The Big Day


The Independence Day

This morning the streets were eerily quiet. The cart vendors were not on the corners and there was hardly any 2-stroke smoke in the air.

The same 1×12” boards that we used on the corners and then on some of the bond beam were freed and used again to form up the remainder of the bond beam. The church chose to make the front door opening very large and it proved challenging to span the gap with the limited lumber available.

The 27th of February being the day the Dominican Republic secured its independence from Haiti, the Dominicans helping us wanted the afternoon off to celebrate. They insisted that we not work if they weren’t working also.

We decided to postpone lunch a little while and pushed to get the rest of the bond beam poured and the entryway supported with miscellaneous logs.

As we left for lunch, it began to rain and continued raining sporadically the rest of the afternoon. When it wasn’t raining, mist hovered in the air over the sugar cane.


After lunch we changed and returned to the job site to pick up a box of hurricane clips.

The streets were full and small food and drink shacks were surrounded by dozens of motorcycles belonging to celebratory patrons. Men walked the streets selling flags, cloths, stickers, and even kites of the Dominican flag.

For a third time now, a boy about 14 years old tried to scrub and squilgee our windshield before asking for payment. Steve paid him the first time, but Duane does his best to stop the boys efforts before he begins. A humorous exchange occurs while the boy points out the spots and insists that they need to be cleaned and Duane waves his arms and assures the boy that there’s no problem. I side with the boy; I don’t think the van’s wipers have ever been changed.

We brought the clips with us to a church we visited in Barrio Las Colinas (previously built by Shalom CRC in Sioux Falls) and demonstrated to the pastor how to install them.


We continued on to Barrio Cristo Rey de Esperanza and checked out a very large 2-story church.


There aren’t many words to describe the disparity between the church the congregation worships in and the shacks they sleep in.


The Greenhouse Day

It was a beautiful morning, not a cloud in the sky. As a result, it was very humid, very hot. You can almost see it in the picture I took of the group walking back from breakfast.

We started by removing the lumber forms from the corners and columns. They were all covered in concrete and had to be cleaned. One nail that was missed was found by Duane when it poked him in the back of the shoulder while he was ducking underneath it.

Every piece of wood is used up during the construction. Nothing is wasted, and most pieces of lumber are used 3-4 times before being fastened into their permanent position. The same 1×12” planks that comprised the corner forms were drilled and bolted together with spacers to form the forms (see what I did there?) for the bond beam.

As the sun rose, I began to feel like I was in a greenhouse inside the lightly colored brick walls.

Mike and Doug jokingly bounced ideas off each other for making a slip-form for the bond beam since there were not enough planks to complete the bond beam all around in one pour (much to Doug’s consternation).

½” rebar cages were placed inside the forms. Lori and Kari proved to be master tiers and made (6) 20’ cages—tying a ring around four rods about every foot.

Lunch was taken early due to the oppressive heat. Hoping for a quick dip in the pool to cool down, I was disappointed to find that the pool was completely empty! Instead, we were sent a thundershower which turned the streets of San Pedro into lakes, and left the alleyway running past the church site full of water. The red velvet dirt turned to batter.

The showers did purge the air of its heat and the afternoon labor was pleasant.

It again took almost the whole afternoon for the bucket passers to find their rhythm, but the concrete made it up and into the bond beam forms nevertheless. There was no leaking and the only catastrophe occurred when a tree reached out and grabbed my drone while I was filming Craig and Duane fill and screed on the wall.

Steve left us to return home for the remainder of the week.

Dinner consisted of Mangú (Dominican mashed green plantains), meatballs and salad.

Tomorrow (February 27) is when Dominicans celebrate their independence from Haiti. Most stores will be closed and Duane is expecting a ruckus. Sounds like fun!