Keith's Panamanian Travel Ramble

The wanderings of Andrea and Keith around Panama

Water Arrives


Misty and wet day



Why not to use Gypsum Board

Today at sunup, it was still misty and wet. We got an early morning reminder of why gypsum board does not work up here. There was a small hole in the gypsum board ceiling, outside on the deck, which had been there since we arrived. The last few days of intense humidity and wet weather took its toll overnight! A large chunk of the outside gypsum board ceiling fell during the night, with more looking like it will fall shortly. An architect from the city, who should have known better, built this house. Our house will definitely have no gypsum board!




The only thing you can count on here is that things you plan will not go as you plan. Today was a good example of that. We were expecting the backhoe first thing today, assuming the weather was not raining. Instead, we got a call that he had taken another job and would be a week or so completing it. It was a good thing that my Spanish is not good or I would have blushed given the yelling and arm-waving going on. We ended up with a promise for another backhoe that would come up from the City, but not until Monday. This delays the construction as the foundation cannot be framed until it is dug out by the backhoe. Next was a follow-up on the several loads of materials, still to be delivered by Comasa. Apparently, the truck had broken down after it delivered the first load to us and nobody seemed to know how long it would take to fix it. Oh well!

We also had our water service installation scheduled for today. Amazingly, it came off and first thing in the morning to boot. A truck with three people arrived to find the water line, turn on the water from a box down on the road, and install a plastic on/off valve with the water meter. It took about an hour but we ended up with water flowing freely.

The only load from Comasa that arrived today contained more #8 block and rebar for the foundation. This brings the count on #8 block up to 400 units. It was interesting how the rebar got unloaded. The swamper swung the back-end of the steel out and dropped it on the ground. The driver then unfastened the tie on the front of the steel and backed the truck up slowly until the steel fell to the ground. Very efficient!


Cutting the desk. Note the splitters in the board.



The architect’s table


Therefore, juggling the work around, the workers finished some outstanding things in the temporary accommodations. The kitchen was completed and they built a desk for the architect to use as a construction office. It would double as a table from which to eat.  They also began cutting the rebar.


The Deposito


The Depositio



Cutting Rebar


Our workers seem to be very bug conscious. They spotted two separate nests, high in different trees on the lot. From a distance, they look like wasp nests but there are so many different bugs here it was hard to tell. They said that they bite. They wanted to get rid of them and said they would do the job after dark once all the wasps were back in the nest. Next, they were asking for kerosene. We did not have kerosene but did have a nice gas/oil mix that you run in a lawnmower. Tomorrow I expect to see the two nests gone.


One of the nests


The last activity of the day was a percolation test to see how good the drainage was. Typically, this test is used to site a septic system but for now, our use is to decide how well things drain so when the foundation is poured they know how aggressive they need to be to protect the foundation from moisture once poured. The percolation test did not go well. It drained most of the way but water remained and dissipated very slowly. This means they have to be careful with the concrete, once it is poured.


Percolation Test


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