Saturday, July 19, 2008

Unexpected Leaks

Well, we thought our renovations were complete, but the heavy rains brought some unexpected leaks into the house. We thought we were in the clear. We had experienced some heavy rains early in the season, and we'd had no leaks. BUT...after we finished our renovation and painting, of course, several leaks appeared, dripping water onto the floor and leaving mildew stains on the ceiling and walls. Here's what water does to concrete walls and ceilings. Doesn't look too bad but it needs to be fixed to prevent more damage:

I thought they could be easily fixed, so we called our good friend and construction guy, Antonio, and asked what we should do. Ahhh...not so simple. The clay tiles on the roof needed to be removed, and the flat tile roof underneath needed to be sealed with a plastic paint they use here for waterproofing. Apparently this needs to be done every few years, and the previous owners did not do it. Antonio suggested that while we have the tiles off we should do all the areas of the roof where leaks have appeared. So, we now have a sealed roof, but we have to wait for the leaky areas to dry before sealing and repainting.

I was feeling a bit sorry for myself since we hadn't planned to spend this extra money. So when our Mexican buddies who did the renovation cheerfully showed up and told us "Don't worry Mr. Guillermo...we feex your casa. No more agua!" and went to work, I was glad at least to be getting it fixed. However, as I began to chat with the workers, I was able to put our problem in perspective. They all started telling me, very cheerfully, often laughing, about the terrible leaks in their homes. Here they were fixing our leaks while they were having worse problems which they could not afford to fix themselves. When we ran out of tiles (some inevitably break when being removed), Jesus went home and retrieved some tiles form his OWN house to put on our house. I was, of course aghast when I discovered this. "No problema, Mr. Beell, that part of my house need fixing anyway." What do I say to these guys???!!!

This very unequal situation prompted the following poem I wrote and read at the writers' group yesterday morning:

Mexican Rain

They accept the rain
Without grudge
As the clouds empty
Over the green mountains
Bringing waves of mud
Cruelly into the cobbled streets
And into their homes
Darkening their lives.

We, however, insist
On stopping all leaks
Which, to us,
Represent failure
And calamity.

And so they work
To patch our roofs
While the rain
Pours into their homes,
For they know
That water is not
A tragedy.
It comes and it dries
And keeps us connected
To the earth
And that patching a roof
Only provides
The illusion
Of permanence.

One last note: I did a funny "dumb gringo" thing when they were fixing the roof. I borrowed their ladder to climb up on the roof of the terrace over the BBQ area at the back of our yard to see if I could see the lake from there. I did NOT realize that the tiles are not strong enough to support my weight. So....I realized almost immediately that this was NOT a good idea, and turned to go back, but it was too late, my legs had fallen through and I was hanging onto a support bar. Jesus saw me and ran with a ladder to provide me with an escape route. "Senor," he sympathized," It is NOT so good an idea to climb on the roof." Obviously. They were all sympathetic, and returned the next day to fix the roof, but I bet they had some good laughs that evening. Here is a photo of the damage I did:

I did get a peek before I fell. Unfortunately, I could NOT see the lake.

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