Saturday, March 22, 2008

Dealing with Cartagena Contractors…or Trabajando Con Los Tres Stooges-

A word of caution before you read on. Do not attempt this at home!

As momma said…if you don’t have something nice to say, say nothing at all…well that’s fine, but then you wouldn’t be able to read about it.

We planned to have some interior refit work done while here in Cartagena. Gary had planned and hoped to have this work completed before Kaija returned from visiting with her family in Vancouver. It was all with the best of intentions and meant to surprise, enlarging her bathroom (head) and converting two others into a laundry/utility room and office/nav station.

In keeping with my momma’s suggestion….we chose a carpenter, a canvas fabricator, and a Corian installer. We’ll change the names to Curly Larry & Moe…I think you get the idea!

After reading and re-reading my comments I have just now deleted a page and a half of what could only be construed as ‘whining’. Please read on!

Suffice to say our expectations were quite unrealistic. This is Columbia after all!

To cut to the chase…the particular contractors we chose, do have potential, and it could be said they do good work…when you can find them…and therein lays the rub. Contractors are quite willing to take on the work, take a hefty deposit, then disappear into the ether., and in the case Larry & Moe, they were bad money managers, and the money disappeared before the work was done and our friend ‘Curly’ he took money for product and either the cash or the materials went missing…this was not good! It is amazing to what levels one sinks when trying to get work done by people that have this ‘gringo system perfected’…knowing full well that sooner or later, they can outlast you unless you plan on taking up residency. This attitude is not only acknowledged but seems supported and enabled by the club staff who continue to recommend the services of these contractors and further who suggest that ‘you are not a proper cruiser unless you are used to waiting’. Not a sentiment we agree with or support. In other words, if you are a cruiser coming to Cartagena and hope to get work done, be very careful who you choose, and make sure you are prepared to ‘outlast’ them.

We now have a much better understanding of the intended meaning of the word ‘Manyana’. Many, including us wrongly believing this word means ‘tomorrow or morning time’ as taught. This is not the case. In reality it quite simply means ‘not today, and probably not tomorrow’.

Although we were rapidly increasing our knowledge of the language, more thru immersion then by intention. Despite our best intentions it proved to be a continuous exercise in charades, or perhaps more correctly described as the flailing of the body parts trying to get your point across. This is tough enough when you dealing face to face but almost impossible over a cell phone, when you are lucky enough that will answer your call. Needless to say, some of the finer points got lost in the translation and frustration, Kaija’s bathroom never did get enlarged and other things had to be put on hold, but in the end we did improve our poccitto casa on the water, and after all, that was the goal. A little at a time.

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