Dumpster Diving With Donna

Hydraulic Tiles…

When I say dumpster diving with Donna I don’t mean I actually climbed into a dumpster. I stood next to a dumpster and tried to maintain quality control. Donna found the hydraulic tiles she’d been dreaming about. Any tile worth saving was going to be saved!

Hydraulic tiles were first created in Spain during the mid-1800s. They are produced by hand using cement-based raw materials. It is a decorative tile made by compressing these materials in a hydraulic tiling press. They are durable and colorful. Spanish building contractors think the old stuff is junk. Newer modern versions are popular. That’s why our tiles were in a dumpster.

My initial thinking was to fill up our little rolling grocery cart with one load of the ’best’ tiles we could find. Good tiles were put in the cart. Cracked, chipped, filthy, solid color, and questionable tiles were set aside. That process lasted until the first cart made it up to the terrace of our tiny Valencia apartment.

When we took the first load of tiles up we set off the overweight signal in the elevator. It’s a two person elevator. The tiles weren’t going to take the stairs. One of us had to get off the lift.

As the process progressed we got faster and less discerning. Tiles were unceremoniously stuffed into our cart and some heavy duty shopping bags. On the terrace we placed tiles in rows of six, swept them off, and hosed them down. Eventually there were ninety-nine tiles lined up. Donna said, “We just need three more.” She paused for a second and added, ”Or…nine!” At this point in the process my answer was, ”Three! Only three! Three!”

Below the Apartment

We had started attracting some polite notice. There was one wry grin and several averted eyes. A kid driving his Vespa nearly crashed when Donna popped up from the depths of the dumpster. Dropping your jaw and doing a double take at the same time is a tough maneuver on a scooter that’s going too fast on wet pavement.

Of course we brought back nine tiles! As we lay in bed figuring out which muscles were going to ache in the morning the last thing I remember saying was, ”If you decide to make another dumpster run at 6 AM, I’m not going.”

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