Initial Steps: Locating Supplies

Due to a significant language barrier, finding resources in Mexico felt like an impossible mission.  It was the one task of this project that appeared to be more difficult then if we where to create adobe back home in California because neither one of us speaks Spanish very well.  Where were we going to get a shovel or a wheel barrow?  What about straw and an adobe frame?  However, thanks to our wonderful construction site, which we were provided with by one of the host parents of the program, most of the resources emerged.  Our first observation was an enormous  pile of wood and old doors. We thought it would be  perfect for the construction of our  foundation of our small scale adobe box.  

Then we noticed a large mound of dirt next to a stack of old adobe bricks. We easily came to the assumption that this dirt was used in the process of constructing adobe in the past.   To see if the dirt would be sufficient for making adobe, we tested it for clay content by adding some water and seeing if it would roll into a nice clay ball. And as we hoped it worked marvelously. At one point in the process there was uncertainty of how much adobe dirt we would need and if we had enough.  As a solution we broke up very aged adobe blocks and soaked them in buckets of water until they became mud again.  Later, we mixed this wet adobe mud in our dry dirt to start making new bricks.

In order to make adobe we needed fiber and we knew that straw was a readily available local product.   One of our Mexicano friends, Fernando, who was familiar with constructing  adobe took us a few blocks from the university to a feed store to purchase  a bail of straw.  He then helped us carry it all the way back to our construction site.  

Our next step was quite a process.  After acquiring the straw and consulting a few stores for an adobera (a rectangular wooden frame used to mold adobe bricks) we found that we had to go to a carpenter to get one custom made.  We had previously tried to barrow an adobera from a local family, but it turned out the life span of an adobe form is not very long and we did not want to damage it. It was then that we actually were blessed to find a form that was not in the best of condition, a bit weathered and cracking, on our construction site. We still decided to invest in a brand new adobera to take back to California and donate to HSUs Campus Center for Appropriate Technology (CCAT). We visited the local hard ware store and met Rebecca who directed us to a carpenter who could make us an adobera for under 200 pesos ($20).  We walked down the street, veered to the left and found Challo the carpenter. We explained to him where we were from and how we were attending the local community college for the summer.  Also that we were doing a project which required an adobe form.  He made us an adobera with the dimensions of about 14" by 19".

On our construction site, we were lucky to find not only an old adobe frame and dirt to use for adobe, but also: a shovel, 2 hoes, a hose and spickit, a wheel barrow, 4 buckets and a saw.  We also found some coarse sand that we could use for making plaster.  We had found the perfect backyard to construct our project.

The People Who Helped:

Seņora Armandina Ramos, who let us use her back patio as our construction site.


Our friend, Fernando Juarez Hernandez, our straw man.

Kendra and Seņora Rebecca Martinez Viera, in search of an adobera.

The carpenter who made our adobera, Seņor Challo.

The adobera (adobe form)