We have solar power! Yesterday, we picked up our deep-cycle battery from a shop in Pocone (the one component that isn’t airlines-friendly) and this morning we set to work connecting our panel, charge controller, battery, and inverter. Other than the panel having some strange connections on its output wires that we had to chop off, all went very smoothly and in no time we were charging a phone, laptop, and jamming to Pantanal country music – without the (loud) hum of the generator that typically provides electricity on site. We have an 85-Watt solar panel, and our battery can store a little over 1600 Watts, so on a good day when we would have about 10 hours of quality sunshine, we can recharge the battery about halfway – in the future we want to hook up two 85-Watt solar panels or alternatively one 200-Watt solar panel to our battery. Over the next few days, Ethan and I will be doing an electricity analysis of the Lodge to figure out if solar power could reasonably replace the diesel generator.
John and Giorie have been hard at work making wood frames for the windows and doors. Our team of carpenters continues to be a no-show, and Joao with his new assistant Jorge (who speaks wonderfully comprehensible Portuguese) are very close to convincing us that even though it is ideal to have three sets of hands for the roof, we should hire them to do the roof. Until the 14th, having a team of two would be no problem as there only needs to be two on the roof, and the third person on the ground (one of us) is just handing up beams. The no-show carpenters estimated that our roof would take about two weeks, so after we leave on the 14th, we would just need to find a third person to help Joao and Jorge finish the roof.
To me, the roof always seemed like the logical last step to construction, but for a few very good reasons it comes before the mortar wall covering (reboco) and the concrete floor. Scaffolding used by carpenters typically pokes holes through the walls, which if they are already covered in reboco requires patchwork repairs if it’s done before the roof. And for the floor, when the roof is being tiled, the clay tiles often (hopefully not too often) slip from the carpenters’ hands and would split and crack a beautiful, new concrete floor. After finishing the half-walls, Joao and Jorge are moving ahead on reboco in non-scaffolding locations such as the wall facing the Transpantaneira, and by tomorrow or the next day we will have a decision on the carpenter situation.