Tuesday, March 15, 2016

LIX. El Primer Mes, Parte 1

The First Month, Part 1

It's been a month since we took possession of our new house. We’re still happy with the purchase.

Our new electric meter with the corrugated
sleeve below which prevents a neighbor from
tapping into our juice. "Buscar" in the window
means "to look for".
That first week seems like an awfully long time ago. After paying a lot of money and signing a bunch of papers, we didn’t do much at all—for a couple of days— except mentally adjust to our new status as home owners. We made sure the electricity, water and phone accounts had been transferred and brought up to date, talked about our strategy for repair, remodeling and cleaning, and my organized wife began a list of recommended electricians, plumbers, floor tile installers, carpenters and handymen, etc. That was about it—Oh, as a first step toward decorating our new house, we treated ourselves to a framed photo by a local artist, a fine picture of a young boy helping to launch a globo, or hot air balloon. 

The next week I called a father and son who had received excellent reviews in the local gringo web board, and asked them to give us an estimate for the electrical and plumbing work. Their numbers looked good, they worked hard and—to my pretty ignorant eyes—effectively, and before the week was over had finished some needed upgrading that our inspector had recommended. 

Our monthly electrical bill will probably range between ten and twenty dollars. Some people can’t—or don’t want to—pay for the electricity they use; they try to cadge onto their neighbor’s supply by connecting a wire to the meter next door. I had an idea there was something hinky about our setup but was willing to let it go. The Jimenez guys, though, took the initiative to put a stop to this minor theft by slipping a sleeve on the main wire that runs into our house from the new meter they installed. They also did some rewiring, and replaced the main junction box with one that will handle a heavier load.

You see tinacos like this all over Mexico. The PVC pipe bottom
left was installed by the Jimenez's to replace a narrower pipe.
The water we get around here (for which we pay about four dollars a month) comes from the springs flowing out of the mountains at the edge of town. Most older homes have an underground cistern called an aljibe that holds the water piped in by the local utility. We don’t think our aljibe is functional; its access cover in the garage is cemented shut. Instead, our water goes into two holding tanks—tinacos—located fore and aft on the roof. The Jiminez hijo cleaned out both of the 1100 liter tanks, blew out the silt in some of the existing pipes and replaced others with bigger PVC pipes and valves to give us better water pressure. 

I really liked both Jimenez padre y hijo—friendly and no nonsense. My Spanish is still poor but has improved to the point where I was able both to make myself understood as well as ask enough questions to mostly follow what they were saying back to me. I think. And I appreciated that they liked our house.

One of two large--about 4 feet by 2 1/2  feet--oil paintings that came with our
house. We like the colors, form and style. The artist, David Leonardo, has 
become well-known in chi-chi San Miguel de Allende.
Meanwhile, my organized spouse and I had begun sorting through the stuff the previous owner had left behind. There are some things we really treasure, but many that we don’t want. We began posting the latter for sale in a local Facebook page. The first guys who came were Mexicanos who have a thrift shop a couple of blocks from where we live. They bought some nice chairs that weren't our style, a few paintings—one, a poor man’s Rousseau that had been hanging over the too big bed—and a lot of ceramic Catrina dolls. As they asked for prices, I reeled off cincuenta and cien pesos like an auctioneer. Over the next couple of days, a Canadian couple took the bed and a yoga enthusiast from California was happy to buy a slightly-too-garish for our taste mirror.

In the next part of this post I'll briefly describe my physical collapse and a less than felicitous encounter with another contractor...to be continued.


  1. Hi Great blog one question how much is the painting wort ? I have 2 paintings from the same artist that I will like to sell, thank you!

  2. martinJuly 18, 2016 at 12:20 AM
    Hi Great blog one question how much is the painting wort ? I have 2 paintings from the same artist that I will like to sell, thank you!

  3. https://www.ebay.com/itm/182390207074