Thursday, October 9, 2008

Digging for water

First thing to say is that Falcon and River have written great blogs. But as usual it takes a while for them to choose their photos and upload them. Josh however has an excuse. He is working well hard at school learning Portuguese at an alarmingly rapid pace. 3 weeks in and both he and Eloise are doing fantastically well their and really enjoying the whole experience. They leave before it’s light and return at 6.30 in the evening still full of life but can only really manage to eat, tell us the stories of their day and then go to bed. Anyway, watch this space, their contributions are coming shortly.

So what’s new? We have a bore hole. 93 metres deep and apparently with loads of water in it. A few weeks ago an old guy from Oleiros, senior Julio, came along to find the best place on our land to dig for water. Good old divination. But instead of a forked branch, he used a metal measuring tape, held so that it formed a stiff triangle in the air. When he walked over a line of water the tape just folded down, then rose again 2 paces later. He did this for an hour or so in various places until he informed us that we have 3 good sources of water underground. We chose the highest point to give us the most number of uses for water – good pressure for our drinking and showering water in all the houses 40 to 50 metres below, as well as a source for all the irrigation and emergency watering systems we want to build. So much easier to start with your primary origin of water at the top – no fussing with pumps and electricity, except to bring it out of the ground then let gravity do the rest.

When Sr Julio bought his mates along on Monday, it was a trifle odd, cos their lorries and machinery could have come straight out of the 1930’s. The 2 videos below show what I mean and also our excitement at the moment the water started spouting into the air, proving the old diviner was bang on. He better have been, cos the ‘no water, no fee’ deal was pretty reassuring.

Der’s sure gotta be oil in dem hills…

Now all we need to do is work out where to run all the pipes to, then employ our trusted local electrician, Sr Lucas, who also works at the school, to sort out the best pump and automatic system to install. Will fill you in when we have any idea what we are doing. Although today I built a cute little stone box around the top of the bore hole, like the ones you see around the top of a well. My first walls constructed in stone. Felt terrific. Gathering long heavy pieces of slate scattered around the place (mined from the road and terrace building work in July) driving them to the top in our jeep, laying them out as 4 dry walls around the top of the bore hole where the tube sticks out of the ground and the old guys screwed a paint can to the top to keep the water safe, then mixing a lime, straw and river sand grout in the cement mixer next to the house right at the bottom where there’s electricity and having to carry 5 enormously heavy buckets of the stuff back up to the top again to secure the structure with a minimal render inside and out of the walls. Took me most of the day and now I am knackered. Yet most satisfying.

A beautiful by product of the bore holing is we now have loads of slate dust. Dark bluey grey metallicy slate dust. A perfect material to add to our lime floors to tie in the slate outside with exactly the same colour for the floors at the bottom of the house. We did a test mix yesterday and laid it in a corner next to the exposed bed rock. It’s a sumptuously gorgeous colour and we’re really looking forward to laying it once the final coat of earthen plaster goes on the walls. Will show pictures soon.

Last bit of news is that Josh and I have played another couple of games of cricket against touring English sides. He is now regularly getting wickets when he bowls and loving the thrill of it all. Last week we had the chance to bat together and even managed to be there at the end of the innings, not out. This time though we have proof thanks to one of the tourists. Cheers Tony.

Well that’s all for now folks. Leave a comment or two and let us know how life is treating you all. Night night. I will leave you with this pic of Laurinda who runs the cafe in neighbouring Abitueira, picking us a bunch of ginormous grapes from her back yard. Sweet.

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