Saturday, April 28, 2012

Getting Electricity–a Continuing Tale of Woes


Sorry to report that the promise of getting the electrical network for our little piece of land has fizzed out. Here’s what happened…

I cannot recall exactly what date in March, somewhere around the middle of the month, we got the notice on a Friday afternoon that there would be a meeting at the Presidencia (Town Hall) on Monday at 8 a.m. to decide who would qualify for getting electricity as part of an ongoing program to provide electricity to all of Santillan. We needed to present at least 18 signatures with relevant documents by Monday morning.

Reyna, my neighbour to the north, took the initiative of finding all those who were ready to participate and collected everyone’s signature and required documentation over the weekend (an undertaking that was both demanding, time and energy consuming). The chance would pass to another group should we fail to qualify. She collected 19 names with ready documentation. We were excited and apprehensive, all at once. If our hope and prayers had been candle lights, the night should have been bright as day…

Then on April 2nd, Reyna got a visit from an electrical contractor who had come to have a look at the layout of the land; most likely mandated by the Municipality or there would have been no way that he would have known on what to base a quotation. He stated that our chances were in the order of 99.9 % that we qualified to get electricity and probably at no installation costs to us. The work would commence by the end of the following two weeks.

Three weeks later, having failed to receive any notice or to see any sign of impeding work, Reyna went to the Presidencia. She was told that the program of electrification would probably not take place before the municipal elections in July and that the costs were prohibitive for the time being. The clinching factor for holding off the works was that we were “… only 5 families” actually living in our house on the lots in our area, hardly enough to warrant the installation costs. The remaining 14 were lot owners who lived elsewhere.

So Reyna asked us to accompany her on a visit to the Presidencia to plead our case. It was to be pointed out that in our group, we were 3 senior women living alone for whom light was a matter of safety. The answer was the same. The Town engineer mentioned that a '’dressed up” cement post cost in the order of $40,000 pesos and that we needed 3 for a whopping $120,000 pesos for those alone. Based on prior quotations prepared for Yvonne’s place, a cement post costs between $3,000 and $5,000 pesos.

The whole exercise was debilitating and disheartening. We got $2,500,000 pesos worth of hot air, nothing else. Reyna was in tears and I had to restrain myself from either screaming or crying. To cut short of the repetitious exchange between our group and the representatives of the Municipality, I said that I wished to ask two questions and insisted that we deserved to get an answer to both, since the hands of the authorities were supposedly tied;

“What then do need to do to get electricity?” and

“How long would it take to get it?”

In the following 20 minutes discourse of the Delegado, we got a lot more of hot air and an annoying dismissive tone of voice claiming that we were asking too much of the Municipality since we were “only” 5 houses living in the small area. Request denied. No other answers would be forthcoming.

I suppose that the only alternative left to us, all of us quite poor I assure you, is to try to get quotations for the works and split the costs between those of us living in our house in the area. Or be ready to wait it out, regardless of when the electrification would take place.

The three of us in our senior years might be better off contemplating our demise in the dark since living with light represents such an ordeal for the Municipality. Please pardon the bitter tone of my comments…

And that’s where we stand at this point…

Friday, April 20, 2012

The New Nicki–after 10 days


The jury’s out. Nicki may not remain crippled! Actually, I can hardly believe it myself. At first sighting, I thought that she was pretty close to death. But as amazing as it seems, at least to me, it appears as if not only has she learnt to live with her displaced cervical vertebrae, the signs of it have seriously abated. You can judge by yourself by these photos side by side.

Nicki shortly after her arrival                Nicki 10 days laterNicki 001Nicki 013

Now she can move her head up; and from side to side, even if in a somewhat limited fashion, without yelping out in pain. If you’ll notice her front paws, she has begun to fill out and her woebegone expression has been erased from her little face. It’s such a pleasure to watch her chase her squeaky ball and squeeze it to her visible delight, a task that she seems to take quite seriously. Taking her in has been SO rewarding.

This next one is quite graphic. It shows how mangled her throat was. One look at the photo above on the right shows a marked improvement. Her hair has even begun to grow. She’d been so flea bitten that a couple of baths did not completely eradicate the critters. I applied Frontline and they simply disappeared overnight.

Nicki 014

I’m often asked whether I’m nuts adopting yet another dog. There’s only one answer to that question… What’s the alternative? Death is not the hardest outcome to contemplate, but the intense suffering that should lead to it. How could I live with myself if I simply let this tiny creature go her way with such injuries, her paws filled with sandburs, without any prospect of finding shelter, food, or water?

Put yourself in my place…

Latest Construction Expenses


Description Cost      
Bovedillas, viguetas, metal grid 5,105.
Cement, limestone 2,223.
Bovedero and helpers 2,500.
Hardware 150.
Cement mixer 350.
Labour incl. bonus 3,950.
Lunch for workers, a tradition 660.
Worker to water roof twice a day for 4 days 150.
Lunch for bovedero and helpers (tradition) 370.
Install hoses in roof for electrical wires 150.
Total $15,458.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Update on Puppy Nicki

The news couldn’t be more troubling. Nicki is 2 months old. Her injuries became evident once Maria the veterinarian had gently washed the gunk and dirt on her throat. Obviously, she had been bitten by a large dog. There is a hole in her throat that is still open and is infected. She also has bite marks on her front paw. She’s on antibiotics.

In addition, the other vet noticed that there was a slight protuberance on the side of her neck very close to her head. He exclaimed that she should have died when she got shaken by the big dog. The first vertebrae was pushed sideways by the violent shaking action; this usually results in instantaneous death. Her case appears to be less than 1% of such a young puppy surviving. In addition, he thought that this occurred probably a month ago; it means that this tiny puppy had to survive (how I don’t know) with terrible injuries for a number of weeks. He says that the vertebrae has now “soldered” itself in the position of the luxation.

This means that she’s now a cripple, barely able to lift or move her head to one side, and in a way, is paralyzed in a position that her head does not align with her body. I gave her a bath to help rid her of fleas and plenty o’dirt. It may take a few more to do it well because she has to be handled so very gently or will cry out in pain. There is no way that she would be considered for adoption. I guess a Higher Power put her on my way. I’ll take care of her for the duration of her life, hoping that mine is long enough.

She’s still very fragile, alarmed and frightened by anything new. I’ll postpone taking photos until she has recuperated and feels a bit more certain of her improved living conditions.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Puppy in Distress

This is going to be a short post. Last week, on three separate occasions, I’d heard a dog crying loudly as if being hurt. I tried to get a location but was unsuccessful. The cries were so pitiable that it made my blood boil with the impression that someone was hurting the small animal.

Then last night, I noticed this puppy back of my lot shuffling slowly head down and threw it a handful of kibble. The puppy noticed nothing. So I ran outside to try and locate it and shortly caught up with it. A little female with severe bite marks on her throat and her front paw. Emaciated and barely aware of her surroundings. I took her in my arms and brought her home.

I gave her some oats cooked in light milk and spaced out the feedings at regular intervals so as to avoid a hurt stomach. I prepared a “nest” with a cardboard box on its side and lined it with an old soft blanket. And there she spent the night.

At first glance, she appeared to be between 6 weeks and 2 months old. However, this morning I noticed how her eyes were lacking focus just like a younger puppy. I thought that I could attend to her caked up wounds but her pain is too great and I’m afraid of hurting her more. Last night she had a hard time swallowing and cried out often. So I’ll be taking her to the vet today at 1 PM.

I’ll keep everyone posted. I’ve already named Nicki.

A Boveda

Last week and a few days before were jam packed with work. I had spoken with Pedro, the bovedero who worked for Yvonne and had done all the dome ceilings or bovedas at her house and school. He had already given me a quote and told me what supplies were needed. Finally we had fixed a date for his coming to do the work but when I checked with him on the 28th for beginning the work on the following day, he announced that he was coming only to have a look… I had to make a quick decision.

Fortunately, a pueblo renowned for famous bovederos, El Zaus, was a few kilometers away and many bovederos had their work displayed on YouTube. This is how I contacted Juan Mejia after seeing him work on his video. He came within the hour, had a look, gave me a quote, and agreed to complete the boveda within two days. On Saturday March 31 and Sunday April 1st, he was here with his team and did a marvellous job. Since Juan has posted a video of him at work. Here it is:

Here are photos of the boveda. It was impossible for me to catch a photo of the entire ceiling. On the left is the center design. On the right is an arrow that is found at the four cardinal points.

Boveda & roof 018Boveda & roof 017

Believe me, it is a work of art. The ceiling still has to be scraped and covered with a sealant. That way, the bricks will stand out more. So will the design.



Now let me backtrack to explain how the whole installation is first erected. It is a temporary installation and once the ceiling/roof finished, the platform will be returned to its original purpose; encasing pillars or cadenas in which concrete will be poured.

Boveda & roof 002

Quite simply, this is how it starts. The bovedero moves from one corner to the other. His skill at shaping the bricks is amazing and the speed at which he “glues” them remarkable.

Boveda & roof 004-001Boveda & roof 007

This is Juan at work and below is





Boveda & roof 008On the left is a view of the work in progress. Below right shows the four corners completed at which point the work will be handled towards the center.

Boveda & roof 012

I have sharpened the photos to better show the brick design.





Later, the outside will be scraped, after which a layer of pure cement will be spread after a waterproof compound will have been applied. Or… it may be the other way around. I’ll find out.

Once the boveda was finished on Sunday April 1st, the team was brought in to erect the roof over the kitchen/dining area. It was laid out in identical fashion as the one over the bedroom.

In a later post I will be showing what costs I incurred.

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