A House Of Cards…

You know those reports we get up in the U.S. when there is an earthquake somewhere else in the world and like, 250,000 people die?

I always remember thinking, “MAN, those earthquakes they get in South America are WAY worse than the ones here in California!”

Now I simply realize that every building down here is just a house of cards waiting to collapse on itself.

We’ve been watching the construction of the hotel across the street for 3 weeks now, and honestly, I don’t know what’s holding it up. For real, check out the five story stair case and how the steps consist of nothing but concrete suspended in air with no support. Yeah, I think I’d take the elevator. I’m sure it’s safer.

I give major props to the guys working on this building. I’m not convinced their union has the best negotiating skills becasue the safety protocol around here is basically non-existent.

Hard hat what? Safety Harness??? Yeah right. These guys are doing brick work four stories off the ground, hanging off the edge of an unsupported concrete floor, wearing Nike running shoes from the 1970s with absolutely no traction.

Incidentally, all the bricks are carried up 5 flights of stairs by hand, 2 at a time.

Although rare, scaffolding is erected in special cases where exterior work is required, which cannot be accomplished by hanging over the edge while a buddy holds the back of your t-shirt.

The scaffolding consists of some bamboo polls tied together with some ratty twine. I’m sure it’s bomber though.

I’ve yet to see a single piece of rebar, but it’s in there somewhere, right?

I’m no engineer, but I suspect that an earthquake of any size would flatten Ecuador. Just an observation. I’m probably wrong. We should refer to the FEMA South American Earthquake Action Plan:

What to do in an earthquake: 

“If you are indoors, stay indoors unless you are in the ground floor (first floor to Americans) where you can easily run outside. The best thing to do if you are indoors is to hide under a sturdy piece of furniture like a bed or desk. Do not try to head for the stairway if you are living in an upper story, as chances are the stairways may collapse.



Yes, Thank you FEMA. We’ll follow these instructions.

I’m sure everyone will be just fine.




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  1. fuck fema!!

  2. Hark, I sense a touch of sarcasm! Or maybe it’s a lot of sarcasm!
    LOL – yuoper, the building codes and safety codes are pretty much non-exitent in Central and South America – what the heck – they’re luck to have a job, much less a safe job!
    Half or more of the world lives like this and the world still turns on it axis.
    Just a matter of life in Ecuador.
    I do not fight it, argue against it, I am just thankful that I do not have to live like that.
    Funny article Tree – sarcasm well used.
    John D. Wison

  3. Concrete construction in Latin America is very different from anything you are used to. If that area is prone to earthquakes the important thing is how the foundation was constructed. I can assure you that there was plenty of support under those staircases when the concrete was poured–probably bucket-load by bucket-load carried up on laborers backs.

  4. Actually! Please sit next to the sturdy object of choice! Not under it! The thing your under might collapse on impact! If your next to it you still might have some room to be alive… live in the triangle.
    Little Lava

  5. I can’t believe that you are just seeing this. I have been stoked to see the lack of safety protocol here in eastern Europe just because the SP in the states in so exhaustive. It seems like there is a balance of how safety can help you work faster with out slowing out down. Maybe the Ecuadorians are on the wrong end of this spectrum.

  6. Arlene Burns says:

    ahhhh, but don’t underestimate the strength of bamboo!


  7. Looks like fun out there. Your really living a dream rt now. So get your head in the clouds and float. See ya soon. Lorenzo.

  8. Sounds like you have a new career as a building inspector in Equador
    Tom Massey …I will come be your helper

  9. monica kelly says:

    NO HARDHATS REQUIRED……..its only plaster of paris!!!!!

    it’s a STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN…cuz you know your gonna die if you are here during an earthquake…or if someone thinks its actually a “drive thru” ……….as I said before.,…fuck fema cuz they only look good on paper!!!!

  10. dharma beach says:

    all the guys have hard hats but they don’t all wear them by choice. the building is held together by iron and concrete. its sold iron and concrete. all the iron is tied together it is much stronger then the way they build in the usa with wood and sheet rock. those house in venice a or even beverly hills are all made of wood so they can make them as fast as possible and make america be in debt as fast as possible.it is much more expensive to build in cement. it is alo much safer. even if there was an earthquake the building would not fall. because the whole thing is one piece of iron and concrete tied together. in ecuador you also need may different permits to build and have all sorts of engineers come out and test the land etc… in asia even the high rises are built using bamboo scaffolding. it is very popular all around the world. thanks for the article on the tree we put that there for people like you so you can see what we are about before you guys rip on the rest of the project before it is even finished. think outside the box

  11. Hi Dharma,
    Thanks for the info. We stand corrected. We had no idea the building was constructed of so much iron. The only think we saw was concrete. It sounds like a much safer place to be in an earthquake. It’s going to be a beautiful hotel when finished. The Dharma restaurant was our favorite in Montanita, and the carved tree was unforgettable.

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