Nov 11, 2008
Week 3 - Raising the Roof
Once the framework is up, the “grass” roof is added. This is perhaps the most distinctive feature of palapas. PaaMul already has over 100 of these grass roof buildings and now are getting several more.
The grass (“guana”) are fronds of several leaves that are interwoven into the lattice frame.It is fresh cut out in the country, arriving green and aromatic. However it soon dries and turns grey. The roofs typically last 8 to 10 years or until we get a hurricane through here.
Many of PaaMul’s palapas have been through at least three -- Emily in July 05, Wilma, October 05 which both skirted this coast and did some serious damage in Cancun about 100 kms north of here and Dean, August 07, which came on shore about 300 kms south of here. When we drove though the hotel zone of Cancun last winter most hotels were fully operational, but there were a couple that seemed derelict over 2 years later. Probably poorly built in the beginning or under financed. We were also through Chetumal last spring, site of Dean, and there seemed little visible hurricane evidence just one year later.
Here in PaaMul, the hurricanes blew off some roofs, but the palapas sustained little other damage of note.
Lest you think we are crazy to build in this hurricane zone, previous storms in this area were Roxanne in 95, Gilbert in 88 and then all the way back to Charlie in 1951. This last few years have seen a bunch of storms, (global warming?) but it is also been the period of rapid growth and development in the whole Mayan Riviera.
So far I have met several people who have been here for more than ten years and a couple that have been living the palapa life for at least 20. We are not alone...