Yesterday was one of those…..on the face of it a fine day for being up on the building site, deciding where to build the corral and chicken housing and planting more trees and shrubs.
The work had, despite the early start to the rainy season, been going very well so what was there to spoil the mood?
A prat, that’s what.
There is a big reorganisation of water rights and usage going on in this area after the mess made by The Neighbour when the developer was trying to get permission for housing further down the valley.
It has taken ages…meetings, checking title deeds, visits to government offices, more meetings, gentle persuasion exerted on the man who thought his neighbours should pay him for permitting the new main pipe to run through his finca, appointments with a taxation tribunal to arrange who should in fact pay what to whom, and finally, more checking of title deeds, but we seem to be in sight of the objective…water for everyone (except The Neighbour) at an agreed usage.
Being a glass half empty person, it occurred to me that long before this process ended we would need to begin building and as part of The Neighbour’s reorganisation had seen the water removed from our cafetal where we wanted to build we had to get a secure supply there to enable work to start, rather than waiting until the big reorganisation was completed.
There is a convenient spring on the finca next up the mountain…and until the Neighbour started messing about the pipes had run over that finca and through our own so we thought we would ask the owner, a North American, if we could come to some arrangement by which we could use that water and reinstate the pipes.
We had only met him once before….when he stopped us on the road to tell us that unless we paid him for the telegraph posts which carried the ‘phone line over his land he would sell them to someone else and leave us without a ‘phone.
ICE – the electricity board – did not take his attempt at blackmail kindly; especially as the posts were theirs…
So it was no surprise that he refused downright to help us out in the matter of water – even though there was a partial right of way and customary use over the whole line had been established for more than forty years.
So we told him that we would seek a concession to take water from the spring from the Environment Ministry and re establish the right of way for the pipes.
His response came a few days later when his North American neighbour came by for a coffee and got straight down to business.
We did not want to apply for a concession.
Yes, we did.
No, we certainly did not. X (the owner) doesn’t want anyone on his property.
He won’t have anyone on his property. Once the line is laid there’s no need for anyone to go there. No one did before when the pipes were there.
You don’t understand. X doesn’t want anyone on his property. You don’t want to go ahead with this.
But we do.
No you don’t. Y won’t like it. You don’t want to upset Y.
Who the blazes is Y?
You don’t know Y?.
We had never heard of Y, but enquiry showed him to be another North American, living a high life and popularly supposed to be involved in the drugs trade. He did not come to call and was found hanged in his garage some months later….
So we went ahead and – after much dirty work at the crossroads – obtained our concession. The re establishment of the right of way is taking longer, but the Environment Ministry inspector said that if we took the water pipe from the source down the bed of the stream that runs from it then we were on state property – the state owns all watercourses – and so not trespassing on the North American’s finca.
It meant going about three times as far with the pipes…but if it got the work started…fine.
And so the foundations went down and the walls went up.
Then we had a call from the owner of the finca. He wanted to see us to talk about the water. He would come to the building site.
He duly arrived. He was chatty, admired the site and the house and then said
I’m cutting off your water.
We have a concession.
No you don’t. My lawyer has seen the Ministry lawyers…there were irregularities in your application. Its not worth the paper it’s written on. I’m getting a concession…that will be the only one…and I’m cutting off your water. This week.
It was suggested that he leave before Danilo’s dog Rowley took a dislike to him and after saying how disappointed he was in our lack of willingness to discuss the matter he left.
So what now?
We know we have a legal right to the water…..but what do we do if his workmen rip out our pipes?
Replace them of course and sue him for the damage but it all takes up time better spent on building.
Do we believe the ‘irregularities’?
No, but as he has a lawyer whose list of contacts compensates for his ignorance of the law it is well to check with the Ministry.
More time wasted…but I believe in belt and braces.
Nothing we can’t cope with.
But what I find so depressing is that someone could set up a meeting at the building site….appear to enter into our enthusiasm for the project and then pull the ‘cutting off your water’ stunt, designed to ruin everything we were working to achieve.
He has to have a strange sort of mentality to find that satisfying.
Don Freddy dropped by at the house later on and we were discussing it with him.
He repeated what we had already heard about X’s none too savoury way of life…..taxi drivers talk….and provided a possible key to explain the behaviour.
You building up there, on the road to his house, must bother him….you’ll be able to see who comes and goes.
But we’re not interested!
That’s not a risk he wants to take.
Don Freddy might have a point.