These days when someone drives by our property, it's not uncommon to hear them cheering, shouting, raising their arms, clapping, or expressing their admiration in any other way. We just sit back, wave at them, and smile. Yes, it is true: in spite of all those obstacles life threw at us, we have presevered, and finally it has paid off: we now have a reciprocal roof on top of our Earthship-inspired round building. (Applause please!)
The Magic of the Thirteenth Week
Looking back, it almost seems like only yesterday that we got back to a nearly abandoned project. In another sense, it also feels like we had been working on this thing for an eternity. So a sober look at the calendar reveals some really interesting things: End of January - starting the build. This is when all the essential structures (bathroom, kitchen) were done, and the actual work could commence. This is also when I had finished my fast, and was ready jump into work. End of February - Minka This was the time our building permit arrived, and we celebrated it with a big ceremony. End of March - Starting the Concrete Okay, granted the big concreting event of the bond-beam happened on Easter Saturday (April 11), it was exactly one month after the Minka that we pounded our last tire. End of April - Finished the Roof.
The Really Big Day of Putting on the Roof
So just like on the model, we first had to set up one beam. Since it would be the last beam to support this one, we couldn't just hold it up in the air until we were ready with the last one. So what we needed was a structure sturdy enough to carry the weight of this beam... and the second one on top of it, the third one on top of the second, etc, all the way till the thirteenth one! Oh yeah, and then we needed to make a scaffolding that was tall enough for lifting the tips of the logs into their perfect places.
Dogs and Cats Doing Their Jobs
This structure is called perro, or dog in the local Spanish. Once all the logs were in place, the first one had to be lowered on top of the last one. For this we used the jack from the bus, called gato, or cat. So we'd have a dog carrying a cat, carrying thirteen roof beams. If this doesn't sound like Terry Pratchet, I don't know what would.
Curiosity Drives Helping Hands
Fortunately we had ample help with this project as well. Just like for the concrete pour, which the local Mexicans were so good at, this day of moving the roof beams into place, seemed to have created enough of a buzz among the expat community in Mazunte. These folks are less excited by concrete works, but if there is a reciprocal roof project going on, you can bet they'll be there.
And best of all, they come to help, bringing ropes, tools, trucks, pulleys, winches, whatever may come in handy in moving heavy things. Truly awesome! Our core group of six was extended by a friend who'd come to help once before, a former volunteer, and his current host who was so psyched about our build, he had to come... and in the end helped us immensely!
Really Not That Hard
What is hard work, really? Performing exhausting activities for an extended time, in the dust, sun, and other uncomfortable conditions? Certainly. Stressing over how to complete the job efficiently, while maintaining everyone safe, and all within the confines of our limits? Yes, true too. But by the time these last two days rolled around, we had moved from the former to the latter, and all without much trouble. So it really felt like we were almost there... and perfection was just one reach away.
With all this in mind, we took an easy and relaxed approach, moving a little bit each time, making sure that each viga was placed where it should go. This way we only had to strain ourselves only for a minute or so each time, with lots of opportunity to think, discuss, and consider everything.
Great Forces at Work
Of course we could not forget that perfection was the absolute minimum on our parts that was required for all of us to walk away as healthy as we came. Letting a log start slipping could bring the whole bunch of them down.
And that's not to mention the bond-beam... We fixed the lower end of each log between two rebars sticking out of the concrete structure, by drilling a hole through each log, and sticking a piece of rebar through it. This extra support could easily end up detrimental for the bond-beam, should the logs come tumbling down... which they fortunately didn't.
The Finishing Touch
The excitement didn't stop even after the last log was set in place. After all, the dog and the cat were still carrying all thirteen logs in a circle that yet had to close. Lowering the jack nice and easy was our original plan, which was simply not careful enough, as we decided over lunch. So another dog was constructed, this one a bit lower than the other. Then we went back and forth: lower the jack to the level of the smaller dog, move it forward, raise it again, then move the small dog forward, rinse and repeat. This way the first log came down very slowly and gradually onto the last one.
So now, we have a roof on! What a dream!!! But we are still far from being finished. The rope we tied around the top circle needs to be replaced by proper bolts going through the beams. Also, the concrete walls need a layer of protective concrete plaster, the berm wants to be evened out a bit, and planted with something that will protect it from getting washed away. So yeah, we're far from being done. However, considering our top goal for this season, we've made it. True enough, only a month past our innitial deadline, but in the end it doesn't matter. We're celebrating our success!
Follow our Construction Adventure in This Series:
Moving Logs Around in Practice
Talking About Logs
Visual Concrete Pour by @redhawkrising
Pouring the Bond Beam
The Circle is Complete, We're Pouring Tomorrow
Starting The Long Finish
Concrete Plans and Concrete Actions
Earthship Build in the Time of Hive and Coronavirus
Machines Taking Over Work: The Day Everything Changed
Zome Building Workshop in Mazunte
The Ceremony of a Minka
Hay Pase, Got the Permit!
The Diverse Cars at Itínera
Waiting for the Man
An Impression of Hyperadobe in La Boquilla
Bending Rebar Like a Mexican
Working at Night for the Perfect Level
The Challenge of Scoring Tires
Creating Conditions to Work and Live
Previous series: A Theater on the Beach