Where is Home Hardware when you really need it?

May 16, 2011 – It’s another spectacular day at Casa Madera Bed & Breakfast in Nuevo Vallarta!  I never get tired of saying that.  I don’t know why.  Is it the weather?  The fact that the sun shines virtually every day?  The fact that the air temperature is at least 28C (82.4 F for those who follow the real temperature)  for 8 months of the year? Possibly, but I really think it is because we just having too much fun!

I am not now, nor have ever been what one would call “a handy kind of guy”.  My friends never invited me over to help fix something, build a deck or help with any other home improvement project.  Realistically I was eternally grateful for the fact that I had no idea what most particular tools were called.

Unfortunately since moving to Puerto Vallarta this has changed.  Since we bought the house which would become Casa Madera, it has changed even more.  It became necessary to learn what this tool is called and what it did.  This may seem like a simple concept for many people out there.  But imagine having to learn the English name and then figuring out what the heck it is called in Spanish.  It is entertaining for all, us who are trying to figure it all out and the poor guy behind the counter who is trying to decipher what spanish word we are trying to say.

Over the last few days Heather has been painting furniture to add colour to the rooms.  We decided that we really liked the Mexican painted furniture that we had seen around but being as we are inherently cheap did not want to pay what they wanted for it.  So we decided to paint it ourselves.

Unfinished Headboard

We went to the Berel paint store in Mezcales and explained to them what we wanted to do (in Spanish) and they set about putting together the best paint for the job.  We go to this store a lot since moving into Casa Madera so they know us now and are very good about taking the time to deal with the two home improvement rookies.  They have helped us immensely over the last year.

It does get easier every time we go to the paint, hardware, or plumbing store.  We have learned what to ask for and when to ask for help on how to use a particular item.  Those who work behind those counters have been great.  However it does remind of the first time I needed to go to plumbing store in Puerto Vallarta.

Heather painting the headboard

February 2009 – As usual we got up in the morning, made some coffee and headed for the beach to sit and enjoy the view.  We are still pinching ourselves everyday.  It is not cold, there is no snow and no threat of a winter storm warning.  Every day it is the same.  Sunny and warm.  Some might call that boring but I just call them jealous.

We only stay out there for 30 – 45 minutes as we do have work to do and like to get it done early so we can enjoy the rest of the day.  We return to the condo and find out that a water main let go and we have no water.  It will be a couple of hours before it will be fixed.  Oh well late showers today, no big deal.

It was then that Heather said, “you should fix the shower taps while the water is off”.  We had one tap that dripped continually.  We had already paid once to have it repaired which apparently did not work.  It was time to take it into our own hands.

We had looked at trying to fix this ourselves before but could not find a water shut off for the condo.  We saw the water main breaking as a good omen so I quickly grabbed my 3 tools, screwdriver, crescent wrench, vise grips and proceeded to take apart the taps to get at the “seat” of the tap.

We had decided it was the seat that had worn out over time and was no longer sealing allowing water to leak through.

I grabbed the piece and ran across the street to Groupo Amutio to see if they had a part.  I asked them in my best Spanglish and showed them what I was looking for.  The one man in the store who spoke English told me I would have to go to a plumbing store.  He told me that the closest one was 3 blocks away and how to get to it.

I took off towards the plumbing store and got there in record time for an old fat guy.  I showed them what I had and tried to make myself understood.  He looked at the piece and went to see what he had.  After about 10 minutes of going through every bag he had he finally said something in Spanish that I did not understand.  Luckily there was a man there who spoke English who said that the part is too old you will have to replace the whole thing.

Okay, I will take not one but two.  I might as well replace both while I have the chance.  It was then that I realized that I did not have enough money.  I had just put some pesos in my pocket and ran out the door.  I had left my wallet at home.  So, I told to hold those items there and I will be right back.

Off I ran back to the condo.   Ran in, got some more money and ran back.  This took about 15 minutes.  Now I was getting worried.  The water was off but really how long is it going to take them to fix this pipe.  I had nothing in the taps to stop the flow of water should the water come back on.  This was causing me great concern!

I made it back to the store picked the parts and ran back to the condo to get the repairs done.  I got the parts ready and reinstalled them in the way I took the out or so I thought.  I put the handles back on and gave them a test.  The water was still off but I could see that the handles were not moving the same as before.  They had way too much play, that and they were turning the wrong way.

The finished headboard

I took them apart again and tried to figure out what I had done wrong.  Good luck with that.  Where was Shell Busey when you needed him? For 20 minutes I sweated over the taps and finally thought I had it figured out.  I put in the hot water stem, put on the handle and it moved the way it should have so I did the same with the cold.

Just as I was starting to put the nut on to hold the cold water stem in the pipe the maintenance people pressurized the water system.  Muddy water was spraying everywhere!  I kept working the nut and finally the spraying water subsided. Heather was killing herself at the bathroom door.  I was totally soaked and covered with muddy water.

Between guffaws I managed to get the handle on the cold water tap and everything worked properly.  Water came out where it was supposed to, turned off when it was supposed to.  I had managed to replace the tap stems.  I was rather impressed with myself.

I figured I was already wet I might as well have a shower.  As I was drying off I looked up at the shower head.  Drip, drip, drip……

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