Friday, July 11, 2008

The Work Begins

The house is even less finished than I imagined. They build with concrete here, not wood, and in its current state the house looks like it has been carved out of dirt. It is house-shaped, but otherwise feels like a cave.

We had three teams again with three different jobs. Denise, Elyse, Tom, and Paulina stood outside in the blazing heat and mixed concrete. They hauled dirt in a tool I have named the "barrow" because it's a wheel-barrow with a second set of handles in place of the wheel. They dumped the dirt into big troughs along with cement powder, added water, and then stirred the trough with shovels and hoes. It's grueling manual labor, and it's hot, since the temperature reached at least 90 degrees, and the troughs are in the sun during the worst heat of the day.

Suze, Jim, and Homa were the wall crew. They drove nails into the rough concrete walls and then tied wire to the nails in a diamond pattern. They were preparing the walls for the layer of smooth plaster that will make the house more home-y and less cave-y. Unfortunately, they had to reuse nails from another project, and so part of the job included trying to hammer out the bends in old nails. It was frustrating work, and Suze looked positively bitter by the end of the day,despite looking OK with life in this photo.

Who knew the hole-digging crew would have the most satisfying job? My team dug holes into the hard-packed dirt floors in one room. We had to dig 40 holes which were to be 30 cm by 30 cm by 30 com, and about 100 cm apart. Lindsey, Dean, and I worked with some silent Kyrgyz family members. In addition to trying to dig through hard, dry baked earth, we also got to watch the progress of lunch outside our window. The mother in the family cooked a giant wok full of "plov" for us over an open fire.

It was a more manual labor filled day than I expected, but we got to watch our progress, first in adding to the number of holes and then in filling them up again with concrete for the footings. And we got to eat plov under grape vines with views of mountains peeking through the leaves. What could be better?

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