Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Painting the Town

I have been doing the recycling thing of putting paint in pop bottles all week. It has turned my thoughts back to my favorite subject...the way things are painted down here. Or not! I am by no means a perfectionist, but I do pride myself on my painting ability. So it really bugs the crappola out of me the way things are done down here. There is absolutely no attention to detail down here. Edge work is crazy. And splatters? Forget 'em. They just add to the design of the floor. Missed a spot? Get it next time this wall is painted. Two coats are only applied to "gringos" houses. I should try to get some pictures of all this. Certainly not hard to do! Lest yee think I am myself using a broad brush to describe the "Mexican" way of painting, I include here an excerpt from the story I wrote about living with the aftermath of Hurricane Wilma. For your enjoyment then.....

I did have one great adventure during this time. I was in the grocery store downtown and ran into a friend of ours, Adriana. She was also the architect for our cabana. She now is the city planner for the island. The mayor put her in charge of cleaning up downtown and using up the federal money we received for that purpose. She had organized a group of employees from her office to repaint the entire downtown area. Every building that wanted a fresh coat of paint got one for free. And she was looking for volunteers! Since I love to paint (not art stuff, but rather walls!), this was right up my alley. I immediately signed on to help and agreed to meet her and the crew the next morning.

Typically, I was at the rendezvous spot at the appointed hour of 9 am. I waited for everybody, anybody, to show up. Adriana finally got there at 9:30 and the crew came barreling up in the back of a pick up at 9:45. Introductions were made and we set to work unloading the paint and supplies from yesterday’s work. Anybody who has visited here and paid any attention to most of the paint jobs knows that attention to detail is not a better point here. They just don’t see the need to do careful edge work or even to follow a straight line. Just get some color on that surface! And don’t worry about spills or splatters. They are a necessary part of any good paint job and are not important enough to bother cleaning up. I was to learn a lot about the rules of painting in Mexico that day!

So I was told to grab a brush out of the bucket over there, pick out a color and start painting. I chose blue and yellow since that was the color the owner of the building I was to paint wanted. I went over to the five gallon bucket to get a brush. Except I didn’t see any. I was standing there, looking into a bucket full of dirty water that had evidently been used to soak brushes and rollers, when another worker came up. He reached down into the murky water, fished around and pulled out a brush! Then he reached back in and found another one and gave it to me. I was flabbergasted. None of the brushes from the day before had been cleaned. They just throw them in that bucket of water at night to soak. So I walked to the curb and started shaking my 5” brush, swinging it back and forth and slapping it on the curb, trying to get as much water out as possible. It was going to be a long day!

So I set to work. I grabbed my bucket of paint, got on the stepladder and dipped in my brush. Of course, as soon as I lifted it up to paint, wet, watery paint ran down my hand and arm. I was soon covered in paint but that was ok. I looked like everybody else on the team!

Not only did I have a great day and a great adventure and education, I also met some very nice people. And it was just so satisfying to have the shop keepers and restaurant owners say thank you to all of us. And the downtown area looked great when the painting was all done. It really made for a lifting of spirits, just to see everything fresh, clean and bright!

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