Mention the word ‘termites’ to anyone who lives in a country where they are found and they will probably turn a few shades paler. Termites are similar to ants, and cause untold damage to almost any kind of wooden structure, including homes, fences, furniture and so on. They even burrow underneath buildings, making huge nests, which de-stabilises the foundations, and when it rains, the whole building can collapse. If you want to see more about the damage they can cause, take a look at my previous post ‘The War Against the Termites‘.
Termites are a huge problem here at Balaba Nature Camp, and we are constantly looking for ways to defeat them. As well as getting into the rooms, they also eat away at our wooden beds, meaning they have had to be replaced regularly. That is very inconvenient and it’s also expensive! So we have decided that we will begin a gradual process of tiling our floors and making concrete beds in an effort to overcome these problems. Of course, tiles can be costly, but one of the fashions here is to use ‘broken tiles’ a bit like crazy paving, and you can buy sacks of broken tiles in the market at Brikama.
We have been planning this a while, and already had some sacks of broken tiles, but recently Lamin’s nephew Abu has been visiting from Dakar. He is an experienced tiler, and he kindly offered to do some tiling for us. Lamin had already made a start on making concrete beds (more about that next time!), but Abu decided to start with the floors, so we bought some sacks of cement and off he went. Watching him work was absolutely fascinating, so I’ve taken some photos to show you – another of Lamin’s nephews who lives with us (Sang-Marie) is acting as apprentice!
The broken tiles were transported to the room in the wheelbarrow.
To lay the tiles, first the floor is covered with concrete mix.
Then water is put down to dampen it.
Everything is carefully smoothed out using a spirit level to make the surface completely horizontal.
Abu then marked out his intended design using a trowel.
Working slowly and carefully, he selected and shaped tiles to fit his design.
He used a plank to make sure the tiles were laying flat and well pressed into the cement.
Gradually the whole design took shape.
Here is Abu working in another room.
It’s painstaking work to make sure everything fits.
But the end result is fabulous.
Needless to say, we are thrilled with how the rooms are taking shape. We are slowly working our way through some of the other rooms, although the budget won’t stretch to doing the larger roundhouses yet. But hopefully this will give the termites a bit of a toothache, and means that we won’t need to keep replacing our beds!