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Saturday, February 9, 2013

I Blew It!

Well, here we have yet another tree post! Uruguay has been experiencing some really odd weather patterns lately. A couple of weeks ago, we had our 4th big wind storm. The temperature was HOT, HOT, HOT! Up north near the Brazilian border, a friend from Artigas reported that it was 104 F/ 40C degrees and that an "Orange Alert" had been raised by the weather center. We had about 95 F/35C degrees down here by the beach and we were supposedly in a "Yellow Alert". High winds coupled with lots of rain and thunderstorms were expected! Yes, the winds came, true to predictions and indeed it was a scary night. Wally slept, I paced the hallway.

So, besides the weather blowing strong gusts of wind, how did I blow it, you might ask? Remember, that post I wrote about "Good neighbors"? My neighbor, had just newly tiled the roof of his house and had offered to pay us to cut down our 2 towering pines trees, looming on our property. Well, after showing us pictures of fallen trees, we agreed to let him pay and have them cut down thus giving him peace of mind. Well, lo and behold 3 weeks after they were cut, a giant wind storm came and did blow down many neighborhood trees. Boy were we glad, we accepted his offer in time.

Well....... I blew it this time because 2 years prior to those 2 pine tree offers, he had offered us the same deal to cut down our giant Eucalyptus tree. At that time, I said no! My reason was that I love trees. This Eucalyptus cast such beautiful shade. It looked like the trees often featured in Maxfield Parrish prints (my favorite 30's graphic artist/illustrator). So even though the 2 pines were gone, (bye bye) I had let the Eucalyptus stay.

Recently, some tree cutters came by, representing themselves as working along with city hall (la intendencia). They said that they were going around cutting branches near power lines and dangerous trees down and that the neighbor had called them.  Most of my other street neighbors liked my tree, I actually had 2. The other neighbors said, I could have Eucalyptus trees cut partway down and that unlike pine trees they regrow beautifully. So, thinking that the trees were on city property, we agreed to let the workers partially cut them to 3/4 height (our suggestion). This would keep them less dangerous but manageable. The order was given and they were scheduled to be cut during the next week. They were to be thinned and shortened. A good plan but guess what, before they were cut, before the next week could arrive, a giant wind storm hit a day later and this happened!

Our Eucalyptus tree broke, Our neighbor's worse nightmare.
Needless to say, our neighbor's wife was pissed! She keep running around saying, "we asked them, we asked them, les pedimos". We wanted that woman (referring to me) to cut them down but she said, "NO!" (me again) and now looked what happened!

New tile roof  with our wind blown tree on it's roof.
This happened during the night. Wally and I had heard one bang. We lamely looked through our closed shutters into the night but we really didn't see any thing and no other noise occurred. Wally and I shrugged, then we continued watching, "American Idol" singer contestants trying out for a spot on TV.

Newly installed automatic fence now damaged!
The next morning, Wally saw what had happened and slunk on over to the neighbors while I hid out. Trust me, "woman to woman", "head to head" discussions never go as smoothly as men discussing what's to be done. Wally apologized, too late, for not taking them up on their offer. He said that we would just go ahead and remove and pay for both trees ourselves, to be cut down completely. This was to show how sorry we were.

A worker hidden among our tree cutting it down at our cost. 
So I blew it! By not accepting 2 years ago an offer to have a tree cut down and paid for by our neighbor, I instead choose a tree's benefit and mine (beauty and shade) over a neighbor's and ended up paying for that decision big time!!! We have to pay for his gate motor and repair, $1500 US dollars!

Other cutters had, "way bigger" ropes than these guys did!
The tree fellers were called and they came right away to start the guided process of bringing 2 trees completely down. Hey, this way we will never have to worry about them coming down again. The neighbor has home insurance to pay for his roof but we paid for the tree removal.

It cost us (a ripe off price), $8000 pesos or about $400 US ($4000 Pesos/$200 dollars a tree).That included clean up and hauling away the wood. We could have used the wood to burn in winter as it was Eucalyptus but the cutters would have charged us more. They resell the wood as part of the price. Our other neighbor recently had a tree cut down and he only payed $3000 pesos a tree for cutting and clean up. So we paid $1000 pesos more for each tree. Still, the idea was to get it done as soon as possible (cuanto antes) and out of sight, so as not to be a constant reminder to us and our neighbor of our haughtiness or lack of foresight? Either way, we were glad to see some workers taking the tree down off of our neighbor's roof. Thru binoculars (yes I am a chicken), I saw about a dozen new roof tiles broken, and an awning. Their roof looked otherwise intact. But their new security, automatic gate was crunched with one post leaning out. Our neighbor's house insurance doesn't cover his new gate. We don't have the $1500 dollars readily available, so now we are in debt and owe him.

Plans are being made as I write this, to settle our one and only debt. At least, we had the cash available to pay the $400 dollars US needed to get the trees cut and cleared away.

The whole experience was a wakeup call to us. We have 3 towering pine trees in our own back yard that could easily come down on our roof during the next big wind storm, which lately seems to be about once a month. Wally never would have spent the money to cut them down before this happened. Since our bedroom is right next to them, I would sleep a lot better in a storm knowing that they were gone as well. We are currently asking around for prices from various cutters. The trees are too close to our roof and our other neighbor's roof and our block wall. They will have to be brought down very carefully to avoid those 3 things.

I have been quoted $30,000 pesos from the guys we have just used.  They have now offered $20,000 for the total of 3 when they saw my eyes bug out at the first price. I am looking around for people with  thicker ropes and a slightly lower price, as $20,000 pesos is about a little over $1000 US.

Update, I think we have found someone, recommended by our wood supplier, to cut all 3 trees in our yard for some $16,000 pesos total or roughly $800 US. He will come with workers in 3 or 4 days. I honestly don't think I want to be on site (at home) for that cutting job. So don't expect pictures and yet another tree post. I will just go and visit a friend up the street while Wally stays behind and watches the process. Our backyard is cramped and I just want to know when it is over and if our house is still standing and our roof is in tact.

I have already gone to see our "other neighbor" and let her know that the 3 pine trees will be cut down. I mentioned to the woman that 1 giant tree limb will probably fall in her yard across the fence while the trees are being cut down. She seems, "okay" with it, since that means the trees will be gone before winter. This way, she can sleep better during all these wind storms too.

Our neighbor with the crunched fence is glad we are taking care of our backyard trees first, before getting to pay our debt to him. He was afraid, those trees would one day come down on his pool or something. Basically, he doesn't seem to like our trees! They came with the house and seem to resemble all the other trees in our neighborhood but it is safer to see them go. As was proven with this incident.

I really miss my front yard trees, as mentioned it is very hot and I loved my shady Eucalyptus trees. However, learning my lesson, I am just hoping me and my neighbors stay safe, here in windy Uruguay.