Thursday, February 28, 2008

Move-in week.

It's now been over a week since we moved into the new house. It's been quite a week. We laughed, we cried. We howled at the moon. We threw things and thought unkind thoughts. But we had a whole lot of kind thoughts, as well.

And sunrises these days have improved, as hard as that would have been to believe:

Maybe it's watching the view from your own patio that does it.

It started last Tuesday morning. Kendall Thomas sent his moving crew and truck to the storage bin where most of our earthly belongings have been sitting since the year before last. This is the third time we have called Kendall for help, and he's been there for us every time.

Our "stuff" almost completely filled an 8x10x20 foot bin:

Kendall sent four hard-working guys over, and they quickly and efficiently moved all our dusty boxes and blanket-wrapped "treasures" into the back of their truck. (They had to work fast; elapsed time was being measured by the slow but steady drip of fluid from their left front brake line)

Within a couple hours the bin was empty, and the truck was full. It was not all good, unfortunately. We found that a lot of things suffered water damage and are unsalvageable. What was worse, we found out that rats had caused a lot of damage. The rats have obviously have had a great year living in our bedding, clothing, and linens while leisurely dining on leather upholstery and furniture. And these are not your cute little Disney field mice, nor are they the pink eyed cuddly white variety. These are full grown rats with no socially redeeming qualities whatsoever. Kendall's Haitians used a couple of them for soccer practice, and they paid the ultimate price for their decadent lifestyles :

And I somehow got the idea that this was not the first time these guys had dealt with rats.

They got the load strapped up for the slow rough trip out the road to our new home. It's been a long journey for our possessions, both geographically and through time. I know we have changed in three years, and unfortunately so did some of our belongings. Packed up in New Jersey in August of '05. In storage there for a year, then picked up and trucked from NJ to Miami in '06. Loaded on a cargo ship and transported by sea to the TCI. It sat sealed in a container for several months at the dock in Provo until customs issues were worked out. Then Kendall's guys unloaded it into the storage bin, where it has sat gathering dust and rainwater, and providing a home for rats until last week. Whew.

By the end of the day all our possessions had been moved either into the still unfinished house or stacked inside the still unfinished garage. Which sits down at the still unfinished driveway. It is all still a shambles, but it's good to see our stuff again. It was almost like a good Christmas morning, seeing things we had forgotten we even owned. A few things became obvious to us as we opened boxes and started assembling furniture and searching for specific things like linens and kitchen utensils. One thing that we realized was that we have been surviving quite happily without all this stuff for almost three years. We are very glad to have most of it back now, but we also wonder what we were thinking in bringing a lot of it to the tropics. We threw over two tons of stuff away in New Jersey ( they weigh garbage in NJ so they know how much to charge you for dumping it) and we still brought too much down with us. Oh well, live and learn.

Our own vehicles got pressed into service moving bits that would not fit into Kendall's truck. Jon drove the Suzuki down the 'driveway' for the first time to unload it into the garage:

He just shoved it into "4-wheel, Low" and crawled back up the as-yet unfinished slope. Me.....I am gonna find a Sherpa with a driver's license. (Does Segway's offroad model go up hills?)

And the inside of the garage itself now resembles a warehouse after an earthquake. Waist deep just "stuff" that now needs to be dealt with:

Of course we don't have a clue where anything is.

While setting up the beds, we realized we had some issues in addition to the local rat damage. I've managed to keep this entire blog pretty positive so far, but I am going to make an exception here. Not only to vent some anger, but to let other people know about a New Jersey moving company that ripped us off.

We hired a firm called "Affordable Movers" of New Jersey to pick up all our belongings and store them until we moved down here. Well, someone associated with that company stole some of our belongings entrusted to their care. They took La Gringa's iron bedframe. They took a nice antique dining room table that belonged to her mother. They took a box spring and mattress set. We don't know yet what else might be missing from the shipment. That will only be discovered as we continue to unpack. but we are pretty sure we do know whose custody it was in when it was stolen.

So if anyone reading this is considering using these crooks, my advice is to find someone else. And for the thieves themselves: I hope the furniture you stole spontaneously combusts in your home in the middle of the night. While you are away serving jail time, of course. Wouldn't wish any injuries on anyone.

Now, enough about two and four legged rats.... back to the positive. Living here for the past week has been a dream come true. The house is chock full of unfinished details, and we have people here starting at 07:00 every day except Sunday. Some of them even work Sundays. The list of things yet to be completed would fill a blog page, so I won't list them all. But day by day it's getting done. As one example, the solar water heater is still sitting in the crate waiting to be set up:

Inspiring as it may be with its silent but sage advice, it will be nice to have it installed and working.

We have now arranged our first water delivery. This was another new experience for us in a land of new experiences. It was a little more complicated than it should be because we have yet to get a filler pipe installed for the cisterns. Our water delivery driver, Lincoln, took it in stride despite having to string hose from his pump across the driveway, up the side of the garage, and around to one of the cistern covers.

Lincoln is Guyanese. While he pumped water into the house we talked about his home. We know a lot of the same places. I spent several months living in Guyana,working up in the jungle on the Essequibo River back in the 70's. Small world. But man, it sure helps break the ice. Would be like him telling me he spent several months in Texas.

Lincoln from "SkyJuice" calling to arrange another truck full.

The truck holds 2600 gallons, and our cistern capacity is 18,000 gallons. In a normal year, we should get enough rainfall to meet our needs. But it's nice to know we can get water seven days a week with a phone call. Of course we started out empty so we have to buy water until rainy season gets here.

Just put the hose in and fire up the pump.

This is "RO" (Reverse Osmosis) water made from the ocean. Eventually we will be using rainwater, and it will go through a three stage filtering system. The plan is to eventually have our own small RO plant set up at the house since we obviously have a seawater supply close at hand. This will also allow us to have either a seawater or freshwater swimming pool built as well. With a supply of fresh water year round, we think we can turn the landscaping on this barren hillside into something pretty nice.

Other than living with ongoing construction issues, it's wonderful to be here. La Gringa and our new neighbor have taken to walking the dogs after lunch:

They walk miles down dusty roads, across rough ground, down sandy beaches, up rocky hillsides...But all with this scenery around them.(I caught a peek of them at the end of a walk still discussing whatever it is neighbors discuss while walking dogs after lunch. I am pretty sure it isn't all about dogs.)

We only just got telephone, internet, and wireless set up yesterday but even before that we could pick up a sporadic network wifi connection by taking the laptops out onto the patio:

(Thanks, Neighbor! Whoever you are...)

That's son Jon catching up on his emails from his home back on Cape Cod. He left two days ago to return to the land of ice and snow. He wasn't all that keen to go, either. Was sure nice to have some young muscle around for the moving.

We have a ringside seat for activities at the marina here. We watch the Marine Police leave on patrol every night at dusk, and they return not long after sunrise:

We watch sailboats, dive boats, and large power boats coming and going. We also get to see a few aircraft during the day. Fortunately we like watching boats and aircraft. It all goes real quiet at night, starting when the workers leave for the day around 5:00. Suddenly the drills, hammers, and voices stop and it gets really peaceful. We hear the wind, and the waves breaking on the rocks down at the shore. And that's basically it. The "big city" of Provo seems a long distance away.

This photo reminds me that this is a good place to get into the habit of setting the emergency parking brakes on the trucks. It will get real exciting if one of these ever slips into neutral with the brake off.

I have already posted myriad photos of the views from this little hilltop, but none taken at night yet. Those will come. The first night here, we were treated to a perfect view of a full lunar eclipse. We watch meteorites streaking across the sky. We watch squalls and storms coming across the Caicos Bank from 20 miles away. At night, strange birds we don't even know the names for wander up seemingly unafraid:

This one is about 18" tall, and all we know about is so far is that it tolerates humans quite nicely but is easily annoyed by small dogs with big mouths.

So far we have seen Kestrels, Ospreys, doves, flamingos, hummingbirds, and several species of birds we cannot yet name.

And of course, we continue to get sunsets that we think are a little better than average.

Yes, of course we are biased.

All in all, we love the place. And it's only going to get better as it gets completed.


Anonymous said...

I love the warning label on the water heater. Somehow, it is fitting for a tropical island....

Captain Dubble

Malicious Intent said...

one word: GORGEOUS
and one more: CONGRATULATIONS!

heinz said...

I am so glad that you are in your house and the view is amazing; I could spend a lot of days there before I ever became bored. I was in the military and had a similar experience with movers - once I came back from Iraq and the movers were using my sofa in their lounge when I went to get some items in storage. A second time they dumped charcoal ashes on top of my sofa.

Matt Cook said...

WONDERFUL!! So nice to have you back posting about your world in the Tropics. Thank you for continuing to fill us in on the "Life" in paradise. I wish you the best with all the work and glad things seem to have gone smoothly. Thanks and have a wonderful weekend.

-Oh, Congrats on the fishing tournament! -Don't forget to tell us about those details....

Anonymous said...

Welcome Home. :)

Unknown said...

La Gringo if you'd like I have researched the RO systems in the "plug and play" variety and these are literally skid mounted complete systems less tank as you have one already let me knw I'd be glad to send you info. We are heading out June 23 to install a large system in Romania for an orphanage,school and vegitable farm operation for a church missions effort. Let me know and awesome spread!!!!!

La Gringa said...

Thanks everyone. Feels pretty good, I gotta admit! :-)

jschieff said...

Even though the house is unfinished, you must be so relieved to be "home" at last! And what a stunning home it is.

Congrats. Keep the blog going about moving in/house finishing/sunsets etc. -- very enjoyable to read by us ice bound northerners.

Anonymous said...

(formally Sir Reel)
Sorry to hear all the "storage" issues. I can certainly empathize with you. Just last week I cleared out a 5X10 storage unit that I had been renting for 18 years! The dust!!, the unexpected "stuff"!!, the unusable items I've been hanging on to and My situation was certainly mild compared to yours. For me, it was like going through a family archaeological dig. I agree that you realize that you've been quite happy without all that "stuff"! Congratulations on getting in the house. Now, take a breath, calm down, take it one step at a time and inculde plenty of time to do what you both came there for.... :>) entertaining US.

Ben said...

Gringo, Love the blog, just wish you could update more!!! Just kiddin. Do you have the GPS coordinates for your house, I want to try to pinpoint on Google Earth.


Anonymous said...

Hearty congratulations Team Gringo. One day soon it will all be sorted and you'll be able to kick back and plan the appropriate response to the moving company.