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.

100_1923 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.

100_1924 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 be100_1962 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.

100_1949 There were areas where I saw what we could call100_1950 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.

100_1937 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.

100_1929 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!