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December 31, 2012 · 7:47 pm

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  1. Hey Richard,

    Being an atheist, I like the cartoon, and, being an atheist, it reminds me of one of my favorite things about non-belief, which is [most times] not talking about it or religion, so you’ve given me a wonderful opportunity to go off topic. Uh, anyway, I was rummaging around in your old posts [April 2009], came across the one about tiny houses and wondered if you’ve had more thoughts about them. When I built the house we live in [2010], I was single and very interested in the Tumbleweed Houses, but was already considering moving overseas [at that point, Panama, not Ecuador] and concluded a conventional two bath, three bedroom layout was the smart choice for future rental income. Now, I’m married to a tomboy and [thank the Prime Mover] we’re on the same page in terms of house preference. We want a bathroom, a bed and one big space that’s workshop/kitchen/living room/ dog house/garage. I think we can accomplish something like that for around $40 a square foot almost anywhere in Central or South America. I KNOW it can be done in Nashville, Tennessee for far less than the $200 per square foot quoted by most of the “Tiny Home” builders in the USA.

    I hope you are well,
    John

    I’m doing fine here in Chirqui, thank you. It’s “summer” here now. Being slightly more than 8 degrees above the equator we’re more like being in the southern hemisphere than the north. It’s the “dry” season and we haven’t had any rain in the last week.

    My problems with “religion” began at quite an early age. In fact I can pin point the beginning to the day when I returned home from the third grade to find out that my brother, Howard, a couple of months from his second birthday, had died. Quite a few adults, not my parents, though, were completely freaked-out. The whys and wherefores are too complicated to get into here. I am, though, slowly putting it together for a future post.

    Another thing that brought serious doubts came when I was still in single-digit birthdays. We used to spend the summers at a State Park on Cape Cod before we moved down there full-time. Being out in the woods with no light pollution the heavens were ablaze with stars and the Milky Way spread across the sky. I knew, even then, that the sun was, in fact, a star. And if our star supported the earth and her people, how could there not be tens of thousands if not millions of other worlds like ours flying around those stars we could see at night? And if there were millions of other worlds did it make sense that one “God” was looking over them as well? Not a chance I decided very early on.

    I’m very much into the “tiny home” thing. I lived on a 26′ sailboat with an 8′ beam for six years. The house I live in here in Boqueron has an internal footprint of 22′X20′. The roof area is about 8′ larger all around so you can sit outside during the rainy season and still stay dry. That’s quite typical of the houses here which, of course, were adapted to the existing climate conditions. This house has a second story, essentially a HUGE bedroom. I don’t use it. I live downstairs and the 440′ is completely adequate for a single person.

    While the Tumbleweed homes are definitely cool, they sure aren’t cheap. If it were me, I’d adapt some kind of tiny home onto a floating base and live in the Bocas del Toro archipelago. I’m not sure I’d put something on a trailer base like the Tumbleweeds do.

    There are, of course, MacMansions down here. Most, though, are owned by gringos. By and large most of the middle class houses here in Panama are small by U.S. standards. About what the average 2/2 house in the States is like. There are, too, LOTS of smaller houses here. Recently I took a bus ride to a place called Porton, very near the Costa Rican border. The further away the bus traveled from the Interamerican Hwy, the more small houses I saw that were made out of split bamboo with either corrugated tin or palm thatched roofs. I love the idea of that. You could easily adapt that building method to a shantyboat or a trailer base. Light weight, strong and really inexpensive. The problem with building wood structures here is that wood is FOOD and termites are a real problem here. Termites don’t eat bamboo as far as I know, nor do they attack cement blocks which is the default building material. Right now there is a medium sized block house going up next door and at a house three lots away they’re adding another room, also block construction.