Our 'bible' for constructing our house is 'Building with Cob' by Adam Weismann and Katy Bryce. It is full of detailed information on earth building, the only challenge for us being how to translate British weather conditions into high altitude desert climate.
When it came to limewashing the adobe walls, the advice from Adam and Katy was to dampen the walls before painting and keep them damp after painting for 48 hours. Easy to do in the damp British climate but in the high desert of Bolivia the sun is fierce - the limewash dries as soon as it touches the walls. The result of our first test was disheartening.
We needed to add something to the limewash to help it stick, and our neighbour Victor gave us a suggestion used by his father when limewashing adobe walls.
We had to find some prickly pear cactus. Victor and Ed then cut it up and bashed it with a small axe to aid the release of the juice.
It was then placed in a large barrel of water and left for a week.
The cactus was then removed from the barrel leaving a glutenous liquid that, when added to the lime putty instead of water, gave a latex quality to the mix. It enabled the limewash to stick to the walls.
We were very pleased with the trial using the new mix, and very happy to have Victor's local knowledge.
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.