Reality Check

Did I say windows and floors before Christmas. Ho! Ho! Ho!

We’ve scrambled to have window frames made, floor tiles delivered, paint chosen. But it seems there’s a set sequence which doesn’t always make sense to us. No windows until interior paint. No interior paint until floor tiles. No floor tiles until all the exterior masonry… well, you get the picture. So far, none of the above.

Window frames waiting for paint.

Some window frames waiting for their turn.

The workers here — on this project, anyway –are paid by what’s actually done, not by the hour. They are paid by the crew boss (the maestro), who in turn is paid by the architect on the basis of how much is accomplished. How that filters down to the workers themselves, I’m not sure. I do know that on Saturdays, when they stop work at 4:00, they often have to hang around to wait for the guy with the money. All cash. Nobody appears to report any income here, which makes me wonder at what point in a developing nation do people make the connection between taxation and services. Topic for another posting.

More than once, the workers have lingered about waiting for materials to arrive because only the architect or the maestro can order materials and they’ve failed to do so. All unpaid time, of course, because nothing is being accomplished.

Floor tiles on right, sacks of pegapisa (floor tile glue) on left

Floor tiles on right, sacks of pegapisa (floor tile glue) on left.

This morning, the entire crew was still standing outside around a couple of pickup trucks more than an hour after their usual starting time of 8:00. After several attempts to figure out what was going on, we learned that they were waiting for materials–in this case, bags of mortar–and that there was a dispute going on between the architect and the maestro about who was responsible for paying them their year-end bonus–a legal obligation. There were some things they could have been doing, but I guess they were staging a mini-strike. Jack phoned the architect and expressed our own unhappiness.

Bags of mortar and cement finally arrived. Paint is waiting patiently.

Bags of mortar and cement finally arrived. Paint is waiting patiently.

Eventually, the architect (who’s been very good to work with on our end) showed up and smoothed things over with the remaining workers–we’re not quite sure how–but by then the head “albañil” (mason) had left for another job because he was (justifiably, I’d say) tired of standing around getting nothing while waiting for supplies. Not before leaving us his name and contact number so we can contact him when our commitment to the architect is over and we move on to some hopefully minor (!) renovations on the first floor.

So no windows, floor tiles, or paint by Christmas. But it looks like everything should come together quickly afterwards.


IMG_2692Merry Christmas to all of you!


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3 Responses to Reality Check

  1. Onni and Ulla Juhala says:

    Paula, We all hope the Merry go round finally stops and you two can get off, enjoy and relax. Onni

  2. Carol Neave says:

    But it WILL be so lovely when it is finished ….

    Sent from my iPhone


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