Wednesday, January 17, 2007

House Update #2, etc.

Things have been happening pretty quickly, and I have been too busy to want to take the time to write it down. Christmas came and went, and Mamita came from Christmas Eve to the 31th. Caroline showed up on Christmas day and left on the 4th. Danny came on the 30th and left with Caroline. They spent a day in the D.F. sightseeing before their flight. Finally, Jan. 6 (Three Kings Day, and the end of the Christmas season) came and went and things calmed down for the first time in two months. We were exhausted. There was something going on every day and every evening. At first, it was fun; but towards the end we slowed down a bit.

We did get to visit a few places for Caroline to consider for her wedding, which she hated, but which I found interesting since it gave us a chance to see some places we normally would not see.

We met my old prof, Peter, who is at UNAM now, along with his wife in San Miguel. We were late since it took us 45 minutes from the time we arrived on the edge of town to get to the main square (about a mile) and another 25 minutes to find a parking place. The problem is all the folks visiting for Christmas. San Miguelenses tend to avoid coming to town during holidays. It was good seeing Paul again, remembering old friends and swapping archaeological stories (like the time I got shot at, and then to top my story, the time he and his entire crew were kidnapped for a month or so.)

After Christmas, things began to pick up at the house. I have uploaded some pix to flicker showing the progress. At first, things went slowly since we were waiting for INAH to come and check our plans. I was expecting to be notified ahead of time to have a chance to meet their architects and maybe even find an art historian to help me with the fresco. Alas, they came when neither I nor Alberto (our architect) were there, so we still do not have a real indication of what they think of our plans. But there are eight guys waiting for things to do at the house, so we have been moving ahead with things we don’t think INAH will have a problem with, but it may be a little dicey if they object later.

We have now had the old vigas (beams) and roof removed from the old living room (new guest room), and new vigas and roofing bricks are in place, as are the two sky lights that will light up the new bathrooms (see plans in previous posts) and the guest bedroom. The door from the master bedroom to the new dining/living area has been moved from the middle of the wall (making it useless for placing furniture, etc.) to the end of the wall near the patio. The foundation for the stairway in the garden that will lead to a puente (bridge) to the upstairs guest room, has been dug and the footing laid. The arched doorway between the old dining room and the back zaguan (open breezeway) has been built to make them into a large family room. The arched doorway from the new dining/living room to the patio has been roughed out, and it will really make it into a beautiful room with a nice view of the patio, plants and lots of light.

And the patio has been filled with escombro (debris) and emptied more times than I can count. This is quite a process, as they need to fill bags, stack them up in the patio until it is full, and then carry the bags in wheelbarrows out the door and down the street to their truck in the next block, and then load them up onto the truck. Our street is too narrow for them to park, even if they park on the sidewalk. This is cheaper than getting a smaller truck and making more loads, which something about the low cost of labor in Mexico, and the high cost of imported goods like trucks and cars. Mexico has extremely high tariffs to protect their fledgling businesses, and to bring in foreign exchange; but because they make it so hard to set up and run a business, the tariffs just make everything more expensive for everyone, especially the poor. Something has to change, and I just hope it will change without having to resort to another revolution.

Yesterday, as I was walking to do some more historic research, I ran into our electricians who were working on another house. It was Miguel’s (our head architect) grandmother’s house, and the invited me in for a quick look. It is one of those gracious old houses with an incredible garden and architectural detailing. The house next door is even bigger and belongs to Miguel’s uncle. Now I know where Miguel got his love of old houses from.

I spent the next four hours at the archives trying to figure out where the father of Abundio Resendiz, who inherited it from his father intestate in 1919, bought the property. There is, unfortunately, no reference in the 1919 transaction as to when or with which notary the father bought the property. Therefore, I went through the 1885 – 1905 records of the notary who did a similar transaction in 1899 for the father, and found nothing. I will keep looking in that notary’s records when I can get the time and if necessary, the notary who did the inheritance transaction. There are a couple hundred notaries over the past five centuries, and I hope I don’t have to check each one out.

This week we are going to try to get our Social Security health insurance coverage ($250 a piece annually, not monthly), I have to meet Patricia and discuss African-Mexican heritage studies, and I have to make a trip to Pachuca on Friday to visit Belem who is a friend of Paul’s and is one of the premier industrial archaeologists in Mexico who knows about mining history and technology and is also familiar with the mining operations in Los Pozos. Next week, I will be meeting with the archaeologists working at El Cerrito, the late Classic site in Querétaro that is still being worked on. Since that is the time period of my thesis, it should be interesting.