Thursday, February 21, 2013

So Close, So Very Close

At times, it seemed to take forever, but we were finally almost ready to move in. Everything was covered with a thick layer of dust, but we could see the light at the end of the tunnel. Every night, after the crew left, we came over to clean up. But we never did manage to completely control the chaos. Rubin finished the floors, a special challenge in the living room as we opted to use a porous clay tile around the perimeter of the room. Our home was built in an area that was once even closer to the beach than it is now and there is still a great deal of water in the ground. It was suggested by INAH, the National Preservation Society, that the use of these tiles would allow the water to evaporate and not move up into the walls of the building, which because of their age are considered historic. We have never seen this done, but felt that if it helped preserve the integrity of our home, it was worth the aggravation. We are not sure if Rubin felt the same way! I have to confess I was not too thrilled about the idea, but now that the tiles are laid am pleased with the results. The tiling had been completed in the bathrooms. Notice the dust! Mario and the crew had finally finished the staircase and railings for the upper landing and installed the circular stair case on the terrace to enable us to reach the upper roof top. At the moment we have no plans for this space, but perhaps, someday. Mario is a really nice guy, but extremely unpunctual, and we joked with him about buying him a watch, and a calendar! We learned never to expect him on the day he said he would be at the house and certainly not at the time he mentioned. The staircase was removed after the first installation as it was not level (high frustration level here), but, eventually, the job was completed and it looks great. The generator is 50 years old by the way, it is a wonder any of these men are still alive. Augustine did an amazing job laying the talevara tiles in the kitchen, which we immediately covered with cardboard as there was still other work to be completed. Why were the tiles laid before everything else was finished? We never did figure that one out, and just kept our fingers crossed that the cardboard would do the trick and keep everything intact. Elias, our carpenter, had started work on the interior doors. All of the openings in the house are different, so each and every door was made to measure. We showed him a picture of what we wanted and the doors are perfect. We were unable to save the original exterior wooden doors as they were just too dilapitated to repair, but Elias duplicated them exactly and we are thrilled with the results. We will have him back next season for a few additional projects. The electrician Mike installed the light fixtures and fans and after a struggle managed to get the vent hood installed in the kitchen. Mike, who told us his real name is Javier, works without a level, ruler or tape measure, so getting the fan level was a challenge. That project came close to driving my Mike out of his mind. Martin arrived to do the painting. We knew it was almost time to make arrangements for moving day. There were times we laughed, and times we felt like exploding. I learned a new phrase in Spanish, “Que estabas pensandos” which means "what were you thinking!" and I used it more than once. We arrived one evening to find piles of wet black concrete on the kitchen counters (so much for the cardboard). We realized that when Mike aka Javier figured that when a light fixture or fan was installed, it didn't matter if they were crooked, or if he had left a six inch hole in the ceiling beside it. If it worked, it was “OK”. We knew that eventually the water leaks in the bathroom would be tracked down and repaired. And that the walls could be repainted, again. We discovered very quickly that it was best not to leave the iron workers unattended as they were not the tidiest of craftsmen and they could not seem to grasp the concept of protecting the tiles and walls from the sparks that flew around as they were welding. We are still finding little black spots on the tiles on the staircase. We missed out on a lot the first two months of our trip this year, as we felt that we needed to be at the house every day, or no further than a phone call away. We cancelled plans with friends more than once because someone (that would be Mario) arrived at the house at 4:30 p.m. instead of 10:00 a.m. as he had promised. There were also nights that we were just too tired, or stressed, to go out. But, would we do it again? Definitely, in a heartbeat!!

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