You would think after being here for so long we would run out of things to write about, but this past week has been quite different from the others and included a few obstacles along the way. First off it was the first full week that Steve and I are here on our own; trying to move the schedule along and wrap things up has been exhausting to say the least. It seems as if the to do list doesn't get any shorter.
Construction this week focused on the first real step towards building the roof structure. We managed to assemble the sill plate and all the rafters for the main roof before we hit a problem. In order for the sill plate to rest on the concrete ring beam it has to be fastened together with rebar; so holes had to be made through a stack of three 2"x6" which make up the plate. If you remember from our previous blogs, tools in this place are hand to come by. So when we were able to borrow a drill from Kwame (the local welder) we were anticipating a quick job. A few holes in and the drill bit got stuck in the hardwood. The workers kept pushing it to the point that it started smoking and the motor burned out. And that's why we can't have nice things. Needless to say the rest of that day slowed down and was spent trying to repair the drill and manually make the holes. It was frustrating to spend an extra day making holes than we had originally planned for, but we managed to get the primary pieces of the sill plate up onto the walls.
Obstacle one handled...and unto the next one.
As work continued, we also needed to find a carpenter to start work on the roof for this week (as in yesterday, Monday). Give me a second and I'll let you know how that turned out. We had a couple of conversations with two different carpenters to get an idea on pricing, scheduling, design and labor before we decided to choose one. Apparently contract negotiation with multiple parties is something that is seen as a negative here. As in whoever you speak to first is the person you work with. Umm what?! It continued back and forth for a few days before we finally chose a team to work with and found some parameters we could agree on. So yesterday morning (Monday) when I went to meet the workers at the site at 6am, and to my surprise (but not really) no one was there, I was pretty mad. Even worse no one showed up until 7:30! After a slow and bad start to the work week, we just have to keep moving forward. Obstacle two...done.
Since the talk for the roof took longer than expected and we didn't want to fall behind on the schedule, we decided to jump into pouring the floor slab. We went ahead with telling our workers to pour the first 2" of the slab so we could have a starting point to later pour the remaining 2" and smooth out the final coat. It seemed that the work we were doing sparked the interest of a mason working on touch ups for another project. In which he proceeded to tell our workers something in Twi (the local language) that caused our guys to start doubting the work and questioning things. Seriously, mind your own business. This old man stirring up trouble on our site when he should be working on his. Ahh! Last obstacle...let's hope.
The last week wasn't easy, but Steve and I took care of business and we can see progress on the classroom, which feels really good.
Even though we don't have a date when we are headed home, we both can feel the end as being so close and yet so far. This definitely leads to some overall annoyances. For example, the animals seem to have gotten louder and more obnoxious than before. Which makes for some entertainment as Steve plays "which goat is gonna die" with the rocks he finds. The only other volunteer still here, Damien, has been counting down the days until he leaves on December 1st. Imagine my lack of enthusiasm as his countdown gets shorter - we get it!
Otherwise we have been filling the quiet with long conversations about literally everything, music, movies, and the children. This past weekend Steve went to Kumasi in search of a good bed, better food, and of course wifi. I hung around the village, went to the market on Sunday and ended the weekend by watching a soccer game between Abetenim and another local village. The weekend always goes by too fast, even out here.
While you're reading this today, let's assume (and hope for our own sake) that everyone got their shit together and we are working furiously under the hot Ghana sun again, because I would sure like to make it home in time for Christmas.
Word of the Week
Mabre - I'm tired