Saturday, April 28, 2012

Three house projects

I consider these finishing touches to a house that began very simple and not all that well planned. The largest is the awning (marquesina) along the house that will help keep rain away from doors and windows. Oscar is up there now filling the joints between the awning and the house that they had to cut out to attach it.

The second is a palapa over the ugly block of cement that covers the cistern in the middle of the yard. The four posts (castillos) are up and the palapa builder will be here next week to build the wood structure that sits on top. Gonna use the long palapas rather than the royal palm that is very much more expensive. He says with the right pitch and placed close together it should be good for 5 years. We'll see.

The third project is to replace a jury-rigged lamina roof that was over the outside wash and pump area. It will extend out 5 meters rather than the 1.5 meters of the old one. Will be much better protection for the area, equipment and can act as a partial garage. One column of the same type used above and two cement cross supports (vegas) that they just poured this morning.

Posts for palapa, house awning and lamina supports

New lamina supports for utility area

Soon to be covered with a palapa

Another view of the house awning

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Labor Day Mexico and Day of the Cross

Labor Day (Día del Trabajo) is an International Holiday first established in the US in the late 1800's. The first time it was celebrated in Mexico was with a parade in 1913, with workers demanded their rights.

In 1923 as president of Mexico General Alvaro Obregon officially agreed that the first of May is the celebration of the Mexican working class struggle and from 1925 President Plutarco Elias Calles made the decision that each first of May Labor Day Mexico would celebrate.  It is a National holiday so banks and many businesses will be closed ... and this year a four day weekend.

Group of people who organized the festivities and demonstrations on 1 May 1913 to celebrate Labor Day. Image taken from the book: Gustavo Casasola, graphic History of the Mexican Revolution, Volume 2, Mexico, Editorial Trillas, 1973, p. 586.
Following Labor Day on the 3rd of May is the Dia de los Albañiles or Dia de la Cruz.   This day is not a national holiday but workers expect a good meal, a little cervesa and a cross on the house they are working.

Our cross from last year made by a workers wife

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Coconut husk processing

My Canadian neighbors found a coconut shell processing plant on the way to Cihuatlan so I gave them a try the other day. What they do is spin the dry husks in a large wire drum and separate the stringy part from what becomes powder. You can see the baled stringy part below but what it's used for I don't know. The powder they bundle and sell locally for garden mulch. For some reason they didn't want me taking pictures so this is the only one I have. Very dirty - dusty work for the guys feeding the cocos into the machine.

A very heavy bale of mulch was $150 pesos

Just learned that the fiber is called Coir

Coco coir and coco peat is one of the promising coco-based products with a huge market potential due to its wide array of uses and its eco-friendly qualities. PKC Fibre Industry

And Wikipedia for it's many uses

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Back in construction mode

The guys that worked for me last year have been busy with other projects over the winter and I told them when other work runs out I would have a project or two. This project is to build an awning (marquesina) along the whole side of the house. We built one but lower and it's only about a foot wide. I wanted more shade and rain protection. This will also be above the air vents which leaked in the past.

The circular support columns will be four with a diameter of 25cms which should give good scale to the house and the awning will be at least a meter and a half wide. I was surprised the footings will be the size of house footings -- a meter deep and filled with rock and cement. I was also surprised to find the Sonotubes were not that expensive. These were only $145 pesos and 3 meters long.

The most interesting thing is that they can't use the normal rectangular rebar design in a round tube so we bought a bunch (40 kilos) of wire that's about a 1/4 inch thick. They form it by wrapping it around a 6" drainage pipe until they have a slinky that stretches to 3 meters. Then they wire wrap 4 pieces of rebar inside. I imagine this will take the better part of a month.

Filling up the yard with sand, gravel, cement and next - rocks

Three of the column supports made - and holes where they will go in the grass

Wrapping rebar inside the slinky

Form the slinky on a tube

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Boca de Iguanas beach

Boca de Iguanas beach access was cut off for a few months after hurricane Jova. The beach trail was washed out and the trailer park wasn't letting people pass thru their property. I was up in La Manzanilla the other day and decided to see what was going on at Boca beach.

They brought in a lot of new fill to create a road/trail ... even tho motor vehicles are prohibited. Easy to walk out and wide enough you don't have to worry about the resident Cocodrilo, Pancho. The beach concession is back with tables, chairs, food and beer.

New beach access

Beach concession

Monday, April 02, 2012

Velas de cascara de naranja

I first saw these in the Mercado de Artesanias in Cuernavaca next to the Palace of Cortes a few years ago.  Just saw a brief glimpse of them on a tourism video and it reminded me.   I don't have my old fotos any longer so decided to go looking for others.  After searching for some form of  "candles in the skin of citrus" I finally found them under "velas de cascara de naranja". Different types of these seem to be a popular home craft in Latin America.

They were so unusual, delicate and so much work went into them I was surprised I found no mention of them in English ... maybe meaning not many had seen them.   I was also surprised they were only 40-50 pesos.  They made smaller ones using limes.

The skin is turned inside out, put on a mould and left to dry.  The etching is done with a fine tipped soldering iron.   String is wrapped around so the lid only comes down so far.  Then the flowers and leaves are glued on and the whole thing is covered with a thin coating of wax.  Wish I could have found a detailed description of the process but didn't.

velas de cascara de naranja

orange skin candles

Found this on how to make boxes

Here's the video and they are shown at about 32 seconds
The construction of the house finished in April 2011 and I'm pretty much settled in. As of March 2014 I'm in preparation for rain mode for this coming summer. That includes sealing and painting things and dealing with drainage issues from last year.

Sparks Mexico Web
Manzanillo Information
House building in Pinal Villa

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