With two flopped materials delivery and a cold front in the Pantanal, it’s been a crazy week and a half for the water tower build team. As Ethan mentioned, our team caught a ride with the materials delivery truck, which ended up taking 8 hours rather than the regular 3 hours to get the site. The next day, our second materials truck – a dump truck loaded with sand and gravel - showed up nearly on time and as were directing it off-road to our site, the wheels started spinning in the mud. We tried everything with the driver to dislodge the truck, but eventually had to dump the gravel and then the sand directly on top with a tarp separating the two – in giant piles about fifteen feet from our site.
With all the materials at last nearby, our team of four hit the ground running. We poured the first bond beam, which already had wood formwork in place, and is mostly there for bracing the structure. While waiting for the bond beam to cure, we set to work on moving dirt around to set up the slabs on grade and built the retaining walls to keep the dirt where we want it for the gravity-fed filtration system.
Next was the slab in the air - a ceiling for the closet -, which will house the batteries for the solar power system and other system components. Next was getting the rebar cages and formwork set up, and pouring the the 6 2-m (6-ft) columns. The next few days was setting up the rebar cages and formwork for the top bond beam, and the day before James Chesnut’s departure, the top bond beams which are 5.2 meters – 17 feet - in the air. Fortunately, we were joined by a pedreiro, Gagu, – a mason with many other skills – for the last concrete pour which was our largest and tallest yet. Gagu’s mantra is “tijolos, massa” which is “bricks, mortar”, which he chants to us all day long; he's powered through building the closet.
With the concrete structure in place, we are now ready to start installing the filtration system and are back in Poconé to buy hose, pipes, pipefittings, and 200-L plastic drums for the sand and gravel filters.