Finally, A Concrete Sidewalk And Steps

For a couple months now, Armando and I have been working on a sidewalk and steps in the carport area. We work outside on other projects when the sun shines, then when it rains I pull Armando in to work under the big roof.

The carport is thirty-two feet deep, so there is plenty of room for a sidewalk and some steps in front of my shop. Here we have the area mostly formed for concrete:

Each row of blocks for the steps has its own concrete foundation.

We also built a block wall and made a suspended walkway in front of containers 3, 4, and the twelve-foot space between them:

Just like Cynthia’s workbench, we used metal roofing panels as formwork for the suspended walkway. Then we cut wire mesh for to reinforce the concrete. This slab will be a good four-inches thick:

At the bottom of the photo you can see that I have rebar sticking out from the forms. Eventually the sidewalk will continue around to the front door, and this rebar will keep the separate pours connected.

Here’s the project all formed and ready for concrete. We decided to save the steps for later; this was going to be quite enough concrete for one day, thank you very much.

With rain pouring down outside most of the day, Armando and our man-for-a-day Rigoberto mixed three big batches of concrete under the protection of the carport roof. In total we used sixteen bags ($160) of cement.They delivered the concrete to the forms by the shovelful or five-gallon bucket full. At first, Armando said it couldn’t be done in a day and I agreed. I told him that if he could and would, I would double their pay for the day:

The guys mixed, then Rigoberto poured, Armando distributed and struck the concrete level, and I followed with the wooden float and later with the steel trowel:

Armando usually works until 2:30 or so, but he and Rigoberto ended up working until almost 5:00. They were dog tired. I finished troweling about 7:00. It was dark by then. I had a light but apparently it wasn’t bright enough; there is one small area that I am less than delighted with, but we hope someday to tile all the floors:

During a big, blowing downpour I took it upon myself to get a ladder and hang the blue tarp to protect the concrete. Such fun!

All in all, with just one small blemish area, I am happy as a clam to have all this concrete done. Next week Armando and I will work on the steps.

In related news; As weather permitted, Armando has completed the block work for the hydroponic greenhouse. Next we need to pour a concrete beam at the top of the blocks and also pour slabs for the steps to the door:

Armando worked the shovel and I worked the laser level to even out the dirt inside the greenhouse. We’ll let the rain settle the dirt before pouring a concrete floor. Yes, everything is square if not necessarily level — it is just the darn camera angle.

Bonus photo department: My brother, a diamond setter by trade, will relate to these next photos. Back in the ’60s I made dozens and dozens of wooden chucks for him to clamp ring settings while he set the stones. In an unpacked-until-recently box I found the original pattern that I worked from. Jabo is now gnawing on it; being a tropical dog, he has never tasted maple wood. I think he liked it:

I always count my fingers after playing with Jabo. He’s a tough customer; I wouldn’t want to run into him in a dark alley:

That’s all for now. More, well, sometime in the future.

2 thoughts on “Finally, A Concrete Sidewalk And Steps

    • Armando tells me that there is a new water tank going in up in the mountain to supply his barrio. The contractor is paying $5 for each 94-pound bag of cement that a man can carry up to the job, about an hour-and-a-half’s hike up out of the volcanic crater and into the mountain. A man in top form can make three trips a day. Each concrete block gets a guy seventy cents. Everything has to be hauled by hand: cement, sand, gravel, rebar, blocks. The less education you have, the more hard physical labor a man has to do here to make a living. Living large in Panama!

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