Like so many things south of the border, building anything is a different adventure than what you may have experienced in your country of origin. This is fact in virtually every aspect of the building process.
And to add to that fact, there are even remarkable regional differences right here in Mexico.
You will relearn, unlearn and discover some remarkable variations in the building process. And it is not just materials, tools, methods and codes (or lack thereof) found different, prepare yourselves for entering the world of the macho Mexican. You must develop some people skills. It is best to come prepared for that from the start.
Perhaps it is not just Mexican macho but male ego in general that is the challenge? After doing several building projects here over the last seven years, tradition and attitudes abound even before you pick up a martillo (hammer).
This brings us to a side point that deserves an interruption: Rolly Brooks, a long time expatriate living here in Mexico has a wealth of wisdom and information on his Blog. I often refer to his ‘English-Mexican Spanish Illustrated Glossary of Building Terms’ section. Bookmark this very handy link: http://www.rollybrook.com/building-tools.htm
Building quality comes in a variety of classes. Labor is cheaper; often slower. But with all these things to take into account there is an adventure lurking behind even the simplest project and a chance to bond with your new Mexican neighbors. There are few things more pleasurable than having a cold-one with your Mexican building amigos on site as you admire your progress at the end of any hard working construction day.
If you have been reading along you know we are midstream on constructing a bodega; a fancy name for a storage shed. To put your mind at rest if this all seems trepedatious, those ready made storage buildings are available in larger cities here in Mexico.
Where would this have landed after Hurricane Carlotta?
We have had those metal and even plastic sheds in the past. Our two bodegas built here in Mexico from scratch will be here long past the life expectancy of those store bought beauties. Probably long past my life as well. And did I mention the satisfaction of building these higher quality little buildings? (Insert a ‘Tim the Tool Man’ manly grunt here).
Simplicito is an albañil (mason or helper), as well as often acting in the higher status of maestro (a journeyman craftsman). We have worked on several projects together over the last two years.
Our ability to communicate is strained by my little command of Spanish and his complete lack of English. Regardless, coming out the other side of that, he is a fine fellow that I have enjoyed working with immensely. He is also trusted and honest – highly valued qualities here in Mexico (anywhere for that matter).
We are on day five of our little project. Here are some photos and comments continuing from the previous Blog entry:
An experienced Mexican Mason can deftly apply pasta’d blocks quickly and amazingly accurate plum and level.
The blocks are 28x14x10 centimeters – small blocks even by Mexican standards. This project will require 600 or so pieces.
The four walls are now about half way up. We created air holes in the back wall, taking advantage of the 11 foot drop just behind. We still may have to do some critter proof screening later on. We will make a cement designer block window on the opposite side for air flow – always a good thing in humid climates.
The walls nearly complete. Next will be the front window and concrete posts at the corners.
Up to now we have defaulted to Simplicito’s judgement on concrete mixtures; not this time for the posts. We will have to see how that goes. We have left the laser level in its box defaulting to the water tube leveling method (they both realize the same results). But it was hard to resist not using that clever modern day miracle tool.
Monday (tomorrow we take a day off from building to start the process of applying for our Mexican visas – hardly a day of rest. Soon further adventures on both construction and the wild and unpredictable world of getting legal in Mexico. Stay Tuned!