House construction update

For those who have been asking, here are some recent photos of our progress.

We continue to have woes with our decorative tile. Delivery delays, including false alarms where our tile was “really” on the truck … only to be told the next day it was still in the warehouse 5 hours away. Much of the tile has arrived but we still await more. Ojalá, it will come in two weeks.

In the meantime, enough tile is in for the door guy to come and start installing our doors. We think they look amazing!

Our the “gunnite” concrete was blown into our pool by a team of about 10 who came from Guadalajara with a truck. It was amazing to watch them work and I will post some of those pictures another time. Tile should begin in the pool next week. Also, the carpenter should appear next week with our cabinets! Other tasks on tap include the installation of our aljibe (underground water tank) and the water pressure and filtration systems.

We’ve arranged lodging for the rest of this month and for May, believing we will be in near the end of May. We’ve been buying furniture, too.

All for now!

Shadow of man laying tile on patio roofs.

Master bedroom door.

Master bedroom door, from outside.

Stairs to mirador.

Tile going in.

Laying tile on mirador.

Mirador roof

Fireplace brick


We’re on a roll….

House construction updates include:

— Floor tile. The tiles we ordered months ago evidently showed up, but not the “first quality” version. Our contractor provided us an alternative, which I sort of liked better. Bigger and a mottled appearance that will likely show less dirt. A truck load of them arrived late afternoon on Thursday (interesting to watch the big truck try to make the turn into our tiny street). Laying of tile began Friday.

— Decorative tile. Evidently, our special-ordered tiles from the town of Dolores Hidalgo are finally completed. Getting them down here may be an issue. Stay tuned to see if we need to drive up to get them.

— Ceiling fans and some of the lights are in.

— The dining room window frame and the window frames for the cañón kitchen ceiling are in.

— Painting is progressing.

— We made a trip to Tonalá and Tlaquepaque to look for lights and other items. We ordered some lights from a big crazy iron works called Forge Española. We also fell in love with a bit of furniture there, which will hopefully be delivered in about two weeks.

Puerto Vallarta, Yelapa, and back home

Puerto Vallarta, Yelapa, and home again

We spent about two weeks in Yelapa and Puerto Vallarta. We aren’t proud of our croquet performance in this year’s tournament but we had fun and largely ignored the croquet-related drama. Who knew that adults, most over age 60, could argue childishly in two different languages about rules, with words like “puta madre” and “asshole” being bandied about? That said, there were some amazing shots by novice players that unified the spectators and reminded us about the real pleasure and spirit of croquet.

I ran several mornings while in Yelapa, around the same time as the kids were going to school. The sky seems sheer and luminous before the sun reaches its full force. The paths are mostly quiet, the beach empty except for restauranteurs setting up for the day, few boats making noise. Chachalacas scurry around the paths and fly-hop to perches in the trees.

We ate well at some of our favorite restaurants: Tacos y Mas (fish quesadillas fo me!), Los Abuelos (chimichangas!), El Pelon (chiles rellenos), Ray’s (Ray’s special salad), Rogelio’s (beachside tuna-stuffed avocado), Pollo Bollo (vegetarian burritos) and Cafe Bahia (which has risen from the ashes of its fire, like a fenix, serving the same fresh California-esque food with a grand view of the bay).

We spent a lovely day at the Vallarta Botanical Gardens, wandering with friends and scoping out plants we might want for our garden once our house is finished. We had the most exquisite cocktails there, most notably the vanilla bean mojito (vanilla is grown there at the Gardens).

We found Vallarta’s Romantic Zone to be getting exponentially taller. It seems that many charming one, two and three story buildings have been razed to put up condo towers. A small hotel that we really liked, Casa Fantasia, was among the casualties and is now a flat spot with construction machines on it. There is still some charm left to the this old-town zone but it seems to be fading fast. It makes me sad.

On the home front, our house is coming right along. We are hoping our special-order tile from the town of Dolores Hidalgo will arrive in a timely way and not delay the completion. The subcontractors have the cabinets, doors and windows largely finished and things should start to come together quickly (we hope). Currently, the garage and front wall/entry are being completed and the fireplace is underway.

I am still happy to wake up in Ajijic every day, despite some recent incidents of violence. Most days I am out of the house around eight to exercise. The village is quiet then, some folks are going to work, a few running are to stores in their pajamas to pick up eggs or milk, dogs are searching through garbage, birds are singing, the tortilla factory is churning. One day a boy of about three was headed purposefully across Calle Ocampo, barefoot, with a 20-peso note in his hand, no doubt to pick up a missing breakfast item. We smiled and exchanged “Adios” greetings.

Los Muertos Beach, Puerto Vallarta.

Yelapa, boats in the lagoon.

Tacos y Mas restaurant, Yelapa.

Croquet at Yelapa Oasis by the River.

Vallarta Botanical Gardens.

Our fireplace under construction.

Moving: what remains

The more you move your stuff, the more it turns into junk from being lifted, banged into doorways, and jostled in a truck. Scratches, dents, loosened joints, dust and smudges on upholstery and rugs. And the more we move our stuff, the more we fall apart too: sore backs, bruised hands, and strains that seem to take much too long to heal at our age. Ice packs, ibuprofen, heating pads, and miracle creams will all be dragged out after a day of moving.

Some people hire movers but I’ve never had that luxury. I hear they box everything up, load it, drive it and then unload it at your destination. In the blink of an eye, your worldly goods are gone and then reappear. All you have to do is write a check and then unbox things and put them away.

For me, for us, we are still healthy enough to do it ourselves. And we’re frugral. We think of what we could do with the thousands of dollars that would go to a mover, and then we start collecting boxes from the liquor store and getting ready to tackle the job. I do most of the packing and unpacking, and my husband does most of the heavy lifting. Right now, we don’t own anything that the two of us can’t move, even given that one of us can’t seem to get a good grip on heavy things.

I’ve been on a minimalist path for several years. Our things, my things, are down to the essence. They are the things that make life easier and are used every day like our beautiful glass electric kettle, well-seasoned cast iron skillets, a roasting sheet that started its life as a metal cafeteria tray, and cookware that my mother bought in the 1960s. They knew how to make pots and pans back then as evidenced by me using pans every day that are as old as I am. Sure, the handles get loose once in a while and I have to pull out a screwdriver to tighten them. But that seems like a minor ailment for pots over 50 years old. My hand-crank pasta maker and rosamorada rolling pin are coming along, even though the KitchenAid stand mixer and food processor were sold.

What else has made the cut? Art that we have purchased on our travels or from local folks. Clothing and shoes. Some colorful vintage serving platters and vases. Proper Oregon Pinot Noir wine glasses, made by Riedel. Oregon Pinot Noir might be hard to come by here, but when it comes, we’re ready. Silver-plated flatware that belong to an aunt and was kept cradled in a wooden box until I decided it should be used every day. Apart from kitchen things and art, we have boxes of love-letters from our long-distance courtship, a shelf of well-loved books, a folder of recipes, decent hand tools, and a rocking chair once owned by my paternal grandfather, who died before I was born. Its joints were already a bit loosey goosey and I’m thinking it may need a bit of tightening after the final few thousand miles of jostling.

What’s left makes me realize who I am and what is important: cooking in my kitchen with practical well-loved implements; beautiful art, be it a painting or a platter; and memories. These are the essence of what’s left and they tell you about my essence. They tell you that I make homemade pasta and I can do it without plugging in an appliance. They tell you I savor a glass of wine. They tell you I love to look at beautiful things and enjoy the memories of where and when they were purchased. They tell you that I cherish my history, and like to think about my deceased parents and my immigrant grandparents. I’ve sold and donated a lot of their things so what remains is more important, makes life more sweet and more clearly focused.

I’m down to this essence of me. And getting ready to furnish a house. Yes, we need beds, nightstands, lamps, tables and chairs. We need couches, wastebaskets, soap holders, and appliances. We will select those things with care and hopefully won’t bring in anything that is not of our essence. We will have only the things that are us.

Construction updates

Our house is really progressing! They are currently working on the covered patios and starting on the garage. Cabinets and doors are being made. Tile has been ordered. Granite, sinks, faucets, toilets have been selected. Here are some updated photos.

Paint color ideas?

Our house in context.

Covered patios underway.

View toward covered patios

Drawing of one wall of the kitchen.

Kitchen ceiling — how cool is that molding?