Monday, June 1, 2009

I Can Do That!

There’s this big cement slab next to Lizard Cottage that is basically an unusable eyesore. I stayed in Lizard Cottage last year on my first visit to El Momo and did in fact feel a little gypped that, unlike all the other cottages, I didn’t have my own outdoor space.  At that time there was just a big pile of gravel on the spot and lots of weeds; you couldn’t get to it without killing yourself but that didn’t matter because you wouldn’t want to.


Patrick and Sophie have since spread the gravel over the slab, stuck a deck table and chairs up there and some scraggly potted plants, but it’s still kind of yucky.  Patrick wondered, did I think we could build a how do you say it… (there are lots of “how do you say its?” and “do you call it thats” flying back and forth among the three of us.  It’s surprising how often it’s the same word.) 


Did I think we could build a pergola?


I shrug and turn my palms upward.  Hey--I can build a pergola with one eye tied behind my back.  So the three of us spend a couple of hours weeding the hill behind the cement slab, lay down some black plastic and cover that with the gravel.  We then haul over some rather huge rocks from the pile on the other side of the dining pavilion (where the six iguanas are usually hanging out in the sun) and build a retaining wall behind the slab against the hill.  Sophie ripped up a lot of beautiful purple-leafed plants and just stuck them between the stones and--as the French would say--wa-lah!  The perfect spot for a pergola Or “perchola” (“ch” as in “challah”) depending on which side of the Atlantic you’re from.


But what are we going to use for materials?  


Well, there’s also, behind the shared bathroom (not only does poor Lizard Cottage not have its own porch, its residents share a bathroom,) a pile of lumber that was ordered last year with the intention of building an additional bathroom and an intern cottage.


A what?


Like many resorts/hotels El Momo occasionally, mostly in the high season (winter) will have a hospitality student spend weeks at a time working for free in exchange for a hands-on practical education.  So far, the interns have been staying in The Bunker.  Every place on Saba has a hurricane bunker that is just what you’d expect:  a big concrete room with—maybe—a small shuttered window.  Pat and Sop thought something a little nicer was in order.  Something that, if the place was full, could also be rented out at a modest rate.  (And, also, where I can live full-time while I’m here, rather than scurrying back and forth between un-booked cottages.  By the way, in the header photo above, the hip-roofed cottage to the left of the photo with the little white porch?  I'm writing this on that porch.)


This lumber was delivered (and carried up all those steps) just before Hurricane Omar last fall.  It’s been sitting on another slab, behind the shared bathroom, ever since.


Doot-doo-doo-doooh!  Acme Housing to the rescue! 


Yes, it looks like Acme Housing is going international.  The pile of lumber has been turned over to me to do with it as I see fit.  In other words, I’ll be building my own house right here on Saba!  It’s going to be a very fun challenge as the slab is 14’ x 7’ (in normal measurements, anyway.  God only knows what it is in those ridiculous meters and centimeters.  Although, that said, try to explain to a metric-oriented person why a 2x4 is really 1 1/2" x 3 1/2".)  It’s also going to be built up against the back of the shared bath on one side and a rock wall on t’other.  Big, beautiful boulders covered with vegetation.  I’m hoping to work those into the plan.  So there’s the danger of the place feeling like a long, dark coffin.  My mental gears are creaking into action and I’ve already got a couple of thoughts on how to make it work.


During dinner last night at Swinging Doors we were discussing what we’d call the new cottage.  Kokapelli, Turtle, Cottage-In-The-Sky, Sunshine Cottage… those names are already taken.  Sophie chewed thoughtfully on a piece of steak and her eyes lit up.  “I know,” she said, beaming.  “We’ll call it ‘Canned Ham II’!”


And lo, a legend was born. 


  1. Fortuitous and exciting! I can't wait to see this one unfold.

  2. Per_CH_ola? Yeah, Dutch can be pretty phlegmish. Ask them to say "88 beautiful canals" in Dutch and then duck.

  3. LOL! Sophie started to laugh out loud as soon as she realized what it was going to sound like. And, for the record, it sounds even worse when people from the north say it!

  4. Oh, let's let'em in on the joke: Acht und acht-ich bracht-eh chracht-en. Tell Sophie that I used to listen to Radio Nederlands on shortwave when I was a kid. There was a Dutch By Radio course and they even sent me one of those flexible vinyl records in the booklet. The pronunciation practices were a riot. Made my haftorah sound like a bossa nova.