Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Down Mexico Way

Frank Sinatra sang it, "South of the border, Down Mexico way." His song was about a short love affair South of the border, but I'm writing about differences in the way things are done Down Mexico Way.

Our house is kind of two towers connected by a portico. The portico is covered with roof tiles. Roof tiles on their own are never fully water proof under heavy or prolonged days of rain. They get kind of water soaked and can be a bit drippy. Most of the time they are fine. After eight years and several construction projects we had some broken tiles and some of the places where they butt up to the wall were not sealed as well as they had been at the beginning. Earlier this year during the dry season we had our albanil take a look at the tiles. We told him what the problems were and we wanted them repaired or even totally replaced if that is what we needed to do to have less water leak through on the portico. We pointed out another rooftop in the neighborhood that had new tiles and they looked much better than the ones we had. He studied the situation and said that he thought they just needed to be taken down cleaned and replaced and it might take a few more tiles but the old ones would be okay.

For three days he and his assistant worked on the portico and when he finished it looked good except I wondered how they had managed to not need extra tiles. I also thought that the overlap spaces between the tiles looked a little big but then what do I know about laying Mexican roof tiles.

We missed a lot of the rainy season this year while we were in Texas but one good rain after we returned showed us that now the problem was still the same if not worse. We called him back. Now he said that the ends of the tiles didn't overlap enough so he brought his assistant and they again worked on realigning tiles. Still not quite right. Today he came again and he said that these were old tiles and that they were not shaped like the new ones which are better....and he pointed out the new roof in our neighborhood that we had pointed out to him earlier in the year. He thinks we might have to get new tiles.

Those of you who haven't lived in Mexico are probably wondering why we don't just get rid of him and hire someone else. Well this albanil has done a lot of work for us over the last four or five years and all of it has been excellent. Most good work gets done in Mexico based on good relationships. You may be thinking that he is just dragging this out to make more money. We don't think that. Mexicans make do with what is on hand. He probably feels he is doing his best to save us money.

If stuff like this would drive you crazy, don't come to live in Mexico. Things are different South of the border, Down Mexico way.


Tina Lorenz said...

This is funny, true, frustrating, and perplexing.

Just like Mexico.

Even though we're renting, we're having a lot of work done on the house right now. We alternate between being stressed out over the process, and fascinated with how well things get done with a hammer and some string.

Right now the old AC units are being removed from the wall, and "trimming" (whacking with a heavy hammer) being done to make windows with glass blocks instead. It's an amazing process to watch, even if today the albanil suddenly moved to the bedroom to begin the new window, before we had time to cover or move the wall mounted Sony flat screen TV (about two inches from the aforementioned hammer).

Then there's the painting--with all the colors hand mixed on the patio, with a flower laying alongside to match the color I said I liked.

Then there's the albanil on the roof, who made a terrible mess building a wall around the tinaco, but has been up there for three DAYS with only a putty knife, meticulously scraping every inch of the rooftop clean.

It's a whole new world, and a very colorful one at that. Gotta love it.

Jan said...

I completely understand. Sometimes we do put in our two cents worth during a project, but it sounds familiar.

Heather said...

No. I don't think you are crazy to keep him. I'm sure he's got your best interests in mind. Great story on the differences between the cultures.

Sam and Bob said...

Totally agree...relationships are very important. One becomes like family.

damir said...

Thanks for the laugh Billie! I recall you looking at the tiles in Starbucks court yard over a year ago! Really enjoy your blog.