A guide to making eco-stoves for the inexperienced builder

A fuzzy wuzzy photo of my new shower

Its all change at our house this week as they have built a new shower and are now extending the veranda. I was quite concerned when they said they were building a new bathroom. The old bathroom has walls made of black tarpaulin and a door made of a pizza hut advert, and as its outdoors everything is a bit dirty and worse for wear. At first this really put me off it. However over time I’ve come to appreciate its rustic charms. The floor is made of large stones and because the walls are only neck height, you can see all the surrounding tropical forest unfurling around you. This makes me feel like I’m in a herbal essences advert. Continue reading “A guide to making eco-stoves for the inexperienced builder”

Purring Cats and other Nicaraguan Superstitions

Irrelevant photo of a swan made from a recycled tyre

This week we finally started our proper construction work, and we have now built the bases of half the eco stoves and one is totally complete (you have to build them in two stages). Building eco stoves involved laying bricks, digging holes, yielding pick axes, mixing concrete with spades (no cement mixers), spreading concrete up the walls and carrying lots of heavy things around. Regular fans may not be surprised to hear that I’ve never done any of these things before. Based on previous experience of any time I’ve ever had to do anything remotely related to physical labour, I was expecting to be a total liability on the construction site. However it turns out that mixing cement is 90% positive attitude, so this is now my favourite job. Nevertheless, my body ACHES from the physical exertion, right from my toes to my temples. Predictably, the Nica volunteers (who don’t have arms, they just have HUGE GUNS) barely break a sweat. They don’t need gyms in rural Nicaragua. Basically from birth the kids are carrying water, hacking firewood, riding horses (bareback), or doing stuff like washing clothes, grinding coffee and making tortillas by hand. Add this to a recent history of extensive civil war and you get a country full of people who are physically and mentally STRONG. Continue reading “Purring Cats and other Nicaraguan Superstitions”