Monthly Archives: November 2010
The best climbers in the world, and then…..me
The road was very mountainous, and the pictures will show, and I was plagued with bike problems. The most serious being my chain breaking, and not having a spare. I tried to break the one around my wrist but it was so rusty, I almost broke my wrist in a desperate attempt. In the end, I had to fix my chain short which resulted in a skip every 20 or so pedals, until I made it to the next bike shop, a days ride away. Another day instead of the usual sundown bed down routine, I didn’t get to sleep until midnight after a bunch of failed camping attempts, (damn you ‘patron’ (boss). I’m sure Montreal punishes me for taking so much time off the bike, as this is a recurring problem. Also, after rationing my last bit of water until I arrived at the next town, I was met by the toll booth assistant from hell. Legally, your not allowed to bike on the toll roads here in Mexico, but I have never had any problems and they always just let me pass, but this time was different. They wouldn’t let me off the road and insisted that I continue my illegal activities and ride on a few 100km to get water! I pleaded that I was out of food and water and there was no way I could go on, they, that is the armed police guard, and the witch in the booth, insisted that their booth was special and I couldn’t pass through it, period. OK, I was desperate, so I asked if I could leave my bike here, and walk into the town to get water and food, they said, no! I was bamboozled and angry at the illogical thought process they must have been going through, but more so, in the lack of compassion showed to a traveler who obviously was in need of water and just wanted to get pass. I ended up having to jump a barbed wire fence down the road, with all my stuff, and through a corn field and entered the rear of the town with a sour taste in my mouth, which quickly went away with every smile I was given.
Building with natural materials, no doubt provides a freedom of the norms that would suggest that the only way to build anything worth it’s weight, would be to purchase the manufactured materials that often come from highly unsustainable practices. Like that of the regular household brick, many of which come from unscrupulous means on the vast country of India. The people involved in making such bricks risk health and a healthy living whilst doing what provides a livelihood with little concern of anything else. But what of those that are free to choose where, what is essentially the essence of a their home, comes from? many simply follow what is readily available, with cost being the most important factor. Strangely enough, when it comes to finding a cheaper option, people need only to look at the very ground beneath them.
Cob has been around way before bricks were mass produced and concrete poured liberally. Over the years, people have forgotten the age old practices that worked well for most of the world, in favor of what we are now told is the ‘right way’. So if the cost of cob is a mere smidgen compared to concrete, and vastly reduces the negative production processes, than why is it still an invisible practice among developed nations?
One could easily suggest that over time the people with the most resources available, have become least resourceful, and thus blind to the abundance our surroundings can offer. As cob was originally a communal process where your neighbors helped you build your house and in return you did the same, one might assume that the decline of close knit communities in the developed world might be a contributing factor. A more practical suggestion may delve into the realm of labor, cob is by no means an easy task, it’s labor intensive and entails a great deal of creative input and vision, both of which the masses seem to be lacking.
So cob is now being labeled as a new alternative sustainable building practice, and people pay ridiculous sums to ‘learn’ all about it. Ironically, these days, instead of people building a community, the focus is usually on building a reputation to earn more money, teaching what should be a natural instinct. We only need to observe nature to see how most living things build a natural habitat or home, simply using what is around them, often times the materials found are ideal for that particular place, as is the way nature works. But when the fortunate few choose to set up roots, instead of studying our surroundings, we instead pay an architect, and ship in materials or buy a concrete mess of unimaginative creation. So is it simply a case of losing touch with nature and all that it teaches us or something else?
Special recipe for cob