Plumber, carpenter, school’s out.  June 16-28, 2019.

Sometimes I have become so accustomed to the way things are done here that I forget to write about them.  Such is the case with my recent tradesmen.  So, there was a leak under the kitchen sink and one could see where a plastic bag had been inserted at one of the thread lines.  Since it was only occasional, I solved the problem with a bucket.  However, frequency and smell increased.  I thought about just taking the whole thing apart myself, cleaning and re-assembling.  Naw.  So I happened to see the same “Plumber” that the appliance salesman sent to install my new water heater.  This seemed as good a recommendation as one could hope for, nice guy, knows where I live, so I showed him a photo of my issue and he said he could do it, tomorrow, 9:30.  He showed up at 11:00.  He suggested all new parts.  While I was pretty sure a single part would do, the plumbing appeared to be cheap plastic and so, OK.  And, do you have any caulking?  Again, a photo of a man caulking cracks.  I want to seal cracks to exclude those pesky cockroaches.  Yes, he has it.  He returns with parts and the fun begins.  Putting pipe fittings together should not be a speed contest.  Tightening fast and hard is a sure recipe for getting cross threaded.  I cringed with every move, but lacked the language to negotiate.  Then, he came to the biggest fitting, and pulls out a horsehair material and starts wrapping it around the threads.  NO.  Where is the white thread tape you had last time?  Nope.  Well, I managed to prevent the horsehair (which, I suspect, would ruin the threads).  Then the caulking, was a canned foam.  Instead of spraying it and letting it be, he starts to smooth it down (in a place behind the face of the cupboards that will never be seen).  After just one crack he now has it from one end of the kitchen to the other and it is VERY sticky.  He used it to fill in the end of the air gap to the new sink plumbing.  “No, no, no, no….” which I cleaned out before it hardened.  I had to gently take it away.  Parts and labor, $40 and I know he was overcharging me at that.  In fairness, I have had equally bad experiences with American plumbers.


So, I was at the Youth Center one Sunday, just planning to wash the main floors, when the dirt in my office convinced me today was the day to tackle that room in earnest.  I took everything out of the room, emptied the shelves and cabinet and cleaned.  The book shelf has always been dangerous, propped up by a desk, it shifts sideways or forward with the slightest chance.  I went across the street to the hardware store.  I have a problem, I need a guy.  I showed him some items bolted to the concrete and he calls a guy.  He comes right away.  This man is also handyman for my landlady and fixed an electrical problem.  He did a great job with bolting the shelves to the concrete wall.  I ask him if he would let me know the next time he will be out to our house as I need one bolt there also.  Now?  Sure, why not?  At the hardware store he caught me giving the bug screen material a big “Ooooo”, so at the house we look at the windows also.  Here is where I made my mistake.  No one ever suggested this man was a carpenter, but when he said he could make me framed screens, I felt no reason to doubt.  We measured, picked out screening from the hardware store and wood from the cabinet maker.


He contacted me that the screens were ready, and brought them to my house.  Bless his heart.  He stapled the screen to the frames before checking for fit.  They did not fit.  He was trying to put an obvious rectangle in the window the wrong direction.  He asked for my hammer to try to force them in.  He wanted to cut the screen away instead of pulling the staples.  He wanted to cut from the outside, instead of taking the joint apart and cutting the lengths that were too long.  He had 3-4 nails in each corner, not beveled, just one on top of another.  I finally convinced him to remove the screen at those corners and pull them apart, but even then, he wanted to cut a little and splinter away from the nails, rather than pull it all the way apart.  The end result was not too pretty, but then the product was so haphazard on arrival, it was hard to tell the difference.  They are all now wedged in super tight one direction, with ½ inch gaps on some sides.  The solution?  Stuff the difference with paper towels.


The last of the school days and the exams passed without much excitement.  There was a group of about 12 that used the Dar Shbaab to study a couple of times, including once for English.  All year I try to recruit them, but finally one hour before the test they ask for my help.  The BAC exams are the equivalent of graduating from High School, but there is no ceremony.  They just post the exams online and at the Lycée.  I want to give the “graduates” a party at the Dar Shbaab, but all the kids that promised to help me have drifted off.


There is a slight shift in those coming into Dar Shbaab, due to the vacation.  Surprisingly, I have a new group of 4 who are good English speakers, who are coming 3 days a week, to polish their skills.  The University students come in occasionally between studying for their re-do exams.  The music program and art counterpart continue to be no-shows most of the time.  A few of the ping pong kids drop in.  My group of girls from the Life skills and English in the Continuation programs have really dropped off.  We were warned things are slow in the summer.


I have spent a lot of time gathering materials for my projects for the summer camp, including a trip to Fes for colorful tissue.  I have been asked to provide 3 activities for 120 kids.  Yes, it scares me.  The kids will be in teams of 10.  I will have each team making a pinata (and other activities).  It should be wild.  We will be in the mountains, in a camp owned by the Ministry of Youth and Sports, with even more kids in the same site, for 12 days.  Several people have been helping me.