And this was our "real" reason for traveling to South Africa. That wandering barefoot son of ours was putting down some roots, or at least he would no longer be wandering alone. Still barefoot, as you will see, but no longer alone. His beloved was traveling across two continents and leaving behind her known world, joining him in the world where their hearts began this journey to forever together, a place called Refilwe. For the next year or so, they will make their home here.
But first, there was a house to prepare, to transform, to remodel. This is what we saw the first day we looked into the former storage room that was to be transformed into a kitchen/living/office area for the two of them. Lots of space, lovely big windows, a fridge, and numerous items that would eventually find new homes of their own. Used shelving, countertops and other salvaged materials would be repurposed by Max into work space, an eating area, and a lovely set of kitchen cabinets. It was an intense, amazing process.
Determining the exact layout of the kitchen involved a long, late evening discussion.
There were reminders all along the way that we weren't doing this at home. Always, always, there were the keys. Keys to open the shop, keys to unlock first the gates, then the doors, keys to lock up when we were heading back across the river for something or other, needing keys for the shop again.
The magnum opus, the great secret, was the addition of a bathtub in the narrow, "shower only" simple concrete bathroom. Joseph, Kleinboi, and Max spent multiple hours on this transformation, building the bathtub right into the end of the bathroom where the shower had been. (Yes, Max is flexing his muscles, showing his strength in moving the bathtub!)
The tight quarters created challenges. After breaking out the old cement shower wall, Max cut raceways for the new pipes in the brick wall. (Lots of dust!) Joseph and Kleinboi built a small receiving wall for the tub and hauled sand for the tub base. Pipes were moved, walls were plastered and painted with wild, fume-y paint.
As word got around that a building project was underway, visitors arrived. Curious children peeked in, various friends and co-workers contributed sweat and manpower. Youngsters needed the bike pump, kitchen staff smuggled us "extra" lunches, and friends of Joseph checked on progress. Older kids who loved Barefoot Wanderer wanted to help, and Max was always teaching someone how to do something. It made his days varied and interesting., but it didn't exactly speed the process. At times we wondered if we would really finish by our deadline.
Spending time with Joseph's good friend Moses was a trip bonus! His painting skills transformed the bedroom and the bathroom, but we didn't have him working all the time! I think he enjoyed our adventures in the Pilanesberg National Game Park (except, perhaps, the elephant encounter?) and we all thought our dinner at Carnivores was an evening to remember. But I digress...
And then, as suddenly as we'd begun, we were finished.
A few projects remain for the new couple: choosing and hanging curtains in the living area, tiling the entry area and bathroom floor, arranging and hanging all the wall decorations, figuring out what to do with the floor in the living area. They are looking forward to having a few such projects to do together!
But, the major remodeling: done.
Tools migrated back to the shop, paint dried, water flowed through pipes, cabinets were wiped out, new (used, but scrubbed) carpet covered the bedroom floor, the clean tub sparkled.
Here are some "after" pictures!