The Search for Terrimas


Being of Chinese descent means I get a lot of weird looks around here. Whether it’s the inquisitive looks of students running around in Amealco, or the policemen whose gazes stay focused for just a second too long to be casual, it’s pretty clear that they know I’m a foreigner. But, despite the inevitable fact that I’ll never quite ‘fit in’, I’ve still always felt very welcome here in Mexico. The storekeepers never make me feel silly for conjugating verbs wrong, and the bus driver never rushes me while I hold up the line while counting pesos. But yesterday, for the first time, I couldn’t help but feel odd and slightly out of place.

Paula and I were looking for terrimas. These were discarded pieces of wood that we wanted to use to build shelves with for the greenhouse. While we knew these could be purchased in the city, we had no idea where and so had to rely on the residents’ directions.  Every person we asked, looked back at us, raised an eyebrow and said ‘terrimas?’ with a slight hint of laughter in their words. We must have said it wrong. Why would two foreign girls be looking for used pieces of wood?

Well, despite their incredulity, they pointed us to the madereria where we finally found the men who could sell us terrimas. It was no surprise that these store keepers also looked at us sort of funny when we stated what we were looking for. Our case was not made much better after posing for these pictures with hammers. As Paula and I left the store, we couldn’t help but laugh at what must have gone through these people’s heads while we were at the store!

It was around this same time that we decided to come up with a solution for the windows. From the interviews we conducted, it seemed like the general consensus was that the windows either needed to be moved up, or there needed to be a easier way of opening them. Since the former involves altering the structure of the greenhouses, we decided to come up with a better and more secure design for the windows.

We used a bit of extra plastic cut from Emma’s greenhouse and tested the strength of silicon glue and Velcro. Although it sounds silly, I had a lot of fun trying to imitate  nature’s forces (wind) by waving the pieces of plastic with velcro around. But the basic conclusion was that Velcro on plastic should be a viable option for closing the windows. As for keeping the windows open, a simple combination of clothes clips and a rope should be the best solution.

I’m really excited to put our new greenhouse design to use. It solves a lot of the issues we had with the phase 1 greenhouses. I can’t wait to see the final result!


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