Miguel has a friend-foe relationship with his master bricklayer. Jorge was in the military service with Miguel and they have known each other for most of their adult lives. Jorge's wife is the sister of Miguel's cousin's wife, so that makes him 'family'. Miguel and Jorge are friends, and at times have been drinking buddies (too many times, might I add).
Jorge was the one who was there when Miguel was blown down the staircase after touching 16,000 plus volts of electricity. Jorge was the one to slap Miguel on the face to get him breathing again. Miguel may owe his life to Jorge.
One thing I've noticed among men in general, but especially amongst Mexican men, is how they can have an all-out disagreement or confrontation but then remain friends. They seem quite able to separate work issues from personal issues.
Jorge has done a ton of concrete work here at my house, starting about 6 years ago. Miguel has always overseen the work; until the last couple of years the projects were rather small as we had other bricklayers doing the major projects here (Jorge was busy with other work).
A couple of years ago Jorge did a big project here - he built the overhang on the second-level terrace. Other than a design 'feature' I'd rather was a little different (but I wasn't here to provide input at the time), it turned out very well. Miguel praised Jorge for his artistic work.
Last year we had to put a railing on the staircase. Originally I wanted wood, but the guy who came gave us a ridiculously low quote, and of course, never showed up. So Miguel turned to Jorge, and the railing is a one-of-a-kind work of art - constructed out of wood and concrete. It wasn't quite what I had in mind but I can be flexible - it has grown on me. One thing for sure, it will never break.
Jorge was great until he got to the end of the project, and then he lost interest or got busy with a new project (Capi's Apartment) and Miguel had to harass him to come back and finish the small details. Miguel vowed he was done with Jorge.
Miguel had another bricklayer do the foundation of Capi's Apartment, but he got mad when the master bricklayer left the site and left his 'helper' to do some of the detailed work that he wasn't very good at, resulting in crooked doorways and walls. So Luis got fired and Jorge got hired to finish the work and install all the ceramic tiles at Capi's. About that time Miguel had his accident, so Jorge was left to finish on his own time - and he did take his time until Miguel (finally released from hospital) got mad and told him to get it done.
Various small projects over at Casa Miguel were given to Jorge. But then one of the projects got stalled when Jorge got busy with another project and Miguel never knew when he was coming. And when he did come, if he left for any reason (food, supplies), it was questionable if he would come back that day. Miguel had to be at the site the entire time to keep Jorge under control.
It got so bad that Miguel got tired of waiting for Jorge and hired some other bricklayers. He was done with Jorge and his shenanigans. Since the work was 'rustic', not 'fino', it worked out.
Then it was time to build the Luna Studio, on the third-floor above Capi's Apartment. Miguel continued with the same workers as they were less expensive than Jorge and he was satisfied with their work.
By now times were really tough on the island and Jorge was looking for work. He stopped by and saw other people working at Miguel's and was not pleased. Why didn't Miguel want to give him the work, he wanted to know?
Eventually the guys doing the work didn't bother to show up and Jorge got his opening. He has built the rest of the studio, poured the roof, and put the fine layer of concrete on the walls. He has worked hard, sometimes wanting to work on Sundays (despite Miguel asking him not to) in order to keep things moving (and cash flowing into his pocket). Miguel has been pleased with how well Jorge has worked.
Now we are at the stage of installing the tiles - the final push where each day is critical to finishing on time. And Jorge went MIA for Monday and Tuesday. Miguel entered his 'foe' phase again with Jorge. "If he doesn't want the work there are lots of others who do. It won't be the same quality as Jorge, but it will be good enough."
So yesterday morning Miguel toured around and found Jorge at the site where he was planning to install a base for an electric meter. And he let him have it. "What's the matter? Do I pay you with rocks or with money? I have reservations pending", and a few other choice phrases.
He said that he didn't even finish all he was saying when Jorge said "I'm going, I'm going", and hopped on his moped and Zoom! off he went over to Casa Miguel. Miguel was chuckling as he told me the story - Miguel's stories always make me laugh because he adds sound effects and lots of animation.
Yesterday Miguel came home for dinner and reported that Jorge was working very 'strong'. The bathroom tiling finally got finished and grouted, and now Jorge is scratching his head (Miguel's words) figuring out how he is going to put the kitchen tiles together. I know it will look great when he's done, Jorge's work is very good.
So Miguel will be tied up 'baby-sitting' and making sure Jorge doesn't 'escape' and all will be done in good time. And Jorge and Miguel can once again be friends.