The Countdown Continues…

How many times have I said the front of La Corona is almost done? Garage door is the latest addition, although the mechanism to raise it isn’t completed yet.


November 1st, the fourth or fifth “deadline” for La Corona’s completion, is fast approaching and I’m obsessed with watching the clock.  I’m determined to project manage the final phase from 1500 miles away to insure that we overcome the “It’s Mexico” mantra that KR and I have taken up.

Who am I kidding?   Certainly not KR, Isidro, Jaime and the 20 or so workers that have hand-built La Corona in the past nine months.  Instead of talking about all the things that have been accomplished so far (the half full view), let’s focus on what’s not done (the glass is half empty view):

  • The main kitchen has bones, but nothing else
  • The “guest kitchen” is still only a concept in KR”s head
  • The master bathroom hasn’t been started
  • The pool bathroom hasn’t been started
  • The living room bathroom hasn’t been started
  • No shelving have been built in the living room, master bedroom or man dungeon

This “half empty” view is too damn depressing, so let’s go back to the “we’re almost there!”  view.   The outside is largely finished except for the security covers.  With the exception of the guest kitchen, the first floor is pretty much done (the guest quarters part of the house).  The second floor is painted (thank god!) and is ready for the final elements (see kitchen, bath, etc.).  The pool and pool deck and the top floors are all pretty much done.  Our “master suite” is still bare walls, but they’re painted at least.  Perhaps most important, I love what’s been done so far and can’t wait for the rest to come on line.

Nine months after first starting construction we’ve finally completed THE DESIGN  of all elements, even though not all the designs are committed to paper yet.  Is this normal?  Probably not, see the “It’s Mexico” mantra above.  Part of the problem is “It’s KR’s Way” as well, as she’s fine with the lets-design-as-we-go approach to building a house.   KR scoured every tile store in Puerto Vallarta and couldn’t find what she wanted, so she and Isidro went to Guadalajara last week to buy tile, sinks and light fixtures.  Even though we have a CostCo and Home Depot, PV isn’t LA when it comes to finding things KR likes.  Hence, we didn’t complete the design of the master bathroom until today.

Less than 30 days to go…

“It’s Mexico” also refers to the idiosyncrasies of construction Mexican style. For instance, there are no wall lights, electrical socket covers, etc. that are level.  They all slant to one side or the other.  Ninety degree angles are not the Mexican Workers’ friend as doors and windows are most often not square, the first time around.  The second time is usually closer.  Hence, no door stays open, as it either automatically closes or opens because its not level.  No rooms are square.  No walls perfectly in alignment with a ninety-degree angle.  It’s just the Mexican way…

“It’s Mexico” also has lots of positives, of course.  Everything is hand-made, which means you can get it done YOUR WAY, sans 90 degree angles of course.  You want the socket over there, no problem.  You want the windows to look like this?  Let’s talk with the carpenter and explain what you want.   You want a custom made counter top that combines parrota wood and slate?  No problem.

Which of course explains to a  large degree why its taken us nine months to get this far: )

The “It’s Mexico” also comes with a night watchman who gladly mixes yours truly his nightly tequila cocktail while swimming in the pool.  It comes with workers who can’t wait to plant the latest flowers Karen buys, and argue with her about the right way to plant them.  And when they don’t like where Karen puts  them, they switch’em when she isn’t looking.  And it comes with workers who gladly go pick up the 600 lb old wood couch KR has bought from some garage sale and hump it up a couple flights of stairs — all without complaint.

I keep telling myself the finish line is THERE!  Right there!  That we’re getting closer and closer and closer and someday it will all be done.  But, of course, it’s never going to be done.  This is Karen, after all.


The garage door arrives. The only way to get the metal door to La Corona is to weld it the truck for transport, then cut off once here. This is a VERY HEAVY door that will be raised up in one piece. I can’t wait to see the size of the electric motor that raises this baby.

Security? Nothing but the highest tech for La Corona. Video camera and telephone let KR see who’s at the door from the second or third floors. Only one problem. The directions are in Spanish: ))

The entrance fully lit. Still awaits the metal doors that prevent anyone from loitering in the entrance.


The courtyard just inside the front door

The design team designs the guest kitchen. The carpenter (with the hat) is pondering the wood that KR wants him to make into a kitchen counter top. “Crazy gringos!”   Well, yes we are and proud of it.

Fred’s Wall, as in “I don’t like it, but its Fred’s idea,’ at night. It takes a lot of courage to stand your ground on the absolute necessity of having a stone wall…

Karen calls this a “detective agency” door to the second guest bedroom. It’s not meant as a term of endearment.

The courtyard at night shot from the living room

Mobile car phones the Mexican Way. Look closely. This car has two such units, fully wired: )

Same story, different time. EVERYONE has spent more time at La Corona than me, so why shouldn’t Isidro move into my office before me?

Fily is the night watchman, not the day watchman. Here he takes a nap on the kitchen counter.

“Final” design of master suite’s closet. This particular variation was drawn by yours truly before cocktails.

Outside living room with said 600 lb couch/bed. Shape on the wall is the remnants of the original stairs.

Kitchen as viewed from the living room. OK, I know what you’re thinking, “My god, are they crazy? Red!” Color is so bright that neighbors walking by comment, “that’s some red you got there!” In for a penny, in for a pound… Orno in right corner is now complete.

The view off the living room terrace

The bedroom is at least painted…

View of the pool from KR’s studio

The same room, outside looking in.

The pool deck is sprouting flowers and furniture

View to the north is of a boutique luxury hotel.

View to the south is decidedly less boutique like. That’s why its called a “mixed neighborhood.”

KR and I share our first morning coffee together on the 4th floor.

The “4th bedroom” is an outdoor bed on the 4th floor. It’s nice during the day and..

and great for a late night tequila cocktail. Our prediction is that this will be the most popular place in the house

As is par for the course, I am not the first one to christen the outdoor dining room table. It’s only fair that the guys who carried THE CEMENT table up four flights of stairs deserve to have its first beer.

Sunset on the pirate ship

“It’s Mexico” means an occasional electrical outage, as KR discovered a couple of weeks ago. No better time to do one’s Spanish class homework, while keeping in mind the required attitude to withstand a London Blitz or Mexican construction project: )


6 replies
  1. Tom M says:

    Looking Good! I had no doubt that it was going to be awesome but thought I would see pics that showed this stage of completion in 2014. Great job Karen!


    PS: I did think FW’s rock wall is pretty cool too but ideas are cheap credit goes to the construction manager.

  2. Carlos says:

    Don’t dispare Fred…….regardless of your ready, fire, aim design process, to finish a handcrafted home of this size within a year is still considered remarkable anywhere!
    Can’t wait for my 1st sunset margarita on that roof deck and I do hope you’re there for that occasion. Cheers from Spain.

  3. debbie says:

    Hi Fred and Karen,
    Love the RED kitchen!! All looking beautiful, we arrive in PV on Oct 31st thru Nov 20, looking forward to seeing you having a drink by the pool at La Corona.

  4. Shu & Q says:

    Holaaa, Fred & Karen! The transformation on La Corona is truly amazing! We cannot imagine the effort you put into it before sitting in that beautiful rooftop vista – enjoy the tequila, you’ve earned it! Take care and greetings from Toronto, where it’s already freezing. 🙂 – Shu & Q

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