The house we've been living in since January is pretty empty. Rick has been moving boxes and boxes and boxes over to the new house all week, and what's left here is essential stuff (like this computer)! and the landlord's furniture. Something happened this afternoon that simply terrified me. The car is parked in a carport with an electrical overhead garage door to the alley. I got in the car, started the engine, and pushed the button to open the garage door. A man suddenly appeared in front of the car and stared at me for a reason I couldn't understand. He bent down and into my vision through the windshield I saw him pull another man up to a sitting position and then drag him off to a side. He was so drunk he had passed out in front of the garage door, and didn't move when it opened. I certainly didn't see him. If the other man had not been there to pull him out of the way, I would have killed him. This incident makes all the trash in the alley such a minor annoyance. I am SO glad to be leaving this place.
My kitchen is nearly done. There are outlets under the cabinets at right (still missing their doors) because I am going to keep my appliances here, behind glass doors in that place. No more lifting the heavy mix-master or crock-pot from a lower cabinet! The stove goes in the empty place; it was removed so that the carpenter could work more easily. By the way, the short shelves at left are for spices. Isn't the light that comes in from the skylights beautiful?
The pool is coming along, too. In the next picture, the worker is digging down several feet because it's unstable soil. It's an area maybe 10 X 10 or 12 X 12; I can barely imagine doing that much hard work, shovelful by shovelful. In the second picture, cinder-blocks have been placed on the perimeter and better soil has been added. It looks smooth because it's been compacted with a machine that bounces on the soil and so is called una bailarína in Spanish -- a dancer! I love that.
I've been making curtains like crazy -- for your room when you come to visit, for Rick's bedroom and bathroom, and for my bathroom. September is Mexican Independence month, and everything is decked out in red, white and green, even the fabric stores.
I have to tell you some more about banking here. Totally nuts. This is a cash economy to an astonishing degree: people don't even use checks. If you need to pay something you either pay for it in cash, or if it's a person or a company not around the corner they send you the number of their bank account in a national-chain bank, and you go and deposit the amount in their account. I go to the bank often for large amounts of cash to pay for the construction. First, I must go before 1:00 to withdraw money -- MY money! I go and tell the special person upstairs who deals with gringos and special accounts that I need to withdraw say 50,000 pesos, as I did the other day. I must ask her if this is okay, and she calls down to the cashier to find out if there's enough money on hand for me to withdraw this amount. Okay, she tells me, and fills out a form I sign and take to the cashier. Then the cashier counts out a hundred 500-peso bills, 500 pesos being the equivalent of $38 or so at the current exchange rate, because they don't have larger bills. One hundred bills is pretty fat, and hard to stuff into my purse.
Rick's furniture was delivered earlier this week, and although he doesn't have his kitchen cabinets yet he's been able to unpack a great many things. Today he even put art up on his walls! My furniture comes on Monday, so I'm sort of stuck until it does. His house is looking beautiful, and I promise to take pictures soon.
Rick had an utterly brilliant idea for the front wall, which now looks like this. It will be stuccoed and painted: the lower part, now white and yellow, in a deep crimson, and the upper part, now brick, in cream.
We have two friends, a couple, who are artists -- we've bought several of their paintings already. You can see some of Stephan's and Béa's art on their website, http://www.artcasaverde.com/. Why not, Rick figured, use that huge wall for a mural? We have checked with the building department and of course they want us to get a permit (= income for the city), but that's okay. We also checked to see if there is some sort of transparent protective coating to cover the mural, so that in case some imbecile decides the mural is a great place for his graffiti it can be easily washed off, and there is. We have not seen any other front walls with murals, and are delighted to be the first -- maybe we'll start a new fad and give work to all sorts of starving artists! We are looking forward to the time when our house is a stop on a San Miguel art tour.
We will be moving into the new house probably on Tuesday or so (September 27), so we will be out of contact from a day or two from now until we get computers set up. There are some things not finished yet -- the pool, the retractable awning over the deck next to the pool, the new garage door and entrance door, the two lampposts in the garden (!), etc., but the houses are essentially done. Construction started on July 5: isn't this terrific?
Please note that Rick will have his own US phone number, (214) 310-5780, so make a note of it if you are going to want to call him. My US phone will continue to be (206) 414-3290.
Mark, darling, happy birthday in advance because I won't be able to call you on your birthday. Danny, honey, we hope you have a superb birthday!