Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Volunteering at Tagua Lodge, Manglaralto...The work we did

Looking back, and summing up our "work for stay" on the Ecuadorean coast, a lot is to be said...

We really felt at home in Manglaralto, and never once felt unsafe.  The town itself was amazing.  Small, nothing too fancy, and easy to walk around in, it ended up being the perfect 'pause' in our travels, and an incredible learning experience.

The hostel, Tagua Lodge, was an amazing place upon entry, but now, after all the work we've done, we feel it's even better!

When we arrived, we walked in the gate, to a nice yard full of trees and plants, and 2 separate buildings and an outdoor, covered kitchen...The back (far) building (2 story), in the rear of the yard, was the owners Luis and Caty's place downstairs, and friends of theirs, Jose and Marga's place upstairs.  The other, front building, also 2 stories high, was four guest rooms, two finished, and two yet to be finished.  Simple cement/re-bar construction for the beams and walls, and the bottom unfinished room was close, but needed mosquito netting, electrical, and a bathroom door.  The unfinished upstairs room needed everything, for it was just bare cement, no doors, windows, electrical, and the bathroom still needed a shower installed.

We started with the bottom room, and Danica began painting murals and walls, and we installed the mosquito netting together.  I continued, by building a bamboo bathroom door, installing electrical outlets, and wiring the hot shower.  This room was to be ours while working on it.  Soon as we were done, we began working on the upstairs room, which needed a ton of work.


 

Mosquito netting on the bottom room




Building a bathroom door (bamboo)


D's first imprint at the lodge...


First, I made a railing, which was very necessary, as the balcony was a drop off, and I felt as if I might fall off while carrying up supplies.  We used what we could find around the property, where there was a ton of wood, bamboo of all shapes and sizes, and plenty of hand and power tools, like hammer and nails, saws, drills, screws, etc...

 

Upstairs railing finished

Danica painted everything in the upstairs room, including a huge lotus flower mural as you walk in, some ocean waves in the corner, and tons of tropical fish on the back walls.  Mark and Carlie, also helpX volunteers, came for 2 weeks, and Carlie and Danica painted, while Mark and I manned the upstairs, continuing construction.  He made some fold-up bamboo windows facing the street, and a bamboo cover for an existing window that showed through, before the ad on.  Mark then did a really nice varnish job over the raw bamboo, and by the time they left, the upstairs was almost done...


D's lotus almost finished

Mark varnishing



I installed a circuit breaker box on the outside wall, and wired the whole room, including the bathroom, and hot shower, lights and switches.  Once connected to the downstairs, main breaker, we had power, and we could see at night!  I added some finishing touches inside, like some bamboo strips to cover the cement edges on the walls, and built a bamboo bathroom door...The room was pretty much finished.

Electrical to the bathroom, with bamboo conduit


 



floor painted, room pretty much done...
 The next project was building and putting up a sign out front, and overall upgrading the look from outside...First it was to build a sign support, and I had an idea to use a pulley and rope above it, which made it sort of resemble a sail rigging on a boat...


 
Support installed...
Building a roof for the sign...
Some palm fronds for the roof...
a haircut...
 

almost ready to hoist up...
Roof's up, and ready for the sign!


Danica's perfectly double sided sign...bout to give Tagua a make-over...

Sign's up, and now for the electrical connection for the light...
 

 
railing at the entrance...
Many other projects took place at Tagua during our time there...I added a ton of new lights to the place, where it was super dark...I made bamboo light fixtures to replace all of the existing outdoor lights, and installed new lights in the kitchen, as the beginning of a kitchen remodel...I added electrical sockets to 2 areas outside, where there were none.  Built some shelves in the laundry area, and put light fixtures in there as well.

Installing an outdoor plug, hidden in bamboo


Another couple, Matthew and Poppy from HelpX showed up, and they began working on finishing an outdoor shower, that had been turned storage space...They cleared the stuff out, and Mathew began skimming the cinder-block walls with cement, then finally plaster.  Poppy added some paintings to the rather dull room upstairs, and we ended up hanging out quite a bit.  I built two hanging wine and cocktail glass holders up on the wall in the kitchen, and then began building a new kitchen counter...

 


Tiles atop, and just needing a couple things...
 
 Mathew doing his beautiful varnish job...

 
A brand new kitchen counter!

Looking back, we spent exactly 2 months and 22 days at Tagua Lodge.  We loved it, and recommend anyone traveling to this part of the world, to stay there!