Sunday, December 23, 2012

A iguana rodeo and keeping up with the Jones

Making small improvements to a home that is made of bricks is very challenging. I have written before how just hanging curtain rods can take days, even weeks. Just hanging anything is complicated and always messy, drilling a hole in the wall always makes a mess, setting a nail or a screw in the hole is tricky. A trick I have not mastered yet.

I have a saying I often use at work in Canada and it certainly applies here as well. "' when starting any major project always remember that it will take longer than originally expected, it will cost more than originally expected, and it will be messier than originally expected". How's that for a fridge magnet?

It is a custom here that if you can afford it you paint your house just before Christmas and since I am trying to keep up with the Jones here I had full intention of painting my house before Christmas. The overhang of my roof was starting to crumble in places exposing the rebar, which results in the rebar rusting from the humid salty air here. Everything rusts here...everything, and stainless steel just means that it stains less, which is why it is not called "no stain steel" it is "stain less steel". Last year just before I left I must have stuck 2 pins into a place mat on my table and forgot about them...I do that when I am working on something, when I came back this year those pins were so rusted I had to make a hole in the place-mats to get them out. A metal carrot grater only lasts one season here. In one season a new bike looks like old junk...completely rusted. You get the picture...everything rusts.

Anyway, so my rebar is exposed and needs to be fixed, and should be fixed before painting. Also, my roof overhang does not have a drip lip on it causing the water to run underneath it during the rainy season which is why it is crumbling so I should really put a drip lip (that's my word for it) on it or I will have to keep replastering the overhang every year or so....I don't like doing already done work over and over. So it was decided we would also add a drip lip.

See how ugly the roof over hang is
another look here, I was also blocking a newly knitted shawl on the line
rebar showing, this needs to be fixed prior to painting
I was told 2 days, 3 at the most. That turns out to be working days, not days until the project is finished. When you are working with concrete and mortar you can only apply so much and then you have to wait for it to set/dry before you can plaster more.

The process goes like this; you slap plaster upwards and what doesn't fall back onto your head, or splashes onto the side of my house, or falls onto my freshly washed shutters or lands on my nicely laid brick patio or onto my plants, or flies through my window and lands on my bed, sticks to the overhang and once you have fully coated it you wait a day (or 6). Then you come back and add some more with  a trowel and this time you smooth it out nicely. Then you rent some forms to mold the drip lip, the forms are just pieces of wood that attach with claps made from rebar. You stick mortar in-between the wooden forms and concrete and then you wait a day for it to dry.
The next day you take the forms off and then you realize that you didn't put enough oil on the forms and so they stuck to the concrete and so the drip lip falls off with your form. Bummer. Now you are 2 days behind, you start all over again. In his defense, he is a fisherman, not a masonry.
smacking plaster  into place
waiting for it to dry with the forms in place

and then the plaster came off with the forms.....start all over
the new drip lip, waiting to dry and then prime and then ...paint
This time you oil the forms more and you leave them on to dry for 4 days, just to be sure. They come off perfectly. Now you spend a day doing some touch up work and making it nice and smooth. Finished?. Nope, that's only one side of the house, now the whole process has to be repeated on the other side...except the part where the drip lip crashed to the ground, I hope. Today it is December 23, and we are into day 2 of the front side of the house, this house is not getting painted by Christmas...New Years? Who knows. It will take me a day to prep the house for paint because there is mortar splatter all over it. Yesterday as I was helping (sitting on the step with my dictionary) I said to him, "someday my house will be clean again...right?" He laughed and said "maybe".

Day 1 of the front side, or was it day 2....nothing seems to have changed the last 3 days

The painting won't take that long, of course because I am a little  "artsy fartsy" I can't have just a normal paint job, I had planned on being a little creative but now that I know how long and messy all this brick work is I might just settle for "normal" after all. Plus this guy has renewed his passport so he is waiting for a call to head out on the great big sea for a tuna fishing voyage. He could be gone any day he tells me. I can always do some "arting" later.

This whole process may seem like it would be fairly unexciting...wrong, there is never a dull moment here, ever. Let me tell you about the great iguana rodeo that we had one day. I have a video of it but can't figure out how to insert it.

I'm in my house and I hear some shuffling on my roof, these last 2 weeks during all this roof construction I am pretty used to roof noises but this was a different noise but I ignore it. Then later I sit on my step and am eating an orange and chatting with the guy and then I hear the shuffling noise again and then some bits of concrete fall on my head, I look up into the face of an iguana looking over the edge of  the roof. My first thought is "he has to die". Do you recall the great poinsettia massacre from 2 years ago? I haven't gotten over that yet. I'm a little protective over my price poinsettia this year. I tell the guy to kill him, he seems somewhat surprised, but he gets up on the roof again with his machete. He asks "you sure you want me to kill him?". I say "yes". He seems very hesitate, and I am starting to wonder if maybe there is some law against killing them, he doesn't want to kill it. Just at that moment 2 boys walk by, he hollers at them from the roof asking if they want a iguana, "is it green, is it big" they ask, "yes to both". They want it, they race around to the back of the house. Guy on the roof finds a piece of string, it always amazes me how what you need is always readily available for them, he makes a noose and I realize what is going to happen, he is going to lasso it....I need my camera for this, I run into the house to get it. I am thinking that lassoing an iguana cannot be easy and it will take a few tries so I am positioning myself to get a good angle and messing with the settings of my camera. The 2 boys are doing the excited happy dance, which is similar to the I have to pee dance, and then he lassos the iguana on the first attempt...not his first day fishing for iguana. Iguana goes wild but can't get away, the boys nearly pee themselves from excitement. Guy ties the string to a long piece of rebar and lowers it down to the boys, now what? This thing isn't leach trained and it keeps lunging at them, and the leach is not very long. I ask what are they going to do with this? Apparently you can sell a nice big green iguana for about 100 pesos. Tourists on the beach pay to have their picture taken with these critters. Guy on the roof jokes that he wants a cut of the profit. The boys lope off with their prize, a funny sight to see, 2 boys trying to take a wild iguana for a walk. Now that I know there is a 100 peso bounty on these critters heads I will be able to dispose of them in a more humanly manner than what I had planned. My poinsettia will be safe one more night. Maybe....guy tells me there were 2 when he started working on the roof, one took off.

The iguana....
The next morning when the vegetable guy comes around he has his son (kids are not in school because of Christmas break) with him who was one of the dancing boys, I was just about to ask him how he made out with the iguana sale and he shot me a look that I understood very well. It was very clear that he did not want father to know that he had made some cash yesterday. When kids here make money they are expected to declare it and to pay "family tax", a portion, in some cases all, of it gets put into the family coffers, to pay for food..ect. One kid told me once how he had sold his cell phone and then bought a cheaper cell phone and had some money left over and he had not told his mother and kept the money, he was pretty proud of how he had gotten away with that. Kids are kids. So....I kept my mouth shut, I now have an iguana guy if I should need one, I best not tattle on him, that is if my iguana fisherman sticks around. Don't think that catch would have happened so smoothly had I tried it.
I asked around if it is illegal to kill an iguana and was told it was not but there are not that many green iguanas left so they do try to protect them....somewhat, they don't like to kill them. If times are hard they will eat them, apparently there is not a lot of meat on them but it makes a good broth for a soup base. I was also told that you can tell how the economy is doing in a Mexican colonia by the size of the iguanas, if they are big, the economy is good, if they are small times are tough. This guy was a fair size.
I was also told there are 3 kinds of iguana, the green iguana, the black iguana, and the marijuana. The green ones can be tamed and be used as pets or eaten, the black ones are mean and taste bad, as for the marijuana ....enough said about that.     

Here is an example of how you can be dirt poor and still take pride in what you have, this darling little house is about 4 doors down from me. This lady gave me some of her plants last year. 

I can't seem to figure out why my font changes through out my writing once in awhile. 

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