Normalcy, a term we all long for, well sometimes. Today, normalcy returned to La Antigua, or perhaps more appropriately, to me living in La Antigua again.

Having said that, today did begin with a bit of a shock. I awoke to find….rain. Yes, even though it is early January, which by any account in this side of the equator is the middle of winter, the fact is that when I looked out one of my bedroom windows I saw lluvia (rain) bucketing down as if I were at the bottom of Victoria Falls. Okay, so perhaps that is somewhat of an exaggeration, but it was raining and because I had three different groups of workers coming today, I wasn’t too chuffed about it.

My ‘plan,’ - and I do say my ‘plan’ as if this was the way I actually expected the day to go - was to have my clever satellite internet guys show up at between 0900 and 0930. Then around 1100, I was expecting my fontanero (plumber) to arrive to do something magical with a drain from the clothes washer that was acting as if there were a couple of meters of sludge in the drain line. And then around 1300, the blokes delivering my first tonne of leña (firewood) at the house were scheduled to show up. But as we all know, the best laid plans of blah, blah, blah….

Just before 0900, which as I recall from clock-reading class in school was well before 1300, I received a phone call from the firewood guys. They were out in the street trying to figure out which house was mine. Buggers. I told them to wait a minute and I would be right out. Grabbing a jacket and umbrella, I scooted across the courtyard only to realise that I didn’t have my key to unlock the courtyard entrance door. Back into the house for the key and then out the door in a flash that Superman would have marvelled at, and there they were, parked at the bottom of my street (c/Es Forn) trying to figure out how they could squeeze their camion (truck) up the narrow street to my door. I took a quick look and told them that it wouldn’t fit. They said something like ‘okay,’ and proceeded to attempt to back up the street. I can remember years ago when I lived here, trying to back Amelia up the sloping narrow street, and all I did was bang off the walls on either side whilst at the same time, inhaling the rather pervasive odour of a clutch that was about to burn up. So I just stood there in the rain, complete with my Barbour jacket, umbrella, and Wellies, looking very proper watching the two guys repeatedly impale their truck on the stone walls along the street. After several attempts, they gave up and one of them walked over to me with a less-than-happy look on his face, muttering something about the street being too narrow for them. Hellooooo?!?!?!

So instead of parking in front of the puerta principal (main door) to the house, they left the truck on the other street and proceeded to fill up large black rubber buckets with my firewood supply (that will probably only last me a month anyway as I do love having a fire going, and with a fireplace in both the sitting room and kitchen, I do tend to go through quite a bit of wood). They were only able to put three buckets in the wheelbarrow they had with them, and then trudge up Es Forn and into the courtyard, where they then proceeded to unceremoniously empty the buckets with the tried-and-true dumping method. So whilst they were making repeated trips back and forth, I was, as any well-intentioned homeowner would do, trying to stack the wood neatly. Of course the on-going rain meant that all my stacking efforts would result in a nice set of rows of wet wood that I could then try to dry out on another day.

A tonne of leña takes about fifteen trips via the low-tech wheelbarrow and just about at trip three, the satellite guys showed up. They have been here before, so I just pointed to the kitchen doors and sent them up to the roof to do whatever they were going to do. (Note, still raining) As the last set up rubber buckets cleverly deposited their fill of wood onto my courtyard (my stacking was about 50% behind the unloading and dumping process), the plumber and his helper arrived. I did take a quick look up at the roof terrace to see if the satellite twins were having fun as they were adjusting the signal receiving disk (the rain was falling a bit harder now) and then paid the wood guys and rushed to the corner of the courtyard where the plumber was standing, trying to avoid becoming thoroughly drenched.

I had previously communicated with the plumber via email (and in Spanish, thank you very much) about the problem, but there, standing in the rain, he enquired about why he was there.  And yes, because he is Spanish, he asked me in Spanish. He said, “¿donde es tu problema?“ (where is your problem?) and I think I said something like “la desagua de mi lavadora no funciona.“ (the drain on my clothes washer doesn’t work) He responded by giving me a look like “no kidding, you brought me out in the rain to tell me what you already told me in your email? Where is the flippin’ drain?” Right…my mind suddenly was filled with a visual of the cover of the book “How to Make Friends and Influence People." Well done James. I showed him where the washer was, and where the spin cycle water was supposed to exit the drain pipe, which was clearly plugged up. After 45 minutes, he somehow magically managed to remove two years of sludge that had packed in solid from lack of use and at the same time, the rain let up and the sun began to come out.

I was suddenly feeling pretty good about the morning. Yes, it had been a bit chaotic with everyone coming at the same time, but the firewood was more or less stacked up, the satellite internet doo-wah was more aligned, and my washer would be working better again. And the sun was starting to peak through the clouds a bit more. Of course, to accompany the feeling- good-thing was a feeling-a-bit-poorer feeling, but I would now be able to tick three things off my list of things that needed to be done at La Antigua. I was feeling so good, I decided this would be a good time to go to the village market, and because the sun looked like it might totally and completely displace the evil rain clouds, I decided to walk to the market…which I did. The rain didn’t resume until I was about half-way home…buggers.  Just another winter day in the village. The return of normalcy.



yesterday morning ...red sky in morning should have been a tip off



the master bath at La Antigua


what tonne of firewood looks like (partially) under plastic



Wellies - man's best friend in winter



my roof, looking as I was told, beginning to look much like Jodrell Bank



the end of rain today?  probably not....


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copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013   James B. Rieley