Thursday, November 8, 2007

Stone Man

Yesterday afternoon we met up with our architect out at the house site to make some decisions. Shoreline sure looks different on a calm day, doesn't it?

That's the view from just outside one of the guest bedroom sliders. Of course once they bury the gray-water containers (the big yellow tanks) and put the concrete pavers down on the patio it's gonna look a whole lot better.

We were here to discuss counter top materials with our architect.

(serious discussions going on while La Gringa ran around with the camera)

The crew was happily finishing up several projects. Well, I don't know how "happily" they were finishing them, but they seemed happy. They smile and joke a lot. Maybe that's just because they know we have been the source of their income for the past year...but I doubt it. We'd known some of these guys for almost a year before our project. They're customers for the barracuda we catch. Yesterday they were putting crown molding around the top of the kitchen. I think they were doing a pretty good job. Like, fitting it around this 4x4 post:

That's some tricky little cuts right there.

We had specified this counter-top stuff called GemStone, which is a plastic, Corian-like material that visually looks like granite in the kitchen, and marble in the bathrooms. What's happened is that the cost of the plastic counter tops has gone through the roof since it was quoted for this job a year ago. Maybe this is tied to the price of oil right now, it's a lot of resin. And delivery is stretching out. So, we are seriously thinking of switching to granite and marble.

Well, the granite and marble guy is named Marty Mason. (Ain't that a great name for a granite and marble guy?) Since Marty is in process of pouring the concrete pavers that will make up the outside patio we decided to stop by his shop and talk to him about those, and the granite idea as well.

Pulling into Marty's shop, like so many businesses in the TCI, it is not immediately apparent that this is a place one would seek out to discuss granite counter tops and concrete pavers:

You see, just one of Marty's businesses is this little cantina. And yeah, Se Habla Espanol Aqui. Lots of it. Instead of English, in fact. Marty also runs a commercial fishing boat and has a fish market out at Five Cays in addition to the cantina, concrete, and stone businesses. We went to check the fish market out last week, but everything was closed down due to the flooding during the latest tropical storm. We need to go back. Would be good to have a source of fresh fish when we get skunked and are too lazy to dive for conch.

Anyhow, driving around the back of the cantina, we come upon the concrete paver and stone business:

(Ever notice that La Gringa always gets people to smile when she takes photos? I can't do that, for some reason. They always look nervous and scowl at me. They wave and smile at her. What's up with that?)

They hauled out four of our new pavers for us. It probably doesn't show up in this photo, but they are mixed slightly different, one is 60/40% white-with-gray, and the other is 40/60% mix with the gray. It's so they contrast in sort of a subtle chessboard pattern when they are bedded in sand on the patio:

They don't have the dark wet spots when they dry out. Marty formulates them somehow so they have a texture that won't be slippery when its wet. We 'stood on our patio barefooted' today. For about ten seconds. We also made them two shades of light gray instead of white. Smooth enough for the bare feet of tender footed guests from the North Country, and also these will be sitting in sunlight and white is blinding. We decided to have pavers set in sand instead of pouring a slab for the patio. That's because it's enclosed by that little wall, and this will drain better on that rock hilltop. When one of these gets chipped or stained by some yahoo with a bottle of red wine, we can just replace it. It's gonna happen.

Marty does some interesting things with concrete. He can polish it so that it shines. He also has this thing he does where they bandsaw conch shells into thick cross-sections and cast them into the concrete. Its a neat effect:

La Gringa is already searching for places at our house where she can use some of these. There are several potential spots. They come in different colors and textures. Here are some more examples:

And I have to admit, I like the outside patio table idea. And the conch certainly fits in with some other appropriate themes down here:

While talking with Marty about the granite counter-tops, he mentioned that he had to run out to this house where he is installing some and asked if we wanted to take a look. So, heck yeah. Why not? We were surprised to see that it was one of the new homes being built on the shoreline over near where our house is. It's a pretty impressive house, to say the least. The ballroom is about 50x100 ft, for example. Cabinets custom made and shipped from Argentina. Our little house would fit inside the servant's quarters (Maid has her own kitchen), billiards room and garage wing. I can put up some photos of that if anyone is interested.


Anonymous said...

Never going to turn down more em up

Anonymous said...

Kickin' arse and takin' names, eh Gringo?!?! That Marty is one helluvan entrepreneur and the conch idea is very cool...


Anonymous said...

yeah, he's got a lot of irons in the fire. I gather he comes from a stone-cutting family originally. He's certainly diversified here.

We are still waiting to hear how granite and marble compare to GemStone pricewise.