26 December, 2007

Christmas in the Tropics

The day before Christmas Eve, and the fence was completed. Well, the concrete portion of it anyway. So, that means Isidoro and his crew are done. Isidoro still has a few tools to collect that have been stored in our well house for the past several months. He's now moved on to several projects with Bob. I'll miss them. They were good workers and did good work.
Removing Fence Forms
Last Bit Completed
I wanted to do something kind of unique for our house. My inspiration was something the town of Corozal recently completed. There's an intersection on the south end of town that we called "Cannon Corner". It had three concrete cannon replicas positioned so that they looked like they were protecting the town from incoming traffic. Well, now they're gone. In their place is a Mayan-esque construct of stone. It features concrete Mayan calendar dates all around the base of the intersection island.

I thought if I could find those icons locally, that they would look pretty cool on the columns of our house. So, I began asking around. Mae thought it might be worthwhile for me to check a decorative concrete products vendor on the north end of town. So I did and that was it. He supplied the icons to the town for the intersection.

I found a slightly different one to start our collection with. It appears to be a Mayan chief with either a lamp or some sort of flaming dish. The vendor didn't know what it signified. I thought it was cool and bought it. I brought it to the property and asked Mayo, Isidoro's brother if he would install it for me. He said it would be better to use Thinset instead of plain concrete mortar as it would adhere better.

I had to get several bags of Thinset anyway for the bathroom and kitchen tiling, so I found Thinset at Villa's Imports and purchased a bag. The stuff is easy to work with. It mixes just like cement and applies the same way, except it does have a tenacious grip. Here's the result:
Mounted on the Column
And Close-up
All that took place on Christmas Eve. What happened on Christmas Day was another story.

I had hired Eugene to work for me as a general laborer, doing various things around the site. I subsequently hired him as night watchman to look over and protect our stuff at night. Most days, he worked for Isidoro, mixing and moving concrete and blocks.

He was steady and reliable enough that, as the construction began to slow down, I knew I was going to need a handyman/caretaker on an on-going basis, so I offered him the job, which he accepted. Dianna had wanted me to offer it to Cody, Tony's caretaker.

At the time, Tony still had Cody working for him, but on a slightly reduced schedule, and Cody was also working part-time for Bob, who had moved into the house next door to Tony. So, Cody was still fairly well placed for work, I thought.

Anyway, that all changed yesterday. Eugene was drunk as a skunk when I got to the work site. Through a series of abortive discussions with him and some other things, I fired him.

It turns out Cody's situation had changed as well. Tony laid him off completely, feeling there just wasn't enough work to keep him busy, and Bob had only had enough work for a few days.

I knew things were not easy right now for Cody and his family. Dianna and I had stopped over the other day to visit and talked to Rosie. She was pretty well down about Christmas and the fact that things were beginning to look pretty bleak.

Well, now I'm in a bit of a pickle. I needed a night watchman for at least another week or two, till we move in.

The timing was perfect for us as well as Cody. Dianna came over to the property to keep an eye on things while I ran over to Cody's to offer him the job. Just as I was leaving, Mae and Craig came along so I asked them to stay with Dianna till I got back. They got to see first hand the state that Eugene was in as he was having trouble navigating well enough to leave the premises, much less ride a bike.

Anyway, I hot-footed it over to Cody's place and asked if I could talk to him for a bit. I briefly explained what had transpired and offered him the full-time position of Caretaker and for the time being, of being our night watchman as well.

Without even batting an eye (no pun intended, there as Cody only has one eye) he accepted on the spot and we shook hands.

I think we were able to make Cody's and his family's Christmas turn out quite nicely. I had felt somewhat conflicted about firing Eugene on Christmas day, but he had brought it on himself.

I guess that was, in the end, Dianna's and my Christmas present. I think we both felt really good that we were able to help Cody and Rosie in a very meaningful way.

So, yesterday evening, we went over to Tony and Nellie's for a very nice Christmas dinner. We got there about 4PM, and sat around having some drinks and catching them up on the day's events. Bob came over from next door as well.
Nellie Taking the Meat Out
In All Its Glory
Dianna and I had brought dessert - a strawberry cake we finally picked up at the "Dongreia" (Sp?) Bakery. Thankfully, we got to them when we did. They only had three cakes left!

Surprise, surprise! Our "strawberry" cake turned out to be a lemon cake. That was OK. It tasted fine anyway.
Our "Strawberry" Cake
Tony and Nellie's Christmas Tree
The dinner was a great and fun way to cap off a most unusual Christmas day. One that was fraught with stress over firing Eugene, and one that was so fulfilling in being able to help Cody and his family.

Tony and Nellie are such nice people in their own right too. They were nice enough to give us a place to live for six months when we hardly knew them at all, and now, we've become good friends. What better way to celebrate Christmas?
Nellie Cleaning Up
Tony Holding the Fort
Bob, Telling US About His Plans
Dianna Enjoying the Party
Me - Also Enjoying It
As I wrote in an email to Dianna's dad, Norman, "Christmas in the tropics was weird. Lots of songs on the radio about something called "snow" and "white Christmas", whatever that is. Lots of lights and decorations on buildings and rooftops, complete with snowmen, reindeer, Santa, etc., etc."

On the whole, it turned out to be a very nice and satisfying Christmas

1 comment:

toupeeo said...

Got your message and will try to post a comment. BTW When I open the blog it is on September but I select the latest blog from the list and all is OK. It was this way yesterday. what to do?