ABOUT SKY HACIENDA

June Donaldson and Edward Garry live at an altitude of 2,600 metres in Mosoj Llajta, Yotala, 20 minutes from the colonial city of Sucre in Bolivia, South America. Using earth and stones from the land, we have sculpted beautiful buildings which compliment the high desert landscape and incorporate creative and innovative elements of design.

We have designed a high quality hotel in Sucre for guests who want to get off the treadmill of travelling from city to city in South America. At Sky Hacienda you can dictate your own timing and choose how to enjoy your stay, whether it is doing very little or exploring the best that the Andes in Bolivia has to offer.

16 February 2012

INSTALLING A GREY WATER MARSH

When Nick arrived at Sky Hacienda as a volunteer he wanted to spearhead an eco project. Our grey water was being recycled in principal but not being purified, so we asked him if he would like to build a grey water marsh.   A couple of hours research on the internet gave him a clear picture of what to do.
Nick assembles the pipes leading from the Roundhouse.
Nick and Geronimo construct a filtering system to remove grease and debris from the kitchen waste water.
A pit is dug to channel the grey water and lined with plastic sheeting.  Brick baffles are installed to slow down the water flow as it passes through the gravel.

As the marsh is on a slope a dirt wall is created to keep the water moving in the right direction.
A type of small marsh bamboo is planted in the gravel to assist in the purification process.  We can also harvest this bamboo to make windbreakers and fencing.
Barrels are installed to hold the water and we run electricity to the site so that the water can be pumped out.
A view of the pipe leading from the Roundhouse, feeding grey water through the filter and into the marsh.  It then continues its journey to the barrels.
Soon the marsh bamboo is thriving with the constant flow of water through its roots.
We quickly begin to see the results of this purification process as we are able to dedicate the water to the 200+ trees we have planted to form a windbreak against the prevailing wind.

This is such a simple inexpensive process that is particularly useful for harvesting water in countries with long dry seasons.  At the same time, when water is becoming the world's most precious commodity, it is something that everyone with a piece of land should be considering.

27 January 2012

PLANTING GRASS

Previously we had rejected the idea of planting grass in the Roundhouse garden.  The amount of water needed to keep it green during the dry season was prohibitive. But our gardening expert Rosando told us about a local grass called tepi that used surface roots to form a dense carpet that would hold in moisture.  Carmelo told us that his wife's grandmother had plenty on her farm in a neighbouring village.  So it was simply a matter of harvesting the turf, dividing it into smaller root clumps and then re-planting it in our garden.  We decided to plant the grass on the steepest slope to prevent soil erosion - in times of heavy rain this area could become a muddy riverlet.
Carmelo showed our volunteer Nick how to separate out the grassy roots.
Nick enjoyed planting the grass - said it was a meditation.

More volunteers joined in while Carmelo prepared the ground for planting.
Soon we had the beginnings of a lawn.

Carmelo patiently prepared each section, removing stones, coarse grass and adding manure.

Regular heavy rain in January helped the tepi roots to spread quickly and our soil erosion problem was soon in the past.  We still had a long way to go to prepare and plant such a large area, but we were so happy to have such a large expanse of green.

17 January 2012

FINISHING WORK

With the bones of the Roundhouse done, our workers returned from their Christmas break to focus on the construction of the house where our caretaker, Carmelo, and his family would live.

This left Ed with time to do finishing work. 
He installed the door to the living room

A perfect fit!
Ed gave the laminated plywood banister a final coat of varnish.
He installed the curtain rods to the living room windows.

09 January 2012

THE PORCH

Our volunteer Sky helped Ed start the porch structure. 

We used eucalyptus beams that were embedded into our thick adobe walls.
Ed installed the steel panels that would provide shade and keep the rain off.
Here is a view looking up from the top of the steps along the roof.
Ed applied a couple of coats of white paint to reflect the intense sun off the steel roof.
The walls were lime rendered and lime washed.   Our desire to create a simple porch area with clean lines had been achieved.   And we had our front door installed at last.

29 December 2011

JACUZZI MOSAIC WORK - DONE!

The decision to embark on a mosaic project for our large outdoor jacuzzi could have been seen as a crazy one.  Ed and I had no time to devote to the precision and continuous application required, so we decided to train our Workaway volunteers.  We chose the tile colours and drew out the design, showed how to break the tile, mix the adhesive to the correct consistency, stick it to the walls flat with no huge gaps and no tiny pieces, mix the grout, fill the cracks and then wipe it off to create a smooth finish.
Sina works on one of our fun fish.
The concentration is intense!
Soon the walls are completed and only the rim is left to do.
The grouting of the rim is still to be done but the jacuzzi looks beautiful.
Plenty of room for a few guests on the seat.
A good view of the fish.
Sina is so happy to be the one to finish the mosaic work.
Our volunteers did such a great job, with none of them having any experience of this kind of work.  We still had a bit of finishing work to do with the taps, the installation of a pump for the air jets and the solar heating system that we had planned.........

27 December 2011

CHRISTMAS 2011



Christmas is always a challenge when family and friends are so far away.  But as the song goes - "If you can't be with the one(s) you love, love the one(s) you're with".

Our volunteers Sina and Sky are staying with us over the holidays and they helped us decorate the living room. 
Sky decides to decorate himself.

On Christmas Eve our caretaker Carmello, his wife Lydia and their children Jose Miguel, Mariana and Adriana visit us to the see the fairy lights and to receive their presents.

On Christmas Day we prepare food for the barbecue.  Sina is vegetarian, so we make veggie kebabs.


They look pretty good!
Sky loads the barbecue.
The day is made complete by being able to talk to our loved ones now that we have a fixed landline.  If we could have transported them over to Bolivia the day would have been perfect!



19 December 2011

TERRACING ON THE POOL SIDE

After their great work on the dry stone wall that formed the terrace in front of the bedrooms, Rosando and Marcello moved to the other side of the Roundhouse, above the pool.  Although we had stopped the wind blowing the dust into the pool from the prevailing northerly direction by building the pool wall, we still had the occasional storms from the south.  So we set to work terracing the slope that ran down the side of the pool to contain the muddy water that ran down the slope during the rainy season.  Grassing the area adjacent to the pool would prevent mud splashing into the water in heavy rainstorms.

Our team construct the steps in the wall.
The wall is backfilled with rubble and small stones.
Ed and Carmello help haul a huge stone into place on the back wall of the terrace.
A mixture of leverage and brute force is required.  
Our workers leave for their 2 week break for Christmas.  On their return in the new year they will finish up the walls and prepare the ground below the terrace for grass sowing to take advantage of the highest months of rainfall in January and February.