The Blocks arrived!
1500 of them, all nicely stacked and – super exciting for me – they come with 9 wood palettes which always get my creativity flowing. I see a couch palette in the future, maybe some chairs.
Cinder blocks are the main way homes are built here, not wood. I think this has to do partly with termites, partly with the heat, and also a shortage of timber.
Jorge told me that this shipment would take care of all the blocks we need for the fosa (septic tank), the aljibre (water cistern), and the whole house. But when my friend and I were looking at the pile of them this afternoon, it was hard to believe that this would be enough. Tomorrow I will check on this.
For sure it’s fun to see them sitting there, pure potential, pieces of home.
Less good news:
The excavator did not.
Not much to say about this. It’s another case of the mañanas and so it is.
It’s 2:00 in the morning and I am wide awake.
And now so is Lila.
Two things are keeping me awake.
One is a conversation I had with someone who gently asked if I had had a soil study done. The kind of study that tells you that yes indeed, this is good soil to build on. No sinkhole, no weird stuff like that. The answer is no, I haven’t. I connected with someone tonight who might be able to come take a look for me but I realize that the cart is way ahead of the horse.
Second thing is the money. I knew this week was going to be a heavy-budget one as we are getting a lot of the main materials. But even though I am missing the exact cost of the sand and gravel (I’ll get that in the morning), there seems to be a lot of extra pesos I can’t match to anything. Of course, there is labor – Jorge pays himself and his two workers by the week – but there was barely any labor this week other than waiting for the excavator to arrive and moving the steel beams when they did. So I will check on this also tomorrow.
This brings to mind a conversation I had with a local young man a couple of weeks ago as he and I both started on the project of building our homes on this land. His is a beautiful triangular corner lock facing the field and the river. He is about a month ahead of me and building it himself with the help of two workers and lots of good music.
He explained to me that there are basically two ways to do this:
One is to buy the materials yourself and then hire your workers, whom you pay by the week. And the other is to hire a contractor who pretty much bids the whole job and does all of the materials-getting and workers-paying for you.
Being local and well connected, he is doing it the former way which as he mentions means that he is sticking close to the job site to ensure that work is getting done, actually doing a lot of it himself. He says that this way is cheaper as long as you are very much hands-on.
The other way is the way I am doing it. Jorge gave me a price and he is handling all of the materials-getting and workers scheduling, managing, and paying. And I still plan on being very much hands-on, partly because I want to learn every little tiny piece of this process.
A couple of days ago I had the thought that for my next project (ha!) I may want to do it the way the young man is doing it. Talking with a friend who is Mexican American and has been developing her own little piece of land in the village, she tells me that no way – even with her perfect Spanish, as a woman she would be “eaten alive” and given high prices and slow work. Basically, less respect is what I heard.
This is one more piece I sometimes forget about, living here. The man/woman thing is very different. And I can make all the connections I want – and do – and huff while moving steel beams, I’m always going to be a woman and one with an accent on top of it. I am not going to fight this nor be upset about it. Instead, I am going to learn how it works and hope to find the sweet spot where we all win. It’s usually there for us to find.
Time to go back to sleep and ask thoughts of sinkholes and numbers columns to let me be.
We have an excavator to welcome tomorrow.
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