During my stay in the valley I attempted to create a clay oven to bake and cook pizza in. Long story short I was never able to build the actual oven part of this clay oven. We built the structure for the oven to be built on out of wood, chicken wire and concrete. There is an area for wood that’s nearby the oven and covered by terra cotta, to keep the wood dry. Within the last week we built a roof with recycled wooden posts and a zinc roof. However, I did not have enough time to gather and dry the clay and sand mixture to make an oven stable enough to overcome the elements in the jungle. (The clay takes about two days to dry and it kept getting wet in the rain no matter how much I covered it with tarp.) I want to thank Brigitte and Jorge for helping put a roof over the base during my last few days in the valley.
I’m disappointed we were never able to complete and cook in the oven, but I can take pleasure in the fact that I did have another side project I was working on, the park near the orchard. When I first took a look at this park I had no idea how to tame the weeds, plants, grasses and dormillones (sleeping plant/most annoying vine ever) enough to make it an enjoyable park.
I marked down the boundaries with Brigitte one day and put together a preliminary sketch of the park and a description of it from a park-making perspective…
“There is a living fence on the west, south, and east sides of the park to separate it from the pasture. In the center of the park is a medium sized tree with painted rocks and a tye-die sign marked ‘Kalu Yala’. The northeast corner of the park has an even aged stand of trees a bit bigger than saplings in orderly lines that would make a beautiful shaded area. There is a slight slope downward in this area. Behind this is a secluded clearing of lower grasses that receives nearly full sunlight. This could be made into a more private picnic area. In the upper west corner of the park there are spaced out larger trees, the biggest being a guava tree that could easily have a swing or tire swing. As one moves south the brush gets increasingly more dense. The densest weeds and brush is in the southeast corner. There are natural paths made between very tall grasses that could be eventually opened up into walking paths.”
Jillian and I built a gate into the living fence that surrounds the park. Also, this semester we were able to make a walking path labelled with red stakes that lead visitors up to and through the park. Clearing the path with machetes and rakes took a lot of work but luckily the path has not grown back too much. One of the most difficult parts of clearing paths in the jungle is how fast the brush grows back, especially after heavy rainstorms. I faced dormillones, fire ants and the heat of the sun while clearing this trail so I can really say that blood, sweat and tears went into its construction!
There are still so many options for this park’s future. Furniture would be nice in some areas. Stone would be beautiful, however, it must be taken from the river area which is quite far from the park. A swing on the big guava tree would be a fun enhancement and a grill or two for camping would suit the park perfectly. Lighting at night along the trails could be a future project as well. When we visited Catalino’s (a local campesino) farm I noticed some interesting lighting around his pool area. There were these solar powered orbs, no taller than a foot or two. I wanted to steal this idea for lighting along the trail, but I couldn’t quite understand how to make such a thing myself. It would be ideal if a future intern picked up this idea and implemented these inventive light fixtures. I was impressed but how they look natural and understated, but at the same time interesting and modern.
Now that I’ve reached the end of my internship I’m sad to leave the place where I’ve spent so much time and worked hard on. The valley will always remain as a place of peace, friendship and harmony with nature. I can’t wait to see what future interns, employees etc. form the place into. I know I will return some day!