When will your house be done? When are you moving in? How long dear Lord, how long? When you build in Mexico you have to get ready for the hurry up and wait. No schedule is firm, no crew is consistent, every budget is filled with bubbles and shadows. But “poco a poco” the thing gets done. You watch it happen day by day and the changes are so incremental that you sometimes miss the effect. Certain features appear rather rapidly and you go “Wow, look at THAT!”; a spiral column to support the front porch roof, the shaped bricks that form the top edge of our stepped stair rail, the finial at the top of our onion-dome cupola. But the mass of changes accumulate slowly over the course of days and weeks. That and the fact that our focus is always on whatÕs still left to be done all militate against awareness that any real progress is being made.
The best way to see what has evolved is with the help of friends. It’s time like these when you just need to borrow some eyes. We invited a group of friends over a few days before leaving for Florida even though our construction site was still a mud and gravel lot, the exterior paint job half finished, the second floor is still a work in progress with tile-lights-bathroom in various states of completion. But inviting them over was the right thing to do because those borrowed eyes helped us to see what we’ve actually done. Where we see an unfinished structure set amidst a chaotic heap of construction rubble, they see a little gem of a house with no mention of those other distractions. I’m always looking at what’s left to be done instead of what’s right there before my eyes. The accumulation of details needs a fresh set of eyes to appear whole.
Our friends were generous with their praise for our efforts. All of them had experience with the distinctly Mexican process of home construction, to one degree or another. We had good conversations up on the roof patio, comparing notes and swapping horror stories. But I benefited most by being made to see the whole thing at once, as something to be appreciated and celebrated, instead of just a pile of unfinished details moving glacially towards completion.
The first floor is largely done; the terracotta tile is sealed, the walls are painted. Our bed frame and headboard arrived a day before our mattress. And we had one lovely night sleeping on it before we had to leave for Florida. The refrigerator was moved in just as our cooler arrived from our rental casita. The built-in closet was installed the same day our car arrived with a pile of cloths on hangers. “Just in Time” construction. And just in time to leave for Florida and another rounds of art fairs.
We’ve left the house to our work crew; Mario the head maestro (“El Mejor”), Hermillo the other magnificent maestro, and Diego and Francisco our two helpers who endlessly mix cement and carry it up to the maestros. Oh, and our cat. We’ve actually built the place for her I think. Paintbrush will get to enjoy the fruits of our efforts more than we will the next two months. She’s got several prime sunny spots to lounge in and a place to look out the window there. Our previous rental casita had virtually none of those kitty amenities. And she’s got Margarina to come every day to tend to her needs.
Our full crew will be working for two more weeks while we’re gone and after that we might just have ourselves a house. We’ll return in April to touch up paint, put some plants in the ground, put our feet up. Take a look around. Start to “see” the place.