January (something) — work proceeds apace.
Time begins to take on a liquid quality, generally starting at 7 a.m., which is when workers around here like to get started. Not our best time of day! But making coffee and greeting people as they arrive is something we can almost handle. Not sure what day of the week it is, at any given moment; just aware that the two weeks are slipping by fast.
All of the contractors by now have walked over the property with us, and given estimates—usually with the comment, “That’s a lot of work.” Ricardo the electrician and his men are going to town—rewiring the whole blasted place, starting with the main breaker box up by the street, which is so corroded he is amazed there’s electricity in the place at all. Eventually they will get to some of the more scarily jury-rigged wiring, and replace it with new circuitry.
Estevan and his crew have already fixed the wooden steps down from the parking pad and replaced some old decking. Heri (sounds like Eddie) is working on the brick steps close to the house. Freddie is bringing the local flora under control. A sump pump pumps green water out of the swimming pool. I eye the electrical tape wrapped around the power cord that goes down into the murky depths, and swallow hard.
With the water restored, we try the washing machine, which Veronica moved out of the house in favor of her own, and left sitting in the elements for a year. It stinks of mildew. On spin cycle, it sounds like an airplane. Not promising. Add buy new washer to the steadily growing list. We are destined to spend about a third of our daily waking hours in Home Depot, the Plaza del Caribe Mall (Sears, Macy’s, J.C. Penney’s), and Walmart, with occasional stops at Denny’s, the various ATMs, and Subway. Not very local-sounding, but more of that later. The laundry situation is a little makeshift, in any event. There is only one 220 volt outlet, which means if we want hot water, we have to unplug the dryer, and vice versa. The washer itself is running off an extension cord from another room. The washer outlet, like many others, isn’t working.
Allysen and I have been sleeping on a borrowed air-bed. The sheets slide weirdly on it, and it makes a sound like an approaching thunderstorm when either of us rolls over. It’s disconcerting as hell. More than once I have peered toward the window, wondering how a storm front has moved in without my noticing, only to realize that Allysen has simply turned over in bed.
In spite of all this, we’re doing okay. No snow or ice, and that’s something. (Back in Boston, the unseasonably warm winter has given way to cold, cold, cold.) The cute little lagartijos (lizards) are ubiquitous and adorable. The tarantula probably would have been, if we’d gotten to know it. The mosquitoes are appalling, though; they’re very small, hard to see, and too quick to swat. We wonder how long it takes to detox from daily application of Backwoods Off. But we’re getting there. We are. We have now purchased a new washer from Sears—and new beds. Luxury!
(Coming in Part 5, things go wrong.)
[To read The Ponce Chronicles in order, start here.]