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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Habitat Houses as Built in Foreign Lands

After going through through the extreme poverty settlement, the path leads on to examples of Habitat building projects as they are built in various countries. These are not American McMansions. They are safe, solid homes that fit in, in the countries in which they are built.

The first country on the path is Mexico. It's a cozy block house with a courtyard and indoor plumbing.
Also in the Latin America / Caribbean area are Guatamala and Haiti.

This house in Guatamala features a block cookstove.

The Haitian house is a core house. It is designed so that the homeowner can add on to it later.

The Africa / Middle East section shows houses as built in Kenya, Botswana, Malawi, Ghana, Zambia, Uganda, South Africa, Congo, and Tanzania.
The Asia / Pacific section featured homes as built in India, Sri Lanka, and Papua New Guinea.

This house for India has built in concrete sinks and counters and laundry sinks.

In the back corner, that's a wood fired water heater.

I know that bathrooms are different in different parts of the world, but the extent of my "world traveling" has been the Bahamas and Germany, both of which use the same sort of plumbing we have in the USA.

In places such as Sri Lanka, they use toilets like this one. The one in the house for India is similar.
The New Guinea house is on stilts due to the monsoons there.
There is also an exhibit showing how blocks are made from local materials.

Many of the homeowners work off their equity making blocks for their houses.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here

This post, and the next, will be about my visit to Habitat for Humanity's headquarters in Americus, GA.  If you don't know, you can read about who they are and what they do on their website.  I'm going to assume that you have heard of their work, and go on to show you about my visit.

They have set up the GLOBAL VILLAGE AND DISCOVERY CENTER so that we can see what they are doing in other countries.  But first they want us to know what conditions are like in some parts of the world, and to understand how very needed plain, basic, decent, sound, functional housing is.

Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here.
Coincidentally, at the current USA minimum wage of $7.25/hr, a worker could earn about $1,231 in ONE month, not the 31 months it would take the minimum wage worker in Lima.

What really got me is the 728 administrative steps over three years. Really!?!

Come with me... Enter the reconstruction of a poor settlement, imagine yourself living there, trying to make a better life, trying to survive from day to day...

You would try to make a home.

You would use the community outhouse...
You might raise a chicken or two if you could.
You would gather for worship.

You would teach your children.
There would be stores, meager stores..

In my next post I'll show the examples they've built here of the homes they help people build there.
Right now, though, I'm going to watch the fisherman and the dog on the point across the sparkling sunlit waters and count my blessings - not that I can count that high...

Whitewater Creek Park in Oglethorpe, GA

I loved my week at Whitewater Creek Park.  I was so glad to have a week off from work so that I could extend my originally intended two or three days to eight.  I'm writing this from my lakeview site at Dames Ferry Campground, about which I just posted a blog, and at which I also extended my stay.

One of the neat things about traveling is variety.  These parks are quite different, but not in ways that make one better than the other.  Staying at them in the same month does invite comparison, though, so I'll indulge that temptation after I tell you more about Whitewater.

This is part of the campground from the fishing pier. My neighbors had lines in the water all the time!

I got to have a campfire.

Every morning, Ranger, the superintendent's dog, would come greet me and get petted. He's a sweetie - given time, he could probably have made a dog-person of me.

A storm went through the area while I was there. The predictions were for rain, hail, sleet, and high winds. I've had my fill of high winds, so I rolled up my awning, put everything away in the bays, and helped my neighbors batten down their hatches. We lucked out: all we got was rain. LOTS of rain, but not even any wind at all. I heard they got more serious weather not far away, but it missed us.

The bath house is centrally located in the campground.

Right near it is a screened pavillion, with a brick fireplace and lots of tables inside.

Downstream - downpond? - from the campground is the beach. There's another pavillion down there for groups to rent.

There's another fishing pier.

And you can just sort of see the campground from there.

Whitewater Creek Park is a county park.  Dames Ferry Park is run by Georgia Power.  They are similar in amenities: bath house, pavillion, campsites with more or less shade, more or less shoreline.  Fishing, boating, even with an outboard motor.  Swimming probably - I haven't found where you swim in Lake Juliette but I'm sure you could.  Whitewater has some full hookup sites.  Dames Ferry is all water and electric, with a nice dump station on the way out.   Dames Ferry has a 2 week limit, so they really don't need full hookups, whereas some people do keep their campers at Whitewater for the whole season.   They are both very pleasant places to be and places I would like to return to - WITH that kayak that's sitting in Virginia because I didn't think I'd need it over the winter.

They are different in atmosphere: the difference is one of open space or filled space, sunlight or shade, lawn or woods, living room or family room.

I'm not saying Dames Ferry doesn't have shade - it is definitely wooded.  But it's a more manicured woods. It has well defined sites with gravel and landscape timbers and concrete and steps.  It has lawn.  Its shorelines are well defined and sometimes created with rock and concrete steps.  There is no question about where your rig is supposed to be.  There are iron fire rings.  The campground loop is a paved road with gravel roadways off it to the sites.

Whitewater Creek's shade extends all the way to the water's edge.  There is down and dead wood lying around for the campfire.  The sites have numbers, and poles with electric, and water hookups, and sometimes sewer hookups, but you can park your rig however you think best.  You can gather rocks for a fire ring if you can find them, or just sweep away the debris.  It's the kind of place where you might catch a mess of fish and feel comfortable inviting your neighbors to join you for supper.

And that's what I love about my nomadic lifestyle - When I drove into Whitewater Creek, what I desperately needed was peace, quiet, informality, woods.  And there it was.  When I came to Dames Ferry I needed sunshine, beauty, electricity and a place to stay away from other people 'til I got over the darn cold.  And there it was.

Now if the cold would just get the heck out of my nose!

(I have lots more pictures to go, tune in soon for Andersonville, Plains, and the Global Village.  And the other big news, relative to Time Traveling.)

And leave comments.  Don't let the bot-filter scare you off.  I just hate spam is all.

Dames Ferry Park at Lake Juliette in Georgia

It's peaceful, and beautiful, and quiet - it has electricity - I'm not quite well yet - and really, I just didn't want to leave, so I sprung for another night and don't have to leave 'til tomorrow.

This is my camp, seen from finger of land that's off to my right when I'm in camp. I hope I can come back here, for a longer time, WITH my kayak.

This was my neighborhood on Easter Weekend. On the finger of land I'm shooting from is a picnic pavillion, which was rented by folks having an Easter party, with easter eggs hidden for the kids.
The RVs next to me had some sort of gathering - I could tell from the bits of conversation that there was lots of food involved.

There are no bad sites here, just a nice variety. This one has a patio. Various sites have more or less lake access, or more or less shade, or more or less space.

There are tent sites also, some in the sun

And some in the shade.

There's another pavillion up by the bath house, and the bath house is well built and clean.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Today's Yard: Dames Ferry Park

Today's Yard, at Dames Ferry Park on Lake Juliette
Since my last post, from the lovely and peaceful Whitewater Creek Park, I

  • finished out my week there and took lots of pictures
  • Camped at Andersonville City Park in Andersonville GA
  • Toured their museum and pioneer village, ate good food, ate good ice cream
  • Toured the NPS Andersonville site and POW museum
  • Helped convert a Harvey's Supermarket to a Food Lion Supermarket in Americus GA
  • Toured the Global Village and Discovery Center at Habitat for Humanity's headquarters
  • Visited Plains GA, where I toured the Jimmy Carter NHS, Billy Carter's gas station, and their childhood home farm
  • Got sick.  By the end of Thursday, my throat was horribly sore, I was feverish, and the skies were scheduled to open up upon us.  I thought maybe some wasabe would help, so I had dinner at the oriental buffet across from the Americus Walmart, then spent the night in the Walmart parking lot.  By this time I really felt pretty awful, but I figured I would get up in the morning and return to Andersonville or Whitewater and get a campsite.  
  • By Friday morning it was raining cats and dogs and confederate soldiers, and my sinuses were seconding the motion.  I did not move.  I did not drive.  I did nothing but take ZICAM and read Facebook and If Ever I Return, Pretty Peggy-O by Sharyn McCrumb.  Read it.  Read everything she writes.  Good stuff.  
  • Anyway...  by this morning (Saturday) my fever was gone and I felt almost human.  I went into Walmart to replenish the ZICAM supply and thank the Store Manager profusely for their pro-RV policy.  When you're traveling in unfamiliar territory, and illness and flood warnings coincide, a Walmart on high ground is a wonderful blessing.
  • I fed the motor home 40 gallons of gas and 2 turkey basters of steering fluid - where DOES that stuff go? - and headed north to Dames Ferry Park at Lake Juliette, Jackson?  GA  which turns out to be even prettier than what I'd seen on Google's satellite view.  I have a LAKE in my front yard - one that is supposed to be there.   Unfortunately, it's still drizzling rain.  I really hope it clears up by tomorrow because I want to be outside making Vitamin D and enjoying the lakeside.  And wishing my kayak were here with me.  Again.  NTS: don't go south without the boat!!!
  • The other thing I did, while I was at Jimmy Carter's boyhood farm, was run out of room on the memory card in my camera.  Fortunately, I have a camera in the phone too.  I promise I will go through the pictures and post the details of those excursions.  Tune in in a day or two...

Friday, April 04, 2014

Today's Yard: Whitewater Creek Park

After nearly 3 months of peace and quiet at Stagger Lee Music Park, I went off to work last Sunday, spending the next 4 days in the supermarket parking lot.  When not used to it, I remember how noisy modern civilization is.  People.  Emergency vehicles.  Traffic noise. 
And traffic vibration.  I could actually feel the floor, and the earth, vibrate from it, through my feet.
I've been working in supermarkets and staying in their lots for a lot of years, so I'm mostly used to it, but it's never my idea of choice accommodations.  Give me trees, water, quiet - please!
So right after work, on the recommendation of a local friend, I came here for the weekend.  Whitewater Creek Park is a county park right by Whitewater State Park.  Trees, lake, quiet...  Much better now.