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posted Jul 20, 2010, 5:46 AM by Julie Bateman   [ updated Jul 20, 2010, 5:49 AM ]

GIEU departed the Lodge today after breakfast for Cuiaba. Tomorrow, they’ll be visiting Chapada, and after one more night in Cuiaba, half the group will continue on to Bolivia and Peru, and the rest return to the States.

On site, it’s pretty quiet with just James and John working on the inner concrete columns, and Joam and me working on the verandah brick columns. We are having a competition to see who can finish first, Joam and I have the advantage as ours require about the tenth of the precision of the architects’ columns.

 The concrete columns demand first that either James or John construct formwork – a long wooden crate placed over the rebar and into which the concrete is poured. And as we have not yet invested in an electric handsaw, James and John have excellent workouts putting the formwork together. The formwork is then placed around the rebar, measured and balanced and plumbed into the correct position, tightened with wire. At this point, we mix concrete in our electric mixer, James climbs up on his A-frame (ladder-like contraption) and then we hand up b

uckets of concrete to him until he calls stop.

The formwork groans and bends a bit under the weight of the concrete, and sometimes becomes “pregnant” with part of formwork arching out under the pressure. Today, one of our corner columns could no longer take the pressure, and gushed out into a puddle of concrete*.

Fortunately, James’ fiancée Mercedes (who is joining us on this Sunday) had found Brazilian construction manuals long, long ago so James and John consulted the documents and now have a brand new method to try. And we are even investing in a small handsaw, called a Makita here regardless of the brand name. We’ve placed our order through Eduardo for more formwork and a Makita through Eduardo, and hope we will have the materials tomorrow.

* Leave some foundation holes empty for times like these. More out of being occupied with other things than out of foresight, we had quite a few foundation holes to toss our spilled concrete into – cleaning up our mess and keeping  materials costs down.