Saturday, February 9, 2013

That ain't no bull!


Juan tells me that what we call a steer in Nicaragua is called a ternero. The road leading to my property is just a little wider than one lane, and the shoulders are about as wide as a radial tire. When I drove to the property this morning, another car was blocking my path, so I stopped (not really any point in parking at the non-existent curb). About 20 minutes later, Juan shows up and tells me the oxcart is here and the road is blocked. I figured I could park behind the other car, but I doubted the guy with the two-ternero team would be able to get by on the other side, and that I’d have to wake the neighbors and ask them to move their vehicle. No need. Made it by just fine, room to spare, and they made it down the not-yet driveway with only slight encouragement from the driver. Faustino (or Tino for short) owns the team, and he tells me his two boys will haul dirt up to the driveway – and onto the road itself (which needed a bit of fill in front of the entrada; I guess delivery drivers are also allergic to washouts) for 80 Cords per load. They moved six cartfuls of excavated dirt and rock (total cost: $20), and the limpiadores used the dirt to fix the washout and create a very serviceable though admittedly rustic driveway. Ready for the delivery truck!

When I was growing up, my mother’s folks lived on a farm in Windber, Pennsylvania, a little town up in the hills surrounding Johnstown. Grandpa Geisel always had a couple of cows and at least one bull (his bulls got to keep their testiculos; grandpa raised his own beef, and you can’t make calves with terneros), and one of the things I learned about bovines is that they do not like to go backwards. You can try to push them or pull them in reverse, and they mostly balk. You try arguing with a one ton bull! Tino’s team repeatedly performed perfect “Y” turns, backing up to the dig site to allow easy loading of the cart, made it look like they were born for it….

The limpiadores finished work on the driveway and path by 10 am. Iziquel and Javier finished the septic excavation by noon. Early weekend for everybody, and the workers were all smiles because Sabado is also payday, so they all went home with cash money in their pockets.

Monday is materials delivery day. Iziquel will tidy up the excavations, lay down some gravel to level everything out, then run a couple of courses of reinforcing rebar around the foundation dig and assemble the columno rectangles. We found a 5,000 liter water tank (about 1,000 galones) to borrow, and, beginning Tuesday, Tino’s team will haul water to the site, two sixty-gallon barrels at a time, for 150 cords per trip. Iziquel thinks we’ll need one or two deliveries per dia. My neighbors paid about $6 grand for their well. If you can’t afford a well, hire a pair of torneros!

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