Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Last week I took several long walks along the quiet country roads around la Merced de Buenos Aires. One walk took me down the road towards Lita and the Esmereldas province. The elevation dropped quickly and within a two hour walk the climate changed from temperate to sub-tropical. It was on this walk that I spotted a small green snake eating a frog.

Mountain Sipo: non-venomous 

Two days later I took a road out of town heading in the opposite direction, further into the mountains. This road climbed quickly. Here, I found interesting rock formations and another snake.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

This is a view of the epic cliff that separates the property from the rest of the world. Along the top of the cliff there is a trail that is the boundary of the property. 

Here you see Don Vargas as he leads the way cutting a trail through the invasive bamboo that has overgrown much of the property.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Grace and I are headed back to la Merced de Buenos Aires bright and early in the morning. At least that's the plan. She'll be kick'n it around the town looking for a cheap house or building lot for sale, while I head back to our remote property with Don Vargas and a machete to try to find the boundaries and look for a better trail in and out. With luck, we'll get some good photos and a look at the Roca Viva.

I might quit Quito and stay in la Merced de Buenos Aires. It would make getting work done on the property a hell of a lot easier without the 4 and a half hour commute.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Here's a little collection of construction techniques I'd like to try as we build the cabins on the property.

Cordwood - Combination of cob and cut ends of wood stacked to form walls.

Cob - Walls are built from a mud and straw mixture with a high clay content.

Bamboo and Mud - Walls are constructed of a loose grid of bamboo, and then filled with mud.

And, of course, simple wooden cabins, which are probably the fastest and easiest technique, but not the most environmentally friendly or aesthetically pleasing. The challenges with the first three techniques are protecting the buildings from moisture, and finding soil with a high enough clay content. To me, cordwood is the most attractive and probably the most moisture resistant of the mud based building styles. The bamboo and mud technique is probably the fastest.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Map to la Merced de Buenos Aires.  Note, the most direct road, the one from Guadual, doesn't show on this map. In this area mapquest does a better job than google of showing small towns and roads.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Vulture chick?

Speaking of aji, does anyone know what these hot little peppers are? They have black seets, great taste, and a lot of kick. They were growing in the cloud forest near the property.