Our next door neighbor is a construction contractor. He and his wife often sell clothing from their front patio area on Wednesdays -- Tiangus Day. They also have a small Internet Cafe that they run out of a "store front" room at the front of their house. Fernando and Victoria are wonderful people.
Our neighbor, Victoria, is also the sister of the man from whom we rent our house. The laundry down the street is owned by our landlord's brother. Another brother lives just down the privada (private drive) that opens onto our street in front of our house. We have found ourselves in the midst of the Hinojosa family and we love it.
A few days ago, we saw Fernando and his crew removing a tree next to "our" laundry. A quick mention that we wanted two very overgrown and old bushes removed from the raised gardens in the front of our rental and the next day our neighbor had a four man crew removing them. I think the guys may have been at the house for about 4 hours. Total cost: $500 Pesos (that is less than $50 in US dollars).
Yesterday, a plumber came to fix an "ugly" pipe and shut-off set-up used with the pump that brings water up from a cistern which we use to water the gardens and back "lawn". Someone had "cobbled" the system and it just had to be fixed. It was a cosmetic and utilitarian fix. I heard my Dad's snide comments about the plumbing every time I looked at it (Of course, its all in my head).
The plumber also fixed the broken handle/guts in the guest bedroom's toilet and replaced a sprinkler head for the back lawn. We kept him busy all day. We don't have the bill for the parts, yet, but when I asked him how much I owed him for the day..... he asked for $300 Pesos (Yep, less than $30 US).
I had a very disconcerting moment last night when we decided to try out the local Domino's Pizza. The pizzas were great, but we paid what I consider "gringo" prices. We paid just over $200 Pesos for that meal. We blew nearly the equivalent of the plumber's wages for the day on stupid pizzas. That's our little bit of Mexico.....
We are continuing our little home improvement spree, today. The plumber/electrician is back today. We are having him run some power to the mirador on the roof. We also want him to put a switch on the sprinkler system's water pump and repair a short in the ceiling lights in the living room. We want some outdoor lights on the columns/gate but, we have to go out and buy a pair. That project may have to wait...
All in all, I know that we won't be paying a whole lot of money for the labor on any of our projects. It is a fact of life here. We know lots of hard working folks that work for wages that Americans won't accept. At least, for now....they don't. Free Trade and the threat of China seems to be a big factor in the stagnant wages and loss of benefits that is happening back home. And, it seems to be all down hill......
Anyway, we benefit from the economic conditions here in central Mexico. We may live in a pricier area of Mexico because of all the North American retirees but, as an economic refugee from Michigan, my meager teachers' pension helps us both live comfortably.
I gotta get back to "work".