Nope, you can’t teach old dogs new tricks. When we got back from lunch our sheets were untouched and a pile of materials was being formed where the last one was. To compensate for their slow pace compared to our breathtaking speediness with the sheets, the crew had incorporated local child labor. I decided not to mix any more concrete. So I sat down with a beer and watched the kids haul gravel.
It was about then that we decided to just pay them for finishing the job. Obviously they didn’t appreciate the high-tech Cretesheets I had supplied. It’s a long road to enlightenment. So the next day we had 20 more bags of cement delivered and, although it was painful, I bought them a wheelbarrow. We gave them until Monday morning to come up with a figure.
But before I could just let them carry on, I had to make sure that they knew how to do the anchor panels. They were equally curious what to do with the bits between the panels already laid, although I had shown Billy the illustration. To my horror, the next morning, they had put the steel pieces that were shaped like an elongated number “7” with the bent bit on the uphill side, with no anchor. They hadn’t poured the concrete yet, so I showed them how I wanted it done. They actually seemed impressed. It was a “that makes sense” moment shared by even the onlooking kids.
I don’t know how well it will hold up, but they are going to fill the space between the two strips of concrete with dirt and place the sod that they remove back on top to prevent erosion. They will put dirt and sod on the sides, too. It is hoped that the water will run off harmlessly. There are a few months left before the big rains come again. We paid for two truckloads of good quality dirt and paid the crew to finish the job, entirely, THB 10,000, or roughly $320. That’s acceptable. Now I can turn my attention to other things.
One decision leads to another. No plan is permanent. It’s evolution. I decided that I want them to build me a shack, too. The cost of their labor pales in comparison to my staying down in Pakse, eating out, and driving back and forth, especially when I contribute so little to “concrete” progress. They estimate that my living quarters will cost me about THB 2,000, or $64, in materials. They will mostly use timber from the land. It will be a spacious 2 meters deep and 4 meters wide. I will have to live on battery power until my hydro-power plant is up and running.
It was while I was daydreaming about grilling pork ribs and listening to Fleetwood Mac on my battery powered speakers via Bluetooth from my iPad, sitting within feet of the top of my 14-meter high waterfall (best not to walk in your sleep), that those naughty pieces of a puzzle that I call ideas began creeping into my mind. So, between now and December 11, when I intend to return and “camp” on the land, I’ll see if these ideas are going to go anywhere.