Good morning everyone! Over at Make Money Your Way I will talk about buying an investment property and renting your own residence. Click here to read more…
Hi there! A lot of things have happened since my last update, mainly around the house. There are no contract workers building anything anymore (oh, quiet mornings!) but the handyman is still there full time, and aside from his morning routine of watering the plants and washing the deck where the ducks and turkeys love to spend the night, he has been doing some DIY around the house.
He re-painted the whole house, which after the rain season was all muddy.
We paint with lime which is dirt cheap, around $5 to paint the whole house, but as a drawback, you need to do it at least once a year. He also painted the entrance wall again so our Airbnb guests can easily spot the house and its name. Now we just need a little sign perpendicular to the road so it is easy to find from your car.
Inside the house, he put better mosquito nets in both rooms, and I sealed them with petate, which is a kind of mat made of aquatic plants, not only does it give shade to keep the rooms cool, it also prevents the bugs from coming in and looks quite nice.
He did some neat little doors for the shelves so no bugs or dust gets in:
And did all the ones in the new room:
I haven’t seen a scorpion in month. The only concern on the old house is the thatched roof which is old and starting to rot in too many points, making small fixes not worth the effort. An option is to tear it all down and thatch with new leaves, which would set me back at least $1,500 just for the leaves, plus 2-3 workers for a couple of weeks. The handyman could do it all himself but that would take longer and in the meanwhile if it rains, well, it rains inside. And I couldn’t rent the rooms during that time. Another option would be to replace the roof with laminated plastic tiles like we did the other side of the roof, it shouldn’t be over $500 and only a couple of days’ work, but the palm roof looks so nice and it really keeps the house cool. The latter would also last longer, while palm roofs barely last 8 years.
He also did a wooden ramp in the garden as the stairs are pretty steep, so you can hold it while you go down, and partly covered the stone stairs in cement so they are still steep but not as rugged.
We had a scare the past few months as the lake was rising and rising and it never seemed to stop raining, but now the sun finally showed up and the lake is going down.
There were lights under the deck for night swims but now that it is all under water, that ugly hanging wire is the only way to get light under the roof.
Worried that the deck may fall apart as the waves were banging against it, we took down a few planks but were able to put them back now, which is a relief, as the guests couldn’t enjoy a fully functional deck during that time.
The heavy rain also washed off the grass so we planted some more.
The animals have had to move to the back of the property, hoping they would make less noise, and also stop eating the grass and plants that we try so hard to grow.
Turns out the rooster was still pretty loud so I killed it, without waiting for them to produce a third generation. It was either that or the guest house business. I’ll buy some chicks just for eggs from now on, when those get old.
Now that the little guest house is running in full speed, I wanted to buy some nice pillows and bed covers. But in my town, choices are very limited, mostly to synthetic junk made in China. So I hit the paca. The paca is like a giant thrift store, where all the items are shipped from the U.S. I never understood if they actually buy things there or if they just get donations to “the poor people of Guatemala” and sell them at a markup, but here it is, the biggest store in town. You have to try your luck and get there a few times, knowing you will never get anything that matches, as most items are unique.
I did find small decorative pillows from Pottery Barn at… $3! 100% goose feathers. My best bargain was probably my duvet, which is also 100% goose feathers and cost only $4 for a king size. People here don’t use duvet covers, so I had a hard time getting one of the staff to understand what I needed, but once she started looking in the sheets, I found a beautiful white cotton duvet cover for $7. After that I went to Miami and bought a brand new one at Target for $60 which isn’t half as nice.
Here is my bed with the duvet, duvet cover and the Pottery Barn pillows:
I found a dozen of good quality pillows for the price of one crappy synthetic pillow at the supermarket. And other duvets for all the beds in the house, as it got pretty cold those last months and sleeping under a duvet was heavenly. Now it is getting hot again so they’ll go in storage for a while.
Another project was to add some curtains in the main room, but sadly the paca didn’t have some used matching ones, as my French doors are 4 meter wide, so I went to the tailor and bought the drapes in beige, then got some plastic rings in dark brown that look like wood, and the village’s sewer put it all together. That is the final result:
Nobody ever comes past that window as the room is against the property wall but it keeps you from waking up with the sun if you want to sleep in.
And before we go, here is how you carry your child on a motorcycle, Guatemalan style:
Motorcycles also LOVE the left lane… See you!
jane savers @ solving the money puzzle says
Could you install a layer of leaves over the plastic tiles? The tiles should last for decades to keep the rain out while the layer of leaves, anchored on to a wooden frame secured to the soffit or fascia, would act as an insulator and keep the heat out.
-11Celsius in my part of Canada and I am wondering if spring will ever come.
I thought about adding a layer but that would prevent the light from getting in as well, and probably make the house a bit dark. So far I lean toward paying for the full thatch.
Ohhhhh…..Pottery Barn. Fancy, Pauline! The house looks great! I hope your dock is above water soon- it looks heavenly.
Fancy, Guatemalan style haha!
Daisy @ Prairie Eco Thrifter says
That is a GREAT deal for bedding. As you know, in North America bedding is incredibly expensive. That dock looks amazing; very resort-esque. I am glad everything is going well. I am sure you’ll find a solution for the roof!
Nothing money can’t fix, right?
The house looks beautiful, Pauline! Makes me want to come down and stay 🙂
Thank you Charlotte!
That looks so nice! What awesome prices you got from the paca! Your room looks absolutely beautiful!!!
Joe @ stackingbenjamins says
Has it been 15 months? Man, time flies…..
Actually, 16, I am behind on publishing 🙂
laura @ no more spending says
What a view from the bed! I wouldn’t want to sleep in with that view anyway 🙂
You got some great bargains at the paca Pauline.
It is perfect for reading or just gazing while being comfortably on the bed, and the room is fresh too so perfect for siesta.
Done by Forty says
That photo of the motorcycle is terrifying! But you do what you have to do, I guess. You place looks fantastic, and I’m glad the upgrades went well. Here’s to hoping for receding water. Cheers!
Thank you! It is the only pic I was able to take, sometimes it’s the whole family on the bike with three kids…
Shannon @ The Heavy Purse says
Glad the waters are starting to recede as I love your deck. You found some great steals at the paca. I wish I could find Pottery Barn goods at those prices!
Thank you Shannon. I was really surprised but I imagine no one knows Pottery Barn here, there are probably more treasures hidden but it takes a long time to search.
Tonya@Budget and the Beach says
Glad to hear the water level didn’t destroy the entire dock! That guest room looks so pretty, but the scorpions would definitely scare the shit out of me!
I am sealing it so there is not one living being that can come in. hopefully that will do the trick.
Looks beautiful Pauline!! It’s a part of the world I’d love to get to some day 🙂
Thank you Catherine!
Nice job on the pillows. Sounds like a big flea market. That motorcycle picture reminds me of how people transport kids on the reservation. I’ve never seen that particular method of transportation, but I’ve seen lots of ATV’s with multiple children piled on. I’m amazed at some of the similarities sometimes.
Indeed, that sounds like something you would see around here too.
Sounds like you have been keeping busy! The guest house looks so peaceful.
thanks Liz, it is a peaceful place.
Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says
Your house looks SO inviting and warm, Pauline, but I have to say I freaked out a bit when I read the word “scorpion”. Yikes! 🙂
The house is on its way to be sealed so nothing comes in. And scorpions tend to be where it is dirty and humans are not so we keep it clean to avoid them. There were a lot when we moved in as the house had been empty for years but now they are very rare.
Anne @ Unique Gifter says
I love these updates so much! Those are some fantastic bargains that you found at the paca. Your room looks so heavenly! Maybe one day I”ll have to come rent it off you, so you move out 😛
haha, I am actually building another unit so I don’t have to move out anymore 🙂 pics coming soon.
My Wealth Desire says
I like the idea of having a house surrounded by trees and near the riverbank. It is nice to have a direct view from your room to the lake. Very relaxing. Thanks for the update.
Tara @ Streets Ahead Living says
The place looks fabulous! I can’t believe the deals you got on bedding. I have a great thrift store near me that has bedding and I need to check their duvet collections.
Keep up with these posts, I love the pictures!
Thanks Tara, now that it is getting hotter is probably a good time to get cheap bedding.
KK @ Student Debt Survivor says
That was a lot of rain, I can’t believe how high the water was. I’ve always wondered about when you see those boxes for donations. Do they actually donate them, or sell them? I suspect they probably sell them, but at least now I know they sell them for somewhat reasonable prices (definitely can’t find a $3 pottery barn pillow at my local thrift store).
I’d say they sell it per pound and whatever comes in is the buyer’s luck. The Pottery Barn stuff maybe had a small defect and was discarded directly by the store.