After six months of prepping and planning, we finally broke ground this week on the three buildings that will make up our jungle mountain retreat. We’ve been dreaming about this for so many years now, that it’s hard to believe that it’s actually happening! Seeing the buildings take shape on the ground is both exciting and, to be honest, a little daunting. There’s no turning back now, and if all goes as planned, we’ll be in business by this time next year (Yikes!).
Getting everything ready for construction to start was a huge undertaking that almost put Patrick in the loony bin. Among his biggest tasks was finishing the entry road through our property leading to our restaurant and bungalow. This involved finding affordable gravel and having truckloads of it transported (by a rented Mack truck) and distributed (by a rented backhoe). An extended rainy season delayed the work since heavy machinery doesn’t operate well in mud! Thankfully, the road was finished just under the wire.
Once the road was complete, we were able to transport materials in to build temporary living quarters for our construction workers. Unlike in the United States where builders return home every night, here, they often spend the entire week sleeping on site. On our future parking lot, we now have a large shack~like structure, complete with bunk beds and a kitchen. We’re thrilled that the work crew includes women who prepare lunch and coffee breaks each day!
The drivable road also makes possible delivery of the wood we need for our walls and roof. Finding the 150 teak trees we need occupied the majority of Patrick’s time for more than a month. He visited dozens of plantations (by foot, car, and on horseback!) before he found the quality and quantity we require. Throughout the process, I was continuously amazed by Pat’s negotiating skills (in Spanish no less) that allowed us to avoid paying inflated “Gringo prices”.
As if all this wasn’t enough, Pat also secured all our building permits and had our water source approved by the health authorities. Finding and connecting water was another major undertaking since we don't have access to the public water supply. Luckily, a generous neighbor with underground springs has agreed to give us rights to his water. This, combined with collected rainwater, should fill our tanks and sustain us through the dry season.
So, in a country where people say everything takes longer than anticipated, Patrick has managed to keep things on schedule in order to adhere to our desired start date. Having done that, our roofs should be raised before the light rains begin in April, and the structures should be finished completely before the September/October deluges. It’s in our contractor’s hands now, and I just hope his are as capable as my husband’s have been :)