Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Sticks and Stones

While we’ve been dealing with all the stops and starts of our kitchen remodel, there has been other work going on around Casa Wright, specifically the replacement of four support posts on our large palapa and the building of a frame over our veggie garden to provide some much needed shade for our seedlings.

In case you’re not familiar with the term “palapa,” it’s an open-sided structure with a thatched roof.
It’s also good to know that any type of wood posts are referred to as “sticks.”
The first thing that needed to happen was to find the right sized sticks for both jobs. We needed 10 foot sticks for veggie frame and 14 foot sticks for the palapa repair.
Fernando enlisted the help of his brother, Raphino, to go out and chop the sticks. According to Fernando, sticks should only be chopped no more than two days before the full moon, but no later than one day after the full moon. Why? Apparently, the sticks are stronger and will last an extra 10 or so years. Who knew? Anyway, they found a guy with a panel truck, loaded the cut sticks, and brought them to the house.
Large sticks for palapa repair

Charge for chopping the sticks: $0. Charge for the use of the truck: $30 BZD.
Once the sticks were unloaded from the truck, and trust in the fact that the big ones are extremely heavy – a few over 200 pounds, Fernando and Raphino got busy scraping the bark from all of them using their machetes. That process took most of a day.

Using machetes to scrape off the bark

For the veggie frame, they coated the sticks with a oil mixture to help prevent insect damage. Then using a post hole digger they made the holes, inserted the sticks, and filled in the holes with dirt.
David and I will be buying some shade cloth and figuring out the best way to attach it. We want it to be removed easily in the event of strong winds or a big storm.

The process for the palapa repair was more complicated. First let me show you the damage on one of the posts so you can understand why some needed to be replaced.

The guys dug out around each post, about three feet down – and in one case busted through the cement one was set in.
This was back breaking work and Fernando and Raphino worked non-stop. I always feel like such a wuss when I see them tackling jobs like this.
Once the area was dug out from around each stick, they then had to manhandle the replacement stick from the backyard, coat it with oil, then get it inserted into the hole. Once set, they put support braces in a V-shape at the top of each one.

The holes were then filled with busted up stones and rocks, then filled with cement and the top smoothed with a screed.
We now have secure posts, so this baby ain't goin' anywhere thanks to all the work put in by Fernando and Raphino.

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