Saturday, July 19, 2008
Bahia Asuncion Work Trip Next Episode
Well after posting my last report at the Internet Café, I walked out to my truck and found a long-time friend waiting for me. Mark drove up from his place in Elias Calles and decided to surprise me. My routine was about to change with Mark in town, horse races, quincineras, dances, and a baseball play off all slated for the weekend.
Without going into much detail, the weekend was full of fun and little sleep. The first night Mark arrived we were up until 2:30am playing horse shoes if that is any indication. Both Saturday night and Sunday night there were dances at “La Concha” a block from the casita. It was great to finally attend one of the parties/bailes as I had heard so much about them. I was not let down.
I also really enjoyed the horse races. About four miles outside of town, cars line up for a number of races. They sell beer and people make wagers on the races. We parked next to Lupita, Rita, and Briseda. Later Juan, Shari, and the gang arrived. The highlight was meeting Augustine who is the director at the high school. He and Mark bet most of the races and quickly became friends.
On Sunday, I walked down to the baseball stadium to catch a game. I didn’t realize what an event it was. The stands were full of people in addition to the people who had parked their cars around the stadium and were watching from their cars. I found a chair on the 3rd base line and soon enough Mingo joined me. Mingo is a good guy who has known Juan all his life. He offered a beer and explained the team from Asuncion was playing Santa Rosalia in the playoffs. I had blast practicing some Spanish and hanging with a friend catching a game drinking 10 peso beers and eating pistachios.
Well it was time to get back to work. Yesterday, Tuesday, we started looking for cement. I couldn’t find any so Juan tried the Coop and bought the last for bags ($125/bag). Later in the day, Juan, Mark, and I decided to rebuild the eroding foundation in the front of the house. I thought we were just going to slap up some cement but of course Juan had to make it look nice. He did some beautiful rock work and boy what a difference it made. I am really appreciative of Juan’s help. I also built a cover for the water heater. It took me longer to find the materials I needed (four small L brackets) but Gloria, our neighbor, at Los Pinos Hardware came through for me.
Now I am off to help Juan launch the boat. He is taking Mark out along with a charter guest. I plan on making the rounds today getting caught up with some friends. That’s all for now.
Thursday, July 10, 2008 about 7:00pm
Just got done with a lengthy strength workout and about ready to crack open the first beer of the day. Not sure what’s gotten into me other than I’m settling into my normal routine from the States. And just as I’m about ready to return.
My trip has been wonderful and I could easily stay here longer. The only thing missing in my life are my wife and cats….otherwise, I very content here. I find myself being more creative, less stressed, and generally much happier. But I am ready to get back to SD and begin the next chapter in my/our life.
Today I finally was able to nail down a crew to build the wall/planter. The two are from Sinoloa but have family here. From what I hear, they are very good and thus a bit more expensive. No problema….as long as the work gets done. The planter is going to be an L shape with a taller wall on the back side to block the wind. I’m also hoping to get a new water faucet installed as well. The wall will be built out of cinder block and then plastered. The materials cost about $150 (140 blocks for $100 and 4 bags of cement at $125/each) and labor $160. I’m not too concerned with the price as the benefits will be incredible. The next step will be to lay down laja rock.
Today I was fed well again. The past two nights, I’ve eaten well at Juan and Shari’s place. Today, though, Gloria’s daughter (our neighbor) brought over a plate of food for me. Que sabroso! Lunch was fried white sea bass, pico de gallo, and some tasty hot salsa. After that meal, I needed a siesta and thus I lay down on the couch. A short while later, Lupita and Rita show up with a pot of caldo (fish soup). I haven’t tried it yet but I’m certain it’s fantastic. I’ve eaten so well on this trip. Besides all the great food others have made for me, I’ve done my share of cooking as well. This trip, I brought down frozen chicken breasts, gourmet sausages, and frozen yellow fin tuna. I’m much more at ease when I can cook.
Yesterday Mark left and things got back to normal for me. I got up on the roof and assessed how it was holding up. For the most part, I am impressed with our work. The casita is so much cooler than before. Also, structurally I’m certain the house is in better condition. I added a few nails here and there and then put a tarp over part of the bathroom ceiling as we were short of lamina. I had one long sheet remaining and I had been debating on how to use it. I decided to install it over the main part of the house. The dilemma, though, was how to install it. The roof in that area is very weak and the only ladder I have is fairly short (from the Toyota home). I kept pondering for a bit and finally decided to go for it.
I pull out my drill and climb up on the roof from the bathroom. I gingerly ease my way out on the existing lamina. When I reach the corner, I screw in a short length of 2 x 4 to the roof. This action was a bit precarious and I certain the neighbors were waiting for me to come crashing down. Some how, though, I survived and was able to nail in the lamina. I think we’re good at least in the short term. Down the road, I’d like to lay a cement foundation and then continue the lamina over that area which will house a washing machine one day.
I also cleaned that area up a bit. In the process, I found two of Tracy’s friends (read field mice) that had been visiting without a welcome. I had been going crazy trying to get them with the mouse-trap but was finally able to get them with poison. Fortunately, they went outside to die and thus I needed to find that entrance. I poked my head around a bit and realized they were coming up near the foundation and wood siding. A few squirts of foam insulation and the holes were sealed. All should be good…at least for now.
Another huge stroke of luck (not crashing off the roof was luck) was finding a guava tree on the property. I was doing some weeding around a stick in the ground when I realized a number of new branches and leaves. I seriously thought this tree for dead as I had watered and watered it. I pretty much left it there out of laziness. Well, I suppose it pays to be lazy some times. I still can’t believe it. So as it stands, we have a guava, pomegranate, zapote, and another mystery fruit tree. A few years down the road, the property is going to be a huge shade garden with many gifts of fruit. I also envision planting an orange and lime tree along with some grapes.
I can’t say enough how enjoyable the whole process is to me. Having a vision and then watching and experiencing it unfold is truly addicting. The details aren’t always clear to me but the grand scheme is….spending time here with the family for years to come is going to be special.
Peace out for now.
Quick note…wall is in and looks great. Took the 5 brothers about 4 hours….I’ll definitely use them again…in fact, I already have a quote for the laja rock patio and hope to have it done for Christmas. Oh, go figure the water was out today so I had to get all the water from the shower.
Said my good-byes to everyone. Of course, they all tried to send me home with fish. I did accept some white sea bass from Gloria and Arturo. It’s getting to be an ordeal to say good-bye to everyone. I divvied up the remainder of my food and distributed it as well. I made Lupita and family some grilled chicken breast and I think they were impressed. All got a chuckle when I said it was time for me to go as Tracy was wondering if I had a girlfriend in Asuncion now.
Tonight, I’m going out for tacos with my last 200 pesos. I’m even going to make a margarita here shortly. Another great trip and I can’t wait to get back.
Nos vemos Asuncion!