Tag Archives: building in Mexico

Window Installation

Little by little our house is getting done.  We finally had enough to have the windows installed.  So that became the summer project.  Houses in Mexico typically have windows that are made of metal and involve bars on the outside to keep intruders and thieves out.  Knowing our neighbors, bars are a good idea.

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As this was more than my husband could manage, we went to see G, the secretary of the now inactive Mesa Directiva (Board of directors) of La Yacata who just so happens to be a herrero (blacksmith).  His prices were about 5,000 pesos less than the other two estimates we got.  We knew him and his work personally as well, so more inspired confidence.  We made a downpayment and he started work on the 4 windows and 2 doors needed.  One door leads to the back porch.  The other door leads to  Joey’s roof, which one day will be another porch. Or so my husband says.

 

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The door over Joey’s room

 

We arranged for them to be finished by my next quincena (2 week-paycheck) and installation to occur the following quincena so that there would be enough money for the installation and any last minute issues.  Things are never as easy as they appear at first here in Mexico.

My husband rented a generator and welding machine for the day. Between G and my husband, everything was installed that same day.  Of course, the installation wouldn’t be complete until all the gaps in the frames were filled in, but that was a project for another day.

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tinted front window

Glass installation was not included in the work G did.  So we called a vidriero (glass installer) and had tinted glass put in the front windows and flowered patterned frosted glass put in the doors and other 2 windows.

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bathroom window

I wasn’t quite satisfied with the amount of light that reached the intended second-floor bathroom.  Since we still have no idea how long it will be until we can either connect up to the landline or purchase a solar powered system, natural light is absolutely necessary.

I bugged and bugged until my husband suggested glass bricks for the bathroom.  At 55 pesos each, we could have a new window for under $300 pesos.  Fabulous!  

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Making the hole for the glass brick window

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Installing them required a bit of hammering and cementing, but it was done in less than a day.  

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Let there be light!

Next project–patching the walls!

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This post was proofread by Grammarly.

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Modern Day Marias–Lynne, the crafter

It’s important to remember that Maria didn’t live in the time of Walmart. Everything was hand-made by the women of her community. Was Maria particularly talented in textiles? Was she an excellent baker? Did she have other creative skills?  Why were these things never mentioned by those dratted bible writers?

Today’s Modern Day Maria, Lynne, meets the arts and crafts aspect of a virtuous woman as described in Proverbs. “She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. She makes linen garments and sells them and supplies the merchants with sashes.(Proverbs 31:13,22,24)

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My name is Lynne and originally from the Oregon and Washington areas but now live just north of Ensenada, Baja California. We are fairly new to living in Mexico as it has only been 15 months. My husband and I met in Oregon and were dating other people but became good friends then later ended up together. We have been together for almost 19 years and married for 18. What is funny is his older sister’s children and mine were friends, such a small world sometimes.

My spouse was not legal and it had gotten to the point he was like in jail in our own home, no more driver’s license, only able to do odd jobs but took care of the house and yard. We were in limbo with the attorney as it took 3 years just to get data/information on my husband and decided life is too short to wait for possibly years with no guarantees for him to be able to get his papers and who knows how much money for not having a sure thing. Played with the numbers and determined we could sell the house and basically retire or semi-retire in Mexico, this would allow my husband the freedom to do as he wants without worries of immigration so we made the decision to move. I knew the final decision came down to me to actually move here but I was ready for us to move on to another phase in our lives even though he would end up having a lifetime ban from the US.

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It has been a big change for us but not just from moving to Mexico as much as us being together all the time since I’m now retired or semi-retired (not sure which yet). Sometimes when things are not going just right, he will mention I was the one who wanted to come here but he is happy we did come. We care for each other very much but we both have our days. For my spouse, the change has given him freedom and for me, it has been a transition of working in a more stressful type environment for many years to not working. I’m looking forward to getting into my artsy/craftsy phase of life.

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As to family and friends even though we don’t physically see each other very often I feel we make the effort to connect through Messenger or Hangouts via phone and video. We have set dates and times to video with the grandchildren along with talking to the kids, relatives and friends. When we do physically see people it is more quality time. I consider our move no different than if we had moved across the country. I would say if anyone, my mother has been the most difficult over the move. She constantly was making negative comments but over time this has stopped. I think some of it has to do with her seeing us on Facebook everything is going fine. I would say the hardest thing for both of us has been the family (kids and grandkids) not being physically around us especially my husband as we had part of the grandchildren almost weekly in the US, I can go visit while he can’t. We hope to finish getting through the passport process for my husband and see about a visitor’s visa to vacation in Canada so it will be easier for our immediate family to get together.

My spouse’s family are not located near here but have always gotten along with his siblings and children in the US. I have never met his mother or siblings in Mexico. He plans to see his mother for the first time in more than 25 years and the place he was raised this coming year. I’m not comfortable going since it is Guerrero which has had a lot of issues and he hasn’t been there in so many years to understand how it may have changed.

We were fortunate to sell our house in the US and buy/build our home. We are not sure what is next, I may do some part-time consulting in the field I was in – Geographical Information Systems (GIS) or sell some of the Arts & Crafts I enjoy creating. My husband is thinking of working independently as a plumber or handyman. We may look at some other options but are not rushing into anything. Whatever we decide this will supplement what we already are receiving.

The focus for the last year has been on the house but that is finally getting to the point we can start doing other things. We are craftsy people and enjoy little projects. Would like to see Baja and mainland MX over time, maybe do some house/pet sitting. I want to become involved in our community but not sure what at this time, up till now we have just contributed to different groups. I love the idea of contributing time to a group south of here that builds small homes for very poor families up in the hills.

For us, this is our next phase in our life together….

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This is so worth it…

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Joey’s room remodel

Joey is my husband’s consentido (preferred son). Yes, he is equine and not human, but that doesn’t seem to make a difference to my husband. So since my son recently had a room remodel to honor his approaching adulthood (See Ladykiller’s room remodel), there was nothing to be done but give Joey a room remodel as well. Wouldn’t want to play favorites, you know.

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Off came the lamina (corrugated tin) roof. My husband wanted a cement roof for Joey, under the guise of adding a side porch for me and my container garden. He didn’t fool me one bit. I knew who he was appeasing here.

It was a smaller section than our last roof project (See Up on the roof that nearly wasn’t), only measuring 7 meters by 5 meters, and my husband was pretty sure that he could have it done over Easter break. Once he gets an idea in his head, there is no stopping him, so I didn’t even try.

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He did the castillos (supports) and set up the wood by himself. The day of the actual roof building he didn’t even wait until I arrived to help out.

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The coladores (roofers) were a younger lot than the last crew and apparently weren’t drinkers. I had asked if I needed to bring some caguamas (beer) because the lack of alcohol had been an issue with the last roof building and was told no. I asked if I should bring some carnitas (fried pig meat) or some other food for lunch for the workers. Again, my husband said no. Apparently, he had offered 150 pesos for the work plus lunch or 180 pesos and a soda. To a man, the workers chose the 180 pesos and a soda option.

So the work went smoothly with only one run for more sand to finish the job. The mixer worked just fine, we had enough nails for the ramp, no animals escaped and wrecked havoc. There was a small hitch when there was no tortilla paper to be found to roll the mota (marijuana), but they accepted a sheet of notebook paper and called it good. Hmm.

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Although it was a much smaller project than the last roof, it still was a full day’s work. After the cement was poured, there was the smoothing and tamping down, and finally the splashing of the water. I really couldn’t believe how uncomplicated it had been.

My husband is now making plans for a window for Joey and even talked about putting a tinaco (water storage container) on the roof for a shower for Joey.  Good grief!  Next, he’ll want me to make curtains and put down a rug!

Of course, something did go wrong.  Joey went bananas!

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Chim Chimney

Do you ever think that maybe some skills should not be lost through the generations? I’m all for forward progress and all, but really, what if we find out that (for example) eating GMO food causes cancer and we want to go back to organic farming. Nowadays, even the farmers seem to have forgotten how to go that route.

Another useful skill that has been lost is how to build a fireplace and chimney. Not so long ago, people would build their own houses around a central hearth, so somebody in the village knew how to make chimneys, probably a good many somebodies. Why hasn’t that skill been preserved?

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An outdoor fireplace my husband built in the States back when we had a different life.

As you probably know, we have a fireplace and chimney. My husband built it himself. Nobody else in La Yacata has one. The few people in nearby Moroleon that have one don’t use them because the smoke comes back in. My husband seems to be the lone chimney maker hereabouts, but nobody seems interested in having one installed. Why? Electric heaters. Gas heaters. Hot air electric heaters. Space heaters. All of which were totally inefficient and impractical for us so the fireplace was the way to go.

Is it difficult to build a chimney? No more than any other type of building I suspect, although every site that gives directions on how to build one tells you it just might burn your house down. What a bunch of pessimists! Our house is made of brick, stone and cement so it would take quite a fire to completely destroy it.

We didn’t have a fireplace in mind when we build our house, but after the first winter, we decided it would be a great addition. It does get cold here in Mexico, not so cold as say, Canada, but cold enough for a roaring fire to be just the thing some days.

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So since the chimney wasn’t in our design, the first step was to make a hole in the kitchen wall. My husband started from the ground and made the first section. About halfway up the first section is where the actual fireplace is on the inside of the house. He used cement sewer pipes that are readily available here in Mexico for the inside tube of the chimney, cementing it in place with a round of bricks.

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The second section up has a smaller cement sewer pipe so the outer wall is not as big. He is planning on going up another floor because our second floor now has a roof and may be inhabited one day. Therefore, the third section will have another yet smaller cement sewer pipe and smaller surrounding brickwork, to be topped off with some sort of little roof so that the rain doesn’t get in and drown out our fire.

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Ignore the wire, it’s not part of the chimney.  We run a wire from our DVD player to the car battery out the hole when we want to watch movies.  Obviously not when we are using the fireplace!

The hearth has an air hole that he made from a car tailpipe. It’s about 8-10 inches from the floor of the hearth and the purpose is to allow the air to circulate and go UP the chimney rather than back into the room. Seems those chimney builders in Moroleon neglected this little step giving fireplaces such a bad rep around here.

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Our toasty fireplace

My husband finished it off with a seating area made from stones we plucked from our backyard. It’s lovely!

For fuel, we use dead mesquite branches we collect from around La Yacata. We can also use corn cobs (with the corn already removed of course). The fire burns faster with the corn cobs but most years we have plenty to keep it going. We could also use poop. Yep, dried cow patties or horse poop burns a long, long time. We don’t light our fire often enough to use up the mesquite branches or the corn cobs, so we haven’t had to go out and collect dung to burn yet, but hey, just in case, it is certainly good to know.

I’m sure that I’ve made it seem simpler than it actually was. There are measurements and bricklaying and figuring involved after all. It took about a week of work too. But it isn’t such an impossible task as one might think.

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Cozy up by a warm hearth this winter with Fire Starters & Fatwood at Pillow & Hearth!

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