Monday, 21 May 2007


The roof came off, and the timer started ticking. For a week, then a week and a half, the sky every morning was bright blue and full of songbirds and fluffy white clouds. The workers swarmed around on the second floor, measuring things, knocking down the soffit and fascia and downspouts (along with about 15 tons of dust), discovering all kinds of interesting doodads pressed into service through the years to hold up the house.

The builder decided to put a few courses of bricks up on top the adobe walls, to better hold up the heavy new roof and ceilings and skylights. Safe in our deck chairs at the patio table we watched the work, and wondered: All the sky-level entertainment aside, when were they going to put the roof back on? Sometimes it rains here, and this house is, after all, made of mud. Add enough water, and the walls will happily liquefy.

"No te preocupes!" Mario said. Have faith!
"If it rains, we'll clean it up!" Fran said. "The whole place is gonna be replaced anyway!"
So... No worries. Long as the sky stayed blue.

So it had to happen. On Saturday afternoon the sky turned black on one side and the wind picked up.
The clouds stacked up for a couple of hours. Then at dusk, with a flourish of lightning and thunder they dumped a fast couple of centimeters of water straight into the wide-open second floor. It didn't seem to do too much damage, really. On Sunday morning there were just a few dark spots on the ceilings of the first-floor rooms. Uh-oh, I thought. Outside I heard a distant thunder.

I grabbed Paddy, who grabbed a bunch of plastic shopping bags, and we stuffed the family photo albums inside and stashed those in the despensa-cave. We put a big tarpaulin over top the giant china cupboard/bookshelf in the salon, which is still loaded to the gills with books and papers and assorted doodads of lesser degrees of personal attachment.

Then, like good Christians, we went to Mass. And while we were there, just as dear old Don Santiago was saying how welcome it is in a farming town when rain arrives, it did just that. A roar filled the church as the skies opened, and the fountains of the deep were broken up, and it frickin' rained for the next 24 hours solid. (during his prayers Don Santiago did mention "those without roofs." Thanks, man.)

It was a dark day indeed. Within an hour we learned the downside of that upstairs hallway that tilts drunkenly westward -- the water bounced off the walls upstairs, rolled across the floors and downhill to the bedroom walls. From there it's a short trip south through the ceiling and into the salon...the only truly finished room in the house.

The water roared like thunder through ceiling all during the afternoon and night, and filled up every tub and bucket we have. I got up twice in the night to empty the overflow; the electricity shorted out; I began to wonder how safe Ryan is, sleeping in the next room. (He is as completely un-fazed by the house flowing past as any 20-something backpacker can ever be, zuzzing away in there as mud streaks down the walls and a veritable brook babbles around his bed and out his door. God bless him.) (It may be youth. Or it could be his share of those ice cream bars, or the three bottles of wine we somehow got through yesterday, medicating our troubled hearts, blending our whines into three-part harmony.)

The rain finally slacked off early this morning, but the paper says to expect more. The salon is still dripping. What furniture remained in there -- a dining table, the lurid Art Deco bar, and the big shelf unit -- will likely have water damage round their bottoms, where they're standing in a half-inch of water. The floor is shiny white tile, and surprisingly watertight down there at the deep end.

Now that the sun is threatening to shine we can be more philosophical. The salon is now a lovely environment for ducks, or perhaps a "Water Feature." All the May magazines of "Casas de Campo" and "El Mueble" (Spanish decor magazines, known hereabouts as 'builder porn') are touting "outdoor living trends," so it looks like we're right here on the cutting edge, even in backward ol' Moratinos! When the builders do decide to take out the ceilings they won't have a dust problem. And we can now boast about having indoor running water without the bother and expense of plumbing.

Paddy's out walking the dog. Ryan made sweet-corn and black-bean salsa, and we bought some super-fresh liver for dinner, and the chickens gave us THREE eggs today, a record! Paddy loves those chickens; they are certainly the most philosophical creatures in the place. They have a roof over their little Chick N Shak, but it leaks. And you don't hear them complaining.

The builders didn't show up this morning. Paddy phoned Mario to ask where he was.
"Did it rain there?" Mario asked. "Yeah. Lots," Paddy told him.
"Did it come in the house?"
"In the house, and through the house. It's a disaster."
"No te preocupes," Mario said. "The walls are mud. But they're fat mud. Two feet thick of mud! You got no worries, man!"
"Come over here then and bring some plastic before the ceiling comes down," Paddy said.
No can do, Mario told him. "It's too wet today to work."

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