I haven't lived like this since my early 20s. That, was a long time ago. I just kept moving. From place to place, across the country, down the state, and back up again. It drove my family crazy. I liked it, until it got old. After that, I lived in three different homes in a span of 30 or so years. I stopped moving, but I never stopped traveling. A big difference.
Flash forward. Since November I have lived in two different apartments, stayed in New Orleans, and a week with my friends here in B.A. I am still not in my new apartment. JerryBrown is still at Sam's and Maxi at Marcelo's. I haven't seen Maxi since December. She probably thinks leashless in Banfield is her new life. Brown on the other hand is confused. I come and go - visitation rights, but now Sam has two new kitties and Brown is out of control. He needs to come home.
I actually do have a new place to live. It became mine the 22nd of January. The problem is that it is not liveable. The bathroom looks like the experiment of a mad scientist. Electrical wires springing from nowhere. It needs a basic remodel job. Nothing structural. Cosmetic. You would think that this would be easy. Oh no, not at all. This is after all, Argentina.
There are no contractors here. There are architects. Thousands of them. Most with no design sense. Architects design, manage, and supply the labor for a project. I don't really need design help. I need labor. That is the big problem. People do not like to work here. They can stop in the middle of a job. They do it wrong. You pay, pay, pay. I found that out when I remodeled my apartment that I sold. At least I learned a thing or too, since then.
I interviewed architects who had fantasies of me having an unlimited checkbook. I would tell them what I wanted, and of course, they either did not listen to me, or actually told me, "No, you don't want that." Mansplaining is alive and well in Buenos Aires. "Yes," I told them "I do want a barn door type door for the bathroom." "No, we don't do that here." Excuse me? I am not we. Funny, they have the kit for the doors on Mercadolibre. I am getting my $%"# barn door. (Thank you Valorie Hart for the idea.)
Architects who don't give estimates and tell you "don't worry." Others who come up with estimate of ridiculous amounts. None of them listening. Finally I decided to just screw all of them, and be my own contractor. I started calling electricians, plumbers that I knew, getting estimates. My favorite painter (the best around) recommended another electrician, another plumber,and two carpenters. All of them, unlike the architects think my job is easy and they love my ideas.
My friend Greg who loves to remodel came with me last week to look for tile. He had never been to the Calle Alberdi. I love that street. Being back there made me laugh. When I remodeled my first apartment 12 years ago I spoke very bad Spanish and hardly understood what people were saying. It didn't matter. I told Greg "People were really nice to me." I was such an oddity. This is a street the architects go to. Every time I told an architect I was going to go to the Calle Alberdi, they would recommend that I go to Libertador which is 20 times more expensive. Of course they would go to Alberdi buy the stuff and charge me 20 times more. Nope.
I found the ceramic I want for my bathroom. I am going to do it U.S. style. No insane asylum tiled walls. It will be simple and elegant. The carpenters are saying that I should do floating wood floors rather than cement. We will see. Maybe on the second floor. Not sure about the main floor.
Kitchen designers. Don't get me started. One screamed at me and told me I was wasting her time. She didn't listen to me at all. She gave me a price that was double of everywhere else and the least creative. Two promised to get back to me, and never did. I found one woman who gave me a great design with nice cabinets. I wonder if I can get it cheaper. Pricing here is whatever the traffic will bear. Still, compared to the other places, the design is great and the price is not that bad. I could never do a kitchen in the US for these prices.
I am love my new place. I love my new barrio. I will love it more when it truly reflects me and not a high school science project.