Monday, December 12, 2011

Adobe dreaming / Construcción de casas de barro

I love how sometimes life has a way to tell you you're on the right track. I re-connected with a former colleague I hadn't seen nor talked to in years and guess what she said: "Pueden venir y ya de paso conocen mi casita en construcción. Te cuento que estamos al mango construyendo una casa de barro con nuestras propias manos". Yeap. They happened to be building their own adobe house. How perfect is that?
The structure already in place: wood, stone, mud on the walls, grass and a traditional quincho on the roof

Not only that, Daniel, her husband, was involved in many of the projects, programs, and issues I had been looking into, including heritage seeds exchange programs, native fruit trees, and intentional communities. Just perfect.

Daniel wondering how to protect potatoes from a pest
That weekend we went to their neck of the woods and learned everything about the process of building their adobe house up to that point, plus future plans. The story of how they went about deciding on the shape was quite charming. Inspired by an empty turtle shell Daniel found by chance, the house also replicates the shape of the earth. The twelve posts holding the structure align with the sun and the solstices. The bathroom walls are a showcase of different techniques acquired over several years of lending a hand to other building projects.

The stories were peppered with anecdotes on how looking for a compass in the Tristán Narvaja market to orient the house led to a chance encounter with the person who was organizing a workshop on adobe building and an invitation to join. And if there was any doubt they were doing things the right way, an hornero, the ultimate adobe master, built its nest on a beam right under the quincho. What better seal of approval could you ask for?

After sharing a meal around the oven-to-be, we toured the pond, the compost pile, and the organic veggie patch already teeming with plants: potato, corn, squash, tomato, lettuce.  Daydreaming of other projects included a cow for milk, cheeses and yogurt. The chacra auto-sustentable might not have been quite there yet, but was definitely on its way.

Work in progress recorded for posterity
A lot to catch up meant there wasn't enough time for the hands-on building we went for, but we signed up for the next group building session. Looking forward to some messy collaboration sometime soon.

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