Measure Twice, Lay Blocks Once

The last few mornings have been cool which has resulted in a very heavy fog (they call it “dew”) blanketing the area. On these mornings it’s been around 65°…t’s been averaging in the low-70°s in the morning and mid-80°s in the afternoon.  Being only 7° north of the Equator, a full sun day makes me toasted pretty quickly.

Yesterday Lavela told me we needed to buy “planks” (aka “lumber”). The purchasing and hauling of lumber from the bush has more meaning to me now. When we start stacking the 2x4s and 2x6s by the warehouse, it means the cement block walls are getting higher and they’ll soon have a team constructing trusses again. We drove to a new supplier today that’s about 1/2 hour closer with a drive that’s much less bumpy…which keeps both the truck’s and my bolts from loosening. This guy, Matthew, saws down huge trees right behind his village then cuts them into 2x10s using just a chainsaw. IMG_4385To access the lumber, we had to drive in between both mud homes and concrete tombstones (more like semi-buried mausoleums) scattered around between homes.

Back at the work site, I had provided CAD drawings to Sam showing the building plans and on them I marked door sizes the way I normally would in the States using the finished door size (i.e., 32″wide). The block layers started off setting blocks at the 32″ width, however when the door frames are built here they use full-size 2x6s which makes the final door opening only 28″.  I guess drawings aren’t completely clear unless you know the accepted conventions.  Fortunately I caught this after only 3 courses of block so we don’t need to modify much. I brought an angle grinder with concrete-cutting blades from the States which will make quick work of the block trimming.

I spent time literally “bushwhacking” today in order to find a good location for the water well that will supply the school campus. I found the high spot behind where the future third classroom building will be constructed and measured about 300 feet from the current building as best I could through the sea of cassava using my trusty Boy Scout compass to help document the orientation relative to the new foundation and a nearby palm tree I was using as a reference point. Looks like it will work from a space perspective, not sure what the well driller will say. The plan is to construct a 20-foot tall welded steel water tower with a 1,500 gallon black poly tank to supply the school and guesthouse with 24/7 water with just enough pressure to not make it annoying when the shower is turned on (how’s that for technical specifications).


Today’s surprises fit in the “God is good all the time” good news category.  The blockmaking machine is finally out of the port and at the LCL compound.  I head back to Monrovia tomorrow to pick it up.  Additionally, I contacted Water Missions regarding the shattered solar panel glass and asked if they had another that I could purchase…instead, they are giving us a 350W replacement panel for free.  In the Rossman world, “free” is “nirvana”.  I pick that up on Saturday along with a few more supplies from Eagle Electric.  I meet John 2 around 6:00am tomorrow morning the head south once again.  I’m not looking forward to the bumpy ride back and forth to Monrovia but I can’t wait to see this blockmaking machine in process.

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