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The New Ranch House Is Ruined

Oct 14, 2017


SAN MARTIN, ARGENTINA - "Uh... was this a good idea?"

Elizabeth was looking at what used to be the kitchen.

If a real estate agent called it a "ruin," he could be accused of overselling it.

It will take a lot of work and money to bring it up to the ruin stage.

The kitchen in Bill's new ranch house will need renovations

No Easy Job

"I wouldn't go in there, if I were you," said the caretaker. "The roof could fall in at any time."

But the roof had already caved in. There is as much as three feet of dirt and debris on the floor in some places. The windows and doors have been removed. The adobe walls lean in or out... sometimes both.

As we picked our way from room to room, checking overhead for falling beams... and underfoot for broken glass... we realized this was not going to be an easy job.

"It will take more than paint to bring this up to code," we joked with Elizabeth.

But she was in no joking mood...

"I feel like I've lived through enough renovation projects already," she said, looking as though she would prefer to go home.

Naked Dirt Walls

But the bug had already bitten your editor...

We put in so much time trying to connect the gauzy dots of economics, investments, and politics, we long to grab a hammer and whack something real.

We look forward to bringing in a backhoe and knocking out derelict walls. We relish the texture of real wood and the weight of real stones.

We aim not to argue, wonder, or guess... but to put things straight - to plumb the doors and walls so that a line drawn from the center of the earth out into space would run through them perfectly... and to level the floors, lintels, cabinets, and sills so that they are at right angles to the plumbed walls.

We want to do something no economist, commentator, or kibitzer can do: put things in order... to make things that are true and solid... make them work properly... so they are pleasing to the eye and comfortable to the body.

But now, the house has no electricity, no plumbing, no running water, no roof, no windows, no doors, no flooring. All it has are naked dirt walls. And those are falling down.

"It would be a lot easier just to bulldoze this down and start again," said the prudent half of the family.

"Yes, but anyone can build a new house. It takes real imagination to figure out how to put something like this back in service."

"Most people would say it takes a crazy person."

Crossing the River

Antonio, the caretaker, seemed to agree.

He stood by the main entrance and waited. He had a long face... the kind that would be suitable on an undertaker. He seemed to be waiting for a chance to enter the business.

The farm is in two sections, one on each side of the river. The house is on the far side. To get there, you have to drive across the river. In dry season - most of the year, and sometimes all of it - getting across is no problem. You just have to know where to cross.

Ramón had already showed us where not to cross. So, we didn't follow his example. Instead, we selected a ford farther upriver where we'd seen the backhoe - which came to the rescue yesterday - cross.

In the wet season... and after occasional rain showers in the mountains... the river swells, and there is no getting across at all. Then, we will drive to the nearby village of Molinos and check into the local hotel.

"Could we just cut short the whole adventure," Elizabeth pleaded, "and check into the hotel now?"

"Don't be silly," we replied. "This is going to be fun. And don't forget why we're doing this. I almost died... or thought I was dying... at 9,000 feet. Here, we're only at about 7,000 feet."

"Why don't we just stay at 9,000 feet?" came the response.

"I'll take the risk."

More to come...

BILL BONNER Founder, Agora Inc

Bill Bonner is the President & Founder of Agora Inc, an international publisher of financial and special interest books and newsletters.

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