How to: Build a house 101

In Samaipata we were able to help out a Spanish family. I already talked about them before. They had two small but beautiful houses, one they lived in and the other one they were renting out. But their plans are much bigger. They want to build another, bigger house where they wanted to move into and then live off the rent of the other two and eventually from that money travel a little bit in South America. So we were happy to help. At the moment they are working on a small garden hut for their tools and to provide their volunteers a sleeping space upstairs. We helped to render that from the inside and out.

Like all of their other buildings they made it the traditional Bolivian way after forming them with common bricks. So actually they would make their own mud to clean up the walls to make the last layers before the paint. I know I am describing this in a very basic form but firstly I don’t have any idea of this and secondly this is really how basic it was.

We then also made our own mud for our work. It all started with stomping soil with water until it got smoother. We then added sand, tuna water – a cactus that gives off sticky juice – and hay to the pool and mixed it again with our feet until it had the perfect texture to be thrown onto the wall. Haha, this sounds so funny, but that was literally what we did. We moistened the wall with a water hose and then threw the mud on it, a lot of mud, and then smoothed it out so it would be a nice wall. After a few days when it was completely dry you could apply another layer, this time a littler thinner and without any hay.


It was a lot of dirty work and we used to look like a few pigs after playing in the mud, but as soon as you got into the dirt it didn’t really matter to you anymore and then it started to be fun actually. Halfway into our time there a Spanish-Italian couple started helping out too and times passed even faster while talking to them about anything and everything.


This was probably our favorite Workaway yet. The family and the atmosphere was perfect and you could really feel how they appreciated our help and that they actually need it. They even joined us with the work from time to time. The good thing was that you could also see how things moved on and how far we’ve already come and that was a good feeling to have and was satisfying when we left. We were really lucky to be able to stay with them and we often thought back to the few weeks and wished we would still be there.




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