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! Dale's cob house, in the Philippines  RSS feed

 
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I am pretty sure that I will be in the Philippines, within the next 2 months. I'm interested in a woman there. My plan is to visit her in the city where she lives, but also to go to a quite remote village where her mother lives in a bamboo house that is near the end of its useful life.

I would like to replace it with a cob house.

I found out about the condition of the house, when she told me her uncle was going to cut down some of her mother's coconut trees, so that he could repair the old house. But this would be just a temporary fix. And it turns out that those coconuts are one of the main items that the woman eats and sells. It wouldn't be a thinning thing. The only reason for taking the trees down was to avoid the cost of purchasing wood. So, I have got her to put a stop to that plan. They were also considering selling her cow, as a means of buying enough materials to build a new house. The cow is pregnant. This would also be a bad idea because she milks the cow and normally sells one calf every year or two. So, they were looking at divesting an old woman of many of her assets in order to afford home repair or replacement. The uncle is also a poor man who can't afford to supply his sister in law with these things. His brother died 17 years ago.
.......
I am very interested in seeing how this family operates, and how well I can get along with my girlfriend, in a working situation. This would be totally different than just going to restaurants and visiting in the city.

Luckily, she has very good English and we were able to discuss every available resource in the village. They have rocks that would be useful for the foundation, they have sand and they have clay. Those are the basic building blocks for a cob house. Unfortunately they don't grow any rice in this place. It's on Higher Ground that produces bananas and sweet potatoes and corn and many other warm weather crops, but they purchase rice, so there would be no rice straw available. There are taller grasses that grow in rocky areas and on steep slopes. People farm the flatter land.

All of these materials may be gathered for free, so the only issue is labor. Labor is available between $3 and $4 American per day, depending on the person's skills. A couple of her relatives are skilled Carpenters, so I would have them build the roof and interior things like a table and bed. Just about everything is made from either round or split bamboo.

So, it's quite possible that I could have a 10-man crew working and that would cost me between $35  and $40 per day. That's the going rate, so I don't consider it exploitation, especially since this woman is related to everyone who would be hired.

 For about $7 a day, a man can show up with his water buffalo. All of the ingredients for cob could be laid out on the ground and the Buffalo could walk over it continuously to mix it together. These are a swamp Buffalo that don't seem to get bogged down, even if they are up to their shoulders in muck.

I'd like to produce a small fish pond, so we might excavate most materials from that area. After the top soil is cleared away to the side, we would lay out sand and straw and then let the buffalo do a good job of incorporating it into the clay. Then the men would gather it into baskets and bring it to me, for placement in the walls. This might involve working the top 3 or 4 inches of the pond site with each mixing session. Water would be added as needed, and probably someone would need to work with a shovel or mattock to ensure proper mixing and water distribution. This would be a pretty normal thing for this animal to do, considering that they work up rice paddies with their feet.

If the mix is not quite right, I would have the men finish it right in front of the building site, so that I can keep an eye on quality.

 We may start with a bamboo frame that is braced Every Which Way, so that the wall would have some earthquake protection. I would also lay out many thin strips of bamboo, within the cob, so that the whole house becomes one monolithic block of cob and rebar.

Roofs in that area are thatched, because of price and the difficulty of getting sheet metal to the location. Our trip there would involve a boat, a bus, a motorcycle and then it's either by foot or by horse. About a 40-minute walk from where the motorcycle drops you off. Remote. We will pack many little things that we might need. I will bring some metal tie wire, and a few simple hand tools like wire cutters and pliers. These will be left behind in the village when we leave.

The main risk to houses in this area, are that they could be blown down by a typhoon or crushed by falling trees and other debris. Even a brand new bamboo house is highly vulnerable. A falling palm tree might destroy the roof of the new house, but the thick cob walls would prevent total collapse in such an event.

Plaster
I'm not sure if there is anything available that could be used to plaster the walls. They don't build anything from masonry, so they've only seen that concept when they go to the city. I suppose a bag of lime could be taken there, but that won't happen on the first visit. I'm hoping that large roof overhang will be sufficient. The woman is 5 ft tall, so I may set ceiling height at about 6 feet, so that she can reach up to hang things from it.

We are going to go fairly small, with this house and it may eventually become a guest house or it may be used for animals. I'm thinking about 10 feet square or thereabouts. It's warm all year so many operations happen outside. The hottest month averages 83 Fahrenheit and the coldest month is a very nippy 80 degrees Fahrenheit :-)

 If all goes well, and I do get married, I will eventually buy a compressed earth block machine, and build a substantial house that has all of the amenities. This little village of about 15 houses, doesn't contain one light bulb. The machine will be available for all relatives to build themselves very inexpensive and safe houses.

 But for now, the small cob house will be a big step up from where she is now.

If we don't get married for some reason, then I will have spent a small amount of money providing a lady with a house that will outlive her.
.......
So I'm sure there's a few things that are still unknown. Do any of you know what sort of plastering material might be available in such a location. there is no limestone, so no opportunity to make plaster from that. It could be that some type of oil, could make the cob less absorbent when water is splashed on the walls. Bamboo walls are usually made from split strips attached to rounds. I suppose four of those could be made and laid against the building on an angle, so that any side splashing would hit the bamboo wall instead of the cob. These might blow away in a typhoon, but they are very inexpensive and would prevent splashing during regular rain events.

Ground water is not an issue at this location. There's a river quite a distance away but it never floods this high. So, a stone foundation rising somewhere between 6 inch and 1 foot from the soil, should be sufficient.

If some type of small pebble is available, we might lay out a thick bed of pebbles all along the drip line, so that splashing is greatly reduced. This would be drained to daylight on the lowest side of the house.
..............
It took dozens of messages and several phone calls, for me to get the basic information about her mother's house. Her mother is very embarrassed about her living situation and wanted to travel to the city to meet me there. And the woman I'm interested in, was reluctant to send me the photographs of the dilapidated structure, for the same reason. I told her that it's important for us to see how well we can live and work together, when it isn't all sunshine and roses, visiting nice restaurants and parks in the city. So, we will make this journey with her siblings, who all work in the city, and we will see how we get along during this project. She is very pleasant and she has been a hard worker, since she was very young, so I don't think we will have any problem. But it was this idea of it being a relationship test, that sold her on the idea of building the house. There's an embarrassment factor and also an aversion to accepting gifts. But I convinced her that since we are getting serious, that this is a good thing for us to do and we will actually spend less money than if we spent the week traveling and going out. I first brought the subject up 2 weeks ago, and it's only in the last 2 days, that she has finally agreed that we should travel there, instead of having her mother make the long journey to the city.
............
Look at these pictures. My girlfriend grew up with no money, her father made about a dollar a day and he died when she was 1 year old. Her mother earned less. She told me that when she was quite young, if her and the other kids wanted to do something, they would grab a horse and ride to the top of those ridges, or they would ride along the river, gathering wild fruit. Not a bad way to be poor, when you compare it to what happens in the cities.
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pollinator
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I like this alot. A home made from earth sounds wonderful. Are you thinking:
Bale-Cob
CEB-with a "cob plaster"
Earthbag with a "cob plaster'

I have heard of nine story tall cob houses in Yemen.
I hope you are able to share pictures of the build, I think it will be alot of fun.
And probably cheaper than going to a all inclusive resort by the beach.
 
Dale Hodgins
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None of what you suggested could work in this location as you will see if you go back and read a little more carefully. Really remote, using materials on site, traveling by boat, bus, motorcycle and foot. Definitely not going to haul any materials in.

I suppose it might be cheaper than an all-inclusive resort, but again not a comparable experience. Building a house for someone else, not for me.

If it appears that there's some reasonable way to get tourists to this location, I would consider building something substantial for myself. Large food forest with shade-grown coffee understory. But I would have to be reasonably convinced that I would be able to find a way to attract visitors.
 
S Bengi
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Earthen Plaster is doable, what do you think
Building a house for her mom is a way better bonding experience for you and her, vs just the beach + restaurant.
I was thinking that you could prepay some people to plant alot of straw now and then by the time you get there it could be harvested and used for bale cob. but your current plan of just regular cob sound good with less prep work. I am excited and looking forward to some picture of the build.




 
Dale Hodgins
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I'd like this to happen as little as 6 weeks from now. There's certainly no time for any crop to grow and be harvested. There's no way to even communicate with anyone at the Village site, to ask them to do any of this. There is no means of baling such material, other than by hand I suppose. The hills are covered with a suitable product that is there to be harvested. So, it's almost certain that reinforcement will be with this grass and with small branches of bamboo.

The soil is suitable and the drainage is there. The only issue I can see right now, is that there doesn't seem to be any plastering material available, that's any better than an earthen plaster. I would prefer lime or some other more durable product. They have lots of wood and bamboo ash, so I wonder if any of those things are useful. So the walls may be left bare, to see how they do through an annual cycle.

Bamboo mats a couple feet wide and the length of the building, could be set on an angle against the building and held there with rocks, to work as a splash guard.

It may be the roof is finished after I leave. I would leave explicit instructions to give it an 18 inch overhang, but that doesn't mean that that's what would happen after I am not there to watch. A 6-foot wall with an 18 inch overhang and a stone base, should be pretty much immune to water damage, unless that water comes at it horizontally, which it does during certain conditions.

I will see if there's any sort of plant with natural water repellent properties. Some sort of cactus maybee.
 
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Are there cows or water buffalo in the area? If so you could try a dung plaster for the walls. You'd want to bring along a piece of screening for sifting the dung and clay that you make the plaster out of. I've heard of some people adding flour to the homemade plaster my but I don't have a recipe. Bet you could search cow dung plaster on google and come up with some recipes.
 
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Hi Dale.  Awesome project, and best of luck getting it going.

So, I've done a bit of cobbish work in the past.  I don't have any ideas about a natural finish for you.  One thing got into my head in regards to bamboo and cob.  You were talking about using bamboo for structural rebar, and I think that that is a pretty sound plan.  I would think, however, that it might be a lot faster and perhaps stronger to get the carpenters to build a strong bamboo post and beam structure, and then make a wattle of woven bamboo in between the posts.  The entire thing could be tied together with split bamboo, wire, or baling twine to make the wattle a single unit around the entire circumference.  Then instead of solid cob walls with bamboo rebar, daub the entire wattle with cob on both sides, until you get a smooth finish.  This would be VERY strong, and much more durable, in my thinking. A couple layers of wattle with cob in between and on the outer surfaces would be another option  Even if some of it washed off in a horizontal blowing rain typhoon, it could be easily replaced.
 
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It's a lot of fun planning when resources are so cheaply available, but I would like to caution you to get to know more about what houses are like in that place first. Your fiancé's mother and siblings have a lifetime of experience of living in that climate and different kinds of houses, with their own ideas about what's good, what's useful, what's attractive, what's outlandish even if possibly useful, what's unacceptable, etc etc. I feel icky here in remote mountains of India when a foreigner comes breezing (or barging) in thinking he's got the great idea to solve all our problems, and he thinks the only reason we haven't done it before is because we don't have intelligent ideas like he does.

But if she's on board with a cob house, and if that seems good and doable, earthen plaster is a possibility, with two caveats.

1) Earthen walls in a rainy climate with earth plaster need very large roof overhang to protect from rain, like 2 to 3 feet. Generally it works in cultures where people know how and accept that they have to maintain it every couple of years. The higher you can make that stone base the better, because splashing is an issue despite an overhang. The overhang space can also become useful space. The low roof idea helps keep driving rain out.

2) Cob and earthen plaster are always made from the materials closest to the site, and the best way is to go about it slowly and deliberately. Make some sample bricks and plaster swatches of different mixes of the materials available, let them dry, then test them out by kicking, rubbing, throwing a fast splash of water, dribbling water for a longer time, etc. I don't know if you have enough time to do that before building.

Best of luck!
 
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Dale.

I think I love you.

I love how you think.
I love your moral compass.

I'm gonna suggest taking a locally sourced billboard tarp, or the equivalent.
It won't be light, but I think it could be worthwhile,as a layer of roof, a splash guard or a fish pond liner.
Given the labor rates,hiring  a porter  shouldn't be out of the question.

I wonder if there are local potters?
If so, clay tiles might help protect the adobe walls.

I'm in agreement with our friend about checking with the locals, but I bet you are already aware of this.

Maybe bring some seeds or tubers they don't have.
Sunchokes come to mind.

Building a house for a woman's mother is about as primal a proof of an able and williness to provide as there could be.

It's just damned sexy.
 
William Bronson
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Roberto pokachinni wrote:Hi Dale.  Awesome project, and best of luck getting it going.

So, I've done a bit of cobbish work in the past.  I don't have any ideas about a natural finish for you.  One thing got into my head in regards to bamboo and cob.  You were talking about using bamboo for structural rebar, and I think that that is a pretty sound plan.  I would think, however, that it might be a lot faster and perhaps stronger to get the carpenters to build a strong bamboo post and beam structure, and then make a wattle of woven bamboo in between the posts.  The entire thing could be tied together with split bamboo, wire, or baling twine to make the wattle a single unit around the entire circumference.  Then instead of solid cob walls with bamboo rebar, daub the entire wattle with cob on both sides, until you get a smooth finish.  This would be VERY strong, and much more durable, in my thinking. A couple layers of wattle with cob in between and on the outer surfaces would be another option  Even if some of it washed off in a horizontal blowing rain typhoon, it could be easily replaced.




I agree. Cob is very strong but it may be difficult to achieve drying in the tropical climate where the humidity is high - it may go mouldy. Also, without very good ventilation it would be hot. Wattle & Daub is perhaps a better solution, though there's always a compromise by making it a composite of both. Either way, a roofline that throws the water well away from the walls is a must.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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Good points F Agricola

 drying in the tropical climate where the humidity is high - it may go mouldy.

 I was wondering about that, but... there are lots of mud huts in the tropics, I think.  Maybe not...  ...Maybe I'm thinking the savannah which is a lot drier.  

I think with 80 degree average temp, you are going to get a solid product, but I don't know about mold because of humidity.  Something to consider.

Also, without very good ventilation it would be hot.  

You might have to ensure that there is a lot of airflow.  Windows on windward and leeward side that allow wind to pass through the interior space.  Gaps on the tops of the walls to release heat and moist air... et cetera.  All screened to keep out insects.  If there is a lot of flammable brush around a person could build a fire in the center of a mud/clay house and basically fire the clay.  Of course, you would have to have a good coating on all bamboo or wood to ensure that it did not catch fire if you were to do that.  
 
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Wish I knew which book it was in...

I was reading some Mollison on tropical housing and he stressed how air currents could be set up using plants on the shaded side to create a cooler micro-climate. An unglazed pot can further add to cooling this spot. Air is passively pulled through the structure to an opposite high point where heated air is expelled.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Thank you everyone. It's past midnight so I skim through everything but I will read everything carefully tomorrow morning.

To Rebecca's points, yes I did consider briefly many different styles of building. The big worry that she has for her mother is that something big would come slamming on the house and go straight through, because of the way typhoons turn everything into a projectile. I used Google images and showed many different types of houses before we settled on cob. And we haven't totally settled on it, we also considered wattle and daub and watched a video of people in Thailand doing just that. There are some very loud insects, I don't know if they are cicadas, but something that wasn't present in the city where she lived for many years and she finds there noise in the morning, extremely annoying. She hates living in the Bamboo House and has told her children this. She used to live in something that was more of a Spanish block style. I'm not trying to suit the taste of the neighbors, just the lady who will live in this little box.

But I am the Foreigner who breezes in and does what I want, to some degree. I've done that in my own country. I walked into Nanaimo British Columbia 25 years ago and decided that buildings should be recycled in an  entirely different way than they were being done and within one year, everyone who wasn't doing it my way was out of business.

So one of the criteria I have for hiring people for this project is that they must to do exactly as I say. Her uncle is allowed to have as many opinions as he wants about how to build the roof, the floor platform, the gable end louvers and anything else built of wood or bamboo. But I won't be entertaining the whims of every laborer that is hired for their muscle power. There's a language barrier and in order for it not to turn into the Tower of Babel, I intend to lay out how it is to be done, and then to do it.

The woman in question is an in-law, whose husband died but she stayed in that Village, due to the lack of options. She hasn't been treated particularly well, and the in-laws were nickel-and-diming her on minor repairs. But she has no money, so they were getting the money out of her offspring. I doubt if this would be happening if she were a blood relative. So now she will have the strongest and best built house in this little village.

This project is also a test. It's a test to see how much I can get built with a certain amount of money, doing a building that is of a suitable style for me and my girlfriend to live in, during Canada's winter months. I have no interest in living in a Bamboo Shack, so I'm not building one. I'm building something that is to my own taste and that is strong and durable enough for me to consider it a suitable building. It's also a test of her relatives. If I find that they are willing to provide a decent day's work for what will be double the rural wage rate, then I may inject up to $200,000 into this Village that could be replaced for $20,000. I'm looking for somewhere to build something touristy. But if I find that there are any weird family dynamics going on, that would make this difficult, I will stop at one little cob house. If, suddenly the price of everything triples, then I know that this is the wrong spot.

We won't be mentioning any of this, to the people involved. Only the two of us know that the mother's house is just a test run. And if it doesn't work out, we will still build a far superior house for the mother within the next couple of years, so that she can accommodate all of the relatives who show up at Christmas and Easter.

There are some unique cultural hurdles to be jumped. The Philippines is full of bar girls who will ask you to send them money constantly. So, women who don't fit into that category are very reluctant to allow money to be sent, even if you say it's because I need you to buy this or that that we will need soon. And then there's a tendency to not speak up. On several occasions I've said that I want you to really think about this plan or that plan and let me know what you think. And I got a message back saying that she is in complete and full agreement. That's great I guess, just not something I've heard from women on this continent, ever. :-)
 
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Dale - is the village near the sea, or can you get a truckload of shells? There's your lime for plaster. It needs to be calcined at 400 degrees and then pulverised and slaked (you can skip the pulverisation step as the addition of water will make it break down pretty well).
 
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I know of two earthen plasters that are water resistant:
1: A few coatings with linseed oil. The problem will be getting the oil to the location. I guess 50 litres will be needed?
2: Fermented cob. Fermentable material is added (dung, grass cuttings, …) and the mixture is left for a day in the sun (covered with plastic to preserve water and create anaerobic conditions). It should smell afterwards. It will harden within hours once it is applied to the wall.
Both should resist heavy rain without problem.

EDIT: my numbers where off. For grass the upper limit is given by the ability to mix.

From Building with Earth by Gernot Minke (p. 41 f.) [found on archive.org]:

Animal products


Animal products like blood, urine, manure, casein and animal glue have been used through the centuries to stabilise loam. In former times, oxblood was commonly used as a binding and stabilising agent. In Germany, the surfaces of rammed earth floors were treated with oxblood, rendering them abrasion- and wipe-resistant. In many countries, whey and urine are the most commonly used stabilisers for loam surfaces. If manure is used, it should be allowed to stand for one to four days in order to allow fermentation; the stabilisation effect is then considerably enhanced due to the ion exchange between the clay minerals and the manure. In India, traditional loam plaster (gobar plaster) has a high content of cow dung, which has been allowed to stand in a moist state for at least half a day. This technique is still in use. Investigations carried out at the BRL showed that a loam plaster sample subjected to the jet test (referred to in chapter 2, p. 28) eroded after four minutes, whereas a sample with 3.5% by weight of cow dung began showing signs of erosion only after four hours.



Mineral and animal products

In former times, it was quite common to enhance stabilisation against water by adding lime and manure, or lime and whey. One traditional recipe, for instance, specifies 1 part lime powder mixed with 1 part sandy loam, which is soaked for 24 hours in horse urine, after which it can be used for plastering. Obviously, lime reacts chemically with certain ingredients of the urine, since one the appearance of some fine crystals is observable. The casein in urine and the manure react with lime to form calcium buminate (which is not water-soluble). The cellulose in the urine and manure enhances the binding force, as the cellulose fibres act as reinforcement. The ammoniac compounds act as a disinfectant against microorganisms. Two other recipes successfully tested at the BRL are: (a) one part hydraulic lime, four parts wet cow dung, three days old, and eight parts sandy loam, and (b) four parts hydrated lime, one part fat-free white cheese, and ten parts sandy loam.



Plant products

Plant juices containing oily and latex and derived from plants such as sisal, agave, bananas and Euphorbia herea, usually in combination with lime, are used as a stabilising coating with success in many countries. Investigations at the BRL showed that a high degree of weather protection could be obtained for loam surfaces using doubleboiled linseed oil. It must be mentioned, however, that vapour diffusion is heavily reduced in these cases (see chapter 2, p. 29). Several reports show that cooked starch and molasses can also be used to enhance stability. This effect is more pronounced if a little lime is also added.


 
Dale Hodgins
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William Bronson wrote:Dale.

I think I love you.

I love how you think.
I love your moral compass.

I'm gonna suggest taking a locally sourced billboard tarp, or the equivalent.
It won't be light, but I think it could be worthwhile,as a layer of roof, a splash guard or a fish pond liner.
Given the labor rates,hiring  a porter  shouldn't be out of the question.

I wonder if there are local potters?
If so, clay tiles might help protect the adobe walls.

I'm in agreement with our friend about checking with the locals, but I bet you are already aware of this.

Maybe bring some seeds or tubers they don't have.
Sunchokes come to mind.

Building a house for a woman's mother is about as primal a proof of an able and williness to provide as there could be.

It's just damned sexy.

   Thank you William. We are part of a mutual admiration Club. New housing for her mother is necessary, but it was also decided on for a number of other reasons. She has many friends and acquaintances who have gone on these foreign dating sites. Most have had big promises made and then the guy never showed up, usually they just delete their account or they just leave it. I don't know if they start another account and start talking to other women or what, but it is really really common. And, after that probably the most common thing is for married guys to establish some sort of relationship so that they can have a vacation girlfriend. Sometimes it is ongoing and sometimes it is just for that vacation. So, all of her friends and family have cautioned her to not get her hopes up, because I'm probably one of those people. The only one of her friends who has met her online contact, is a young woman who is attached to a man in his late 70s. She's really hooked on the guy for some reason, but he can't afford to do anything about that. So the yak on the phone for hours, and he sends her a little bit of money. She's holding out hope that the situation will change, but I don't see it.

So, this is the family's and the friend groups exposure to foreign men. But my girlfriend knows a few couples online and she has met one couple that she worked for, where the results were very positive. So, she knows it can work. Still, she had lingering doubts about whether I would stick with her. Even after she became convinced that I am serious about going there, she feared that I would continue looking through the website where we met, where hundreds of pretty girls join every day. She's attractive and smart, but experience has taught her that men are horrible rogues. She met many other fellows online, during several months of searching before I came along. She has told me that not one of them even inquired as to the health and well-being of her mother and siblings. And they didn't really delve into her own work situation or ask her much about herself. She took this to mean that they were just looking for a fling, which is something she doesn't provide. She sent me some of the messages and I think she was right.

So, the plan to put her mother in good housing, has made the entire thing seem more real to her. Her friends still say that she will never see me get off that plane, that I'm just having fun on the internet. I had always planned to help bring the family up, no matter who I found, but in her case the need is dire, so I hatched the plan to do it as part of our getting to know one another. I'm sure it will be a much better test for our relationship, than if I were to take her to a few dozen more restaurants or out to a few parks and other things that people who are dating engage in. Certainly, I will be the Conquering Hero, once her mother is in any sort of acceptable housing, but that's how it is with me, wherever I go. A few years ago I helped one of my customers build a cabin, and I told him that I am going to be your boss until this project is complete and then you're going to be happy that we did it that way. 7 years later, we are still friends and he still enjoys telling people what a benevolent tyrant I was, during the construction of his cabin.

I think I'm almost bound to ruffle some feathers in her home Village. Her mother is lowest on the totem pole. She's going to have the best house. Maybe this little house won't be the best house, but certainly what we will build in a year or two, will be without question. If I do choose to invest in this place, the home that I build for myself and my girlfriend will be worth more than all of the others combined. But that's not something that we need to rub in their face. Instead I will make every resource that I have, available to her relatives. They will be able to borrow a CEB machine, cordless electric tools and a wide array of other things that they couldn't afford to buy for themselves.

But all of this is contingent on the place being right, and the price of everything staying the way it is. If suddenly land, labor or materials becomes three times more expensive, I will shop for those things elsewhere. I had this problem in Kenya. People would see me and suddenly the product they were selling had a white tax attached to it. I rolled down the car window to buy a basset of guava from a little girl. Everyone knows these baskets of fruit are 100 Shillings. Her face lit up, and she walked up to the window and boldly said, 300 Shillings. I paid 100. Other children had their own baskets. I yelled, does anybody have baskets that are 100 shillings, and she quickly passed the fruit through the window, even before I paid her. I think it's quite likely that some of my girlfriend's relatives may think they've met a cash cow. But they will have met one of the cheapest, slave-drivingest, cash cows on record.

I've been told that this village has no leader. And I hope that's true. But it may be that someone will think that it's their job to poke into every aspect of my business with her mother. If there is a de facto leader and I do decide to invest there, that person will need to be on side or be replaced. I would feel no different about the situation if it were someone I met in Canada, so it's not totally a function of my economic power vs theirs. But I will always exploit any advantage that I have. I've told her stuff like that and she doesn't seem to mind it.

But my plans for Conquest are a little premature. First, I need to build a small house, meet everybody and see if I'm interested in taking over the financial future of this place.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I added a little blurb to the beginning of this thread, because I had forgotten to put pictures.

Here it is .....Look at these pictures. My girlfriend grew up with no money.  Her father made about a dollar a day and he died when she was 1 year old. Her mother earned less. She told me that when she was quite young, if her and the other kids wanted to do something, they would grab a horse and ride to the top of those ridges, or they would ride along the river, gathering wild fruit. Not a bad way to be poor, when you compare it to what happens in the cities.
..................
I'm sure that many people with some money, could imagine themselves living on a tropical island, surrounded by their food forest, and occasionally taking their horse to the top of the ridges or along the river to gather wild fruit, or maybe going on a a longer excursion, down to the lagoon, at the ocean. I'm hoping to create a business based on exactly that concept, and also to include quite a bit of shade grown organic coffee. Hopefully it can work down there, near the river, but if not there are a thousand other Islands and a million other places. The more I think about it, the more I realize I am done with Canadian winters. It's like a switch has flipped in my brain. I'm done. It doesn't matter if it's a personal relationship, or a job or what, once you decide you are done, it can be very liberating.
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I'm also concerned about the moisture, but also be sure to check how the stormwater goes in the area. It would be nicer if it didn't pool on the area where the house is builded. In these places bamboo or concrete often make most sense, so in lack of better knowledge I'd say go for wattle and daub as a test because it will be easier to to fix when necessary. At the very least make sure the roof has a large overhang.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Su Ba wrote:Are there cows or water buffalo in the area? If so you could try a dung plaster for the walls. You'd want to bring along a piece of screening for sifting the dung and clay that you make the plaster out of. I've heard of some people adding flour to the homemade plaster my but I don't have a recipe. Bet you could search cow dung plaster on google and come up with some recipes.



Yes, they have cattle, carabao and horses, that all make suitable manure. The carabao is a relatively small, swamp water buffalo descended from those in China. They are available for about $800 which is well beyond what most can afford. If I get a large parcel of land, I want one, because they produce milk that is far richer than what is produced by cattle. It would probably be on loan to relatives most of the time. My only requirement would be that all of the milk be turned into butter and cheese, that we would eat and serve to visitors. I've eaten organic water buffalo yogurt and butter, and I find them to be superior.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Phil Stevens wrote:Dale - is the village near the sea, or can you get a truckload of shells? There's your lime for plaster. It needs to be calcined at 400 degrees and then pulverised and slaked (you can skip the pulverisation step as the addition of water will make it break down pretty well).

it is not far from the ocean as the crow flies, but it is quite far as the human or horse walks. I could get a bag of lime to a much closer spot where the bus drops people off. Then a relative would load it on a horse, for the trip to the Village. If I'm able to produce shade-grown coffee, these animals will haul it to market or at least to the road.

So, a lime finish is quite likely in the future. But I will leave this place, before the cob dries and I will leave someone who I judge to be responsible, with a bit of money and instructions to continue filling the cracks as they appear. Then, nothing will happen to the cob until we return, possibly next Christmas. Her brother and sisters will go there for Easter and sometimes when one of them has time off from work, they go there at other times. I will have a big bucket of mix, sitting there, ready to use, with instructions for how to incorporate any fibrous organic material. It can't just be left wet with manure or grass in it, because those things would disintegrate.


Then, when we return, we will probably arrive with some sort of finishing material.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I checked it out , and the noisy insects are cicadas .  There are several different species competing for the airwaves. So although  we want lots of ventilation , all openings will have shutters , to prevent strong winds from disturbing things and to help reflect most cicada noise away from the interior.

Her mother has already divested herself of some important assets, in order to have repairs to the house and other services provided. So, I may need to buy her a goat or some chickens or ducks. I'm not quite sure, and my girlfriend is reluctant to tell me about anything that might cost me money. So we will look at what other people have and we will question her as to what she would like to have. It all has to be done through her daughter since she speaks no English. At this point, only myself, my girlfriend and her sister, know about this plan. I told her it was a mistake to tell her sister, mainly because I don't want to cause a flurry of inflation back at the village.

Her mother won't know about this plan until probably day 2 of our visit. We will rest up, and I will take a tour of the place, surveying all available resources, and only then will a final plan emerge. My girlfriend will visit many of the close by relatives explaining the offer of employment and the non-negotiable wage rate. Hopefully, all will go well with that. She was able to think of about 20 people who could use the work, and I would want half that at most, on any given day.

Even her uncle, who we plan to have do most of the woodworking, has no idea of this yet. But he hires himself out all the time for this sort of work, as does one of her cousins.

We won't be tearing down the old house. The floor has given way in a few spots, so I will have a split bamboo mat constructed, so that no one falls through the floor. We will all sleep there during this project, which may take between 7 and 12 days. Once the new house is occupied, the old house will be used to store garden tools and for the animals. Once it gets looking really bad in a few years, we will compost it. Only the metal roofing will be salvaged.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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So my experience with cob was with plastering over straw bales in Arizona and in B.C, or over adobe in Arizona... So I do not have much structural experience with cob.  From my understanding (and I might be very wrong with this) you can only put up so much cob in a day before allowing it to dry, otherwise, the weight of the upper layers will destabilize the foundational layers.  So if you are rushing to get this done, then you might have serious structural issues, if that is the case.  Even with rebar of bamboo, this might be the case.  Wattle and daub would decrease that danger of the wall collapsing exponentially.

On other subjects, are you familiar with all the crops being grown in the lower valley?  looks like a palm plantation in the first photo.   Have you ideas of what kind of shade producing fruiting trees you are going to make your food forest to shade your coffee?  I would definitely go to a market and check out the price of certain fruits and such in this region so that you can gauge what you might want to grow.   Are you, as a foreigner, allowed to own land? --or will you be purchasing land through your girlfriend?  

There is definitely the posibility that you could completely change the economic situation, not only for this tiny hamlet but for the local micro-region.  With that comes a great deal of responsibility.  I'm sure you are up to the task, but it might be a lot bigger, socially, than you are expecting.

I'm super excited for you, Dale.  What a great endeavor.        
 
Dale Hodgins
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Last night, I was sent this image with the thatched roof. She told me that her and her sisters, and her mother are good at making that kind of roof. They use coconut leaves.

Then we talked about the roofing on the old house and it is sheet metal. It turns out that many of the houses have sheet metal. When we initially talked about building the house, she said that she would thatch the roof, so I was under the impression that this was how most people were doing it. It's only good for one or two years.

So, I asked why she didn't just tell me that metal roofs are the way to go. Because they are very expensive, was her reply. I did the math and I may have to spend half a days pay to use metal, so we are definitely going in that direction. So now I realize that I have to question her a second and third time about anything that costs money, because she will always choose the lowest cost option, even if it makes no sense. When I talked about having labor, she thought it was too expensive, $7 a day for a man with is water buffalo, too expensive, just about nothing for a bamboo pole, too expensive. So, last night I sent a message saying that I no longer want to hear if something is too expensive. If I ask the price of something, please just give me that information, because I can't plan things without that simple information. I squeezed it out of her last night, that we could avoid a 20 hour ferry ride, by paying $30 extra per person to fly to that Island and then take the bus to a spot that is an hour's walk. Too expensive :-) she has never taken the plane, because that is 1 weeks income.

So I gave her a rundown of what I expect to spend on my trip, and how much I might spend on an immigration lawyer and various other things. Then I converted it to Philippine pesos. I said, look at that number and then don't tell me that little things are too expensive. She has agreed, but I'm sure it will come up again. I don't want to walk 5 miles in the heat only to discover that we could have taken a motorbike for $2,  but that was too expensive. :-)

I can't stand bitches that want to waste my money. I can see that I will have no trouble at all, with this wonderful woman. She has been very cautious with money, all of her life. I sent her some pictures of some nice rammed-earth houses and Compressed Earth Block house, and asked her to pick the one she likes best. She chose one that I would consider a nice guest house or a playhouse for children. Then I sent a picture of what I had in mind and she thought it would be too expensive. :-) I would expect to spend about $20,000 building that structure.
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Definitely not too expensive
 
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Wow, lots of info in this awesome thread. Dale, sounds like an awesome project awaits you. Towards the top of the thread was an earthbag suggestion. I think this would fit the location better than cob especially since you mentioned the lack of suitable fiber. You wouldn't really need to worry about clay and sand consistency as much either which is good, but in my experience earthbag is more labor intensive than cob. On the plus side, I think earthbag might hold better against the weather situation--typhoons.

for weatherproof plaster I think fermenting some clay plaster with manure would work best. It is free and can be followed up with oil if it can be found.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I'm not sure if there's any sort of oil locally available.

I don't like Earth bags for a number of reasons. The plastic, the barbed wire and just the whole process doesn't seem very artistic or as malleable as cob. And remember this is a test run. If I move to this place for any length of time, I will arrive with a CEB machine.

Houses made from Earth blocks can look very similar to those built with cob, especially since I'm not a fan of the swirly whirly hippie cob. I like straight lines that accommodate windows, doors and standard types of roof. So, visually they are very similar and the material they're made with his very similar. And I really want it to be a test of that.

If this were a pebble strewn desert, then I might rake it up and put it in Earth bags. But more likely, I'd hop on the next plane and find somewhere where you can grow a decent mango or banana without irrigation.

And I want it to be something that any one of her relatives can copy, without having to spend money. Earth bags and barbed wire cost money.

With a small amount of window area, an earthbag Dome would really cut out the cicada noise.
 
S Bengi
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Dale I am seeing this thru 3 different type of lens

1) The cheapest = thatched roof, mud hut lean to supported by two trees, just for cob experience
2) Medium = something livable for more than 2 years but not the best
3) The Best = CEB + ferrocement plaster, metal or ferrocement roof, cistren, biochar septic system, etc, etc.

I think that you are looking at something at the medium level and GF is looking at the cheapest because you said that you will build THE BEST in 18 months, and also she is protecting herself by unconsciously setting her expectations low so that if you fail her, she is less damaged or if things don't work out she feels less guilty that she "robbed" you.


 
Dale Hodgins
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Living splash guard

There are several plants that I can think of, that tend to form a solid wall with one leaf lapping over the other, much like shingles.

Ivy grows this way, but it has no particular use. There's a type of edible tropical Morning Glory that can be grown on a trellis and it provides a solid mat of edible vegetation. There are probably many candidates for things that could be grown 6 inches or a foot from the foundation. They would shade the wall and capture most splashes.

Only the bottom two feet or so, requires a splash guard. I wonder if something like pole beans could be grown on a trellis that leans out from about 18 in from the house wall at the top to maybe three feet out at the bottom. Water dripping from the roof would splash just beyond the root zone. Someone small, like this lady could walk between the house wall and the trellis, to harvest beans or other fruit that would all hang into that space. I've done this when growing beans and it makes them much easier to spot. I've seen it done here, on a south facing stucco wall. So, we would get food, shading of the walls and a splash guard. I suspect that something like this would take right off and cover almost all of the cob, if not kept in check. But that wouldn't hurt anything. Adult children could Harvest everything that grows beyond reach. A separate row of beans or whatever, could be grown right against the wall, but that might be overkill.
.............
Heat...
We went over the idea of the house becoming too hot last night. She said everybody builds their house under coconuts and other trees, so houses in the village are never hot like they are in the city. She has lived in some sweltering city apartments. The elevation provides some nighttime relief from heat, but she doesn't know how high the village is. Gable end venting or completely open gables help to dissipate heat, produced on metal surfaces.
I've allowed enough room in the design of the suspended bamboo floor, so that we can try evaporative cooling , with trays of water suspended in that area. But it may prove completely unnecessary. She tells me that every village house, is much more comfortable than apartments in the city.

Bugs....
None of the bamboo houses are good at preventing insects from coming into the house. A house with cob walls, could have screen over the vents.

We discussed the idea of Vermin trying to live in the house, particularly under the floor. There's a type of rat snake, but apparently they don't hurt people and they are afraid of cats and dogs, which she has. They don't have anything like a possum or skunk that would attempt to move in.

House geckos are almost certain to move in. They are small reptiles that are insectivores, so they are welcome. They occupy human dwellings ranging from small huts to the tallest buildings in Hong Kong.

It's unlikely that bats would move into a place where a cat lives.

Mosquitoes and moths can be a problem, but apparently not as bad a problem as in coastal cities.

And then there are cicadas. If one gets into the house, you are going to know about it, since they are the world's loudest insect. But mostly it's just the noise they make early in the morning or whenever people try to communicate outside. Screens should help. It wasn't until I mentioned that sounded deadening properties of cob, that she told me her mother is driven nuts by these creatures.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Her family has always struggled financially, so she's always had to go with the cheapest of everything. Even when I question her about what restaurants we should go to, she said we should just buy Street Food, because it's much cheaper than a sit-down restaurant. I'm sure that's the case, but we will do both.

She wasn't raised to have a lot of expectations and her online experience had only reinforced this idea that she shouldn't want very much. I told her that I am naturally greedy and that part of that, is that I would want everything for her. It will take some adjustment. It's like she doesn't feel that she's worthy of having everything a person needs, and no luxuries.

Before floating the idea of starting any sort of tourist place, I asked if she would like to have a horse. A decent horse goes for $500. She had assumed that this was something she could never have. I told her that we might need several of them. Of everything I've talked about, this was the one that seemed the most out of reach to her, because that would require land and leisure time. When we first talked about the idea, she assumed that she would be the cook. But, after discussing various things that would need to be to done, teaching yoga, zumba and pilates, and taking people on trail rides, sounded like much more fun. So, everywhere we go, we will keep an eye out for opportunities toward that end.

I'm going to have to be very careful about being a victim of crime. Several people have told me they had bad experiences with street gangs in this country.
 
S Bengi
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Water
Rain catchment,
Baths no shower, due to listeria and 80F well/cistren water.
Boiling during stroms

Sewer
Outhose
Open floor septic tank, no drainage field
Greywater to the banana/plantain area
Chamber pots

Energy
Propane/Gas Tank
Battery+Charger
Methane Digester

HVAC
No AC or Heating
No centralized anything
The ground was always at the earth temperature and so the floor was always cold to lay on.
The kitchen heat is kept contained by a curtain, no open floor plan design, plus outdoor kitchen.

Laundry
Lots of hand washing at home or the stream or if you can afford it hire a washer lady.
Sun dried

Cooking
Having a outdoor kitchen helps
Outdoor Baking
Solar dehydrator(sheet metal on the ground/table)
The indoor kitchen was not an open design curtains were drawn to keep the heat in the kitchen and windows open

Critters
Ticks
Poisonous centipedes (a bit worse than a bee sting)
Critters living in the dropped ceiling
Roaming cats, dogs, goats, chickens

Animals
Eggs/Chicken half wild but they came home every night
Bee Hive, mostly feral but a few on location
Fish, mostly from the river but a few fish ponds
Sheep/Goats, they escape into peoples yard and eat stuff, everyone has one like a dog

Cows, very little problems, there are even wild herds
Pigs, way more common than goats, quite a few folks had pig pens

Plants
Nobody ate mushroom,
Most grains were imported
Lots of tubers, fruits and greens+herbs
No dwarf cultivars, in fact very few named cultivars
 
Dale Hodgins
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That is quite a list. We have only discussed the house and a little bit about the yard and garden. It seems to be something that she has well under control. She produces everything she eats and she sells some. She could produce more had she not gotten rid of some things in order to pay for home repair. We will probably always send her a little bit of money oh, but realistically she doesn't need money.

Most cooking is done on a fairly crude looking bamboo burner. I will probably create some sort of rocket stove. There's been some deforestation, in the name of producing charcoal. I think we will eventually build a biogas plant. When she lived in the city, she cooked with gas and will have no trouble adjusting to that convenience. There's no Refrigeration and they seem to get along fine without it. Most animals that are slaughtered, are small things like chickens and ducks. Everything is cooked and used quickly or shared. Most of her animal protein is eggs, which arrive in their own package. When I was in Kenya, we ate eggs that had sat in the cupboard for a month. Apparently the trick is to not wash them. I didn't find one rotten egg. Well, there was that guy who tried to steal my wallet ....:-)

So right now the plan is to get a roof over her head and maybe to improve cooking efficiency. I don't know what sort of toilet compost heat or anything else she has. All I know is that it has been working for years.
..............
I was already talking with my girlfriend about definitely coming there and the possibility of getting married, before I mentioned one thing about helping her mother. That's because I knew that this would be an emotional issue for her and I didn't want to seal the deal based on something like that. She had already erased all of her other contacts, before any of this came up.

The house thing has proved to be a very emotional issue. She's cried a bucket of tears over it. Making this plan with her has erased all of her doubts, concerning my intentions. Her mother's housing was a source of fear, embarrassment and worry.

Now she's worried that some of her family may think that she's doing it to get her mother a new house. She wants me to set the record straight with them, when we meet. So I'm just going to tell them that she was overcome by my sharp wit and good looks, and we'll leave it at that :-)
 
S Bengi
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That list is from my very own life.
 
Dale Hodgins
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We were just talking half an hour ago. Her mother doesn't know that I exist and she doesn't know that her daughter was looking for someone. So that's going to be a big surprise when she shows up with the only Foreigner that has ever visited their Village.

Her mother also has no idea that the whole family might be coming. There was talk of one of them coming in November. And of course she has no idea that her house is about to be replaced. Nobody in the village has a cell phone, so there is only sporadic contact when someone goes to the hardware store or to some other distant place that has a phone.

Our plan is to make introductions and then have something to eat before it gets dark on the first day. Then, we will wake up in the morning and I will survey all of the available resources I've been told about and together with her siblings, we will discuss potential home sites. Then, we will go back to the house for something to eat and we will talk to her mother. She will talk to her mother, because the woman speaks no English. She will explain to her mother, that her boyfriend has come here to build her a new house and that I have the money to pay all of the workers and to buy everything, so that she won't owe anyone anything when this is done. Then we will show her some pictures and explain the benefits of a home with solid walls. She has lived in very solid buildings in the city, where she cooked with gas, so I don't think that will be a difficult sell.

There seems to be a cultural aversion to receiving gifts from people you don't know well, so we are going to present the idea that the whole family and Community are doing this, and I'm the designer and financier. Then, after she has agreed that she would like to have this done, my girlfriend will travel to her uncle's house and maybe to the other cousin who is a carpenter, and she will talk to other relatives who might be available to do labour. I'm going to try to get her to convey the idea that we could only use five people on the first day, because we have to scrape the site clean and make a spot where the material can be mixed and other things.

Then, hopefully the people who say they will come, will do so and we won't have 75 Uninvited Guests who hope to be paid and fed. She thinks there's some possibility that those who aren't offered employment will be immediately resentful.

My position as the financier will be the main reason for that, because if one of them is getting someone else to do some minor thing, they don't all show up. Apparently I will be quite a novelty. That already happens to me here in Canada where I blend right in, physically and linguistically. My big mouth is usually the reason. But here I have to rely on a very well spoken and polite woman to be my voice. I hope they don't all chatter to her at once.

If there is any attempt by any member of the community, to hustle me in any way, I will get her to make a general announcement that I am not there to take care of dental issues or medical issues or to buy someone a chainsaw or whatever else might come up. People in the city, often try to extract things from foreign in-laws, once they realize that they have unlimited resources.☺
 
S Bengi
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Gifts are more like loans or investments.
If I 'loan' my friend a birthday/holiday gift, I expect to get it back when it is my birthday/holiday.
Or if I gift my brother free child care for his kiddos, I expect/demand that said 'loan' be paid back when I need it.

A free house is a gift that is even harder to payback, and a contract with unknown clauses so how could I verbally sign up for that.
You might have to make it sound more self-serving. So that it at least look like you are getting something out of it right now where you got 60% now and they only 'owe' you 40%.

A borrower is a slave to the lender.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I'm not expecting any sort of reciprocation. She has no resources beyond her little plot of land. And her daughter wants me to make it clear to everyone that we had already gotten serious long before I announced the house project to her. We didn't really come up with it together. The idea was completely formed in my mind and I presented it. I'm like that.

My former girlfriend in Kenya is in the middle of having her braces done on her teeth. She also has no resources and I don't expect anything back.

I don't consider it a gift at all, if there's an expectation to be repaid in some way. And that's why I don't want Christmas gifts from members of my family. I don't need that junk and I don't care to buy them any junk. My oldest daughter is totally on side with this philosophy. She only gives consumables, like soap or chocolates. She made soap this year, and she only wants consumables. People know not to give her one thing that she's expected to keep. And if they did give her something, she definitely wouldn't reciprocate. She might re-gift it.
 
S Bengi
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I understand Dale.
I know you are doing it because personally it is a cool experience for you and secondly you are doing something nice with a lady you are smitten with. (Okay I am really just projecting because those are the reasons why I would want to do it)

Like you I prefer when a gift is a gift and a loan is a loan. As for Christmas, which I call Sun God Day, I don't even follow it and really dislike it for so many many reasons, but I will try not to go into that.

"Gifts' are interesting and I like alot of people prefer to look at the unspoken implication of taking or giving a gift based on the culture/people/situation I find myself in. I think US politician cant accept a gift worth more than $500.

All that said I think you guys have a wonderful plan of action and it's going to be fun building a cob house. I have only had experience with concrete building and wood houses, building a cob house sounds like so much fun.




 
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S Bengi wrote:
A borrower is a slave to the lender.



Perhaps, if this seems to be a problem, Dale might "sell" the idea as an experiment--something along the lines of he wants to try out these building techniques so as to become proficient with them, or as a test run for building his own home, or so he can share what he's learned on a forum, or to add it to his resume, etc.

I'm sure Dale will find some way that fits with the situation to ease over the social tension/debt that receiving a big gift (even if he's not phrasing it as a gift, they might feel that way) can cause. I'm sure I'd stumble around a bunch in a social situation like that, but that doesn't seem to be something Dale struggles with.
 
Dale Hodgins
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It won't be something for me to struggle with so much as for my girlfriend. I don't speak the language, so I will be pretty much immune from the worst of it.

I don't think that's going to be a big problem. I can't sell it as a test of anything because I don't want anybody but me and her knowing that it's a test.

We've talked about it a bit more and it's not quite as remote as she first made out. It is quite remote for her financially. Her method of getting there is a difficult 24-hour journey. For a very modest amount, you can take a plane from the large city of Cebu and then be a short bus ride away from the highway where those pictures are taken from. Then you walk for an hour or less.

So I could see,  bringing tourists to this place, if all else is right. We talked last night about her childhood experiences, and how the whole family was itching to get to the city.

But the city was not good to them, particularly to the mother, who has no education. Although she has no education, not even the beginning years, all four of her children were sent to the city as working students, so that they could go to school. But as adults they all work at dead end things. We would have the power to change that, whether it's through further education or working within my business in some way.

She told me that there were times she was alone at the village while her mother was off working and the other kids were elsewhere, and she would go to the river with her dog to catch fish and shrimp in her net. When she was 6 years old she knew how to prepare this food. She would also scale coconut trees and manage to get the husk off and break them open, before she was 10 years old. She would sometimes pick coconuts for herself and for the pig. Apparently they had a never-ending supply. When other food was scarce, they ate coconuts, fish and shrimp and sweet potatoes. So many sweet potatoes that she got very tired of them. Probably a healthier diet than if she was in the city where people eat far too much rice.

Poor kids in the city can starve. Her mother worked for a pittance and put a lot of that money into buying rice and corn, which is the lowest quality food available to them. She would have probably been further ahead putting more of her time into growing the wide variety of things that do well on her land. That's what she does now.

They had to sell her horse when she was about 8 or 9, in order to get a carabao, which is a small swamp water buffalo. It produces milk and can pull a cart. Her favorite thing to do with the horse, was to ride along the river or along the upper ridges of those huge hills.

Education and employment both took her to the city. The work provides a meager income that is just enough to live and send a small amount of money home.

I will be looking at a tourist destination that involves trail rides. So, I would only need a small amount of good bottom land, but I'd like to buy many acres of scrub. About 3 days ago, I suggested that a trail riding operation might be the best option, in creating a business. There was silence, followed by crying. She had never told me about her horse before, and having to sell it, so that the family could have milk and butter. After her father died, the family had to slowly get rid of anything that wasn't absolutely essential, as her mother's financial situation deteriorated and school fees piled up.

So, because of the cost of horses, she assumed that she would never have one again. She hasn't been on one since the day hers was sold, even though other relatives have them in the village. I was just suggesting a business opportunity. But, now I know that whatever piece of land or business I engage in there, it must include at least one horse. And I would certainly prefer that it'd be a major part of the operation.

Now, instead of talking about cooking for visitors, she would like to take some courses and become a proper, certified guide. My stock has gone way up. She was already very happy with other businesses that I suggested, and how that would completely change both of our lives for the better. But creating a business that involves having horses and doing trail rides, has pushed my stock somewhere into the stratosphere. When we are talking about something completely different, the tears flow and she thanks me again for wanting to get her a horse. I tried to talk about the more practical aspects of operating stable, last night, but the crying and gushing about what a perfect man I am made it impossible. So we will talk about that in a few weeks or it will wait until I get there..... long story short. There absolutely must be a horse in my future. :-)
............
Some of the people in the village have a cell phone, but there is nowhere to charge it. They pay 10 pesos to charge their phones at a distant house along the highway or they do it when they get to the city. It would be pretty simple for me to provide a solar panel and a sheltered spot for charging phones. The best hill for making phone calls from, is something that used to belong to her grandfather. I would like to buy that piece of scrub land. A little Shack placed there, would allow people to take a ride and make contact with relatives from that location. It might also be possible to put a little repeater station that focuses on the village, so that everybody can use their phone.

I don't expect to put a lot of money into providing services for the whole village, but just a few simple things that would bring everyone up to some level of connectedness. She told me that one teenage boy climbs the hill every night to talk to his girlfriend who lives in town. But he only talks for a few minutes, because that charge has to last until the next time he makes the long trek to the house along the highway. At least 3 hours wasted in transportation and waiting for the thing to charge. Seems like an energetic young guy. Perhaps he would like to help me build things and get paid, while his phone charges in my vehicle. :-)

Tourist destinations often advertise their connectivity. So I would want to have much of this in place anyway.
............
I've certainly gone well beyond the original plan to talk about building a small cob house.
 
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Dale Hodgins wrote:



They had to sell her horse when she was about 8 or 9, in order to get a carabao, which is a small swamp water buffalo. It produces milk and can pull a cart. Her favorite thing to do with the horse, was to ride along the river or along the upper ridges of those huge hills.

..... long story short. There absolutely must be a horse in my future. :-)

I've certainly gone well beyond the original plan to talk about building a small cob house.



You, sir, are AWESOME!
 
S Bengi
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When you a savoir riding in on a horse with a bowtie saying this is for you............ Melting happens.

Now we just need a person to personify a villain, like an evil relative or government official too removed from the populous drunk on bribe money, etc  
Hey Dale you have to write a draft of a book, this story is already epic, villian or not.
 
and POOF! You're gone! But look, this tiny ad is still here:
Self-Sufficiency in MO -- 10 acres of Eden, looking for a renter who can utilize and appreciate it.
https://permies.com/t/95939/Sufficiency-MO-acres-Eden-renter
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