Sunday, April 24, 2016

LXV. Muchos Presupuestos y Una Carretilla

Many Estimates and One Wheelbarrow

Presupuesto: a cost estimate given by a contractor before being offered a job

The Jimenez's added the double stainless steel fregador to replace a single,
too-deep one sunk in a spotty concrete counter, which Antonio Guzman
later covered with blue tiles.
Between hiring and overseeing a revolving cast of trabajadores, workers, at our new house, sweating over my own self-assigned jobs there, and either trying to escape the thought of who next to contract or pay, or simply collapsing from exhaustion, I have had neither the time nor inclination to reflect in writing on this evolving state of affairs. A nagging worrier has seized a good portion of my brain whenever I’m either not aggressively trying to address that worry, or engaging in some form of absorbing escapism, like a Tuesday NYT crossword puzzle—and even that’s sometimes stretching it—or reading a not-too-bloody police procedural on my Ipad; I’ve gone through almost a dozen the past month. Plus the heat—weeks of temps in the high eighties with an ever higher noon sun, finally broken by a rumbling thunder storm yesterday evening and fitful downpours.

Yikes! Juan José and his workers are using some serious
chemicals to strip the varnish off the saltillo tile floors that
cover the entire house --a big and unpleasant job. 
I’m pretty happy with all the work that’s been done: upgrading electricity and plumbing, painting bedroom and bathroom, revamping kitchen countertops—a double steel sink and ceramic tile surfaces, making/installing custom doors, shelves, and kitchen cabinet, and creating two large planting beds in what had previously been an all-flagstone patio. The final job is going on now—stripping varnish that’s peeling off the terra-cotta floors throughout the whole house, sanding down the tiles, re-tinting, waxing and polishing them. This involves large drums of a viscous liquid labelled “corrosivo’’—probably something that hasn’t been legally sold in the States since the late sixties.

With the exception of José (whom I continue to counsel on how to find a job…and loan a few pesos for his family), I have been satisfied at a level of about 8 to 9.5 with all the sub-contractors I have hired. Antonio, with his two brawny sons, has been a find! They only live a block away (we share the same barrio, which he tells me is known as St. Gaspar) and seem to be able to do almost anything, from sealing the roof to cutting and removing the patio concrete and stones, to hauling metros cubicos of topsoil, or laying the tile on the kitchen counters. And his main trade is as a plumber! I’m sure we’ll be calling on him in the future.

Looking from the mirador level down to the two new planting beds Sr. Gúzman
and his two sons created by removing a whole lot of concrete and flagstones
from the patio, forming a concrete curb along the edges and bringing in about
four metros cubicos of good topsoil. Actually I ordered too much soil and had
to remove almost a cubic yard of it myself, bagging it and hauling to the garage.
Fortunately, there were a lot of interested parties looking for free topsoil. We
plan to stuff the beds with a riot of tropical and sun-loving plants
Throughout this time, my otherwise-involved wife has not stepped foot in la casa nueva (we continue to live in the apartment until our year-long lease runs out the end of May). Partly that’s because I want her to be surprised by the changes being wrought—and she likes that idea—and also because there just isn’t much for her to do there until this initial, mostly hired, work is complete. In addition to cooking, washing and shopping, she continues to entertain me with her happy songs and has been making plans and reservations for our upcoming visit back to Seattle. We leave in just over a week to visit daughters and friends, and to remove everything from our 5X10 storage locker, plus Eddie the Car, giving away most, and packing a few items to have shipped to our new home in Ajijic.

The new house is partly furnished but missing a few essential pieces, like a bed and living room furniture. We’ve been scouring local classifieds for these and other items, online and off. No joy yet; looks like this might have to wait until the two weeks between our return from the States and we move out of the apartment.

My trusty Truper. The "u" in Spanish is almost always
pronounced like an English "oo", as in "too" or "food".
I had begun to realize, though, that since we don’t have a car here in Ajijic we need a conveyance, whether it’s to move a chair, small table or plants, pots, or bags of compost. What sprang to mind, my mind at least, was a wheelbarrow—una carretilla.  When I was buying paint for José I priced a “Truper” carretilla—pronounced like our “Trooper”, a popular brand of herramientos, or tools—at 989 pesos, or about $55. A couple of weeks later I found a used one for less than half that price. Only catch: it was about 5 km away in San Antonio Tlayacapan, the next village over. No problem, I walked there and proudly pushed my bright and shiny green purchase along many cobblestone blocks all the way back—something I would have felt totally out of place doing back in suburban Seattle, but not here; es normal. I’ve already used my carretilla to help me hump a half dozen large bags of yard waste—basura verde—down to the corner of Constitución and Encarnación Rosas for Thursday morning pick up.

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