A new bao y ducha for Bolivia, y Navidad en La Paz
We stayed two weeks in Villa Independencia, 150km from Cochabamba or 8 hours by bus, building an adobe toilet and shower. Admitedly, we were pretty naive when we started out, we expected there to be tools and materials, and that when someone said they would do something we thought that might happen…
Anyhoo, over two weeks, we cleared the site, made the adobes, poured concrete and constructed a urine-diverting composting toilet and a fully plumbed shower.
There were a number of challenges to be faced, as well as the below average tools and lack of materials. Foremost of these were the lack of drinking water and the risk of being stung in bed by scorpions.
Should those points be square?
Said scorpion. Lei found one in her pants one morning!
A typical day involved getting up at sunrise, which was at 630 or 7, lighting a fire for a brew, working till 6, lighting a fire for dinner, and go to bed at about 8pm as there was no electricity to read or converse by.
It was the rainy season, which meant the river would flood out the town water supply, and as we were at the end of a very dodgy pipe, we didnt have flowing water for more than a week. We were below the town, which meant the river was too dirty to drink, even after boiling and treating it with iodine, as it doubled as the town sewer. So, we relied on water running off the rusty, dirty roof for over a week. And some days it wouldnt rain on demand… Of course, while we were trying to dry our adobes it would rain plenty.
We made about 300 adobe bricks, which is back-breaking work, and basically involves mixing water with mud, adding straw, putting the mixture in a frame and waiting for them to dry. Luckily the next door neighbour came over and showed us how it should be done, as our first attempts were pretty disastrous.
The quechuan expert from next door.
Before and after.
Half way there…
The first courses and a concrete pad for the toilet seat.
We didnt quite complete the finishing touches, such as the render on the walls of the shower, but the toilet is ready to use, if anyone wants to travel 3 days to get there.
We left Cochabamba and headed to La Paz for christmas with our Australian friend Michael, staying in the same apartment building as him. A French-Canadian friend of his had left for a while and was kind enough to let us use here apartment. While we were there some workers were also kind enough to put holes in the ceilings of the bathroom and kitchen, which made a hell of a mess. Hopefully they fix it up before she returns as we dont think she knows anything about it.
La Paz, concrete jungle.
The custom in La Paz over xmas is to have a big dinner with your family the night before, and xmas day itself is not all that important. Interestingly, the apartment building was near a famous market of La Paz, which was open every day of the festive season, very convenient for us to get more food! We went out to a dance party on xmas-eve, and had a grand dinner on xmas day, including trout, meat balls, roast chicken, Leis famous nut loaf, trifle and lots of wine.
Xmas dinner. Que rico!
The market from our window. Around xmas day…
In between xmas and new years, we took a minivan out to Coroico, which is a small town perched on a hill at the bottom of the most dangerous road in the world. Why you would want to crow about that fact is beyond me, but the Bolivians are doing quite well out of it now, with tons of gringos mountain biking down it. Luckily, there is a new road, which we took. We spend three days chilling out by the pool in the sun/rain, walking about the hills to see some waterfalls and generally relaxing.
Walking to the waterfalls with some of the local dogs.
Michael with a fresh juice for $1 and some locals from Coroico.
New years is in the next post! xx
posted Monday January 2009