The First Month, Part 2
The third week after our house purchase began with me developing a painful stye on my left eyelid and an ugly cold sore also began erupting on my upper lip. I looked and felt a mess. I guess the release of several months of tension had left my body susceptible to such outbreaks. At least I managed to continue staving off the respiratory ailments—a hacking flu, bronchitis and even pneumonia—that have brought down a good portion of the village, Mexicanos and gringos alike.
I didn’t feel up to contracting the next crew to do carpentry and painting, but by week’s end we had finished most all of the initial cleaning and moved the lighter furnishings that we want to keep into the garage. Meanwhile we continued to search that Facebook page—unsuccessfully, so far—to find a suitable living room suite, outdoor table and chairs. I had previously made a scale drawing of the main sala and patio and begun positioning little to-scale cut-out drawings of furniture to get an idea how the space would look and what would fit. Mi esposa teases me about this obsessive activity but—I like to think—she acknowledges its value.
Neither of us much care for the pots of thorny cacti and many succulents now spaced around what has begun to look like a pretty bare and unshaded patio; we realize it will not offer much relief from the late spring heat. So we've begun thinking about tearing up some of the flagstones and putting in beds with more lush plantings. With that thought in mind we started keeping an eye out for types of plants we want, as well as continuing our search for just the right combination of color to paint the front of our new casa.
By the beginning of the fourth week—in other words, three weeks after our purchase—I was mostly recovered from my twin ailments; I made an appointment with a highly recommended contractor whom I will call Dominique.
Monday I showed him what we wanted done—our bed and bath rooms painted a very light shade of sea green over the muddy yellow, a door put in between those two rooms, the saltire (see picture) repaired there and in several other rooms, kitchen counter tiled and a stainless steel double sink installed, plus some kitchen cabinets built and smaller acts of carpentry.
Dominique had arrived more or less on time, had looked over the work, and told me his carpenter would come by the next day to assess that portion of the job. He’d get back to me with an estimate. On Tuesday—martes—I waited an hour for the carpenter; he never came. That evening D. called to see if everything was copacetic and seemed shocked his guy hadn’t shown up. We arranged to all meet the next day. That worked OK—they were just a little late. D. gave me his part of the estimate and said he’d call me mañana with the carpenter’s figures, and that they were ready to begin work. Jueves turned to viernes and by Saturday I still had no word. That evening Dominique called with profuse apologies and said he’d meet me at the house at 11AM on Monday to start painting. No show. When he called that evening I told him I had gotten someone else to do the job.
|The color is called "ghostly green" but that didn't dissuade me|
from having five gallons mixed to paint the bed and bath rooms.
I had called the next guy on our list—we'll name him José. He was happy to work and I was happy to have him; he hadn’t had a job in over a week. He says he and his family were booted out of Florida last year—illegal immigrants. He doesn’t have any tools so he’s just doing the painting, and receiving the US equivalent of four dollars an hour, plus bus fare and his lunch. It’s going to end up costing a little more than the other guy’s estimate, but so far—after two days—I have no complaints and I don’t think he does either.
This afternoon I told José about another job we would probably have for him later on. Along with his day’s pay I gave him an extra 100 pesos for his son’s birthday tomorrow, and he thanked me profusely, praising all my family to God. I don’t want to become his patrón—at least not yet—but will be glad to bequeath to him the paint roller and pan and adjustable extension I recently bought, and will definitely call him when we are ready for some more work.
Tomorrow I call a new carpenter, plus someone to install a new kitchen sink, and someone else to work on the salitre problem. José should be finished by the end of the week. Next come some deep cleaners and after that all the tile will be sanded and re-waxed. Then, we'll almost be ready to move in the first of June.