It takes an entire village

 

My first post for 2017 is a note of gratitude to some good people of Villalonga who rallied to enclose the veranda before Christmas. It’s not completely finished, as there’s still some tweaking to be done. But what joy it was to sit there and have coffee and stollen on Christmas morning as I gazed out, sheltered from the wind, to the mountain and forests ahead. It was as I had envisioned a perfect winter day to be. Bright sun, blue sky — could anyone ask for more?

So a well-deserved toast to Jesus Rosell (of Obras Villalonga, our building contractor, whose name is pronounced He-suss’). He’d had some crazy days over the weeks of non-stop rain when the stone cladding fell off a multistorey building, a family friend’s kitchen needed rebuilding after a fire, someone’s septic tank overflowed, and his crew had to be judiciously deployed to sort these out. So I had not expected the veranda to be enclosed before Christmas, but Jesus assured me that by the 23rd it would be, and sure enough it was. The entire yard was crowded with plasterers, tilers, electricians, window installers, and their vans, and there was such a convivial fiesta atmosphere that someone suggested getting a paella started in the outdoor kitchen. When I commented that it seemed as if all Villalonga were there, the reply I got was solamente el mejor (‘only the best’). And I heartily agree.

All hands on deck electricians wiring lights_5196.JPG

It was not only the veranda that Jesus took charge of, but when the back-up generator for the solar panels failed just the week before, he went out of his way on a Sunday (with wife and two small kids in tow) despite the raging storm to bring us a spare. The next day, as promised, he brought Enrique, a retired mechanic who takes care of all of their company machinery, to sort out our generator.

Being neophytes to sustainable energy, we’d assumed that after replacing the existing photovoltaic batteries with higher spec German ones, there would be no further glitches with the solar energy system. We hadn’t realized that the back-up generator, rated at 10kW, does not actually deliver all that power. Why? Because it is triphase rather than monophase, and so only delivers a third, or 3.3kW, we were told. Nevertheless that should have been sufficient to meet our modest consumption needs. Enrique managed to find the culprit. Although the Italian-made Lombardini is an excellent generator, its subpar performance had been caused by an inadequate battery (whether the previous owners were aware of this we do not know), which he immediately replaced for the correctly rated one. I’m glad he managed to bring new life to what we’d thought was a moribund generator, and saved us considerable expense as well. A new 12 kW one was priced at over 5000 Euros, including installation, by the Gandia-based Baterias Ingenieras, BAINGA). And just to give you an idea of the quality of service provided by Obras Villalonga and Enrique the mechanic:  the generator sales, rental, and repair company Maquinal, based in Gandia, whom I’d contacted initially, refused to send a technician. Instead they insisted to bring our generator to them. When I said it was quite impossible as it was solidly fixed to its foundation, and was 2 meters long and weighed at least a ton. Their dismissive answer: hire a camion, a lorry.

Now interestingly, it turns out Enrique owns Taller Pons, an auto repair shop, which his two sons operate with his nephew Jose Poquet, an electrician. Jose and his crew installed the lighting in the veranda. Another Villalonga family enterprise, also referred by Jesus, supplied the glass windows and doors for the veranda — Celso and Vicente of B & B (Barber and Barber). The floor tiles and woodburner were supplied by yet another Villalonga resident, the manager of the Gandia branch of Bricosafor (BigMat) which supplies construction materials.

If it hadn’t been for a mishap, we wouldn’t have gotten to know these good people. It all began with topsoil I’d ordered from San Felix Excavaciones in Gandia. While unloading, one of the lorry’s back wheels sank into the ground, opening up quite an enormous hole. Luckily, the driver deftly manoeuvred so that the lorry didn’t tip over. From the ensuing stench, we realized it had broken into the septic tank. We considered it a fortuitous accident, nonetheless, as we needed to know where the septic tank was for a planned additional bathroom.

The following day, the local plumber, Pepe Rocher, came to advise on the drip-irrigation system and suggested Juan Rosell, who like him, has a cottage (caseta in Valenciano) in our hamlet. Juan said his construction company, Obras Villalonga, now run by his two sons, Jesus and Juan Enrique, would sort it out. And it was fortunate that Jesus took on the job, as what everyone had assumed was a septic tank turned out to be just an outflow chamber and there was no sign of the septic tank in the immediate vicinity. Rather than digging up the garden needlessly, Jesus suggested an underground survey via fibre optic cable. Jesus arranged for specialists to do that and also got the chamber repaired in no time at all. (They located the septic tank in a logical place, just outside the bathroom, but why the piping zigzagged underneath the driveway to three (!) separate outflow chambers didn’t make sense at all.)

With the excellent service from Jesus, it was only natural to ask for a quotation for enclosing the veranda. And it turned out to be considerably less than the previous three quotations I’d got. Out of the topsoil mishap has come a lot of goodwill and referrals to excellent local businesses. It has certainly taken an entire village, or in this case, the town of Villalonga, to sort out a few niggly issues with the house.

Oh and one more thing — the pellet burner that supplies our central heating needed a check-up. As luck would have it, the Rosells have one from the same manufacturer (Domusa) due for servicing the other day. Juan Rosell himself brought over their recommended technician, Maties Carma.  Now that’s real neighbourliness. Moltes gracies, Obras Villalonga!

 

Obras Villalonga (Construction and renovation) 

Jesus Rosell, Juan Enrique Rosell

Carretera de Gandia 23, Villalonga, Tel. 962 805 223

www.obrasvillalonga.com, info@obrasvillalonga.com

 

Fontaneria Rocher (Plumbing, heating, drip irrigation)

Jose (Pepe) Rocher

Carrer Lepanto 14, Villalonga, Tel. 962 805 128

 

B&B (Installation of glass windows and doors)

Celso Barber

Carrer Avenida Grau 1, Gandia, Tel. 661 324 513

Pons Auto 

Enrique (retired owner, repair of generators and other complex machinery)

Carrer Angel Custodio 26, Villalonga, Tel. 962 805 693

 

Ecocarma (Repair and maintenance of heaters and wood burners)

Maties Carma

Tel. 659 710 018, www.ecocarma.esinfo@ecocarma.es

Electricitat Poquet (Electrician)

Jose Poquet

Tel. 606310014,  electricitatpoquet@gmail.com

 

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