Sticks and Concrete

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Concrete & Stick Structures in Belize

June through mid-November is considered the "slow season" on the island of Ambergris Caye. Businesses take advantage of this time to complete repairs and remodeling in anticipation of the upcoming tourist season.

The structures that house the various businesses are classified by the locals as either wood/stick or concrete construction. The distinction is important due to tropical storms and hurricanes that can threaten buildings on the island.

There are several buildings being remodeled and built new that I find myself inspecting and analyzing during frequent outings along Sea Grape Drive south of San Pedro. The buildings include a new concrete church, a two story concrete business renovation, a roof repair on a stick built restaurant and a new stick built golf cart structure.

The new golf cart dealership is the one that has fascinated me the most. Every time I pass by I'm thinking "this gives new meaning to the phrase stick built". The exterior of the building is a fairly standard frame construction. The interior is interesting. Wooden poles, similar to what we would use to support a wall tent, are placed at approximately 1-2 foot intervals throughout the interior. Most of us are familiar with supporting beams and trusses used to shore up a structure but this assembly perplexed me.

I was fortunate to be out one evening after the heat of the day succumbed to a cooler evening breeze. What I witnessed at the golf cart dealership was simply amazing. The street along the new building was bustling with activity and a crowd started to gather.

There was a succession of obviously experienced workmen aggressively performing a well rehearsed concrete "pour". 100 yards down the street there were several men mixing concrete which they poured into wheelbarrows. The wheelbarrows were then rushed to the front of the new building where they were emptied into 5 gallon buckets. A series of 4 men were then lifting the buckets to the awaiting crew on the roof of the building. The concrete was poured out of the buckets where several workers smoothed and leveled the new roof. The buckets were passed back down and the whole process was repeated for quite a long time. "Ingenious (and back-breaking)", I was thinking to myself as I snapped some photos.

Several of the workers happily took a short break just long enough to give me a shout and a wave. I think they were quite proud of their construction skills and brawn, as they well should have been. I had never seen anything quite like this.

A week and a half later, the wooden posts still embellish the interior of the building. I'm anxious to see the final product when the Stick and Concrete structure is finally complete! I'll be sure to post updated pictures.

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