Concrete mesas

banana

MESA MEANS table in Spanish. I now have two mesas in the yard where damnable bananas long held sway.

The photo above was taken on a nice summer day. You see two stands of banana. One is just this side of the black-rock Alamo Wall, and the other one, higher, is beyond. A third, which abuts the house itself, is not visible.

More on it below.

As recently noted in the post dubbed The winter scalp, banana trees, which I stupidly planted years back when they were cute little babies, had become the curse of my life.

I have taken concrete action against two of the three. The ground in which they grew has been covered with concrete and stone, which is raised to form two mesas.

I could have simply covered them with concrete and stone at ground level, but the two mesas give me places to set things, maybe artsy-fartsy stuff to give drama to the yard.

Below are photos of the work:

No. 1
Removing banana remnants with machete and pickax.
No. 2
Early stages of mesa No. 1.
head
Work done. No more freaking banana trees here! It’s 60 centimeters tall.

Now I need to find a stone or metal sculpture to dress it up.

DSCF0399

Long, long ago, I planted a little banana tree in this corner against the house. It grew high and multiplied. I snapped this photo one dark night many years back.

It grew and grew and grew until it was impossible to walk into this corner or even see the corner, so it had to be eliminated.

To wit:

shot 1
Workman with pickax uprooting banana bases and roots.

That big aloe vera bush, left side of photo just above, was not even planted when I took the night photo.

two
Second mesa just lacking fill at this point.
rubble
Interior is filled with rubble from God knows where.
casa
All done. This one is larger than the other. Also needs a sculpture.

And that concludes another construction caper. The toil spanned four six-hour days, and the total price for material and labor was 2,450 pesos, about 135 bucks. I tossed in a 200-peso tip because that’s the kind of guy I am.

I’ve loved stone and mountains all my life, and now — at last — I’m surrounded by both. Life is good.

Mañana dawns

collapse

I COULD HAVE told them a year ago, perhaps two, this would happen. But they waited until it did. Good that nobody died.

Over many months, during our morning walks, it was like watching that finale in Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch: slow-motion mayhem.

Finally, the roof perished completely. Collapse!

This end of our neighborhood plaza possibly dates from the 16th century. Lordy knows how long that roof had rested there. But then it decided on a total siesta. Adiós and goodbye.

They’ve been working on it for a few weeks now, slowly at first but picking up speed, and before long it will look as it did way back when Cortés walked around the middle of Mexico.

Or not long after.

Poop hole, solar heat

excavateEARLY WEDNESDAY we left the construction crew working at the Hacienda and drove the 40 minutes down the mountainside to the state capital for a bit of shopping.

The honcho Ramón had told us he was renting a machine to excavate the septic tank. We envisioned a hand-held apparatus of some sort and a smaller hole, so imagine our surprise at finding this when we returned four hours later. The dirt this thing was excavating was being tossed into a dump truck out on the street.

That was Wednesday.

hole

forpoopBy late afternoon Thursday, the septic tank was making progress, as the photo just above shows. There is nothing prefab about this baby. It’s being built from scratch, like Granny’s peach pie. The bottom had been covered with a layer of gravel, unlike the pie, and a concrete foundation lined the sides, atop which bricks were placed.

Liberal use of string keeps things level, and notice the spaces between the bricks in the lower part of the wall, obviously some sort of filtration system. It’s a hoot to witness this process.

For previous entry in this gripping saga, go here.

As always, for a blow-by-blow photo history, go here.

solar

SOLAR WATER HEATER

While we’re on the subject of home improvement, let’s turn now to the solar water heater on the Hacienda roof, which has never worked well in the four years it’s relaxed up there.

About a month ago, a commenter on another post inspired me to climb the circular stairway to the roof yet again and test the water. Still tepid, so I decided to return to the hardware store where I purchased it and complain for about the third time. The gizmo has a 10-year guarantee.

The reason I had not pressed harder on this is because I know that guarantees in Mexico are less a promise than a come-on, a selling point. They are not cast in rock. There is little a Mexican loathes more than giving a refund.

Previous complaints led the hardware manager to phone the manufacturer, a major Mexican firm, while I was sitting there with him. Drain the tank to get rid of crap, I was once told. I did that. Another time I was told to flush the whole shebang with vinegar. Never did that because I had no faith it would work.

I won’t bore you with details, but today the hardware store will send someone to dismantle and haul this bugger away. Turns out they had discovered a major design flaw. Well, duh. Initial indications are that I will get a full refund, not a prorated one. The purchase price was 10,000 pesos, about $850 U.S. at the time.

We’ll be buying another one, a different brand with a better track record. The hardware manager said they only sold six of mine, and four were defective. He does not sell them anymore. He’s sold 26 of a different model from a different company, and they work great, he claims, plus it only costs about $450 U.S.

This turn of events would not have happened were it not for the verbal, unintended nudge of a commenter here some weeks back. I don’t remember who it was, and a cursory (I’m lazy) search of the stacks revealed nothing. Please raise your hand and take a bow. I appreciate it.

Your reward, should you choose to accept it, is a free week in our lovely downtown Casita. Bring a friend. No smoking, no pets, but other than that, it’s here for you. No joke.

The tower view, 2

streetAS PROMISED yesterday, I climbed atop the kitchen/storefront lavatory and shot these photos. Above is our front street. I went for a Sam Peckinpah effect because I wanted it to look like an old Mexico movie.

Of course, Peckinpah’s actual movies were in color to accentuate the abundant blood flow.

Not much in the way of traffic out there, which is normal. This was photographed yesterday around 10 a.m. Sometimes there are men on horseback, plus the occasional burro.

In the distance, you can see trees on the right side of the street. That’s our local plaza, and it’s just 1.5 blocks away. Earth-shaking concerts are held there about eight nights a year. These events are inspired by stuff like saints, virgins and season change. We sleep with silicone earplugs on those nights.

About two years ago, a big blow, quite a storm, uprooted nine trees in the plaza, about a third of those present. It was never reported as a tornado, but I’m convinced it was.

Doing a 180, you’re facing the sex motel next door. I wouldn’t want you to miss that. You can see into the rooms, especially that first one. Those are the bed pillows. A similar direct view is available from the house’s upstairs terraza, and folks occasionally leave the curtains open, to their dismay if I show up.

The sex motel is a fun neighbor.

motel(Note: Coming up tomorrow. Nairobi lesbians!)