IN recent weeks, a structure resembling a flying saucer has been seen on a hill in this small village on the south side of the island. At dusk some days, its colored lights are visible from the main highway, causing traffic to almost come to a stop. Curious passers-by who venture off the highway discover that the structure, which appears to be solidly grounded, makes a five-tone sound like the greeting of the mother ship in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”
The tone poem is muted, but the colored lights and the blinking strobe on the dome make the house hard to miss, which is exactly as the owner wishes. For this is a tale more Gatsbyesque than intergalactic, although the blinking light in this case is not green or at the end of a pier, but lavender and announcing itself to the beloved and the cosmos.
The story of a home 40 years in the making, however, is not one to be rushed, so let us begin by introducing the protagonist, who hails, of course, from a distant land: the city of Ponce, 20 minutes down the road. His name is Roberto Sanchez Rivera, and he is 58, a retired teacher of industrial arts.
Those light fixtures, which Mr. Rivera added a few months ago at the base of the house, what are they made of?
He is simply a creative man, Ms. Martinez insists. Back in high school, he decided that one day he would build a house that was unlike any other. And after getting a degree in fine arts and studying industrial design, he had the ability to do that.
Mr. Rivera, who has the soul of an artist, bought the property where his house stands for $95,000 in 2002 and was able to build a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home on it for about $150,000, using discount-store knickknacks and discarded auto parts. “Repurposed” is too weak a word to do justice to his ingenuity when confronted with a scrap of tin.
She was out dancing with a group of friends, Ms. Martinez says. Their eyes met and they both froze. Later, he asked her to dance, but he was so shy he could barely look at her. When she left that night, he said, “Wait a minute,” and grabbed a napkin, twisting it into the shape of a rose.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: August 16, 2012
An article last Thursday about a house in Juana Diaz, P.R., that resembles a spaceship misstated the number of tones in the sequence from “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” which the house emits. It has five tones, not four.
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