Friday, October 21, 2011

Where Do We Start

The day we arrived in Ecuador we couldn't wait to see the house and although we were a bit nervous the anticipation was more than we could stand. Carlos had picked us up in Guayaquil in the morning and barely managed to fit our suitcases and footlockers into his vehicle. We drove straight to the house to get our first look in over three months.

Carlos' Vehicle Stuffed To The Brim

The workers had spent the previous days cleaning the house of as much dust and debri as possible. I don't really know who was more nervous about the viewing of the house, the Architect, Carlos, the Crew or Us. In the end it no longer mattered as we were in total awe of the work that had been done. Great progress had been made since the last time we saw it and we could really start to envision the end result.

Our Terrace

Mom's Living Room Wall

The Ground Floor Looking In To Mom And Bob's Bathroom

We have now been in Cuenca since the 7th of October and the last two weeks (more or less) have been nothing but a blur. Once we got over the euphoria of seeing the house for the first time since June, the reality started to set in. From sun up to sun down we spend time at the house making endless decisions and running the streets looking for building materials and misc. items that are needed in order to complete the multitude of projects we have set for the workers. Many times we find it to our advantage to split up into teams in order to cover more ground.

The Crew Working On Rod's Kitchen

This seems to be the most stressful trip yet as we are scurrying around trying to make decisions on the fly, many of which become fruitless as we realize that the desired result is impossible. Most days we feel like we are on the never ending scavenger hunt in search of supplies that actually don't exist here in Ecuador. Running circles yet never achieving goals. We are forever being told Mañana and Mañana never comes. Mom has been trying to get a quote for her bathroom fixtures for three months now finally she got her quote this week.

The Dining Space Under The Upstairs Patio

The Dust Is Everywhere Or Is It Carlos Getting A Migraine From Putting Up With Us?

We have had to learn that many of the building materials that we take for granted in the States are not available here and we are constantly having to readjust our thinking. For instance, Rod and I had hired a carpenter to build our kitchen and vanity cabinets the last time we were here, only to later find out that he was subbing the work out to another carpenter. When we finally were able to view the vanities, we were appalled at the quality. There were gaps between the drawers and frames and the doors were crooked. The stain was not at all what The photo looked like. When we realized that the finish we had picked out was probably not going to look the same we decided to try a darker stain in order to save the job. Well the more he stained the worse it got until we finally threw our hands up and decided we had better come up with a different option. Needless to say the vanities are still at the Wood Carver's shop and we have moved on, less $800.00.

Our Handmade Bricks On The Patio Come Complete With Doggie Prints

Esteban, Our Architect Draws Out A Rough Sketch Of Mom & Bob's Fireplace

Giovanni, One Of Our Master Carpenters, Builds Bookshelves For My Office

Plan B was to do our kitchen base cabinets in the traditional South American style and build them out of brick and stucco with simple wood shelves above instead of upper cabinets. Hey we're trying to be authentic to the house. We have also opted to pour concrete countertops in the kitchen and stain them since we thought granite would be the wrong look with our new found authentic style. Rod has been watching You Tube videos trying to take a crash course on pouring, staining and polishing granite counter tops. As of yet I have no plan B for the bathroom vanities, but I am working on it.

Rod's Kitchen Cabinets Made From Brick And Cement

Our Bathroom Shower Stall

My Concrete Brick Cabinets In My Kitchen

Plan C came along after Rod decided to do a small test run on the concrete counter to see if our crew was capable of doing such a project. The crew carefully constructed a wooden frame and lined it with rebar (so far so good). They than started to mix the concrete and as Rod watched in horror they began to add rocks and sand to the mix. That was the end of that and the concrete counter idea went out the window. Now we are on to teak countertops, what do they say "The third time's the charm"?

Learning About Teak Wood From An Expert

By the way we did make it through customs with all of our faucets and steam generators, but only by the skin of our teeth. Mom and Bob claimed one footlocker and they breezed right through, but when it came our turn, the customs agent decided he wanted to unpack our footlocker and interrogate us. I had placed one steam generator into each footlocker and when the agent questioned why we had two steam generators I played dumb and said we only had one (after all we did only claim one footlocker). He looked at me with a puzzled look, but let it go. We were then asked why we were bringing in all of these fixtures. We promptly replied that we were remodeling a house in Cuenca and the agent's reply was "Why would you want to move to Cuenca"? as if he couldn't believe an American would ever dream of moving to Cuenca. Now that the steam generators are here it seems to be a hot topic among the plumber and electrician exactly how to install such a device, apparently this is the first time they have ever seen one, ay ya ya!

In spite of the curve balls that we have been thrown great progress has been made. We have had little changes here and there and have slowly been working on alternate plans, realizing as we go that there are always compromises to be made. Some days are more difficult than others and there have been a fair share of melt downs and disagreements between the four of us as to how things should look or be done. We all have our own individual tastes and wishes and just because we are family doesn't change the fact that we want things the way we want them.

The Workers Putting Up Some Extremely Heavy Beams Over The Patio I Was
Holding My Breath While Four Men Placed Each Beam In Place

Mom & Rod Have A Heated Discussion About A Paint Technique Bob And I Sat On The Sidelines As These Two Battled It Out

Secretly My Money Was On Mom

All I can say is that a task of this size would be almost impossible for two people, living in one country and renovating in another and even though we may disagree between the four of us, I am glad to have the extra support of two more people. When one or two of us gets down and frustrated the others are there to step in and make the vision a little clearer.

Esteban Processing His Ideas

Thinking How Small My Kitchen Seems Since The Cabinets Went In

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1 comment:

  1. It looks fabulous. I'm proud of your attempts at authenticity. Would love to see it. LT Murphy