Saturday, November 25, 2017

Balcony and Books

The saga of the balcony continues.

Number one dwendy, Saya, who calls himself the maestro has been doing the technical work with lesser dwendies mixing the concrete etc. I told him he should wear shoes or boots as people were telling me that concrete was bad for bare feet. This was the result when putting the final skim of cement which we decided to colour rather than laying ceramic tiles which would have been expensive.

The "shoes" were flip flops and socks which wasn't exactly what I meant.

The colour was to be yellow and green, to blend in with the sun and the garden, but they didn't have enough for the last quarter, so danilo decided to buy more yellow and add it the next day. However, he still didn't have enough so clever me suggested turmeric. However, what neither of us knew is that if you add turmeric to cement it turns red!

So it now looks as if it was the location for a mass murder. Danilo says he has a plan, but I have no idea what it is nor what colour the balcony will end up.

As I mentioned last week or so, Chivirico and I are off on tour to promote and sign my books, but before then I will be appearing on what is called Spotlight Sunday on a Facebook Group called We Love Memoirs. It is a lovely group of people from all around the world who enjoy reading memoirs and who also write them, although if you are a writer you cannot promote your work, apart from if you are invited to be in Spotlight Sunday. So on Sunday December 3 I will be on line on We Love Memoirs all day answering questions. People can ask whatever they like so it should be a fun day.  If you want to join the page before then so you can ask me anything so just click the link above to join the site. I am not sure of the exact time yet, but will let you know as soon as I know.

And even more book news. Life After My Saucepans has been chosen as one of the top ten expat books of 2017 which I think is pretty amazing!  The list was compiled by the Expatbook shop and Expat Nest. You can read the full list here.

So just a reminder, for those who live on the north and north east coasts of the DR, Chiv and I will be on tour with  Life After My Saucepans and  What About Your Saucepans?  in Sosua on Thursday December 7th at Midtown Bar and Restaurant from 2 pm to 6 pm. I will be having dinner at Taberna El Conde at 7 pm if anyone wants to pop in there.On Friday evening from 7 pm I will be at Dan and Manty's Guesthouse in Las Terrenas and on Saturday at One Love Surfshack in Las Terrenas from 5 pm till 7 pm and probably later! Early next year it will be Santo Domingo and Punta Cana. 

Hoping to see you there!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Dead rats and geysers

The good news is that the balcony is still standing! The wood was taken out from under the plato and it didn't fall down. Now it is being plastered (with cement) and the next stage is for the non rottable (is that a word?) wood to be put in for the railings.

Last weekend we had a visitor. Meems, American, and fellow blog writer, came from Sosua where she lives and Danilo had arranged for Chivirico to be here too. We had a fabulous weekend helped by the fact she came laden with wine, chocolate and real American steak. She also bought me a very special gift of a limited edition picture of A Woman of Valor in Hebrew. Here is it in English.

When someone comes to stay there is lots of work to be done. Dogs have to be bathed, house has to be  mopped, beds have to be changed. On the Monday of the week Meems was due to arrive on the Friday, the hot water stopped working. The tank is situated outside at the side of the house and you just flick a switch for 20 minutes and hey presto, hot water.

After three days of nagging Danilo said he had fixed it as some wires were wet but asked Saya (Number one dwendy) to finish the job off on the Wednesday, which he did. Thursday morning I am preparing to mop and noticed there was no water in the cistern. I assumed that the lads had used it all in the plato making but as the street water was due to be piped in that day I wasn't too concerned - although to mop, you need water.

Danilo told me a pipe leading to the water tank had broken itself (Dominican speak, no one ever breaks anything, things break themselves) so off he went to Moncion to buy some new pipe. He came back, fixed the pipe and I went for a shower. My shower lasted all of 30 seconds before the newly fixed pipe fell off and the water stopped. Danilo redid the pipe. This time when he turned the water on it didn't even last 30 seconds before breaking. So all the water had to be turned off - luckily the cistern was filling up by now, but we had no water in the house.

The next day, still with no water, Danilo bought a metal pipe and that seemed to work, until he had a shower, forgot to turn the water heater off and obviously the thermostat isn't working and the release valve on the top of the tank opened sending fountains of hot steam up to the top of the house. At least now we have (boiling) hot water and water in the house for mopping but you have to remember to turn the hot water off after 10 minutes or we have our very own geyser.

Meems arrived to a clean house and I was going to cook pizza for dinner. I opened the oven to switch it on and was faced with the appalling smell of decomp as they say on the crime shows on TV. I slammed the oven shut and yelled at Danilo to start the barbecue. I assume there is a dead rat under the oven but we can't get it out so until we can the oven is unusable.

So we had a useless water heater (fixed), a useless oven (not fixed) and then the fridge packed up (fixed by fridgeman).

A new goat was delivered by Alberto. His name is El Criminal, and apparently he is a young Boer goat, bred for meat. He has no horns and is furrier than the others and seems to be fitting in well. Here is Danilo carrying him to the paddock in the rain.

And here is El Criminal in all his glory

Finally, the book signing tour is sorted. I will bring copies of Life After My Saucepans and some of What About Your Saucepans? and will also sign any you might have.I will be starting it in Sosua on Thursday December 7th and in the afternoon will be at Midtown Bar and Restaurant from 2 pm to 6 pm. I will be having dinner at Taberna El Conde at 7 pm if anyone wants to pop in there.On Friday evening from 7 pm I will be at Dan and Manty's Guesthouse in Las Terrenas and on Saturday at One Love Surfshack in Las Terrenas from 5 pm till 7 pm.. Early next year it will be Santo Domingo and Punta Cana.  Obviously I cannot go on the road without a bodyguard, so Chivirico will be coming with me. Hopefully as many people as possible will turn up for a chat!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

And it's Platoday.

Today it is Platoday. In other words the day the plato - or concrete floor is laid on the balcony. The last time we had a plato done it was on top of the guest house in Juan Dolio and I remember it distinctly as it was the day I was shot - July 21, 2006. Here's hoping history doesn't repeat itself.

Laying, pouring whatever you call it, the plato is a major job. First wood is put over the walls they built out of block and underneath the wood there are posts made from tree branches.

Here is Danilo sawing the wood, with a machete and hammer. Yes that is an electric saw behind him but apparently it burned out. It was attached to this... not sure why.

Anyway so now all the wood is laid and Danilo has to have a little snooze, as only Dominicans know how. He can sleep anywhere and anytime.

The next job is to make a sort of web of iron bars - varilla - to give the concrete strength and stop it breaking I am told.

We have tubes which will go in place for electric wiring so we can light the balcony and other tubes (well Gatorade bottles) which will allow the water to drain off it.

You can see the piece of wood at the top of the picture which is leading into the house. Next to my desk. Where I am working.

So what happens it that the guys at the front are mixing cement, gravel, sand and water.

They take their shoes off so as not to dirty their shoes - sort of home made concrete boots.Then they wheel the cement in the wheelbarrow through the living room, past my desk, onto the balcony and tip it out.

Please note my new desk with its signs which say"Be Quiet" in Spanish, callate as I spend all day long saying that, plus a picture of my mum saying"Be Quiet" as she always says that to Danilo (although he did ask me why she was saying Biscuit). The middle sign says La Jefa, the boss, just in case anyone forgets.

The wheelbarrow goes down the ramp and usually it falls over by itself and tips the cement out. Meanwhile, Saya (number one dwendy for those of you who read What about my Saucepans? ) sort of smooths it out, as it will have tiles put on top, and I would rather they are not wonky. It gets smoothed using a piece of wood which you can see at the top left of this picture

So here is hoping it will work. I have a sneaky suspicion that underneath the balcony it is dripping cement out and we have to wait 9 days I think before all the wooden supports underneath and all of the plywood is taken away. Then it is the moment of truth to see if the concrete stays in place - and for how long. Given past experience I cannot say I am feeling 100% confident.

Watch this space as they say.