Monday morning and I am excited to get going, as I have been all the Mondays since we started.
Except that for 4 out of 5 Mondays, the crew has not worked or barely worked on these Mondays. last week I expressed my frustration about this to Jorge and he told me that he had spoken with the guys and that Mondays would from now on be real workdays.
Cool. And to be sure, I arrive on-site early.
Pulling up I see a couple of cars, Catarino mixing concrete, Jorge wearing construction clothing (not his usual as he often goes between the site and letting renters into the many vacation homes he manages), and all feel active and Monday like. My idea of Monday, anyway.
Before I have time to step close to the house, I see a big four-wheeler arrive, backed by a cinematic cloud of dust in the morning sun - and accompanied by a white dog running alongside.
On top of the four-wheeler, commanding a whole lot of attention is a woman whom I can best describe as a blend of Mexican Judi Dench and Mel Gibson in Mad Max.
"Quien es la dueña?" she asks, turning off her machine. "Who is the owner?"
She has a paper in her hand.
I like this morning energy and make my way to her.
Her Spanish is fast and she has a lot to say. Her name is Ofelia and it turns out she and I had connected before on Whatsapp as her name had been passed on to me as "the person who makes things happen around here." I can now see this plainly.
In her hand is a blank petition with a space for my name, phone number, address ("Of course, we don't have one of those, she says laughing) and four or five empty lines. This is for you to write what you would like to see happen for our barrio, she says. I tell her I would like to see flowers delivered weekly, dessert on Sundays too. She laughs again, an easy laugh for someone straddling such an enormous engine on a Monday morning and she and I spend the next half hour talking. She tells me about her journey with trying to get electricity (she still drives to the village to use her sewing machine at her son's house), water too. We talk about the water treatment plant, the things that need to happen. She tells me that a lot of footwork has been done, money handed out, and little to show for it. I catch about 70% of her words.
As Alberto walks by on his way to his piece of land, which is looking mighty sweet and on which he has now slept for the last four nights already, she asks me for his name and summons him to walk over to her. No way he can resist, even though I can tell that he is not fully awake yet. She hands him a petition which he reads while rubbing his eyes.
She tells me about the meeting on Friday to talk about getting water to us. This is a woman on a mission and the whole thing feels darn exciting to me.
I love the pioneer feel of this place, even though it comes with challenges. We are a 15-minutes walk away from the village and its nice restaurants and nightly jazz music and yet we are kind of creating a new world, in a new way. It's intoxicating.
As she drives away to deliver more petitions, her dog runs behind her, and more dust flies in the air. I am reminded that the house color definitely needs to be an earthy tone.
Walking back to the house, the guys are looking at me and Jorge wants to know what we talked about.
That's when I notice that Anselmo is not there.
Where is Anselmo? I ask, almost afraid to hear the answer.
He hurt his arm, responds Jorge. Apparently working on fixing Jorge's car yesterday, the jack slipped and Anselmo's arm got hurt. I am split between being worried and annoyed. I choose to not attach to either. Jorge tells me that he is okay and will be here tomorrow.
Then he picks up a hammer and I understand why he is wearing construction clothing.
It's only 9 am and unbeknownst more Monday Shannanigans are in the works.