As part of our programme, each student chose an independent study project (ISP) on which to focus during our three week stay in Tiquipaya. A vast array of fields were chosen, including cooking, weaving, dancing and jewellery making. Livana chose to learn about traditional Bolivian building.
It was not difficult to choose a mentor for this course. Don Abdon is our resident building maestro and he has mentored many previous Dragons’ students as well as constructing various amazing structures at our programme house.
And there was already a project in the planning that would serve perfectly for Livana’s project. Valentina, who co-ordinates pretty much everything that we do in Tiquipaya, including finding our ISP mentors, wanted an outdoor stove built for chicha preparation.
Chicha is a traditional drink in South and Central America usually made from fermented corn and extremely important to Bolivia culture. The Cochabamba region is quite famous for its chicha production and Valentina’s chicha has quite a reputation. Some chicha production is now using modern production techniques and equipment but Valentina, like most, maintain tradition and use firewood and clay pots.
The construction was to involve mostly natural materials such as adobe, although some kiln fired bricks were also employed for practical reasons. Being outside, the oven would also need a small roof as well.
Adobe is essentially sun dried mud bricks and most of Bolivia was built in this way. Some walls are more than a metre thick and the thermal qualities are impressive. As the pictures show, the adobe bricks are first positioned and then ‘cemented’ into place with more clay. The surface of the structure is also shaped by hand with the clay.
Holes were then dug for the posts, beams added and roof sheets nailed down. The completed construction is both aesthetically pleasing and practical. Valentina is very happy with her new construction. Livana is very happy with what she has learnt and constructed and Abdon is very much impressed with his latest student!