Monday, June 9, 2008

The Rain Has Arrived

Today is our 34th wedding anniversary, and the third time we've celebrated it in Mexico. Not much celebrating today as Pixie is a bit under the weather, and the house is torn apart, as you can see below. Nevertheless, a day worth noting!

The afternoons have been very hot and dry, with the temperature in the mid 90's F and the sun intense. There has been lots of dust, to the point where it seems to drift into the house and cover everything with a light film. Although the humidity has been low, the sheer intensity of the sun has made the air hot and uncomfortable late in the day. We even had a few overnights last week where it didn't cool to its normal 70 degrees, and getting to sleep was uncomfortable, even with a ceiling fan. Even our Mexican friends complain about the May heat: "Esta muchoa calor!"

Last Friday, Pixie and I were sitting in our living room watching a movie on TV, when we heard the first rumblings of thunder. "Ahh," we smiled. "Rain tonight?!" Pixie had predicted it, but I was still skeptical. "Probably just some thunder," I suggested. But I was wrong. As the wind picked up, the lightning and thunder increased, and the rain began. It rained hard for several hours, moistening the soil, eliminating the dust, and providing cooler, fresh air. As the Mexicans describe it: "fresco!"

We had been waiting for a torrential rain to test the new house and find any leaks. Everyone finds leaks during the first rain. The good news: only one small leak around a bedroom window which created a mysterious puddle on the floor. We didn't know where it was coming from; the ceiling was dry (very good news). We eventually found a leak around the bottom of the sliding window, about 5 inches off the floor. Otherwise, it looks as though we're dry. Whew.

While this is all going on, we are also finally starting the renovation projects we have been planning. We've hired Antonio, a local contractor, to redo the kitchen counter with traditional Mexican tile, including the installation of a new sink. We've also hired him to put in a fireplace in the living room. He has a crew of two young men, Girardo (the maestro) and Guillermo (the helper) working on the kitchen. Believe it or not, they are fabricating the new kitchen counters out of cement, and will cover them with tile. Pixie has been agonizing over the color choice. Color schemes in the New England style have little relevance here, where bright colors and unusual combinations are the norm. She's decided on a mustard yellow tile with brown grout, yellowish brown paint on the walls and brick red paint for the cupboards. I'll update the progress on the blog; here are some photos of the kitchen work so far:

This is the form the workers built for part of the new kitchen counter. They fabricated the rebar for strength and used pvc pipe on the edges to form the curved edge of the counter. Below are Guillermo (left) and Griardo (the "maestro") admiring the poured form for the counter. Notice the holes for the stove and sink. They did all this work on the sidewalk in front of our house.

Below is what the counters look like installed, before the tile is applied.

This morning, the tile is being applied. Here is Girardo posing with the first line of tile. We were uncertain how to arrange the tile, but we have learned to trust the Mexican workers who do this all the time. They suggested a beautiful pattern which I will be able to show in the next post.
In the meantime, Raoul (right), the fireplace maestro, and his helper, Jaime, chip away at the living room wall in preparation for the building of the fireplace. They will also install stone to the wall surrounding the fireplace. More photos of the fireplace progress in the next post.

while this has been going on, I've been having some dental work done on my sorry teeth. I am in the process of getting two crowns done at a dentist in Chapala. The dentist office is very basic: just a chair and equipment in one room, with no receptionist, no assistant, but modern equipment and a lab in Guadalajara which fabricates the porcelain crowns. The work is excellent and the cost even better: $175 per crown. White composite fillings are $35. We have a friend who makes trips here twice a year just for dental work. He's getting implants.

As I write this today, it is raining, DURING THE DAY! Very unusual, but nice and cool, so I'm not complaining. This is the fifth day in a row when we have received rain after virtually no rain since November. Soon the mountains will be green and lush!

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