Last week Ellen and I were vacationing in southern Mexico. Neither of us had been to Mexico in the past. We had a thoroughly enjoyable time in a little town called Puerto Morelos.
One if the things I do on vacation is to observe area construction methods. There was not a lot of construction going on in this little town, but I did manage to find some interesting sites. Most of the larger buildings are constructed of concrete and masonry. Many materials get lifted from the ground level using a rope and pulley. Labor is less costly in Mexico so I imagine hydraulic machines are not often used on 3-story buildings like this.
Another interesting item is roof construction. Many of the buildings have log purlins and rafters with a grass thatch covering. The grass covering appears to be watertight and keep the elements out. The design of the framing makes for some very interesting roof structures. One of the buildings had a curved thatch roof. The straight areas were supported with regular wood beams. The curved beam at the front of the entrance was made up of a whole bundle of smaller wood branches, all bound tightly together to create a curved beam. We would typically have to use a laminated, engineered curved beam for such an application. But I could not see any sag or deflection in the bundle of sticks supporting the roof.
There were areas where I saw what we could call significant occupational safety and health violations. Workers often climbed up on rickety platforms to attend to some issue. I saw this worker reaching an electrical mast while standing on top of a 5 gallon plastic pail that was on top of a masonry wall….something we would never allow on our work sites.
I also came across this hole in the roadway. It was a fairly substantial hole that had opened up adjacent to a storm sewer grate. It was on the right side of the road where vehicles drive. Someone stuck a stick up in the hole and put a bucket in front of it so drivers might see it and avoid the hole. I cannot imagine driving along and dropping a wheel in this hole at night. But no one seemed too worried about the hole and drivers seemed to swerve around it.
Many of the homes in this area were very basic, primitive shelters. The climate is warm so there is not much needed for warmth. Some corrugated metal panels make a fine roof. It was funny to see some of these very modest homes sporting satellite TV dishes!