As many of you may know, our apartment this year isn't quite what we expected it to be. That is worth an entire article on it's own but for now be content to understand that the front of our apartment faces another building about 30 yrds across the abyss and right between us is a new apartment building under construction ... which is where my story begins.
The methodology whereby apartment buildings get built in this city is somewhat different from other places. For one thing, they build entirely out of cement. Yes ... the outer walls, the inner walls, the entire building is made of cement. To hang a picture on the wall of your bedroom takes a mini jack-hammer and a cement strength nail.
The interesting thing is that all the water pipes and electrical conduits are buried in the walls. They literally carve out lines in the cement to install the water and electrical lines, then patch back over to make the walls flat. A plasterer will then come in and, by hand, completely plaster all the walls and ceiling to a flat surface, suitable for painting. The floors are cement as well (I know .. it's obvious they would be) and the norm is that they use floating floors made from manufactured flooring as the surface you walk on. Very hard on the feet I might add.
The building next to us has been in the process for at least 6 months and will be for another 6-7 months, according to the workers out front that I spoke with. They were very busy today, bringing in the water tanks that are installed on the flat roof of the building. They use small pumps to fill these tanks and the height above the apartments is used to give the water the pressure that is needed to service the individual apartments. Sometimes these pumps fail and there is no water pressure. Or, as in our case last week, the fill valve failed and the tank over-filled. We had water running down the stairwell from the 26th floor and I noticed it when I put out the garbage in the centre stairwell. We're on the 7th floor by the way. It flooded the elevators from above and all of them were shorted out for two days. It's been a week and the last of them are still not repaired. They had to rewire all the circuitry on top of all the elevators. We're just glad we don't live on the 23rd floor.
Anyway, back to next door. Today they were bringing in the empty water tanks for placing on the top floor. In North America, they would have brought in a huge crane and mounted it on the top floor. Hoisting up the three tanks would have taken an hour and it would have been duck soup.
Not here! Manpower works ! They arranged a series of ropes over the side of the building, had men pulling and towing and literally hoisted the tanks up the side of the building by muscle power alone. I had to hand it to them ... it worked. But they were sure tired when the last tank was finally up on the top floor.
I spent 10 minutes this morning just looking at the front of the building and watching while one of the workers was using a chisel to chip away part of the cement around what will be the garage gate opening. They are now going to put a "distressed brick" facade on the cement walls around the gate. I asked the fellow why they just didn't leave that part of the gate structure empty until they could use brick to fill it, and he didn't know why .. but that was just what the boss told him to do...so he was doing it. Go figure.