Living on an island has its challenges. Buying furniture is one. When we rented our little beach shack six years ago, our shack contained five plastic chairs, a plastic table, and two beds. Ron detached the old wooden door from one of the bedrooms, attached it to the living room wall, and voilà, we had a long, functional desk that housed our TV and computer.
That was fine when we were experimenting with ‘pretirement’, but now that we are in full-blown retirement, I wanted some real furniture. So began my elusive search for functional tropical furniture and my delight in meeting Marvin, my iron man.
My definition of functional tropical furniture is furniture that will withstand the onslaught of termites, geckos, humidity, and heat. Wood swells to outrageous proportions, and is a favorite treat of termites. My Betty Crocker cookbook was totally consumed by termites! When we remodeled our beach shack, we had to replace all the wooden roof rafters because thousands of ravenous termites gorged on the rafters. Our neighbor’s TV stopped working one day, and when he opened the back of the TV, there was a family of geckos living near the sound components.
My thoughts of functional tropical furniture revolved around cement and iron, two materials that would stand firm in the battle of tropical living.
Marvin had designed and installed the iron works around our porch, which led me to believe that iron was the material of choice in Nicaragua. Plus, I needed a home for our TV and our pirated DVDs.
I found a picture of a Baker’s Rack on the internet, changed the design to meet my needs, and enlarged the dimensions. I asked Marvin, “Marvin, would it be difficult to make a similar bookcase?” “No problemo,” he responded. “¿Cuánto cuesta?” I asked. ( How much?) After some mad figuring on a piece of cardboard he found on our porch floor, he gave me a price of 200 dollars. I know that there is an art to bargaining and haggling in Nicaragua, but the price for the Baker’s Rack on the internet was $1,250 and that didn’t include shipping. Without giving it a second thought, we sealed the deal with a handshake.
A week later, Marvin and his son carried the finished Baker’s Rack a mile and a half along the manure stained, volcanic sand path to our house. It was a marvel of perfection! That’s one of the things I love about living in Nicaragua; necessity is the mother of invention. Ask and they shall build. Marvin will be very busy in the weeks to come. I have plans for a coffee table, bar stools, and a pot rack. He is truly a master craftsman.
I also have big plans for Marvin. I want to help him create a business in marketing, designing, and selling his iron works furniture throughout Nicaragua. All he needs is some direction and a business plan….he definitely has the skills.