Tuesday, July 26, 2011

July 26


The construction is now into its fourth week and they are making just wonderful progress.  In Rick's casita, here is the lovely arch between his living room and his kitchen, with the so-far-concrete kitchen counter just visible beyond it, and beyond that the doorway to his bedroom. 

We have made all the doorways into arches, and below you'll see how beautiful that is in my living room.  Here, though, is the bathroom in the casita, with its curves at the shower and the original arch that we found when we first saw the place.  Thanks to this little window, the entire place will feel Moorish.

There used to be a hallway from the bedroom to the outside but it was entirely superfluous.  The hallway has become part of a now enlarged bathroom, and where the outside door used to be is now an arched window.  The spiral stairs you see here -- snail stairs in Spanish! -- will be moved away from this place, since to the right is the place where the front door will be.  The rubble you see on the ground used to be an enormous THICK concrete laundry sink.  It was demolished in the first morning of work.

All the perimeter walls have been built up and stuccoed (except for the outside of the front wall, which will be done at the end).  Here you are seeing the walls that converge where the pool will be, and some iron security fencing.  The last time you saw this wall, it was bricks, castillos, and cadenas.  We installed the iron fence in order not to close off the view.

Skylights are going in everywhere -- 19 of them in all!  Here's the hole for one not yet in place (they have to cut out the rebar here), and what it looks like from above, in this case the upper patio in the casa.

Downstairs in the casa, the wall between the living room and kitchen has been removed -- except for the column you see at the left.  That let us make TWO arches, one on each side of the column.  The arched doorway at the right leads into the study, which before had no interior access at all.  The view of these intersecting arches from the front door is complex and very beautiful.  I wanted a picture of it for you, but it was too dark to show you.

The picture below is of my bedroom.  The center area was a doorway to the bathroom beyond, but for various reasons it was not in a good place.  The worker has bricked it up and is now applying cement for a stucco finish over it.  The new doorway to the right of course is arched.  The doorway to the left, which is hard to see as a doorway but really is, is being converted from right angles to an arch.

And outside the bedroom there is progress on my sleeping porch!  Here is the low wall being installed for privacy.

I am trying very hard not to add things to the construction list, but occasionally something creeps in.  By and large, though, we're on or ahead of schedule and still well within the cost limits.

A couple of weeks ago we went with friends to a jazz/blues concert out in the campo, or the countryside outside of San Miguel.  Since it is thank goodness rainy season here, the late afternoon concert came with an added bonus:  the view of the rain clouds massing over the hills that were still in sunshine.  Generally, "rainy season" means that every few days the clouds pile up and let loose with dramatic thunder, lightning, and pouring rain.  I just love it.  And now the temperatures are consistently in the high 70s and low 80s every day.

There was a play performed in San Miguel last week called Opus, about the interpersonal dynamics in a four-man string quartet that fires one member and replaces him with a young woman.  The drama and the music were all excellent.  This play was performed in New York in 2007 and got fine reviews.  Even though obviously the quality of the acting isn't quite up to New York standards, isn't it a pleasure to be able to see theater like this?

I have been wanting to write to you about babies and children.  On the streets, children are seen usually with mothers and on the weekends with both parents and sometimes grandparents as well.  One also sees fathers with children, even here in macho Mexico.  The mothers can be shabby and poor, but I have never seen a baby with anything less than clothes or blankets that appear brand new and perfectly immaculate.  Small babies are carried with a blanket over them, including their faces, to protect the new skin against the strong sun.  The children always seem calm and happy -- no screaming babies here, which is so interesting!  I rarely see a woman with more than two or three children:  are the others at home, or aren't there any others?  Birth control is making good headway, but girls from poor families with little to no education are as always the ones to be getting pregnant young.  I have been told that the Quinceañera, a girl's 15th birthday celebration, is sometimes such a big deal here because for some of these girls it will be the only party they have.  No wedding.

By the way, my Spanish teacher told me that the word macho has a negative meaning in Mexico.  In the US it's sort of complimentary, meaning a man is masculine in the good senses of the word.  Here it means masculine in the bad senses -- a man who swaggers and beats his wife and children.


  1. Good progress! It's going to be really nice when done.

    How did you gather information on teen pregnancy patterns? That's pretty deep stuff to share with a non-native, I think.

  2. Wow, amazing progress. Question: So if all the doorways are arches, does that mean no interior doors at all, not even to the bedrooms? And if they have to cut rebar to put in skylights, that doesn't compromise the roof's integrity/earthquake resistance to concrete on your head? But believe me, I am totally impressed. Looking good!