Casa de Tortugas - Stories

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We have a sidewalk and stairs!

In preparation for building our home, we decided that we needed to build a sidewalk and stairs from the dock to the top of the hill where the house will be. In a developed area where trucks and equipment can easily move around, this wouldn't be that big of a deal. But we are located about 12 miles from town and everything has to come in by boat. There is no way any heavy equipment could get into the property without doing a lot of damage in the process.

Knowing the challenges, we took the time to work with an amazing crew of Island Property Management. We worked side by side with the crew for a week to get our project completed. It was funny at first because they didn't want to let either of us help. They kept telling us that it is their job to do the hard work. Especially when Tina tried to help. It took some convincing but they eventually realized that we weren't trying to take their jobs from them, we just wanted to help build this piece of our future. There were a couple times when Tina would try to help and the worker would look to the boss for advice. He always said to let her do the work. By the end of day 2, we were accepted as part of the crew. These guys could out work us easily but it felt good to do whatever we could. Now when we walk on the path and on the stairs, we will know that we had a hand in it. That is a very satisfying feeling. We feel very privileged to have worked side by side with these guys.

The process was very interesting. Unlike a project here in the USA where we would draw up all the plans and follow them to the letter, we went out a couple days before the work started and mapped out where we wanted the stairs to go and the basic flow of the path. Ideas were talked over, then sticks and string were placed to mark the overall path.

A small crew came in for a couple days to prepare the basics and move plants, rocks and dig out some rough steps in the hill. These guys followed the basic outline and got things ready.

All of the materials were brought out on a large work boat called a cayuco. This was a large 50 foot boat carved out of a tree trunk. It could haul a lot but it wasn't fast. A personal boat can make the trip from town to our property in about 30 minutes. The cayuco fully loaded took 90 minutes or more. The guys would laugh and have a good time on the trip and we got to learn about their families and they learned about us. Even in the rain, the trip out and back was amazing. The amount of material this big boat could haul is hard to believe. It easily handled thousands of pounds of concrete, aggregate (small rock mixed with the concrete), tools, a generator and even a cement mixer. 

Our crew was able to bring our vision to life. The stairs were rough cut in the hillside but adjustments to height and slope had to be made with each step. Watching the foreman figuring out the curve of the sidewalk to fit into the landscape was amazing. What seemed impossible quickly became the next piece of our puzzle and after many long hours of work we now have what will be the most important piece of our future home.

We feel very fortunate to have been so “hands on” during this build, it was important to us to put a piece of ourselves into it. Remembering all the sweat and tired muscles every time we use the sidewalk or climb the stairs and and being able to say “I poured this concrete” is a memory we will treasure for years to come.

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  Building on Isla Popa is hard work!

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