When I was thinking about what this book would be, I was inspired to write a pretty book, because in this part of Ecuador, bordering the Podocarpus national park, it is impossible to take a bad picture, and I love writing about this impossibly beautiful place. However as we began the project of transforming a dry, rocky hillside in southern Ecuador into a lush, comfortable paradise, the nuts and bolts of the project consumed me. But who wants to read a book about how to build a house in the Andes? How many bricks? How to dig footers and mix cement? Proportions for parging versus pouring foundations? Would I bore readers to tears with my obsession with designing a system of stone terraces according to permaculture principles?
I thought maybe I would try a sort of Steinbeckian, intercalary approach. Write an amusing chapter about local fiestas, another about installing a transformer, then another about riding up the mountain on a fine Peruano pacer to see local orchids, and another about how to run wiring while laying up adobe walls. So if, like me, you are a construction junkie, you can skip the lyrical stuff and go straight to the rockpile, the sweat and cement dust.