After lunch, I was delighted and surprised when I peered into the storage shed to witness some construction. To animated
discussion, a few men were building a present for me: a desk and bench, with hand-sawn planks of wood left over from the
“This is now your office,” they said. “You must have desk and chair.”
“Ahsante, Ashanti [thank you],” I gushed, while exchanging hearty Tanzanian handshakes. Another moment to remember and
Mathew and I spent the following hour discussing the upcoming stages of work. Next would be the masonry walls. Then concrete
posts and lintel beams would be formed using the walls to support the wood forms. When finished, since the blocks are “non
structural,” the posts and lintel beams would contain the walls, effectively holding them in place. It was the standard construction
for small buildings seen everywhere. Structurally, this is very ingenious, and somewhat the reverse of our western method of
building the “posts” into the walls using hollow blocks to allow the installation of reinforcing rods and cement.
I discussed roof-framing details at length with Fabian. His method of tying down the roof rafters to the lintel beams with pieces of wire installed in the lintel concrete seemed a little iffy. I suggested installing threaded rods instead, that could be used to bolt down a wood plate along the lintel. Then the rafters could be nailed to them very easily, producing a stronger joint. He seemed to agree
but looked concerned. I knew that look. It meant “this is more expensive and who’s going to pay for it?” I allayed the concern by asking him to submit a price for the extra materials.
We spent eight productive hours at the site, but would need at least two to four more to complete the entire slab. Unfortunately,
time had run out; it would be dark before they finished; they would have to return in the morning.
It was late afternoon as we prepared to leave for Arusha. Only then did Mathew notice that his jacket missing. That was loudly
followed by an imported, western expression; the “f-word”. Apparently, someone had picked it up and thrown it in the bogged-down truck, thinking it belonged to the driver. Coincidently, we met the truck at an intersection in Karatu a little while later on the way home. The driver, somewhat reluctantly, handed over the jacket.
We wanted to get back quickly, so instead of stopping for a meal, we ate junk food along the way. Deo was sullen for most of the
ride back. Fatigued by the new experience of construction work, and worried about the new rattle coming from beneath the mud-
caked floorboards, he managed only the occasional mumbled comment; “I need 4-wheel drive... but I have not money....”
I was exhausted too. Deo got us back to Arusha without incident; the car intact, but looking a little battle-weary. He mentioned he would be a little “late for work” in the morning.