A week or so ago, my Canadian landlady, Nonie, asked me to get in touch with a local woodworker/cabinetmaker (i.e. “little” Antonio, to differentiate him from my friend/handyman/gardener/pool guy Antonio whom I shall refer to by his nickname Zaca hereafter to avoid confusion) to find out about little Antonio making an entertainment center for the house here in Joco.
We already have a pretty nice table upon which the TV, DVD, satellite box, phone, and modem sit, but the wires from all those things are not covered up at all, so compared to the rest of the house with its lovely Mexican furniture, it’s kind of a mess.
Since I didn’t know what Nonie wanted, she sent me a photograph of what she would prefer the new cabinet to look like so that I could share it with little Antonio. It’s a lovely piece that will be a great addition to Nonie’s home. It’s rustic, so that it fits in with the rest of the furniture, and it’s functional. Form and function combined in one great piece!
So I had the pictures printed out, along with the text about the dimensions, and was totally [I thought] prepared for little Antonio’s visit on Saturday morning. All I had to do was convert inches to centimeters, hand the cabinet maker the photos, and get an estimate from him!
Wrong, my friends, so wrong.
I have never in my life had anything built for me. Not a building, not a house, not a room, not even a piece of furniture. Therefore, I had absolutely no idea of how many other questions arise or how many decisions I would have to make on my landlady’s behalf.
Before little Antonio arrived on Saturday, Zaca and I had taken measurements on the wall where the new entertainment center is to be. Then we measured what’s already there and measured again using the new specifications to make sure that the to-be-built piece would fit nicely.
And everything looked great. The new furniture wouldn’t overwhelm the wall, nor would it stick out so far that it encroached on the walking area to the bookcase located next to it. The TV would be at a proper height for viewing and the DVD player and satellite box would easily fit into the glass-paned second shelf as Nonie wanted.
[As an aside, I would like to mention that I could perhaps have found something similar to the cabinet that Nonie desired in some furniture store in Guadalajara, but Nonie wanted to be able to give some work to a local person. After all, little Antonio is the man who built many things in her house, and she has been very pleased with his work. If he could come up with an estimate for a comparable piece at a comparable price, Nonie preferred to give him her money instead of giving it to some big business.]
That’s just one of the things I love about having Nonie and David as my landlords: that even though they have not been able to spend much time down here in their house for the past few years, they remember how much it helps the local economy to have things done by local folks.
Little Antonio arrived on his bicycle about 10:30 on Saturday morning. You may be thinking that little Antonio is environmentally-aware and/or the kind of eccentric artisan that is treasured as the “real deal” in the U.S., but not so. Little Antonio rides his bike places because he does not own, and likely cannot afford, a car or truck.
I ushered he and Zaca into the house and, in my horrible Spanish, explained what we would like him to build. I then thrust the photos into his hand and looked forlornly at Zaca, pleading with my eyes to have him translate what I was trying to say to little Antonio. But Zaca just nodded at me and said, “Go ahead. You’re doing fine.” (And that’s one of the reasons I love Zaca so much. Even though my Spanish is laughable, he encourages me to try it with him and with anyone else.)
The first thing that little Antonio did was, of course, whip out his measuring tape and we all measured everything again. Little Antonio made note on the back of the photo printouts about the specifications (in centimeters) that Nonie desired. And I thought we were then finished.
But, again, faithful readers, I was wrong. That was merely the beginning. So, of course, there will be more on this subject!