BLOG #6 Volunteering in Guatemala

~ building a house, a roof and bicycle(machine)s

The past month we’ve been working at various sites in Guatemala, which has been GREAT! Below a short account of the work we’ve been doing;
the Earthship style home we built for Romeo and his family on the hillside in Comalapa;
the model for a bamboo recipricating roof we built on a pyramid at Lake Atitlan;
and finally the bicycle projects we engaged in at Maya Pedal in San Andres.

Building an Earthship style home

In November 2012 we did a fundraising campaign through Indiegogo.com to built a water management system for an Earthship style home for a Guatemalan family. We raised 4.200 dollars which enabled us to travel to Guatemala and help built the home.
The ‘built’ started  February 8th and in only 3 weeks we built an entire house(!) with a crew of 70+ people out of tires, bottles, cans, and lots of cement and rebar.
Please have a look at some of the pictures!!

Earthship built in Comalapa

Earthship built in Comalapa

Bottle Brick Wall  with Mykal and Nicos head in windows

Bottle Brick Wall with Mykal and Nicos head in windows

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Putting the roof on the tires

Putting the roof on the tires


We have documented the entire building process, and especially the water management system, so those of you that are interested in learning more, please let us know and we’ll send you some more information!

The building of this house was organised by the Earthship Biotecture Institute we did an internship with in Taos, New Mexico, and Long Way Home, a non profit organisation that is based in Comalapa which uses sustainable design and materials to construct a self-sufficient school with alternative construction methods and materials (a way to re-purpose ‘waste’) that promotes education, employment and environmental stewardship in the community.
Long Way Home (LWH) aims to empower communities to break the cycle of poverty.
They are an inspiring ‘can-do’ organization and actively demonstrate appropriate technologies (e.g. composting latrines, plancha stoves, water harvesting systems, and Earthship style self-sufficient homes) to improve health outcomes and transfer knowledge.
More information on their website: www.lwhome.org/

 

Building a recipricating roof at Lake Atitlan

David and Carolina who have land in Santiago on the amazing Lake Atitlan expressed interest in the water management system of the earthship style home we built, and offered us a place to decompress after the physically tough 3 week construction period in Comalapa.
Their project is named Ulew (trans. Earth) a they aim to promote sustainable living and practice permaculture and natural building.
They have been constructing beautiful domes with sandbags that contain ‘super adobe’ (an earth mix stabilised with 15-30% cement) and their latest project in an incredible triangular pyramid like structure!
We met up with our friends Alex and Ina and enjoyed exploring the beautiful lake and we had the opportunity to play around with a special design for a recipricating roof with 3 centre points out of bamboo!
Please have a look at the pictures!
www.ulewatitlan.com

roof detail

roof detail

roof in the night

roof in the night

 

Maya Pedal

At Atitlan we built a bicycle powered blender with Alex and Ina, who had been volunteering  at Maya Pedal, a non profit organisation based in San Andres near Antigua, where they built bicycles and bicycle machines for the local (agricultural) community.
We traveled together to San Andres to spend a few days volunteering at Maya Pedal.
We got to do some maintenance on our bicycles and experimented building a recumbent bicycle out of old frames and several pedal powered machines!

This is what we learned about pedal power machines;
They utilize the force of leg power which is 5x greater than the upper body force. Technically equivalent to 1/8-1/4 of horse power energy!
Advantages of bicycle technology are;
*Availability of resources;
Bicycles are used worldwide, in developed and developing countries, parts are easy to find. And the majority of tools needed to do repairs are basic and accessible. Bicycles are mostly made of  metals that can be welded together.
*Low initial cost;
Bicycle machines cost less to construct or buy, than any other types of alternative technology. In many cases the machines will not be used all day or all days of the week, so costs can be shared with other groups, family members, or communities.
*Appropriate technology;
Bicycle technology fills the gap between industrial technology and hands on farming.
*Supports economic growth of communities and families;
Bicycle machines can enable a community of family to be more productive, and generate an income.
*Simple use and upkeep;
Once you learn to ride a bicycle you won’t forget. Basic tools can be used to perform any maintenance on bicycle powered machines.
*Personal health benefits; exercise and fun!
*Environmental benefits; zero emissions!

Yeah, we are thoroughly inspired!
Please have a look at the pictures and let us know what you think!
If this is not enough, there is more information via www.mayapedal.org

28 Maya Pedal

Mykal y Nico at Maya Pedal

Mykal y Nico at Maya Pedal

 

Bicycle recumbent experiment at Maya Pedal

Bicycle recumbent experiment at Maya Pedal

 

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