know how to handle. The driver takes care of the machine, and is in charge of the overall process of the mix. He also adds the right amount of water. For a one bag mix, it's roughly 10 gallons of water, plus a smidgen if needed.

There's a guy who fills the gravel buckets - six 5-gal. buckets-full per bag, and a sandman - four 5 gal. buckets-full.

There's the guy who opens and pours the raw cement, generally half a bag at a time (since the bags weigh 80 pounds each).

Then, there's three wheelbarrow men, each running from the machine to the pour site with a wheelbarrow load of mix.
The Mix in Progress
It's not easy being on the wheel barrow. You have to maneuver around all sorts of obstacles with a very heavy and unstable load, then you have to be able to dump it where it's required, and not dump the barrow - which is what it wants to do all the time.
Dumping the Load
Nor is it easy being the trowel man, the one who actually makes sure the barrow gets dumped where it's supposed to. You're in direct line of fire of all the splatters, and you get to clean up all the boo-boos the barrow operators leave behind.
Controlling the pour
And, you have to make sure that as much as possible of the mix is actually put where it needs to be put. That includes scraping the remains out of each barrow, each time it dumps.
Getting Every Last Drop
I suspect licking the mixer spoons and getting every last bit out of the frosting bowl when you were a kid is somehow good training for this job.

Then, after the pour and after lunch (so the pour has time to begin to set, and to give the workers a break), it's time to begin setting the first course of blocks. These blocks are not part of the walls, they're part of the floor. They define the boundaries of the floor. Marl will be added inside the block area and tamped down. Then four inches of concrete will be poured on top of that to make the floors.
Setting the First Course of Blocks
We're even having a little room made just for the generator. It'll have its own door and vent blocks too.
Setting the Generator Room Blocks
Ok. Well, I guess that about does it for this installment. Time for a Belikin.


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