Land Development – August 2013 until mid-November 2013

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Around August, we started to work on the Florestral Land, step by step.

First of all, by locating, hauling and stacking left-over teak logs from our neighbouring plantation, who recently cut and processed many of their trees. And this squirl-smart gathering and -saving has continued, on and off, until this very week, 3,5 months later.

Dibenga Ferhan, a dear friend from France-Turkey, helped me a lot in the first weeks, by becoming dirty, covered in mud, sweat, and rain. Together we piled the wood, ventured into our bamboo-grove to saw, by hand, pieces for temporary covers (with tarp), and began attempts to remove bark. Initially with a short, thinner teak branch, rhytmically pounding the logs, then on to a small and later to a proper sledge hammer.

Upon Vismay’s return from Israel, and when our neighbours were fixing some of the damage they inflicted upon the road that runs in between the two properties, he hired and guided their bobcat tractor (with driver), and created two ‘plantels’ (flat areas), where the first two structures were later going to be build.

Pablo and Harold, our main ‘carpentero’s’ have done most of the actual technical, and heaviest, part of the construction. I assisted wherever I could, and whereever it was necessary. For example: digging holes for the posts, digging drainages, placing the posts, mixing, carrying and putting down cement, taking off more bark. They did the entire frameworks and roof installation (tarp and zinc), walls, doors, a unique floor of ‘galletas de teka’ (teak cookies, or slices) in the cabin, sanding and polishing, levelling out the soil, and what not.

After the skeleton of the dining/kitchen area and the first cabin were finished, we moved on to the greenhouse project. Again with teak logs, and our local yellow bamboo, Pablo and Harold erected with 22m by 6m on one side, and 14m by 6m on the other, a decent-sized transparant plastic roof, underneath which a lot of greens, vegetables and herbs will be grown in the (near) future. To even get to his stage, took quite some effort. The tall grass, shrubs and bushes needed to be cut with the machete, then thoroughly raked and and put aside, hundreds of remaining roots had to be pulled, and the tiny weeds shaved off. After all this cleaning and preparation, Jordi, another local worker , and I went on with building raised beds (7 times 1.20m by 14m), for which we had to loosen and plow the semi-compacted soil with a pick and shovels, then crumble the resulting chunks by hand into finer and finer pieces, and put left-over teak planks all around.

At this time, Umberto, our nearest neighbour with a house, a kind of hermit and naturally enlightened farmer, commenced with cutting larger areas, thus revealing the topography of the land, after which we could discuss and determine the most suitable spots and locations for the guest cabins, the temple, the showers, the toilets, and the sweatlodge.

Our biggest challenge and time-consumer so far has been carrying and bringing most of the material, literally on our shoulders, from the entrance of the land, 300-500 meters along to the area of the hosting facilities, up an down some slopes. In this sense, the conditions have not been easy, and rather primitive. Every sack of cement, every log, every plank, every zinc board, equipment, everything, had and has to be taken on the back, and walked to our construction sites.

Hopefully in 4-6 weeks, with the dry season, this situation will change, and we will be able to begin using the road (the latter part of which is in a pretty bed condition, during the period of daily rains).

Starting from scratch takes a lot of energy and perseverance, but it is also very rewarding, and satisfying to take part in, be a part of, and enjoy the beautiful fruits of one’s labour.