June 22, 2008

Dog is my Co-pilot

So Dharma had her first trip up to our land yesterday. She thoroughly slobbered all of the windows, panted and whined in our ears, jumped from the backseat to my lap every five minutes for two full hours and was completely and utterly in dog heaven with her head out the window in the sun and warm breeze and a full menu of countryside smells to take in.

We have avoided bringing her up figuring that the only way to do it would be to first bathe her in Frontline and then encase her in a plastic bubble because she would surely become one large, indistinguishable ball of cockleburs, mud and ticks. And we were right. It’s taken me since yesterday to wrestle, pull, yank, comb and cut all of the burs and stickers out of her fur – I have several bite marks on my hands to prove it. But thankful for small favors, she at least was so exhausted from racing up and down the road, in, out and around the house and making a holy terror of herself in the raspberry brambles, that she nearly fell asleep while I was hosing her down in the shower later at home. And to count further blessings, not one tick has been found on any of us.

So after many years hemming and hawing over what we should do with the nearly 100 year old, falling down, wreck of a house squatting on our land, we finally resolved to preserve it, which was followed by another year of bad luck and false starts. But now, at last, we just might be getting somewhere close to having it habitable.

At the end of last year C hired a guy, let’s call him Jack, to oversee the work on the house so we wouldn’t have to be making the 2 hour trek up the mountains several times a week. Our timing was terrible. It was the beginning of the rainy season and no one would deliver supplies because the roads got too muddy and of course Jack(ass) turned out to be a perfect scoundrel and took off with our money, but not before he had hired – without paying – the local nutcase to work on the house. Turned out to be a well-known fact among the locals that our own personal Village Idiot is a part-time alcoholic and full-time unmedicated schizophrenic who, shortly after Jack disappeared and we were informed of this, had a psychotic break and ended up hospitalized. Which was actually a blessing in disguise (for us) because once someone starts working for you in Brazil it can be very tricky getting rid of him. The worker’s laws are yet one more bizarre rabbit hole in the bloated, arcane Brazilian bureaucracy that in the end help no one, rarely even the workers they are supposed to protect. Anyway, if we had tried to fire Jack(ass)’s choice in dependable labor, he could have taken us in front of a judge and created an even bigger headache. So he’s now happily medicated in the county cuckoo nest, didn’t hurt himself on our watch and we can finally move on.

Oh, except for that little thing about having to take Jack(ass) to court to get our money back. Luckily C had written up a contract for the project that was signed and notarized from the beginning…so we’ve got a lawyer on the case. Just for the record, I didn’t like Jack from the beginning, and made some serious noise about it as the contract was being drawn up, which then led to some arguments between me and C about how I was being negative for no reason and not giving people a chance (hello, intuition!!). I have, however, judiciously refrained from saying “I TOLD YOU SO” -- well, except for here, but this kind of doesn’t count… Very big of me, don’t you think?

The ray of sunshine in the whole story is that after desperately calling around trying to find someone to continue the project before the 20 some bags of cement that were finally delivered went bad, we finally found a great, if not totally awesome guy to finish the job. This was no small task as it seems that everyone and their uncle is building around the area – it has become an immensely popular vacation spot due to the national park – and all the good builders had already got themselves set up on other jobs at the beginning of the dry season. But through some luck and C’s relentless pestering of everyone in town, we found Vicente and cajoled him out of retirement. He’s a local, going back several generations, who is now doing quite well managing a little restaurant and market that sells to tourists and isn’t really doing much of this kind of dirty work anymore. But he knows our land since he was a kid, knows how to build the heck out of a house and apparently is an expert in constructing a fogão á lenha –a traditional wood-burning stove. He tells us all kinds of stories about the history of our place, the local plants, animals, always punctuated with lots of jokes that we fall into every time, and he has even told us (hopefully this is not one of his jokes) that we might actually have a DOOR and windows by the next time we go up. Maybe next week!

That means that we will have a house soon and then when people come to visit we can go there and swim in waterfalls and hang out with monkeys, cook on a wood burning stove and hopefully not have to visit the banana trees to take care of necessities because surely our lawyer will have recovered our money, with interest, and we may just have plumbing... Electricity however is another story.

1 comment:

AkuTyger said...

I dream of this too, but in Chapada, our park here in Bahia.