Plans… check / Clearing… check

Finally, I have managed to start clearing up the property! So I arrived with my shovel, brush, gloves and bags… my first thought: I am going to need more bags. It’s hard to explain how much trash and debris there is lying around the place – the pictures do not do it justice.

Plans
Plans

As I have mentioned before when I bought the house there was a local Dominican running a bottle collection downstairs, basically he sells the bottles back to the brewery that people bring him – he pays people something like 1 peso for every 3 bottles they bring him. He had about 7 dogs living in the garden which attracted rats – the dog’s food was just thrown in the back garden which is when all the rats would come out and feast, nice! He has been there about 10 years but when I purchased obviously he had to move the business – he actually moved right across the road, which was actually good news as he now looks after the house for me.

Clearing the back garden
Clearing the back garden

It became apparent that all the bottles that were broken or the brewery would not take were just thrown in the back garden. The same back garden that I am now attempting to clear. As I have plenty of time on my hands and like to get my hands dirty I decided that I wanted to clear the place – now I know I could pay someone 300 – 400 pesos a day to clear it but where’s the fun in that? Where to start? seriously it was a mess everywhere, the actually concrete floor was buried under 2 foot of bottles and trash in places. So I started inside in the back rooms, disgusting was not the word – luckily I am not squeamish.

Front room
Front room

Luckily I have not seen one rat all week, I am hoping they have moved as there is no food for them to eat now – wishful thinking I guess. One thing that I have come across a lot of is cockroaches! My god there have been thousands, one actually ran up my jeans… I hope the neighbours were not watching as I have never got my jeans off that fast.

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So after that experience I pushed on and made good progress on the first day. I should be talking Spanish in no time as my caretaker and his brother keep coming in to check on the progress. I have been asked by about 10 people if they can help me but it’s something that I want to do – the locals do not seem to get it, they just laugh at me and say I am a crazy gringo! My caretakers brother does keep me supplied in material sacks at 5 pesos a piece, he makes a little on it and I share a beer with him at lunchtime as a thanks – my caretaker joins us and I practice my Spanish – hopefully I will improve a lot as they know I am not very good but they just keep on at full speed, its actually quite fun.

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The first two days were backbreaking, no need for the gym whilst doing this. By Wednesday I had filled over 50 sacks of trash piled up near the front doors along with a lot of old wood. I had an offer by someone to collect all the scrap metal in the place for free, he would make a few pesos in scrap and I get rid of some trash for free. There wasn’t much and most of it was rusted but he took it all.

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I did accept some help from my caretakers brother on the Wednesday in return for a beer and some fruit off one of my trees as I was shattered. I did not realize how many fruit trees I had in the garden. I have a Jagua tree which has a ton of fruit on it. I have never even heard of it before, but apparently you can put it in drinks, maybe I will try it one day. We also have an orange tree, a guava tree, a few plantain trees and apparently an Avacado tree but I did not see any Avacados. I will be keeping all but the plantain trees as they are in the way.

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Had to stop my caretaker from burning the trash when I popped out for 5 minutes
My caretaker lent me his wheel barrow as I had so much dirt and rocks it wasn’t feasible to bag it all up. So we wheeled it down to the front doors – I am trying to get everything to the front of the house and will get a truck to come and collect it all.
I received all of the plans for the house – I have to say I was shocked with the amount that they gave me – but it can’t be bad I would rather be well prepared. So we went to Patrimonio and handed in all the plans. It feels so good to finally apply for the permits; I know it will be a long process but at least its started. I have heard so many bad things about Patrimonio taking ages to agree on plans but I suppose I will just have to wait and see.

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The encouraging thing is that they have already seen the house and we are just restoring it to its original state so it should not be too hard a decision. We will hear back in two weeks if everything is ok with the plans so fingers crossed. We have three departments to go through – first Patrimonio (Unesco) have to sign off, then Ayuntamiento and finally Obras Publicas. But at least we have started the process…