Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Finishing House 1, Framing House 2

We left for work at 8:00 a.m. again, on another beautiful day. Today we split into two crews, one crew to do the finish work on House 1, the other crew to begin framing House 2.

Ed, Joan, Bob, Nellyne, Brian, and Mooney stayed behind at the first house, while D.J., Vernell, Lynn, Mel, Jack, Linda, Tom, and I went to start the second house. In addition, Ed hired Mario and his associate "The Maestro" to lay the sheet-metal roofs on both the houses, and the two of them started with the roof on House 1 this morning.

Mario & The Maestro at House 1

The lady of the first house seemed a little uneasy yesterday having us all there, and no wonder, as we had no language in common and we were such a horde. But the family we built the second house for was more outgoing and obviously pleased to have us there. The man of the house assisted in the construction when he could, and they brought us out cold soft drinks. Their little boy even gave Tom a hat so he wouldn't turn so red from the sun.

The family who will occupy House 2 consists of a man and woman and their three young children. Previously, they'd been living in another building on the property with the man's parents and Lord knows how many other people. I really couldn't tell how many of the people hanging around actually lived there.

Mother & children at House 2

No, Linda, you can't keep the baby

Like House 1, House 2 also shares a lot with an already existing home, but we had much more room to work here because we were building at the front of the lot and weren't right up against a block wall. This house is located in the northwestern portion of Nuevo Progresso, next to the dike that runs along the Rio Grande.

Jack & D.J. frame a wall

Jana in action!

Since Mooney wasn't here to hog the nail gun today, Jack and I took turns nailing the siding to the frame. Beats the heck out of a hammer, that's for sure! The propane-powered nail gun belongs to D.J. He has all the cool tools.

Because we didn't have such a throng of people to hold up the walls today, after they were built, we stood them up one at a time and propped them up with braces until we were ready to set them permanently into place. Then D.J. let me use another of his cool tools, a ram tool, to attach the walls to the concrete pad. You put a nail into the ram tool, slide a .22-caliber blank into the chamber, set the tool in place, and then hit the top of the tool with a hammer, releasing the nail with an explosive charge into the concrete. It was awesome! I set nails into the concrete every couple of feet along the walls.

Mel mid-construction

The existing home, House Site 2

While I was playing with the explosives, Mario and The Maestro showed up to get some of our tin to finish roofing the other house. We now know that's what they were doing, but at the time, due to language difficulties, we didn't know what the hell was going on. Tom speaks a little Spanish and was trying to communicate with Mario, while way too many other people crowded around, adding their 2-cents' worth and making things more complicated. I figured since the House 2 homeowner wasn't alarmed by Mario taking his roof, I shouldn't be either.

Nevertheless, after Mario left with the tin, D.J. and I were dispatched to House 1 to see what the heck was going on, and also to pick up some ladders, because it was time to hang the rafters, and we couldn't continue our work without them. Ed had thought the crew at House 1 would be finished by 10:30 or 11:00 and then proceed to House 2, but it was well after lunchtime, and we hadn't seen them yet.

Mario tries to communicate

As it turns out, Ed and crew didn't even know Mario and The Maestro had been over to House 2. Ed had sent them to the lumberyard to get some more roofing material because they didn't have enough to finish the House 1 roof. When they got there, the lumberyard was out of tin, so Mario came on his own initiative over to the second house to get what was needed, and he'd go the following morning to the next town over to get enough tin to roof House 2. It's a good thing Mario knew what he was doing, because the rest of us were clueless.

Brian & Ed back at House 1

D.J. and I retrieved the ladders, and work continued at House 2 for the rest of the afternoon. At the end of the day, the house was framed, including the rafters, and we'd hung two of the windows. The pieces were cut out for the doors, but we hadn't yet screwed them together. We called it quits about 4:00. That other darn crew never did show up!

Jack, Linda, Vernell & Lynn build a door

On our way back through immigration today, the border guard questioned us closely and asked Tom and Jack for their work permits, since we were building houses in Mexico. He said even if it's for charity, did we know we could go to jail for working without a permit? Then he said "just kidding." Yeah, real hilarious, guy. Thanks.

We met back up with our wayward companions from the other crew at the Super 8 when we got back to Weslaco, and the Neighbors-Goetz-Mooney gang went to dinner at Garcia's Fiesta Mexican Restaurant and had a very pleasant meal.

Continue to Day 10

Mardi Gras & Mexico Journal Main Page

Tom Goetz's Homepage

Sign our guestbook

View our guestbook