Another posting after 3 weeks

Well it has been a while since my last update!!!! I think part of the reason is that the internet connection I have is so slow, it makes dial-up look like an F1 racing driver.

Things have been progressing. Not at the speed I would have liked but then this is Africa and it is Botswana. Sometimes I wish I had Zimbabwe workers but I must live with what I have and I think things have gone remarkably well considering that I am using totally unskilled labor most of whom their previous way to make a living was fishing from the lagoon. It can be frustrating sometimes but I think we are moving along.

Gosh I have just been reading my last posting …………………………….. Heck was I optimistic or what??? I still haven’t got around to getting my Botswana Drivers licence. The walls to the 1st cottage have not gone up and the plastering of the storeroom has taken longer than I thought.  But the roof and the doors are on the storeroom which means we can lock tools, pumps and other stuff up at night instead of hauling it all back to the tents.

Lets start with the stuff that seemed to go relatively well. The security fence is up around the house site and the guy did a pretty good job. With the storeroom and a fence now, it doesn’t prevent theft, it just makes it a little harder!!!!

We found a number of inactive termite mounds and the women (2) got started on that. It seems like things happen when I am around and not running into town for different things. I thought they were going to be done in a short period of time because they seemed to be moving along quite well Then we ran into a serious slowdown for some reason. My original plasterer had cut her hand and was off and she sent her young 20 year old daughter to help my other woman. Well a young girl was not really ready to get her hands full of cow manure, termite clay and the rest……………………….. so she used to chat on her mobile phone to the boyfriend/s or whatever. I was very happy to see her mother when she returned.

Staff toilets have also been plastered now and the 1st plastering of the storeroom is complete – filling all the crevasses between the bags.

As far as the 1st cottage is concerned  – I think I was being over optimistic with them filling 50kgs bags. They are too heavy and the work was slow. We then moved 40 cubic metres of soil by hand to fill the inside of the foundation walls. THAT WAS SLOW, TEDIOUS and VERY TIME CONSUMING. Once it was filled we packed it down with a compactor. The workers had fun running that machine. We then installed the door frame for a sliding glass door that we finally found that we like – it has to be ordered from South Africa and we need 2-3 weeks lead time. So we have 2 great gumpoles cemented into the ground 1 metre deep. Now it was time for the damp course to go on and the expanded metal mesh (reinforcing rebar for the bathroom and bedroom)

The damp course has been an issue that has been up for discussion with so many people. Do we need it??? Because if the water ever gets up to creating an issue for us, then half of Botswana will probably be underwater. However, as Penny said…………………………….. if you don’t put it in, probably somewhere down the road you will say I wish we had. So the damp course went on!!! We used a bitumen based rubber paint to hold it in place and we tucked it under the top course of sandbags. It worked out very well. Next the rebar was cut to fit and carefully laid on top of the damp course so as not to puncture it. And finally the 1st course of the walls was put on top of the rebar.

Now the next issue…………………………….. if we are going to be building these walls and whatever, we cannot have the workers walking across the rebar as we could have an injury and someone seriously hurt or we could puncture the damp course. Well since the bathroom is going to be tiled that was no big deal – lay a concrete slab over the rebar. But what about the bedroom where we want an earth floor??? The plastering women were called to the rescue and the 1st very rough course of the bedroom has been laid out of termite clay and cow manure. And I know it is a very rough course – not level or finished but I can’t wait to see the whole thing when it is done and sealed. Gosh it looks good – I just love the colors.

In the mean time we had guys out on the cleared land burning roots and stumps. Again it does take a while to do 20 hectares.

A small crew started the foundations for the 2nd cottage. But we made some significant changes to the way we built these foundations. We used 2 layers side by side as we built the foundation and have started the wall base which will hold the damp course. I have to admit, it has gone a lot quicker and with the land clearing people here this week, I will have them use the backhoe to fill the foundation. It will be so much quicker and easier and we can focus on some other things……………………… like getting the walls up on Cottage #1

I am very excited about getting these walls started. Although that does come with some additional hassles – siting of pipes for the toilet, the water inlets, the windows, electrical sockets etc. But man I can’t wait to get this rolling. Sometimes I wonder WHAT ARE YOU DOING???? But that recedes when I get pumped up over this stuff. I want to get the cottage finished and moved out of the tents and living on my land in something I built.

In the mean time we are having fun trying to locate thatch for the roof. The best thatch and thatchers in the region come out of Zimbabwe and we have finally found the thatcher but he is having to work on permits to import the thatch into Botswana. As mentioned earlier, the doors have a lead time of 2-3 weeks and they have to come from South Africa. So as they say …………………………… Nothing in Africa is easy and this isn’t a place for sissies.

A individual here in Maun referred me to a guy doing solar power and installation. And I have been wrestling with all the suppliers as the first requirement is how much power do all your appliances use?? I understand the need to have batteries and all the rest especially if you are doing like we are planning …. Being off grid. Anyway, I called the guy up and I remembered in high school there was a youngster who had 2 very pretty sisters with the same name. Well it turns out that they are his sisters and he has been here for about 5 years.  And he gave me the right answers to my questions. And he is a local guy for any backup maintenance etc. SO maaaaybe he can do the installation. WHAT A SMALL WORLD???

Penny was out for 2 weeks which was wonderful but then she had to go back to Zimbabwe to sort out the exporting of cars, trailers and furniture. All that has to have Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe clearance certificates before you are allowed to ship them. The cars also have to have Interpol clearance to prove they have not been stolen. There was a rash of new cars that were brought into Zimbabwe a couple of years back that had been stolen in Dubai and South Africa. And all this takes time.

The weather has been incredibly cooperative where the day time temperatures have been hovering around 28/29C but the nights have been cool 8 – 10C. This week we are in for a serious cold snap on Tuesday and Wednesday where the high will reach 18C and the low 0C. Not great when you are living in a tent. But by Friday we will be 31C and 14C. So all is not bad.

On another front, I was a bit disappointed with the service of workmanship on an ATV I had bought. Yes we got it for a song but I had asked them to do a whole bunch of work on it and it now sits in pieces outside as I wait for some spare parts. Oh well WHAT CAN I SAY??? We are the new kids on the block and I do have a tendency to give everyone the benefit and opportunity to shaft me a couple of times. Bad habit I have!!!! I also reversed Penny car into one of the trees on the farm and messed up the tailgate a bit……… OK more than a bit but it is supposed to be ready this week.  All you wise asses out there.

And so the battle continues ………………………………………………. In a wonderful place with a wonderful view, building a dream with the most amazing woman and our ever faithful dog Portia aka Porkchop Sometimes life is harsh but most of the time I am having a blast.

Til the next update………………………….. yo’all stay out of trouble!!!

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