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La Escuela Caribe gets a New Roof

It doesn't rain in Río Caribe. It pours! And, as we discovered in November 2004, the school's old roof was full of leaks. A little patching here and there proved ineffective. The rain dripped on the children's desks and formed puddles in every classroom. The old roof had had its day. Our landlord was in no mood to invest in a new roof. And so we bought the building and did the necessary work ourselves.


Before and after. In March 2004, we signed a contract to rent the building above, the home of the Free School. A year later, we took the decision to invest in the school's long-term future with a complete new roof.


The first pictures of the work in progress: stripped of its roof, the school looked very vulnerable - a mere shell of old walls!

The roof retains the traditional colonial design introduced to Río Caribe by Corsican cocoa farmers in the 19th century. Caña brava (cane) and locally-cut wooden poles form the basic construction. Hot work in the midday sun!

Our builder said the work would take six weeks. That would be too long to have the school closed and the children missing classes. Could he do it all in three weeks? Yes, he said. But a lot of the wooden structure was rotten - a whole week was needed to replace beams. And so the work was completed in four weeks.

Time for a break.

With the woodwork complete, the tiling begins. Several thousand tejas criollas (traditional Creole tiles) will be laid in the coming days.

Finishing off the front roof.

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A classroom ceiling - now well-protected from the elements.

Light and symmetry.

The fans are back in place too.

Filling the cracks in the school corridor.

When all is done, the inner walls will need a coat of paint.

There we are!

And the children are back to school - smiling faces all round!

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