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.

Storefront update

After one week.
After one week.

ONE WEEK down, and how many more to go?

Progress has been spectacular on the storefront construction. Below, you see how it started and, above, you see how it sits this morning. The section that juts out from beneath the roof will be the small lavatory.

The "Before" shot.
The “Before” shot.

We had 10 big glass bricks left over from a Hacienda alteration a decade ago, so we included them in the storefront walls. It gives a touch of architectural interest, plus it will add natural light to the interior.

Snazzy, ceramic floor tile will be installed. Thirty-five square meters should arrive later this week from Guadalajara. That and the john and sink for the bathroom. I’m looking forward to seeing the septic tank dug. It will be lined with brick and will be old-school, I imagine.

The roof is traditional clay tiles and nothing more. The tiles sit atop wood beams. The workmen will remove those tiles and add a layer of wooden boards atop the beams. Then the tiles will be replaced above the boards. That work will simply make the ceiling more substantial. A mostly daily photo update can be found here.

The workmen — two principals, a painter and a helper — arrive every day at 8 a.m. They work 10 hours Monday through Friday and six hours on Saturday. This is typical. The painter is doing work on the Hacienda that is unrelated to the storefront. Stay tuned. More updates en route. Related post here.

The storefront, cont’d

Trench for one of two new walls.
Trench for one of two new walls.

THE LADS started work on the storefront Monday morning, and they’ve arrived here daily at 8 a.m. Much progress has been made. Above is a foundation trench for one of the two additional walls that will box in the area that currently is walled on just two sides. The trench has been half-filled with cement. It’s drying.

Below is the excavation for the foundation of the half-bath that will abut the storefront. The bathroom, a john actually because there will be no bathing there, no shower, will be the only part that will reside outside the already existing tile roof. The john will have a flat roof and the water tank will sit up there.

Excavation for half-bath’s foundation.

There are some unrelated details around the Hacienda that the boys will complete too. One is to remove that brick grill you see in the bottom photo. It was here when we bought the property 13 years ago, and we’ve never used it. Another is to replace the red tile roof above the green gate (top photo). That’s almost completed. Fast work.

That roof over the entrance gate was installed just last spring by a different workman. He did a crappy job, and tiles easily slipped this way and that. The new guys are cementing them in place.

In the top photo, you can see an old-style fuse box high on the wall just under what will be the storefront roof. Two metal conduits are leading to it. There are only two fuses in there, and it’s where the Hacienda electricity comes in from the street pole. That will be replaced with circuit breakers and moved somewhere to the right, which is to say outside the storefront.

An ongoing photo album of the work can be seen here. It will be updated often until the work is finished.

Watching this is great fun for me. If only I didn’t have to pay for it.

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(Note: The previous, original post on this matter is here.)