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posted Jun 22, 2011, 2:13 PM by Julie Bateman   [ updated Jun 24, 2011, 7:19 AM ]

The finishing touches are all falling into place for the school - this week the masons, Klovis and his assistant Marcelo, sealed the floor with burnt cement - a method which contrary to our expectations did not involve any fire. The floor was first covered with an inch thick layer of a mixture of cement, sand, and water, then Klovis threw handfuls of cement mixed with colored "burnt cement" powder on top and then smoothed it out. It dried in about twenty-four hours and now we have a shiny green floor in the library, and shiny blue floors in the class room, health clinic, and lab - it looks worlds better and will be much easier to maintain than a rough concrete floor. We bought three wood doors in Pocone, and imagined installation to not take more than a half a day with the masons, but we were off by a bit as each door required coaxing and persuading to fit just so in the door frame.

The biodigester team has made rapid progress in the past week. The first few days were spent on hoeing the patch of land, and assembling and securing brick supports for 18 meters of  200-mm PVC pipe. From there, the team assembled the connections andfashioned devices for feeding and also retrieving gas from the biodigester. On June 17, we had the much anticipated first cow manure retrieval, and were happy to find that there is an abundance of good material in easy access. The biodigester is now full with  a slushy of water and two wheelbarrows of cow manure. The team is developing a "cow manure index" to rank the cow patties based on its distance to site, quantity, moisture content,and scoopability. 

We've been amazed at the number of variations of rice and beans that can be developed into a meal. The typical breakfast is usually without beans, and consists of rice, a fried (or if we are feeling gourmet, poached) egg, and fried manioc flour called farofa, and a variety of fruits from our stock, the site's and neighbor's trees.  Worcestershire sauce - called "molho ingles" - "english sauce" - is fairly common here, and an excellent condiment combined with ketchup for breakfast.  Beans get started for lunch around 10:30 AM, and the remarkable invention - the pressure cooker - makes it possible to go from dried beans to a meal in under an hour and a half. We just throw in half a head of garlic to every cup of beans. Lunch, the most important meal here, is beans, rice (also cooked with half a head of garlic), a variety of vegetables cooked with farofa, and dried meat (which came from the churrascaria a few weeks ago). Dinner is often reminiscent of lunch - except for when a spark of creativity hits and we make spaghetti, fried rice, or that one time we had cabbage pancakes. Just two days ago, Cassie taught us all how to make bread - the smell coming out of the oven turned us into Pavlov's dogs, and we polished off our jar of strawberry jam in the resulting excitement - needless to say we need to make a trip to town soon to replenish our supplies.