Tuesday, October 9, 2012

New Construction Phase

Things slowed down a bit after my last report covering the roof and boveda and related expenses. I had decided to hold back for a while to put money aside to buy a car or a van. Then the problems with getting the internet clinched the deal. I had not taken into account that the summer months in Tequis are part of the rainy season. It did indeed rain, copiously. I began living in a sea of mud. Mud everywhere. The lot, the RV, the porch of sorts, the bodega, EVERYWHERE! Only the house on construction stayed almost dry.

My spirits plummeted as the mud rose. It did not take me long to realize that while I could use a vehicle a few times a week, I had to live in a house all the time. My plan had to be switched to a more realistic one toward finishing the house ASAP. That presented a new challenge. I decided to look for a long-term commitment to building as opposed to a start-and-stop way of hiring workers on a part-time basis.

I knew that Sr. Diaz of Santillan was a well-known Maestro de Obra, or Construction Chief. I asked him for a recommendation on a responsible and honest mason. And as they say, the rest is history. I met with Don Pedro who came with a solid baggage of 40 years of experience. The man is incredible. His work week is Monday to Friday from 8 AM to 5 PM. He works without any helper. I was paying a mason $310. a day and his helper $210. That came to the $5,200. that I could afford for 2 weeks per month. I offered $340. a day to Don Pedro to work solo, which he had done for a group of airline pilots for 4 years. I can afford his pay for 3 weeks a month as it comes to $5,100. And can the man work! To my greatest amazement, his production surpasses that of the previous workers. I suppose it is that quite often while the mason was working the helper would sit idle and would not be busy until there were materials to be brought or cement to mix, etc. Plus it eliminated the chats and kibbitzing around. When Lupe, a wonderful Santillan mason who worked on my house for quite a while heard that Don Pedro would be working for me, he exclaimed that I was very lucky as I had gotten the very best! I fully concur.

Here is Don Pedro at work on the ceiling of the dining-kitchen area. His skin suffers from the constant contact with lime and cement so he has to wear gloves and long sleeves.

He poured the bedroom floor alone. At the time, I didn’t think of taking photos since I had very little hope of getting the internet any time soon. But when next he pours the floor of the dining-kitchen, I’ll publish how he does it.

In the photo below, Don Pedro poses for the camera. He stands in the future living room where we keep just enough supplies to keep him busy for a couple of weeks.

Last week I bought doors for the bedroom and the bathroom. And I found a carpenter who is also a furniture builder. I can design my own and he will make it in his shop. You’ll notice that once the doors were on, I lost no time in moving my living room things into the bedroom where they will keep much cleaner than in the bodega. Here are the photos I took. I finally have more than 5 square meters of living space.

I still need to “seal” the ceiling and walls and paint them. But right now, I’m hell bent on finishing the hard construction of the whole thing inside and out. This will undoubtedly take many more months. A great many.

I often joke that being born an Aries, not particularly known for their great patience, this incarnation is for me to learn and master that virtue that was given to me so miserly. I am now in my third (3rd) year living on my lot in my RV. Does that qualify for being a tad more virtuous? You bet your sweet petunias it does. As a learning experience, it should last me for a couple of lifetimes!

The photo below shows the bathroom door on the left and the bedroom one on the right from the dining-kitchen area. In between both doors is Don Pedro’s bike. It takes him about 40 to 45 minutes to come to Santillan from Fuentezuelas. He’s always here some 10 to 15 minutes early so as to have a little rest before starting his work. He is 60 years old.

I also had the plumber/electrician hired on an as-needed basis. I’ll cover this on a later post as I have to take more photos. I will also have a report on my expenses later.

I read some of the comments and will respond, also a tad later.

Publishing these posts was a brand new experience at the cyber cafe. Still learning....

LiveJournal Tags: Building a small house in Mexico

A Four-Legged Family

First, le me apologize for being incommunicado for months. In my post Back in the Saddle, you’ll find out why. Today, I have a bit to report about construction, starting with an absolutely wonderful mason-cum-jack of all trades new worker. He is Don Pedro, a well seasoned worker who is mature, diligent, knowledgeable, honest, and has no qualms about working solo. An extremely rare find. So I’ll be taking photos of the progress that’s been taking place at my little house and publish a later post.

As the title indicates, I have a lot more to report about the unplanned additions to my little family. It had all started with Tina, followed by Tasha. You’ll notice that thus far, all have been of the female persuasion. After my beloved Queenie passed away came Kaylee, a Tequis street dog, again female. Three seemed to be a good well-rounded number until I encountered Nicki. If you do a search of the blog, you’ll find their stories.

Just as Tasha’s rescue had been close the puppy’s last hour, so appeared to be Nicki’s. Then I learned that Nicki’s sisters had also been thrown away. I had to find them as I knew how their lives were hanging in by a short thread. I did.

I’d looked for them for close to ten day. I’d left kibble where they had been reported to be seen and kept checking. I figured that the puppies had to be about 2 months old. Eventually I found them huddled under a tire during a rain storm. Part of my attempts at rescuing both can be found in my post titled “A New Writing Plan of Mixed Concerns”. One took to staying with me, the other was way too skittish. Until a few days later another violent rain storm with thunder and lightning brought her voluntarily under my rig where I found her in the morning. The first of Nicki’s sisters I named Keiko; she reminded me of a little furry geisha. The skittish one started as Mieke, which sounded too close to my lovely neighbour’s name of Dona Mika so she got renamed Miko. The advantage here was that I figured that with names sounding more or less similar, I’d get all three’s attention if not obedience.

Dream on. . . They proved to be smart enough to clearly identify which one was called and to respond accordingly. Or not, depending on the mood.

When I’d discovered the last two of the puppies, they had kept close to a tire next leaning next to a house in bad weather. In good weather with heat, they had found another tire across the road that they used as a shady nest under a mesquite. There was an extra bonus as they fell under the protection of a large Golden Lab who curled himself around the tire and kept an eye on the pups. I’d known the lab as one of the local street dogs so I made sure to give all three some kibble and water a couple of times a day. Later, I learned of the lab’s name and rather than go all the way down the road, I’d call him and he’d come running with the last puppy (Miko) keeping up close behind.

Another electric rain storm was coming in fast when, a few days later, I noticed the Lab lying down in the field across my place. I called him but he wouldn’t respond. When I got close to him, I realized that he couldn’t rise. His hind leg was grotesquely swollen and it looked as if it might have been broken. I called the veterinarian to help come to his rescue. Just in time before the pelting rain hit, Lupe and I managed to get him into the vet’s car. I told the vet that I’d assume the costs. A day or two later, she admitted that she also had feared a fracture of his thigh. There was a large haematoma, no fracture, but considerable swelling from what appeared to be the result of a violent blow from a stone, a foot, or a large piece of wood. The poor dog hadn’t been able to get up let alone walk. He was in considerable pain.

It was inconceivable that I’d leave him in the street in his condition. Plus he needed more shots of antibiotics, to relieve the pain and reduce the inflammation. While he was at the vet’s I’d made inquiries about the poor dog and discovered that he was indeed a street dog that some claimed as theirs on the basis of occasionally feeding him dried up tortillas and chicken bones whenever they’d have leftovers. They also frankly reckoned that he was a street dog.

Although a large animal, his ribs were like a washboard. His skin and gums were almost devoid of colour from anaemia. He was riddled with parasite infestations both inside and out. He had a large tumour on his back the size of half a grapefruit. It looked awful and nasty. His lip had been torn at some point and so had one of his ears. Both had remained slashed. He had only stubs--no front teeth left between his canines, which the vet attributed to gnawing on tree bark or something similar seeking a relief from hunger. His nose showed an indentation where it had been broken, probably from a sharp object as indicated by a scar. It could have been a rebar the vet remarked for such a break. He was probably around 6 to 7 years old.

He needed help and care. He needed regular feeding. He needed shelter. I adopted him. Besides, I was so grateful to him for caring for the puppies. Clearly a most noble animal that I discovered was very gentle and peaceable. He had been known as Ringo. He became Rambo. Two days ago, as a test, I called him by his old name of Ringo but got no response. Just a rigid countenance. Not even a turn of his head for a look. The moment that I said Rambo, tail wagging he came straight to me. It breaks my heart and never fails to make me tearful to see him jumping for joy and prancing at every feeding time, just as if he was still a young pup. Just as if it was so wonderful and unexpected for him to get food.

A couple of weeks after Rambo’s injury, a woman showed up at my door claiming that although he was indeed a street dog, he was HER street dog. She was accompanied by the Delegado who put a few questions to me and asked me if I had bills to prove what had happened. I had. With time, I had learned that the woman’s husband was known as a brutal and cruel man to both his animals and his now grown up sons. Most around here were sure that he had either thrown a large stone at the dog or given him a very hard kick to result in his leg injury. The vet offered her support in stating that the law was clear and that it was absolutely within the law for me to adopt him. That anyone claiming a dog as property had to ensure that the animal be reasonably sheltered, cared for, and clearly identified with a collar. Obviously the law in Mexico aims to protect animals. Just as obviously the law can seldom be applied for lack of policing.

Aware of the terrible suffering of the seven animals who now share my physical and heart space, the vet and I had many a conversation about doing something to raise awareness of the plight of puppies thrown away as so much garbage when sterilization would prevent this widespread suffering of innocent animals. I offered to write the dogs’ stories and she said that she had a contact with our local paper and would see to it that the articles be published. Thankfully, she will also review my writing in Spanish, which needs all the help that I can get.

So there you have it. It took years of trekking across the continent to rid me -of the travel and adventure bug. I guess I’ll just keep on writing to get rid of this bug, too.

You will also notice that I have left the “DONATE” button at the bottom of the screen. Any help will be received with immense gratitude. Even five or ten dollars can help give me a relief from the feeding and vet costs. All animals in my care have been rid of parasites, have been vaccinated and sterilized. They get Pedigree kibble in the morning and cooked food at night, which consists of fresh tortillas or cooked rice along with a mix of vegetables and fresh meat. They glow with health. And I mind neither the costs nor the time. But I will admit that the construction of my little house is slowed down for diverting funds towards my four-legged companions.

Now, here are my four-legged companions. I tried to isolate Tasha but could not. She is in the center, the black face in the forefront is Nicki, the blondie on the left is Kaylee.

Nicki, to my immense surprise is growing into a tall, long-legged elegant dog. There is a slight deviation of one side of her face as a result of the cervical vertebrae being pushed to one side. She appears as strong as her sisters. She is a rather reserved dog, often observing what goes on.

Below is Keiko. She has longer hair than her sisters. I imagine from being sired by a different male? She is the warmest and most forward of the three. She simply craves love.

Here is Miko. She is still very skittish. I almost lost her last month when she managed to grab a tube of ointment for mushroom and yeast infections and ate the whole thing. I took her to the vet where a drip with vitamins and an antibiotic was given her. Her eye looked terrible and for the first hour, it wasn’t certain whether she’d make it. But she did rally. Her cornea is improving daily and now it looks as if it will clear completely. Elvia, a neighbour, remarked to me one day that she thought her ugly calling her Feita, which means little ugly one. I guess that love is truly blind ‘cause I see her as a sweetie. It took her very long weeks to warm up to me. She no longer runs and hides under the RV. At times though, it saddens me that she appears to be the Omega dog, submissive to all others. With maturity things may change.

The photo below is Kaylee who is now one year old. She’s the most playful of the lot. She and Tina have invented a game of hide and seek. The new pups observed and now play the game, as well.

Tina is the oldest at the ripe old age of 3 years. Both she and Kaylee are the athletes of the bunch. I had to add three layers of blocks to the fence as she easily cleared the more than 5 foot fence.

And here’s Rambo. He is kept very busy being the token male of the group. When he returned from the vet after his surgery to remove the tumour, he dutifully visited every female’s urine spot and covered it. The break on his nose can be seen as a hollow and a slight deviation to a side. The scar where a sharp blow had landed is visible closer up in the hollow.

The two blondies are Kaylee and Rambo. Kaylee is the lightest but both have a fair share of white. Tina is the reddest of the seven, Tasha is a typical German Shepherd but on the smallish side. The three sisters are a medley of all colours where black predominates.

The black area at the bottom of the house walls is the cadena over the mamposteo, or foundation. The cadena is covered with waterproofing material. The lot will be raised later when all construction is over. The whole lot will be covered with stones or tiles of some kind or other.

There’s never a dull or lonely moment. My life is filled with the gloriously unconditional love I get from my four-legged family, a love that I return wholeheartedly.

LiveJournal Tags: The plight of dogs in Mexico

Back in the Saddle

Back in the Saddle

How I missed writing on my blog. The most damaging part in retiring my blogs was that I could no longer write on blogger simply because the internet service provided by Telcel… or the lack of it, made it impossible to even get my email! Although I was paying for broadband, the speed had been reduced to 0.51kbps peaking to 0.53kbps-at least that’s what the test online kept showing. Finally, I had to realize that nothing would improve! So this marks the end of my 17 month long saga with Telcel. I’ll sum it up.

Since March of 2011 the broadband for which I was paying was made unavailable to me because at the time I was using Skype. The same happened to my neighbours. I fought it until I decided to cancel my subscription in July of this year. Telcel would NOT accept my cancellation!!!! They offered to reduce my monthly payment by half. But since I could not even get my opening page, let alone my email and forget about the blog, I retorted that if they would send a technician to my place and the broadband would somehow be accessible again, I would accept their offer.

Well….. nobody came. Instead I got a call from their head office in Mexico City saying that to supply my little area with broadband would require the installation of an antenna. (Then how the dickens could they offer broadband for a year, then none?) They were not ready to do it yet so, in view of this, they would gladly cancel my subscription since “… they could not provide me with the service”. Honestly, I could have screamed in frustration. I had been too many times to San Juan to complain that I was not getting the service for which I was paying! So $800 pesos later, I got my contract cancelled? What’s to understand? I don’t mind saying this publicly. It was highway robbery since I had not had the service for so long and still had to dish out about $75. dollars to be a l l o w e d to cancel a service that they admittedly could not provide . . .

But I did miss writing my blog, the contact with readers, their comments. I had to find a solution. Since Telcel exercises an absolute monopoly on providing wireless internet in the area, if not in all of the republic, there is no alternative but to use a cyber café. I found out that I can copy my blog, including photos, onto a flash drive or a CD and publish it from the café as they allow it. This I will do.

Today is October 1st. I have photos to take of the house and of the four-legged that now number 7 (yep… I did write seven). I’m not sure as yet of how I will proceed. So when I go to the cyber café once a week, I may publish one or more than one post.

I’m back in the saddle… and very happy to be!


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