Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Glamorous Life of the Expat

We've had workmen in & out of the house for months, including times when we were out of town; nothing was ever amiss. We seem to be done with mods now, so it's time to get main locks changed.
I walked into Centro to a small locksmith shop (photo) that's across the street from where I pay the "light" bill. A few people were ahead of me, getting keys made. As it got to be my turn, a young man in an official jacket and big shoulder bag came in. He saw I was next- what did I need? Well, I need locks replaced on two steel gates at my house. We take off right then, a 15 minute walk up to the house. We have a nice conversation the whole way. This is the longest one-on-one chat I have had so far, it was pretty painless. While we are looking at the front gate, Mauro, my Italian neighbor, walks by, smiles & says hello. He's headed home from the tienda where he got his one cigarette for the day. Instead of saying 'como esta' I say 'como va su cigarillo/ how goes your cigarette?' He laughs, says 'muy bien!' and walks on.
Security locks can't be re-cored; the whole assembly has to be cut off each gate and new ones welded on. Apparently they are very hard to defeat. Total cost, $70, Patricio will come back tomorrow morning to do the job.
The new locks are in. Turns out they are welded to the backside of a plate that remains part of the steel gate, so from the front it's intact. The backsides need a little touch up painting. My house and its electrical system are 40 years old. I had to stand by the circuit breaker box, and every time the welding machine tripped the breaker I'd reset it. This was after switching off everything in the house including the fridges and computers. I turned it back on about 25 times.

Locksmith lower left. It helps to already know where it is.

Lluvia, lluvia, fuera de aqui!

Bourgeois life in Ecuador today:
I'm doing a crossword in the family room, which is a former courtyard with a glass roof. It's raining and I hear an unfamiliar drip sound. That is, as opposed to the usual drip sounds. Because the glass roof overlaps older tile roofs, two now-interior walls have gutters & downspouts. There's lots of rain-noise, but no leaks since we re-glassed the roof last Spring. I look around- don't see any issues.
But the the rain gets heavier, and the unfamiliar drip changes to a gush- water is pouring into the room from an overflowing gutter. But one can't see into either gutter from inside the room. I run up to the stairwell so I can look through its window into the stopped gutter from the outside. 

Nominal view of virtually-inaccessible gutter though stairwell window.

I can barely see a plastic bag, which has gotten into the gutter; no small feat considering the roof layout, but obviously not impossible. But I can't access the gutter from the outside- that would mean creeping over a 40-year-old terra-cotta roof. I run back inside, grab a stepladder. I can just squeeze two fingers into the gutter from the inside, and by feel pull out the bag. A mess, but not a catastrophe. Thank God that we were in Ecuador; that we were in town; that I was in the house; and that I was in the room to hear the trouble.

Interior gutter & downspout. Pushing hard, I could get fingers into the gutter from this side.
My whole life as a homeowner has been a war against water- either it's where I don't want it; or it's not where I do want it.
Rain, rain, go away!