Today, we have a full crew and when I arrive with a bag full of roasted chicken and warm tortillas for lunch, Jorge shows me that they have started on the roof. I guess somewhere along the way they decided to do this before the plastering of the walls and there they are, rows of happy little bricks beautifully arched over a corner of the art studio.
The first thing I notice is that one of the bricks has a number etched into it. Two, actually. I think one is 492 and one is 500. I am guessing this must be a batch number, as these are hand-fired. I love love love that. The second thing I notice is that the grout in between them is not super even and because I have been concerned about that for the cinder blocks too, I ask Jorge. I think he tells me that there is another coat coming? I will ask again today. And then, the intimacy. Something about having a little corner of the house roofed feels intimate, sweet, special. Darker too, of course. I had gotten used to the open ceiling and this is a new chapter.
Jorge and I talk about many things, including the wiring. He shows me how he has been cutting the tracks where all the wires are going to be living and I remember how he told me that when the house is finished, I will have a croquis of where all of these are, both electric and plumbing. Apparently, each house has one and that's to be sure that if needed, one knows exactly where to chip away at the stucco. No sheetrock to move away and expose the frame.
Then he shows me this bag, full of plastic plates and things for the electricity. Since we do not (yet) have electricity nor a sure path to it, I tell him that we are looking at A Bag Full of Optimism, which makes him laugh. Again, no one seems to be doubting that we will have it, somehow.
We talk a bit about his bid for a small second story, one that will allow for a guest room. We had decided early on not to have a separate studio/guest room building, and the cost for the second story is indeed much less. It's not bad at all, about $6000 all complete with a small bathroom (plus the spiral staircase) but I need to wait and see what happens with 1) the electricity and 2) the current budget.
Speaking of current budget, he tells me again that we are doing fine, with just a little hiccup for the welder's work (= windows) because the iron has gone up in the last month - and is continuing to go up. We talk about where to get that cost back and are toying with the idea of a simple fence made of palm ribs. The material would be pretty much free, and it would be beautiful. However, it would only last a year.
Reading the news, later on, I feel privileged/guilty that these are my current concerns. What else could I be doing?
This morning I had received a photo from one of my refugees students, a man from Cameroon who, because he speaks French had a goal of making his way to France, eventually. After four years of dealing with the immigration system, the UN, and some horrors, he sent me a photo of him standing in front of the Eiffel Tower. He made it. It choked me. I know better than to think his life is going to be a bed of roses going forward but at least he will understand the language, and people will understand his.
For today, I will take this as enough.
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