After another five or six days of hard work and time in between, it is time for part two of the continuing story of our bat cave construction. It is a far bigger project than we (or rather I, Loes) anticipated. I guess ‘anticipated’ is the wrong word. It is a bit like when you are building a house. When the foundations are in, it looks real small. When the walls are up, it looks real small too, because the walls are dark, and then suddenly, when finishing touches are done, it looks big (or as planned) again. With a house (or bed and breakfast), you stick to the plan. With a bat cave, it just grows as if it has a life of its own…
I was there along the whole way, so I am to blame. I directed Justino with measurements. And while the first walls were up and Kees suggested one outcrop for a darker corner, well, we (read: I) thought that was a good idea and if one is good, than surely three or four is even better?
So how does it work? On the ‘roof’ on top of the thick iron mesh and pieces of metal we have to put the hessian-cement layer. We soak the hessian cloth that we cut into very large strips (160 x 40). Justino mixed cement, sand and water in a bucket and therein we put the soaked hessian cloth. We stirred it around and draped it over our wire. We first did the bat cave’s ceiling. It drips so you get nice and dirty. We completed the first layer with its undulations and the bulbous rock outcrop on the back with some true rocks. As a second roof layer we put on some scrap metal over one of the undulations and over that again more cement with hessian cloth and one of the very dirty t-shirts. We also put on a rusted one third of a 210 l. on the roof and covered that too. We put some scrap metal onto the walls of the bench-rock-to-be. And on we go. We then started using the much more easy to fold and bend chicken mesh to make outcrops attached to the concrete blocks, with nails or just by pressing them in between the blocks.
Every time I start working with gloves on, and at some point they get really wet. Even though the gloves have some rubber, it just pours in near the wrist. Try bending some wire over some hessian soaked in cement with wet rubber gloves on that make your fingers all wrinkly and sore from the cement. It is a real trick to try to hang a 2 meter by 40 cm piece of wet cement hessian by a nail or make it go upwards or concave against the folded mesh to defeat gravity. Try to cut with the special wire cutter the hessian cloth – a recipe to get a sore spot on top of a previous blister! Anyway, the gloves do help, however little. On one of the days, I went to get the gloves from the nursery. When I picked them up, one felt heavier than usual… so I carefully put the glove upside down and shook – and out came a very confused and sleepy Mouse Opossum! Instead of running far away, it decided to climb up the table in the nursery and there it went into an old ice-cream bowl that was full with seedpods from the Algoroba (those seedpods are larger than mouse opossum, which measures roughly 10 to 12 cm without tail).
When we cleaned out after a mornings work, a young green iguana came very close to us and licked the walls. We guess for calcium. There is also a permanent resident in the bat cave: a Bronze-backed climbing Skink (Mabuya unimarginata), called locally a ‘limpia casa’ or ‘house cleaner’. I guess we are making a mess. ; ) But I feel like that artist that wraps big buildings in sheets… only more permanent.
It still leaks a bit inside but a lot less then before and it is getting darker inside. On the 22nd of July, Justino and I did a morning work at the ceiling, back and entrance. And oh my, those “overhanging cliff parts” are truly tricky – also with plastering. What is left is “only” a nice ledge on the front… And thereafter a lot more plastering, rock placement and colouring. So it is to be continued… part 3.