Urban renewal

neighbors

THIS IS THE street out back of the Hacienda. It stands in stark contrast to the street out front, which is colorless.

Out front, drab. Out back, LSD trip.

Out back is getting changes which might have been inspired by our recent removal of weeds and construction of a new sidewalk, work detailed in Home Improvement last month.

We noticed during that work that a house down on the corner, the rear of which also included a weed strip, had someone removing its weeds. They have yet to build a sidewalk.

And then a few days later, this yellow house in the photo, was repainted, the yellow part, at least. It was yellow before. It’s just more yellow now. The yellow house and the neighboring orange one are inhabited by the same family.

A notable architectural note on the yellow house is the naked woman painted on the façade. Now there’s something you’ll never see on a home in Kennebunkport.

The naked woman was painted about eight years ago by a hormone-fueled young man who lives there.

It’s an interesting block, which I’ll be seeing more of because of the new steps and sidewalk we had built. Why, I was out there just yesterday sweeping my new sidewalk.

The block goes like this, on the other side, starting on the right: A hovel with a large lot. A hovel with a smaller lot and lots of bamboo and chickens. This yellow house, the orange one, a weeded lot, and then another humble home.

On this side, starting on the right: the humble home of Abel who cuts our grass, the sex motel, the Hacienda, the sourpuss family with the white horse and assorted beasts, and the corner house where they recently dug up their weeds.

There is scant traffic on this street because our block is the final one. It’s a dead end past Abel’s place, terminating in a ravine where green trash gets dumped.

The neighborhood septic tank is down there too.

The paper issue

sign

THERE ARE TWO primary rules for living in Mexico. Everyone knows the first: Don’t drink tap water.

The second is less known, except in U.S. border states where we Mexicans are all over the place: Don’t deposit toilet paper into the toilet bowl. It’ll clog the pipes.

I doubt we’ll ever be able to drink tap water because bottled water is a billion-peso industry here run, to a large degree, by Coca-Cola and Pepsi. They don’t want you to be able to drink tap water, ever.

Dang capitalists! Can’t live with them. Can’t live without them.

When we moved into the Hacienda almost 13 years ago, we didn’t ask anybody about flushing toilet paper. We just did it, and we’ve been doing it ever since with no problem, which is kinda weird considering the backwoods neighborhood in which we live.

The Hacienda’s wastewater goes out to pipes that run under the back street, and from there it goes to a big hole in a ravine about a block away. Yeah, nearby. I remember when they dug that hole, but I haven’t been down that way in years. It was open when I last saw it, but I assume it’s been covered. Lord, I hope so.

Now we have a new situation with the pastry workshop/storefront we recently had constructed. It has its own septic tank. I had never seen inside a septic tank before. I sure had not been down into one, but I have now. See photo below. The tank was cherry at that point. Unused as a starry-eyed virgin in Victorian times.

We’ve decided that perhaps it’s best to deposit only bodily material down here. Toilet paper will degrade in time, but we’re not gonna put toilet paper in there. So I hung a cute sign that’s directly in your face if you’re sitting on the throne in the new bathroom. That’s the sign in the top photo.

In Spanish, it says “Use trash can for paper. Thanks.”

dump

sink

Just for the fun of it, here’s the sink in the new bathroom. Today a carpenter came to give us a price on installing the Formica countertops in the pastry workshop. He’ll make a Formica-topped worktable too. When that’s installed I’ll post a photo of our totally finished situation.

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(Note: A friend in Mexico City told me years ago that she always drops the paper into the toilet unless there is something specifically indicating that you should not. Truth is that much of Mexico has modernized on this issue, but old habits die hard, especially among the ill-informed.)

Moon scoop: the cesspool

dump

NEVER BEFORE have you had the online opportunity to see the innards of a cesspool, but here it is before you.

This is the sort of courageous journalism you don’t find elsewhere. As you may recall, the storefront, almost completed, being built here at the Hacienda has a septic tank. And while all the connections are done, the toilet installed, water at the ready, no one has actually “used the facilities.” The septic tank is still cherry.

So, in the spirit of Geraldo Rivera, I dropped a ladder and headed down this morning. On reaching the gravel floor, I looked about and felt I was in the cloakroom of the Democratic National Committee. I glanced around, expecting to spot Debbie Wasserman Schultz or at least Maxine Waters, but no. The coast was clear.

It was just a generic cesspool.

walls

Above, you see a wall detail. There are spaces in the bricks that provide a filtration effect so the nasty matter can simply become one with the dirt behind.  At the top are two pipes. The larger comes from the bathroom, including the toilet. The smaller is a ventilation tube that extends high into the sky above the bathroom.

Yes, this is the sort of reportage you see nowhere else. Were this a just world, not ruled by White Privilege, I would be awarded a Pulitzer. But I am a Mexican, downtrodden and discriminated against. A loser.

But it’s not my fault.

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(Note: A blow-by-blow photo gallery of the storefront construction is 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.