Complete Cob Bungalow in Utuado, Puerto Rico
January 21, 2024 ∞ 4:00 pm - February 25, 2024 ∞ 4:00 pm$2500 – $2700
INTRODUCTION & LOCATION
CruzinCobGlobal presents its first Carribbean workshop ever at Finca Remedio (visit website and Instagram page for more info), a 40-acre permaculture farm in the mountains of Puerto Rico, in January & February of 2024!. We are so excited to bring Cob to Puerto Rico and especially to the more indigenous traditional zone of Utuado, in the center of the island, where most people already live sustainably and from and in harmony with the land. The mountains of Utuado harbor a highly-fertile and mostly innocuous and
tranquil jungle environment with a more humid climate, clean rivers & waterfalls, fresh drinking water, breathtaking hikes and amazing views of the island. While the Finca is neighborless and a bit isolated, it is only a 10-minute car drive to the main town of Utuado, where everything can be found to support the workshop and students.
Being a hurricane-prone location, we proudly bring our Cob Building as a first test site in the face of the 100+mph winds that can show up in summer and fall! Our monolithic Cob Cottage wall alone weighs about 30 tons and is an average of 10″ thick (larger at the base and narrower at the top). The reciprocal roof we build is also very heavy as it is framed with young tree trunks and has an extremely stable spiral configuration, in which each roundwood rafter supports and is supported by neighboring rafters in an interdependent structure. Any movement in the roof translates to a circular interlocking motion which strengthens it. Reciprocal roofs have no weak points as do rectangular post & beam roofs and buildings, in their corners. We will plaster with added protection for strong horizontal rains (in the rainy season) and always using only natural ingredients of course!
Our international workshops are always a beautiful life-changing and transformational experience as both the local and non-local students come together to build a small “house” in 5 weeks. Often the language and cultural differences at the start create the initial curiosities and desire to connect in other ways, and by week 2 the salsa dancing, singing, movement, and other personal activities at morning circle deepen the new bond and unite yet another Cob family at the heart level, sustained by and sustaining the physical work of building and creating for a common goal.
While the workshop will be taught primarily in English, if we have students that don’t speak English, we will be prepared to offer the teaching materials in both languages and support the Spanish-speaking students with simultaneous translation.
We are your Hosts, Naldo and Alexa, and the caretakers of this precious land. We have been creating this homestead from the jungle for 7 years. “Finca Remedio is off-grid and off-road; we use solar power, gravity-fed fresh spring water and compost toilets. We have planted over 500 fruit trees in our dense forest, with the emphasis on cacao.
Naldo was born and raised in Puerto Rico near San Juan and is 38 years old. He went to California for college and met Alexa in Humboldt, Northern California. Naldo is very passionate about all things musical, he specializes in latin percussion, playing congas, bongos, timbales, clave etc. and has more
recently learned how to read music, play piano, bass, harmonium, DJ and is experimenting making electronic music. He is also interested in the healing arts with plant medicines and massage. He hosts men’s gatherings on our farm a few times a year.
interested in the healing arts, medicine making and healing modalities, especially Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine. She is happiest when singing. Alexa will be the main cook for the workshop. Naldo and Alexa are both devotees of Amma, the hugging mother and living Saint from Kerala. Amma is the guiding inspiration of Finca Remedio as we strive to provide a healing space for those seeking to elevate consciousness. The name Finca Remedio or Remedy farm symbolizes this intention of being medicine, the medicine of nature, community and spirit. Remedio – returning to a balanced medium.
After Hurricane María we built a 4- dome Superadobe home with the guidance of our teacher Ayal Bryant and the support of volunteers. We also have 4 dogs (not good if you are afraid of dogs) 2 cats, 40 laying hens, and a humble vegetable garden. To sustain ourselves financially we offer community workshops most Sundays on a variety of healing arts, sustainability practices and artistic expressions. We also sell value-added products made from farm harvests like medicines, jams, hot sauces etc. and rent out a glamping deck on Airbnb. We are just two souls trying to grow and serve as much as we can in this human experience. You can see our project at fincaremedio.com as well as on FB and IG at Finca Remedio.
We live in an epically beautiful area with endless river spots, including our magical river, Cañon Blanco and los Morrones. Utuado is also home to one of the highest peaks on the island for adventurous hikers and the Caguana ceremonial park for those interested in prehispanic history.
Our farm is a deep nature experience in the steep mountains of the central mountain range. It is a very humid tropical rainforest and rains most days of the year. In January & February the weather is perfect, with cool nights and comfortable days ranging from 65-85 F. Usually it rains less this time of year but it will still rain. We recommend being rain-ready with rubber farm boots, rain jacket, tarp for hanging over your tent, rain jacket, umbrella, hat, long pants and long sleeves with quick-drying fabric. Also you should bring a swimsuit, quick-dry towels, head lamp, sleeping bag etc. We can do a quick trip to the local hardware store for students who want to buy boots, tarps, ropes etc.
Students will be camping on our land, where we have flat spots for tents not far from the communal kitchen deck and build site, the compost toilets and cold showers. We are blessed to have lots of clean water. Our farm is bordered by two creeks and a crystalline river, Rio Pellejas, which has epic swimming holes and waterfalls for the adventurous hikers (300 steps down a steep slope). Fortunately our forest is a balanced ecosystem and mosquitoes are not a big problem,
and you won/t even notice them if you wear pants. This is a very friendly jungle and there are no dangerous spiders or snakes. Our farm is relatively isolated, we have no close by neighbors and the town of Utuado is a 10-minute drive away. We are 40 mins from the town and beaches of Arecibo, 50 minutes from the town of Ponce, and 1h20mins from San Juan. You can see Finca Remedio on Google Maps. If you want to travel the island on the weekends we recommend renting a car or hitchhiking. There is very limited public transportation in Puerto Rico and now Uber is beginning to serve more areas, including ours. We do have WIFI and most cell phone carriers have good service in our zone.
We will be building a 14m2/150ft2 round cob bungalow/cottage for Alexa and Naldo’s Finca that will serve as an additional dry structure on our very wet land. It might be used for receiving friends, family, volunteers, giving massages, as a music studio and probably will be rented out during the high tourist season to generate income for our project. This will be their 2nd natural building and first Cob building. Their existing home is a Superadobe structure with 4 domed areas that was built over 3 months with many volunteers. Students in this Advanced Cobber Certification training will, as always, learn all the steps to building a complete cob building from scratch: digging the trench and building a stone foundation and pouring the floor in week 1, building the monolithic cob wall with all its detailed insertions in weeks 2 & 3, sculpting the wall in week 3, plastering in week 4, building the completed roof in weeks 4 & 5 and finally finishing and oiling the wall on the last day of week 5.
DETAILED WORKSHOP DESCRIPTION
The 35-day Advanced Cob Building Workshop consists of 25 days (Monday through Friday) of learning & construction for 4 hours in the morning and 3 hours in the afternoon with theoretical instruction (lectures with graphics) on most Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons to complement the hands-on experience.
Students arrive on Sunday between noon and 2pm and settle in. The workshop begins at 4pm with the Opening Circle followed by a Host Site Orientation and Introduction to the Project. Dinner is served at 6pm, and will be followed by an Introduction to the 5-week Workshop by Instructors Claudine Désirée and Josh Burg. Monday morning we begin digging the trench for our Cob Building!!!!
Following Breakfast from 7:30-8:15am, the morning learning/building session begins at 8:30 am and lasts until 1pm with a 20-minute snack pause at 11am. Lunch break is from 1pm to 2:30pm, which includes a rest time before the 3-hour afternoon session begins. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays there is a 60-minute lecture, followed by construction time. Tuesdays and Thursdays students begin
building again right after the rest time. After class in the afternoon there is a 90-minute break before dinner (served from 7pm to 8pm), in which students are encouraged to stretch, do some type of relaxation/movement practice, go swimming, walking and just relax.
There is sometimes a work trade student officially or informally leading yoga and movement practice in the mornings or afternoons (depending on student preference). There will also be 3-4 evenings (once a week) after dinner for showing slides,videos and having Course-related discussions. Other evenings are mostly free and sometimes students offer informal courses in their specialties and passions. Mondays are reserved for our weekly Council Circle, where we do a deeper sharing and listening to attend to the inner worlds of our students and staff during this intense experience.
On weekends students are free to explore the area, rest onsite, and even continue building, with Instructor approval. Weekend meals are provided by students who can use the kitchen. Hosts will take students to Utuado to buy food for the weekend.
The 35-day Course will offer practical learning by building a complete 10m2-15m2 (depending on number of students) curvilinear building from foundation to roof, as described in the “Project” section. Those who complete the 35-day Workshop will receive an Advanced Cobber Certificate of Completion for Foundation, Cob Walls (which includes Door, Windows, Shelves, Art, Electrical Housing & Plumbing preparation), Floor, Plaster & Roof.
The Advanced Cob Building Workshop begins on a Sunday at 4pm and ends on a Sunday, 5 weeks later, after the morning Closing Circle & Brunch. Students can arrive a day or two before to acclimate and settle in (please let us know) but will need to cover their own food needs unless a work trade is approved by Host.
The daily schedule (subject to slight modifications due to climate/time of year) will be:
2:30-5:30 Class (Lecture on MWF’s)
8:00-9:00 Slides/Videos/Discussion (once a week)
Students are expected to be on time and participate in all sessions and required activities as the goal of building a full construction depends on the whole group working together!
Students will learn every phase of building a cob building from foundation through the reciprocal roof in hands-on building and lectures/theory. In addition to the lectures, slideshows and videos will be shown to support and enhance their understanding of cob materials, cob building, design, geography, budgeting, business options and legal issues.
Our hands-on practice will include:
digging foundation trench
pouring gravel and inserting drainage pipe (if applicable)
building foundation stemwall
analyzing soils and materials
making test bricks
deciding on correct mixture
deciding on best location
making cob w/ partner and solo
building with cob
preparing and inserting the door
preparing and inserting fixed and opening windows
preparing and inserting shelves
inserting bottle windows, glass and other objects
inserting electrical housing and outlet/switch boxes (when applicable)*
insert PVC pipe for plumbing in walls (when applicable)*
preparing and applying earthen plasters (1 coat)
pouring an earthen floor (1 layer)
preparing walls for roof connection
building reciprocal roof frame
putting on sheathing and other elements (if applicable)
installing metal roof covering
making small-scale cob designs of future projects, time permitting
In addition to Cob Building practices, the Course material
legal cob construction practices & the international cob code (Appendix AU in the IRC)
creating a cob business (building/teaching)
assisting, interning and teaching with CruzinCobGlobal
*While the insertion of electrical housing and one or more outlet/switch boxes and PVC pipes to hold plumbing are always included in the workshops, the simplicity or complexity depends on the host’s design and preferences. There will be no electrical wiring or plumbing pipes installed during workshop. That is beyond the focus of this course and requires professional experience and certification/licensing.
REQUIREMENTS & IMPORTANT INFORMATION
Students will need to come prepared for demanding physical work from Day 1.
This includes bringing:
Work clothes appropriate for the country and climate we are in
Work boots or other closed-toe shoes (for foundation and roof)
Flip-flops (for cobbing/plaster days)
Rubber dishwashing gloves (for lime mortar)
Work Gloves (for stone work)
Wood Hand Saw (cheap)
Hammer (if possible)
Japanese plastering trowels (email:email@example.com)
Ear Plugs (roof week)
4”-6” Diameter Round Plastic Container Lids (for plastering)
Carpenter Pencil & Sharpener
Sample of your Soil (optional)
These workshops are designed for people that want to learn how to build a complete structure from start to finish in a professional manner and amount of time. They are very intensive and, while we make time for yoga, stretching, dancing, music, relaxing….all students are expected to be present and participating in all building/learning hours unless ill or have some other significant reason. This is because we design the size of the building and organize the structure of the workshop in accordance with the number of students and when people are absent it impacts the whole group and the other students have to work harder. In addition Instructors try to set up building work according to students’ preferences and learning needs.
That being said, the workshop intensity also changes from week 1 to week 5. The first foundation week breaks people in with the work of moving, lifting, rolling and placing rocks and is a new and demanding physical experience for most students. It also includes the first layers and coat of cob floor. The second week and part of the third week of cob making and building are similar to the rock foundation week in physical demand but are more flowing and active in movement and cardiovascular exercise. On Thursday & Friday of week 3, the workshop takes a turn and slows down and the body can rest as students tap into their creative source now and design and sculpt the walls and around niches, shelves, windows, etc. This is a very special rewarding experience and time of the workshop, decorating the walls with visual beauty and meaning as expressed by each unique student. Usually there is an overarching theme decided on by Host(s).
Plastering follows sculpting and is also an enjoyable more lightweight physical experience that lends itself to talking and sharing at the wall in a meditative rhythm as the students have bonded and shared deeply through a variety of experiences for a month. On day 5 of week 4, the roof begins. This part is the beginning of a change of pace from the earthen building work to carpentry skills, power tools, drilling, hammering, screwing, trimming, etc. But now the workshop is in its final stretch and there is a boost of energy to wrap up the roof, close the top of the wall, and tend to finishing touches….the grand finale.
For students wanting a more mellow slow-paced cob experience along with time for personal exploration and experimentation, these workshops are not for you. However you can find a more suitable workshop online with other organizations that are usually for a shorter period building a garden wall, a bench, a compost toilet or some other smaller scale project.
Students are required to read “The Hand-Sculpted House” before the workshop begins and any other books they find or listed on our Resources page, ideally on plastering and reciprocal roof building, as well as watching our “International Cob Workshop” videos on Claudine’s YouTube channel, the new educational YouTube series “Building a Mud Home” by Cooper Green, posted by Natural Buildings and created from our North Carolina workshop footage, and the ones posted on CruzinCobGlobal’s website under Gallery, to get an idea of what is expected. Also it is a great idea to watch as many other videos on cob and reciprocal roofs as you can to come mentally prepared. Please bring your book(s).
Students must tend to their own personal needs, drink alot of water, rest when needed and exert themselves at a steady pace. Students who cannot do the strenuous physical work should let us know when registering so we can make sure the workshop is a good fit. If approved before the workshop begins, we can adjust appropriately. It is totally OK to come for the lecture/theory part, and sometimes help the building part in less physically demanding ways if you have physical limitations, ie cutting straw, sifting for plaster, hammering nails into frames or shelves, sculpting, plastering, cutting bottles. There is alot to do to support making and building with cob!!!!
Finally, please bring a watch or use your phone to be prompt and ready for each part of the Course including meals. Please make sure you share your dietary restrictions/allergies with CCG in your registration form. Note that very demanding dietary needs will not be able to be met (vegan & non-gluten ok) and those students may be recommended not to participate unless they are willing to meet their special needs on their own, which will not include kitchen access on weekdays. Please discuss with Claudine at time of desire to register. Also please bring your essential snacks and foods, pillow and whatever you NEED to be comfortable and happy. Feel free to also bring playlists, speaker, slides, videos, movies and books to share, as well as a sample of your soil to test.
We look forward to opening you to a whole new world of experience, skill, growth and transformation as you bond with your new COB family for life!
Well here I am back in the Instructor’s seat for a Puerto Rico workshop, el Caribe, my Soul. I grew up in NYC on the 22nd floor of the Mayfair Towers building, next door to John Lennon and Yoko Ono, and who would ever have thought I would end up being the “International Cob Queen”, biking around 4 continents for 5 years leading cob workshops where my Heart called me. And the Carribbean is where my parents took us for every vacation and the culture has been a part of my life since I was little. So…. I was determined to teach in Cuba or Puerto Rico this winter, and make it happen with great hosts. Again I will be landing with bike and bike bags and riding up the steep climbs to the Finca Remedio to meet Alexa, Naldo and their animal family and discover Utuado and the mountains of Puerto Rico as well as their healing land. Adding another workshop to the more than 100 I have taught since 2004 and never getting tired of COB and sharing the passion and joy and love for the act of building with these most natural materials with newbies. This year has been a significant marker for me in transitioning from Instructor to Trainer of Instructors and what a team we have already! Josh
Burg will be co-teaching with me and I am so proud of Josh’s determined and swift decision to follow his Heart into the Natural Building world several years ago! We are so blessed to have him in the Instructor seat! Josh is one of the kindest, most humble, talented, intelligent and dedicated beings I know who can teach a full workshop with patience, love, laughter and joy emanating from his Being every day. His passion for Cob oozes out of each of his cells. He is taking these workshops to the next level, along with our other Instructor Nicolas Pimentel from Chile.
Of course I will use my skill and love of languages to add the Spanish element to this workshop and so look forward to having another intercultural mutilingual workshop where we will actually be dancing salsa with live music daily for our Morning Circle! In all my years of leading workshps, it’s the finest way to start the day! So you better start warmin’ those hips up! Maybe we will even put together a Salsa de Cob and invent some new moves! Of course focusing on the build the rest of the time:) Nos vemos en Puerto Rico en 2024!
Josh is a natural builder and carpenter, originally from New Mexico and now living in Portland, OR, with a background in conventional construction and DJing large events before he followed his heart’s call into Earthen Building. Growing up in an adobe home in central New Mexico, earthen architecture has always held a special place in Josh’s soul. A landscaper since the age of 15, Josh studied Environmental Science at the University of New Mexico, and was always drawn back to working with his hands as a builder. Years of conventional building convinced him that the way forward is really to look backwards…to our collective heritage as humans creating homes from the natural materials that surround us. As a teaching assistant in 2022, Josh brought his carpentry experience to help build a community space at CruzinCobGlobal headquarters in the Azores.
In May of 2023, Josh joined fellow Brazilian Cobber and Instructor Paula Carneiro to co-teach a 5-week full build in North Carolina, where the 12 students completed a beautiful 175 sq ft Cob Home for hosts Molly and Daniel. This was Josh’s first Instructor position and it opened him to an even greater passion for teaching and leading these workshops. He learned alot in this first workshop about teaching and managing within a tight schedule and was able to take this experience to lead the next workshop just three months later with an even greater level of confidence and success. Assisted by Sara Crippen in Tennessee, their group of students completed one of the most beautiful and extensive cob bungalows ever finished in a 5-week workshop! You can see these builds on the Insta pages for “cruzincobglobal” and “theburglr” Merging the worlds of carpentry, earthen materials, music, and clay-therapy, Josh is excited to reunite with his Cob Sensei for another amazing project in the Puerto Rican jungle. Vamos!
MEALS & ACCOMMODATIONS
We will serve three meals a day from Monday through Friday and lighter breakfast supplies for students to prepare will be available on Saturday morning for those that will be onsite. Meals will be vegetarian and locally-based as much as possible, including farm produce and eggs!
We will attend to vegan and gluten-free diets if needed but any other restrictions & allergies that require extensive preparation needs will not be able to be honored. And kitchen will only be accessible on weekends for students.
Camping is the only accommodations offered at the workshop. Other possible indoor housing may be available and may require a rental car. Please inquire with Claudine. Please bring a good tent and lightweight sleeping bag and mat and pillow or camping hammock.
Students from outside the island should fly into SJU (San Juan airport). Hosts can organize group transport to and from the Finca for a fee (1.5 hour drive). Students should arrive on Sunday morning ideally but may arrive on Saturday as well remembering that workshop meals begin on Sunday evening and kitchen will be busy for workshop. Hosts will organize a ride into town for pre-workshop food supplies for students arriving on Saturday, who are free to use the communal kitchen.
As stated above in “Our Hosts” section, students wanting to move around freely can share a rental car for the duration of the workshop or just on the weekends. Otherwise there is hitchhiking and Uber and hosts will also offer rides when they go into Utuado or Arecibo.
REGISTRATION & PAYMENT
Very Early Bird Rate: USD$2500, paid in full by November 21, 2023
Early Bird Rate: USD$2600, paid in full by December 21, 2023
Standard Rate: USD$2700, paid in full by January 7, 2023
We are offering 4 work trade positions which give you a $250 discount on either food or tuition for working one hour each weekday supporting the site before breakfast or preparing & putting away breakfast. Two persons for each service. These are the first options to go. Depending on when you pay in full, the discount is taken off the appropriate amount.
Payment can be made using Zelle, Paypal and Venmo to firstname.lastname@example.org. Europeans and other international students can pay in USD using the Wise app/website using same email.
If you are a low-income local Puerto Rican resident, we are offering 5 discounted spots that will require some type of work exchange helpful to the Instructors or Hosts. Please contact email@example.com or Whatsapp +1(831) 212-7225 for information.
To hold your spot (there are 12 for new students and 3 for returning students), you can make a 50% deposit. The balance owed depends on the date of payment in full. Deadline is Jauary 7th, 2023.
Students who have paid and cancel by December 1, 2023 can get a full refund minus a 5% administrative/inconvenience fee on the amount they have paid.
Students who have paid and cancel by January 1, 2023 will receive a credit for a future workshop within two years minus a 10% administrative/inconvenience fee.
Students who have paid and cancel after January 1, 2023 will not receive a refund or credit unless they have proof of an emergency situation or other reason out of their control. They will receive a credit for two years minus the 10% admin fee.
SEE YOU IN THE MUUUUUUD!