We waited for 24 hours to get their results, and they
approved us, so now the “work” begins.
"It's a little like religion, and a lot like sex, you never
know what's gonna happen next"
The first week of construction was fairly uneventful. Other than the
backhoe driver coming within a full one eighth of an inch of meeting his
Maker, and the discovery of an old septic tank, things went along
smoothly. That is until the city once again wanted us to give them the
money, so that they could “be sure” the contractor was being paid.
Trees are “sacred” here in Mexico, and part of this project was,
that we transplant some of the smaller trees that were in the new court
area. We decided it would look nice to line the access road to the park
with the trees, making a tree lined road. The backhoe driver was digging
holes along the road, for the transplanted trees, when all of a sudden,
he clips a 220 Volt electrical line. About that time a transformer blew,
and the guys from the pool came running to see what happened to their
power. It would have been nice had someone told us it was buried there,
but as is the case so many times in Mexico, it was a secret!
Dodging a major catastrophe, holding our breath, hoping
there would be no other surprises, is when the backhoe driver hit the
lid on an old septic tank. Now holding our breath was not an option! It
took a full twelve seconds to make the decision to fill it and cover it.
READY FOR ASPHALT
Although I have not seen that backhoe driver since, I am told that he
is well, and resting comfortably.
You must understand, Mexico loves bureaucracy. Our treasurer, Sandra,
went to the city to find out exactly how they wanted receipts of
payments and bills to be made out. It is there that she is told, we are
to turn over our funds
to them, so they can be certain that
all work and payments are correct. Sandra, being quite a strong willed woman, wanted to know
why this was not brought up in the committee meeting, if that is in fact
what they wanted us to do. We know that once they have the funds, it’s
“goodbye Charlie" for that dinero. Sandra once again held on, and
the next day, we emptied the account.
Despite these challenges, we are moving a long a little ahead of
schedule, and hopefully by this time next week, the asphalt will be
"It was either too much Tequila, or not quite enough"
Here we are at the end of the second week and guess what, no asphalt!
This time last week, we were ahead of schedule, and now it seems we are
behind. So, unless you like to watch paint dry, not as much was
accomplished this week, as I would have hoped. This is why Mexico is
called the Land of Mananas.
They did build the hitting wall, plus the engineer was out, not once,
but twice measuring the slope and drainage. They marked spikes all over
the place, and moved gravel to some and away from others. They used the
compacting roller machine a couple of times, and now it’s looking like
a huge parking lot. Next, installation of the “curbs” begin, and I
am guessing that asphalt will be put down next week................
STILL READY FOR ASPHALT!
Well, next week came and went, and still no asphalt! They
did install the curbs, more gravel and more compacting, plus cleaned up
the area. It is really starting to look nice, for a “parking lot”!
The engineer was out again today, I think trying to figure out how to
stretch this out another week or so. Later in the day, some heavy
asphalt equipment arrived, but I was assured that they would not start
until Monday. Apparently, the plant in Guadalajara has had a run on
“mezcla” and is out for the week. This is the stuff they make
asphalt out of. Who would have guessed, that EVERYBODY is paving right
now, so there is none left. Had I only known, I could have ordered
"It's a Semi True Story....Believe it or
The good news is that
finally, on Tuesday, they started laying the asphalt, but as luck would
have it, on their “third run”, their machine broke down. I was happy
that they showed up at all, so the machine seemed like a small problem
to over come. Actually it was, all they had to do was get another one
from Guadalajara! Right? This took most of the day, but by 8:00pm, they
were finishing up a long day. A couple of days later the fence guys
appeared, and have started digging the foundations for all of the
fencing. In the meanwhile, we purchased net posts, and have had score
markers welded to them. (Plus a ton of little things accomplished, that
no one will ever notice.) Now, if I could only find that engineer to
tell me where to put the posts.
I did find him, and he not only told me where to put those
net posts, but made sure that they will stay there, with lots of cement.
After a restless night, I awoke and wanted to make sure that the net
posts are exactly in the correct spot. So I measured them. “Measure
twice, cut /dig once”, I think Al Gore said that, or was it Lorena
Bobbit ???? Anyway, I made some slight changes and the workers started
digging. About this time, I tell the workers that we still have to place
the “center strap anchor” in the center, and it to has to be
cemented in place. Understand, that I am dealing in meters, and post to
post is 12 meters, 74 centimeters, so I ask the three workers what the
center would be. After some very confused looks, one of them
had the right answer. The other two were so impressed, that now, he’s
"No Plane on Sunday....Maybe be one come
What little hair I had left, is now gone! It has been 17 days since
the asphalt has been installed, and only one coat of sealer has been
applied. Things were moving right along, for about two days, then the
work became very spotty. I have called the contractor, set up meetings
where he did not show, called again, set up more meetings, and been
assured that all was well. We are now into the seventh week of a five
week project, and I am suppose to fly out next week!!!!
A few days ago, I went to the park in the afternoon to
check on the progress, something I do regularly, when the engineer calls
me over to the site. He tells me that the “net posts”, (remember
them?), need to be moved about one half of a meter. These posts are
sitting in three square feet of hardened concrete that he positioned,
and now he wants to dig them out and move them! That means tearing up
the fresh asphalt, and base, and creating a total mess. Not to mention,
delaying the project another week. I ask why, and he proceeds to tell me
that they are not square to the street. What the street has to do with
it is beyond me, but he was steadfast about it being square with it. I
inquire as to why it has taken him seven weeks to discover this “small
problema,” to which he states that it’s the fault of the street. Of
course! Why didn’t I see that? I discuss this dilemma with the
painter, who’s one brushstroke short of a full paint can, and go over
all of the dimensions. We come up with a solution, which doesn’t make
this over educated engineer all too happy. It turns out that the courts
are perfect rectangles and the posts are square within them, as they
should be, and no movement was necessary. After finally meeting with the
contractor, I was assured that the courts would be ready on Saturday,
then Monday, and now Tuesday. Silly me, I forgot to ask which week!
No plane on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday, as we changed our
departure date for the third time.
"I used to be the toast of the town...Now, I'm just
Finishing up week eight of this five or six week project,
and now I am waiting for fencing. Remember the contractor assured me
that they would be finished last week, that was until some problem with
the fence factory in Guadalajara was delaying the finish. And I’ve got
a bridge to sell you.........
Last week, I was able to convince the city to give me three truck
loads of gravel so that I could straighten the road. You know the one
that isn’t square with the courts. I figured it was easier and cheaper
to move that road, than it was to change the courts. Of course, it’s
one of these “manana things” and I wait and wait.
Then I get a call from the contractor who tells me that
the gravel is on its way, and he has a backhoe and worker there for me
to spread it. Back to the courts I go, and sure enough, there’s the
backhoe and worker. Most of these Mexican guys are hard workers, but it
turns out that I have the exception. Knowing that this is my last chance
with the use of the machine, I direct it constantly, while the worker
leans on the rake. As this was his only tool, I guess he thought he was
putting it to good use. In between the loads of gravel, I have the
backhoe cleaning up rocks and trash, and bringing back fill dirt for
landscaping. If I could only use that rake to spread some of this dirt,
but was afraid that the guy would fall down if I pulled on it, so I
watch. Finally, the worker had a brilliant idea, and said that he was
going to go get something to eat. That was my chance, so now I am
manning the rake, while the backhoe is delivering dirt, working on the
road, and cleaning up the job site.
A few days later, we are having a “Fiesta de Traje” (
Mexican Potluck) with about 60 people attending. These are fun tennis
parties with a ton of food, drink, tennis, and karaoke, starting around
8:00 am and finishing into the night. Actually, the date was timed,
“perfectly” so as we could take advantage of the new courts, sort of
a grand opening party, but as you know, “manana” means tomorrow or
never, and they weren't ready.
ALMOST READY NOW
People are playing tennis, the music is loud, and who shows up, the
contractor. Knowing he was looking for a check, I take one last swig of
my Dos Equis, and walk with him to discuss business. One of the many things we went over was the quality of
this particular worker he sent me. After some tough negotiations, he
knocked off some “dinero” from his bill, and we both went away
On Saturday, October 28th, at exactly 11:47 am, the fence
people had put up just enough fence to be able to play on the court. It
was there that I beat Fernando, whom I rarely beat, 6-4 in the first set
played on them. Que barbaro! They’re finished, and so am I!
Again, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you, on
behalf of the people and players in Chapala, for your generous donations
and support. Without them, this project would have been impossible. This
is another example of what private enterprise can accomplish, once
government gets out of the way. No Mexicans, and not many “Gringos” can believe, that I was able
to get this done in this amount of time, or at all. I tell them, “it’s
just a miracle”.
Billy and Akaisha continue to journal and photograph their
TENNIS PLAYERS HAVING WAY TOO MUCH FUN AT A TENNIS PARTY
Billy and Akaisha continue to journal and photograph their
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