Tag Archives: construction in mexico

Rainy Season Projects

With the rainy season upon us, some of our proposed construction projects have to be put on hold.

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On the other hand, my sister-in-law has started construction on her house across the street from us in La Yacata because building in the rainy season means you don’t have to buy any water for the cement mix. My husband, son, father-in-law and one of my brothers-in-law are working like a machine to get the foundation done. My sister-in-law is also out there every day after the tortillas have sold to bring nourishment and help out.

That’s not to say all construction on our house has ceased. Our little projects this month included the installation of a small window in the spare room and the front porch screen door.

The front of the animal side of our property was also patched with cement and the roof bit angled ready for tejas (roofing tiles).

I also found what I think might have been part of a gun cabinet at a junk store and lo and behold it’s just the thing for some kitchen shelves.

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Next month’s projects may or may not include a banana tree, so stay tuned!

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A bit of remodeling–Wood work

Our nearly ready bathroom needed a door.  Plus we never did get around to having a door installed for our bedroom downstairs.  We called our Harley driving carpenter for estimates. (He drives a Harley and his ringtone is Sweet Child o’Mine–not your typical Mexican in these here parts.)

Once the door estimates were agreed upon, we asked about a frame for that gaping hole that used to be an exterior window in the laundry room.  The price was acceptable, so we added it to the list.

I also wanted curtain rods and while we were at it, a towel rack for the bathroom. Measurements were taken.  Wood stains were discussed and agreed upon.

We also asked for an estimate on a handrail for the steps.  It was a bit pricey so we told him we’d have to wait on that, at least until the steps had tile on them.

A few weeks later, the order was ready and he and his ponytailed son came out with a generator.  Since he also owns lots in La Yacata he knows there isn’t any electricity here yet.

The generator was placed on the back porch.  It didn’t have any oil to run.  So a trip to town was made for the oil.  

My husband asked if he could use the generator as well.  A few weeks ago the power inverter that we used to run things from the truck battery burnt to a crisp.  As it served us more than 10 good years, it was only to be expected, but it left us without a way to run hand tools.  The carpenter was reluctant.  He had borrowed the generator from a friend.  My husband offered to pay for the gas it used.  Ok, then.  So while the carpenter installed the doors and his son installed the curtain rods, my husband drilled 4 holes.  Two for the shelf my son made last year in carpentry class and one for my picture of Pandora’s box. Everyone who sees it asks which saint is represented in the painting and look at me oddly when I tell them it’s Pandora.  I guess she isn’t on the Catholic calendar of saints.  The final hole was for the mirror in the bathroom.  More on that later.

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When it came time to install the window, my husband wasn’t happy with the way it looked.  There was some tense testosterone discussion with the albañil (bricklayer) who built the house casting doubt on the quality of work done by the carpintero (carpenter) and the carpintero casting doubt on the quality of the work done by the albañil.  Finally, the carpintero caved and went home to get some more tools to modify the frame.

Yet another trip to town was undertaken when the son discovered he had forgotten to pack the bag of wall anchors.  This time the carpenter brought back drinks for everyone.

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I was assigned to help the son while my husband appointed himself main carpenter helper.  I handed things up the ladder and moved the cord so the drills would reach.  Only in moving the cord, I knocked over the carpenter’s beer. AHHH! It’s thirsty work you know.  

Moments later I  knocked over the frame for the bathroom door.  I resigned my position of carpenter’s assistant’s helper and took a seat on the sidelines.

It was a particularly clumsy day for me all around. Earlier in the morning,  I had a spectacular fall in the bathroom while moving the mirror from the bathtub where my husband had placed it for safekeeping.  I missed the step and fell, knocking over and breaking the chair I had been using to wash the windows.  Much to my surprise, I did NOT break the mirror that I was clutching.  I did bang up my shoulder and both knees though.  And then there was the broken chair.

Before

We asked if the carpenter could repair chairs.  He could.  We asked if he could refinish the table which was a wedding gift from my mom but had gotten banged up over the years.  He could.  I asked if he could make me a bench for my piano.  He could.  

I was delighted with the “new” dining room set, however, the chairs came back shorter than they were when they left, although now usable.  This meant new chairs had to be purchased.  This project has become WAY over budget.

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Road Construction

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Last year I got my solar light hopes dashed by the installation of a huge, green, interstate highway size sign at the crossroads.  Well, this year, the powers that be decided that the two-lane slightly crooked cowpath that runs past La Yacata needed to be as spectacular as the new signage.

The entire construction process was hair-raising, to say the least.  Every day, huge construction vehicles rolled up and down the road that I, on my piddly little motorcycle, used daily to get to town.  Sometimes hot oil was spraying off the side, sometimes stones were pouring from the back of dump trucks, sometimes the backhoe was swinging its huge arm over my head.

So where were the construction guards, those guys that are supposed to signal danger ahead with little flags? Over there, in the shade of the mesquite.  It was too damn hot to stand where they could be useful.

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For weeks, it was always a surprise to come home after dark.  See, in the afternoons, the huge dump trucks poured the next days’ rockpile on the road.  Even if you thought you could jump the first mound of rocks, the piles were graduated in size, each progressively higher.  Since these rock piles were not there when I went to town, the trek home after dark was a full-fledged adrenaline rush as I wove and swerved and attempted to stay somewhat on the road or at least keep from crashing. I suppose we should count our lucky stars that there were only two fatal accidents during the whole revamping.

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The intersection has become this behemoth entranceway, fully capable of funneling at least 8 lanes of traffic.

After months of work, they have finally finished.  Since completion, there have been four fatal accidents, one involving a donkey and his rider, at the intersection because THERE ARE NO LIGHTS!  I can hardly wait to see what new improvements the benevolent government will bestow on us next year.

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A room of her own–fixing the roof

With the rainy season fast approaching, it was imperative that the roof was fixed.  It wouldn’t do to arrive and find that the beds and computers got wet.  My husband agreed to do the work and even called the owner to name his price.  So the arrangement was instead of paying rent this month, I would buy the materials and pay my husband.

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The roof had already received a coat of impermeabilizante (waterproofing), hence the red color, but as there were holes in the cement, a layer of paint wasn’t enough to keep the water out.

First, the roof needed to be swept and the accumulated debris disposed of.  The house was not constructed very well.  The rainwater pooled at the sides and over the years corroded the roof, leaving it in its current dilapidated condition.

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This cement tinaco (water storage container) is at least 20 years old.

Next, the holes in the ceiling were filled in.

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Then the chipopote (tar) mixed with gas for easier spreading was applied to the worst spots.  It’s possible there will still be one or two minor leaks, but we won’t know until the rainy season arrives in full force.

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Finally, the ceiling received another coat of plaster.  I wasn’t so worried about the cosmetic appearance, but my husband thought it should at least look passable.

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It’s been more work than I imagined getting the place into a comfortable state for working and I’m not finished yet.  The bathroom still feels icky and even though we don’t use it for showering, it’d be nice to fix it up a bit. It certainly is better than it was! I have to keep in mind that this isn’t my house though.  It doesn’t pay for me to invest in unessential repairs.

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