Busting out

entrance

STOREFRONT CONSTRUCTION is nearing completion here at the Hacienda. Most everything has been done except opening the new space to the outside world, which is what you see happening here.

The above photo was taken at noon yesterday. To the right is the bathroom door, which remains to be painted. The honcho promised that the entryway would be open and the metal sliding door installed before day’s end.

And it was.

gate

A spanking new stove and refrigerator are sitting against the wall at the rear, which you cannot see here. The bathroom is a done deal with colonial tile around the sink, and a toilet ready for sitting. Photos later.

This project started in November, and we’re going to be soooo happy to have it over and done with — and these talented guys out of our faces. For an ongoing gallery of the project, see here.

Septic tank symphony

THE BOYS have been here for a month now, arriving every morning before 8:30., building the pastry workshop as my lovely wife has chosen to call it, not the kitchen, not the storefront.

This brief video serves just one purpose: to give you a short taste of life on a Mexican construction project. There on the left is the helper, José, who looks to be about 16. He should be in school. Down in the hole is Juan, who looks to be about 35. He is an artist at what he does, incredibly skilled.

The music is theirs, blaring from a dusty boombox nearby. A Mexican construction project requires music, always. The size of the crew varies, but usually it’s just these two because Ramón the honcho is also building the new courthouse downtown, and a courthouse outranks a pastry workshop.

Ramón told me it should all be finished in another week. Due to Christmas, I am skeptical. I’ve also decided to paint the entire façade of the Hacienda property, what you see out on the street. We will be so pretty.

rebarJust a couple of hours after the video was shot, the septic tank roof had been covered with boards — supported from below by parts of trees — and rebar laced atop the wood. There’s an opening at the top left of the tank.

And then just an hour or so later, the entire shebang was covered in cement.

cement

As always, a blow by blow photo spread of the construction can be found here.

And the previous post about this matter can be found here.

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.