My final days at EA were full of fun holiday activities, but I had to balance those with the work that was still going on. The construction was in full swing, and I wasn’t going to be around through completion which meant I REALLY had to make sure I had my ducks in a row before leaving.

This actually didn’t get finished until after I left, but this is that shade structure we were working on for approximately an eternity! (aka 4 months)

About one second after reviewing my to-do list, I gave up on the nice idea that I could get everything done before leaving Peru. There was simply too much to do, between finishing the drawings and organizing the documents/construction pictures/files in a somewhat intuitive way for someone else to be able to find information in the future. Instead of rushing to get it done and doing a mediocre job after working so hard to do a great job on everything else, I decided to leave the things that could be done remotely to the future… a big ‘ole gift from past-Lara to future-Lara (that present-day-Lara has been ignoring… I know, I know. I’m going to get it all done, I promise! I just know that it’s going to be a pain in the butt, and I haven’t built up the courage to face it yet. Past-Lara is always sending me the absolute worst presents. It kind of makes you want not to open them, you know?).

So, I made the electronic work second priority because I could technically do it from anywhere. That freed me up to focus on the things that I could only do while in Peru and onsite. I gathered info sheets/manuals/etc. for the products we used and scanned/filed them. I took pictures of the light fixture boxes to document exactly what was installed. I sketched a diagram to further detail the fire alarm system installation because it was happening after I left, and I was worried that the drawings alone were confusing.

These are some electrical-unrelated pictures, but enjoy anyway… They decided to put a band of colorful tiles to brighten things up and also to help protect the walls. The old building doesn’t have tiles like this, and the bottom part of the wall is covered in pencil marks and marker lines, plus it’s just really dirty from people touching it. So this should hopefully help and is easier to clean than paint. Also, check out that gorgeous emergency light above the blue/purple tiles to the right! And that black hole next to it is for a siren/strobe for the uninstalled fire alarm system. AND this is a good picture to see how the wall facing us is structural – it’s made of bricks and then stuccoed – and the one containing the window isn’t. That wall is metal framing with drywall on the inside and cement board on the outside. They look pretty different now, but the goal is for them to look the same after the building is finished. WILL THEY? That’s the real question. Tune in next time to find out! (Wow, what suspense!)
Check out those pretty windows! Debbie found some window builders in the neighborhood, and while they did a bit of prep work ahead of time, when it was time to install the windows, they were cutting glass and assembling the frames and everything onsite to make sure they fit perfectly. This one is still missing the glass on top… it’s two sliding panes so the windows can be opened.
The roofed area to the left is the kitchen/lab, and to the right with the drywall-in-progress is two bathrooms (in the front) and a storage closet (behind).
Another view of the completed part of the roof. And you can also see the only column that’s freestanding in open space. Pretty impressive that they made a bamboo design to span the entire multi-purpose space without any columns in the middle!
Second side of the roof finally taking shape! Those trusses are crazy. Also, I know I just made a big deal about no columns in the middle… Those are temporary supports.
Teamwork! One guy is sitting on a piece of bamboo while the other cuts it. Strenuous work
This is standing under the already roofed area. You can see that the other side of the roof comes in below the finished roof… which meant that a gutter was extra necessary to keep water from dripping inside… which I suppose sounds basic, but you’re not guaranteed a gutter on these buildings, and the ones that exist are basically half of a PVC pipe running along the edge of the roof.

My electrician best friend, Hector, and I strategized a few things that weren’t totally worked out during the design phase. I’ll admit that I was kind of hoping they would vanish or solve themselves, but that’s generally not how things work, especially when you’re the only one responsible for that aspect of the project.

I learned the most during this phase of the project. As I spent more time with Hector and understood more about how everything fits together, I realized where I should have designed things differently or been more particular about their installation. If I ever design a building in Peru again, I will do a MUCH better job!

One of the things I had been avoiding was figuring out the internet situation, but this was mostly because I knew it was going to be a mess. Let me try to explain, and if it sounds totally ridiculous, you’re understanding it correctly. The property has four phone lines used for internet. Ideally, we would get a new line for the new building, so we called the internet company to ask about doing this and they sent a guy to talk through it with us. Here’s the gist of the conversation:


Me and Hector!

Internet man: Well, we aren’t selling new phone lines for internet because we’re focusing on fiber.
Me: Okay, then can we get a fiber connection?
Internet man: No, it’s not yet available here.
Me: When will it be available?
Internet man: Sometime this year. Maybe. We hope. (Our translator Dina was there and said not to put much faith in this claim because they’ve been saying the same thing for years.)
Internet man: There’s also another option! This is good for businesses and other clients who need more reliable service. It’s better than fiber and comes with any service or troubleshooting included.
Me: Okay, can we get that?
Internet man: No, it’s not yet available here.
Me: Soooo… what do you suggest we do?
Internet man: Wait for fiber to get here. It should be this year. Probably. I think.

Promising (not). I did at least get him to help me decide what to do for the cabling within the building. My goal was for it to work well whether it’s connected to a phone line or (maybe someday eventually) fiber and won’t be immediately outdated. Then, Hector helped to ensure that we were buying the right cables and connections and such.

To give you some context… The building along the right is the current classroom building, and the second floor has rooms where teams stay when they visit.
Our new building is straight ahead (obviously), and the already-roofed part is somewhat hidden behind the existing building.
And… we have lights on the roof! I actually didn’t get to see this… Debbie sent me this picture a few days after I left. But it’s very exciting!!

Hector also installed the projector mounts, ran an HDMI cable from each projector location to a wall box at outlet height, and installed the HDMI outlets so there’s not just a cable sticking out of the wall. We didn’t order these outlets until later in the construction process, and I didn’t realize that they’d need more space in the wall than a typical outlet… so Hector literally drilled through the backs of the boxes into the brick wall to make extra space. I’ll admit, sometimes Peruvian construction methods frustrate me, but the “make it work” attitude came in handy in this situation!

I also made a teeeeny mistake with the wire colors. Basically, you’re supposed to use three colors in a certain order in the panel, and I mixed up the order. Luckily, Hector realized it before he connected the wires, and after a brief panic, I realized that it could be fixed by moving the circuits around in the panel. Phew! But, that changed the circuit numbers which meant that every single drawing had to be updated to match… it was a big headache, but crisis (mostly) averted!

The HDMI outlet is to the right, looking all nice and clean and not indicating in the least the chaos happening behind. So you plug another HDMI cable into your computer and then into the wall, and you’re connected to the projector!
Debbie took this picture while walking by at the beginning of the wire color crisis, not realizing that at this moment, my brain was turning into dust and I was trying to disappear into the ground. Clearly it wasn’t going well.

The building still had a ways to go when I left. The major things: the roof wasn’t finished yet, and they weren’t planning to paint until January which meant that neither Debbie nor I have seen the actual completed building. It’s a little funny.

Me and Debbie with our building on the day that I left! I think this is actually the only picture we ever took of the two of us with the building.

NEXT TIME… completed building pictures coming your way!! I’m VERY excited about this.

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