Changing faces

First

WHEN WE bought the double lot where the Hacienda now stands, this was the face we turned to the outside world. It was the face the property came with. It was humble, and we liked it that way.

The neighborhood is blue-collar, to state it politely, and we did not want to stand out. We kept this face to the world for about five or so years, but we wearied of it.  So we painted it like this:

Second

The white wall at the right is the entrance to our neighbor, the sex motel. A sharp observer will note there is no sidewalk outside our property and the stand of banana trees that I planted after a couple of years. It gives us a nice tropical look even though we’re nowhere near a beach or jungle.

While the recently completed storefront construction was under way, I decided to have the workmen repaint the entire façade, and this is how it looks now:

Today

There is a sidewalk the local government installed a few years ago. And we have a second entrance on the right, which is the storefront or, as it currently stands, my lovely wife’s pastry workshop. Since the ground level on the inside is significantly higher than street level, the workmen built stone steps.

Those stone steps, to my mind, are too narrow, so the workmen will return today, their last bit of labor, to make them wider. That brick tower between the two metal gates houses the water tank for the new storefront. I climbed up there a few weeks ago and took this really great photo of the street.

Last year we added a little red tile roof over the main entrance because it looks snazzy and Mexican. And we have lost all hope of blending into the neighborhood.

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The pastry shop is completed! And here are photos. Completed is not totally accurate because the space still lacks the counters and shelves that we’ll install, plus a big work table in the middle of the floor.

A photo gallery of the entire construction process is here. It too is completed.

outside

kitchen

inside

lavatory

For comparison, this is how it all started in November. That brick barbecue pit at the far right has been swept away. It was there when we purchased the property, and we never used it.

before

Kitchens and virgins

Tank space

CONSTRUCTION WORK continues at the Hacienda. In the photo above, you see a second-story brick wall going up that will serve to hide the water tank that will sit up there above the lavatory.

As previously announced, the initial plan of building a storefront has been modified. While the new space will have a large opening to the street so it can be rented or used as a storefront, our new plan is to outfit the area as a big, stand-alone kitchen where my wife can bake her stupendous pastries to hawk on the downtown plaza.

The new roof has been installed. Instead of just the traditional clay tiles that were there before, an additional subroof of plywood was added and the tiles now sit atop that. It makes for a tighter environment for the kitchen. The plywood will be painted to match the exposed wood beams that support the roof.

Saturday marks the end of the work’s third week and a photo album of the construction is here. The contractor initially told us the work would take four to six weeks, but that ain’t gonna happen.

The floor still has to be cemented and ceramic tile laid, the plumbing and electrical must be completed, the interior walls finished and painted, the door to the street installed, the propane tank, kitchen sink, bathroom sink, potty, water heater installed, the septic tank excavated. In short, God knows when it will be done.

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But Friday was more than just another construction day. It also was the Virgin of Guadalupe’s day. As you may know, the Virgin of Guadalupe is the personal virgin of us Mexicans. She is special to us because she is brown-skinned as most of us are. She is not just some old white virgin, and we love her for that.

Old white virgins — like old white men — are passé, so yesterday.

There was a parade downtown today, and there will be earth-shaking concerts on our local plaza Friday and Saturday nights. December 12 is when the Virgin was born, or was first spotted, or maybe her resurrection. I really don’t keep up with these things. I can’t keep Jesus’ or Moses’ lives straight, much less a Mexican virgin’s.

portal

I was downtown in mid-afternoon, and I shot this photo. It was tranquil — which is how I prefer it — the calm before the storm. But before I departed two hours later, there was a blaring taxi parade and associated drums, clarinets and tubas. The virgin apparently loves racket.

I got out just in the nick of time via a back street.

Hacienda, Ltd.

The "Before" shot.
The “Before” shot.

NEXT WEEK a construction project will begin here at the Hacienda.

We’ve had relatively minor construction projects in the past, but this will be far greater. We’re going to build a locale, which is what we Mexicans call storefronts.

Previous construction projects have included the carport for the Nissan, basically a concrete floor and a clay tile roof, much like what you see here, but smaller and behind the photographer, which was me. Another clay tile roof was built in what is now called the Garden Patio. It’s where most yard gear is kept, not visible here.

And then there was the stone and concrete that replaced the grass and dirt (mud) over a wide area just inside the entrance from the street. It’s called empedrado, and you see it here on the ground in the photo. I would like to remove all grass from the yard and replace it with empedrado. Maybe I will one day.

When we purchased the double lot that now houses the Hacienda, this portal in the photo was already in place. It was about the only thing here. We have used the left side to park the car, and the other side for not much of anything. That is going to change, big-time. That’s where the storefront will be.

The street runs parallel to the wall at the right. From the left brick column, next to the Honda, a wall will be built back to the rear wall. And from that same brick column, another wall will be constructed, going right, until it connects with the wall that runs parallel to the street.

All of which is to say that everything will be enclosed except where the Honda sits. On the far right, extending out from the roofed area, a half-bath will be built over a septic tank that will be dug.

On the roof of the bathroom will sit a large water tank that will be fed from the street.

The inside will be stuccoed. Fluorescent lighting and six wall plugs, plus switches will be installed. The floor will be covered with another level of cement and ceramic tile will be laid. Lovely interior paint will go all around.

According to the builder, this will take four to six weeks total.

The cost — labor and material — for all that I have mentioned (plus some other, piddling details around the Hacienda) will be somewhere in the neighborhood of $4,000. When all is done, another $850, more or less, will be paid to purchase and install what’s called a cortina — a curtain — a wide steel door that slides down and up to provide a spacious entry from the street. Thousands of customers will flood through.

Customers for what? That’s a good question. I have no interest in renting it. Don’t need the money and dealing with tenants likely would be a headache. Maybe my child bride will open a pastry shop one day. The storefront will join the downtown Casita as an income source for her in the distant future after I die.

It’s an investment. We’re on the main drag of our neighborhood.

As the work progresses, I’ll post updates. It’ll be fun.

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(Note: I will be taking periodic photos of the work’s progress, and they will be posted in sequence right here.)