Saturday, October 21, 2006

Mexican Renovation

Although the renovation of the kitchen and dining room are progressing well, there are a few issues that just leave you beating your head on the wall. Things that you don't even think need to be said because for some crazy reason you think that this is the way things are done or because both you and the craftsman were looking at an example, you thought that they would make it like that plus the additional things you said. Wrong. The additional things you requested will be on there but maybe not some of the things on the original.

You may be thinking, well just send it back but it isn't quite as simple as that. When the item is delivered you look for the additional items, yes they are there, you pay the craftsman and then after it is installed you realize that something from the original was left off. A little thing like a flange on the part of the window that opens. It helps direct the rain away so that the window doesn't leak as much. The new windows leak, you ask? Oh, yes. It just depends on the direction of the rain. I could write pages about leaking windows and doors in Mexico. One of the charming things about Mexico is that things are hand-made. One of the aggravations about Mexico is that no two things are exactly alike because they are handmade.

The Albanil has been doing a great job. The walls are straight or as straight as he can get them from what they were which was very far from plumb. He still has some new tile to put down in the kitchen but he has basically finished the kitchen/dining room. This next week he will take out the plaster on one wall in the living room and replaster it to the same texture as the kitchen. He will add stone on a column so that it matches the one on the other side in size and he will be done until it is time to install the tile backsplash.

We have run into a snag. On Friday afternoon the carpintero was to take measurements in the kitchen so he could start the cabinets but he was finishing another job and he couldn't do it until Monday or Tuesday of next week. I'm going to be in Texas next week and I didn't want him to take the measurements until I was back and could see what was happening......maybe that will help keep down the "surprises." So we are going to delay the measurement taking until the 30th of October.

The arquitecta and I worked on the drawings for the cabinets this week and I'm pleased with what we have worked out. Norma is learning English and I am learning Spanish. Many of our sentences with each other was a mix of Spanish and English and references to the dictionary....but it is good practice for both of us. Between our struggles to find the nouns and verbs and having the drawings as a reference point, we communicated pretty well. When we got stuck for words we'd draw or go down to the kitchen with a tape measure, and sure enough the visual helped resolve our communication gaps. I think this was the first time that Norma had ever had to be so aware of the inside as well as the outside dimension of a drawer or had to talk so much about the design of a cabinet.

I think that in a way, I'm teaching Norma some things about kitchen design that she didn't learn in school. Like defining areas where food will be prepped or mixed and putting storage space there that fits the items that will be needed. How tall does the drawer need to be that will hold pots, how tall does the shelf need to be where dry staples will be stored. From which side should a door or refrigerator open so that it is easy to get into or so that you will be able to place the things you take out on a countertop.

Another thing that happened this week was after a year, we finally had the cabinet installed in the new bathroom of the studio. Another little surprise. Although the cabinet looks wonderful the shelf on the inside is fixed permanently. This isn't the case in the other bathrooms where the braces for the shelves are attached but the shelf is loose in case you need to do something to the plumbing under the sink you can remove them and get to the pipes. I never thought to say, don't make the shelf a permanent attachment because I thought that the carpinteros knew to make it loose. Oh, well. We'll just hope that we don't have a plumbing problem with that sink.

Everyday is a new discovery and an adventure when you are doing construction in Mexico.


Brenda said...

cabinet looks great in el bano. Love the stone column.
Have a good trip.

Anonymous said...

Like so much of the much of the Mexican experience building is truly an adventure. And like any building project there are pleasant and some unpleasant surprises to it all.

I think one of the things that make me feel alive is imperfection. Adjusting to them certain identifies us as a higher species form to some degree.

Your bathroom's beauty is most enviable. Looking forward to the completed kitchen photos one day ;-)

Your Amigo - Juan Calypso

1st Mate said...

Billie, the bathroom looks beautiful! Do the two outer cabinet doors actually curve? Now that was tricky! Love the jade green tile, one of my favorite colors. And the wall paint treatment seems to be nice and subtle.