Nov 22, 2009

Sticks and more sticks.

Giles (pronounced: heelays), are sticks of about 3 to 5 cm thick (+/- 1.5”), 3 to 4 meters long and are sold in bundles of 10 for 95 pesos.

Giles are one of the essential building materials in Mayan style construction. They are part of what makes up the thatched roofs of all palapas, from the smallest beach umbrellas to large meeting halls. After the post and pole framework goes up, a lattice of these sticks are added and on these, the grass is attached.
Giles are also used to make decorative fences and walls.
This is what we have been up to this week. Ever since we built the loft, we have been planning to add a low wall all around it.
I first brought home 3 truckloads, 18 bundles to this point. Then we set up a painting station where Susan has gone through a gallon and a half of varnish. I have been measuring and sorting, then cutting them to length, getting 3 pieces out of each. I’m drilling a small hole in each end and screwing them to the framework around the loft. As the sticks are quite small, I have calculated that the job will take close to 600 pieces, so that will be over a thousand holes drilled and screws driven. At this point I am half way through the install.
It has also been warm and humid with very little breeze. I don’t remember when or when I have sweated so much that it is running into my eyes and dripping off my nose.

The two photos are Susan at the staining, and part of a new 1 meter wall. In the background, you can see the sticks used in the roof construction. So far it looks promisingly great, I think.

Nov 19, 2009

The eyebrows have it.

7:30 pm, temp a perfect 76, with a slight breeze.
Had to set the scene this way, as it is just so fine sitting here out on the couch after another long and busy day.
We (our neighbours Bob and Dot) and us have had a crew here for about a week, adding what they call “an eyebrow” to the back of our palapas. Our rear was quite open to the back yard, and as this is angled towards the direction of the prevailing winds, any rain shower that came along, was blowing into our palapas. We were regularly pushing all the furniture, gathering up the pillows and stacking them away from the edge. Then sweeping out the rain puddles that settled inside.
Once again, we take inspiration from neighbours who have added this eyebrow to the back of theirs. Back up north, this would be built of wood and roofing, and be called an awning over the rear patio. (Around rv’s, awning mean the roll-down and roll up fabric contraptions on the side or the rv)
This addition is a section of typical palapa roofing -- poles, framework interleaved with grass. It runs side to side across the back, about 25 feet wide, and is about 12 feet deep.
While it cuts out some exposure to the sky, it provides a sense of enclosure, that makes the rear palapa living area more of a room.
I’m still not clear how to refer to being here on the green patio couch -- am I outside (outside the rv) or inside (inside the palapa living area). Now with the eyebrow, it feels more inside, and cozy.

Nov 10, 2009

Going down (Six Feet) again...

Several years ago we were visiting our kids, Michael and ReBecca, when they recommended a TV show. It just happened to be showing a review of the first several episodes that weekend and we had a look. We were immediately taken in by the family drama of the Fishers.
For five seasons, from 2001 to 2005, we became devoted to watching the HBO series, Six Feet Under. Even as we were traveling around, we made a point of being somewhere where we could put up our dish and catch the weekly episode. Without a doubt, one of the best dramas ever (yes, better than The Sopranos)
If you have been a fan, you know what I mean. If you want to have a look, the Movie Channel is rerunning the series every weeknight, (11pm eastern)
In this time zone, it airs at 10 pm, and has become my nightcap, replacing The Daily Show and The Colbert Report.
I am a fan of Jon and Stephen and have enjoyed their irony and wit. Lately though, much of their grist comes from the mess that is the US Health Reform debate and the rampant polarization in the American politicians and populous. Rationality has gone out the window, in favor of hateful diatribes. The humour is strained like the feeling you get when someone tells a really tasteless joke -- just not funny, but sad and embarrassing.
Back to Six Feet, you can catch up to the current story line at the the tv data base site
Wikipedia has an good summary of the show, where I found this quote, "Six Feet Under has frequently been described by critics as one of the greatest television series of all time. The series is noted for its exploration of mortality and death in western society."
We are currently in the middle of season two, so there is a lot of good story still to come.

Nov 8, 2009

Ida - anti climactic.

3 pm Sunday, and all's well. Even though Ida grew to Category 2, it remained well off shore.
I kept an eye open off and on through the night, and it remained weirdly calm. This morning we were all bringing our furniture and furnishings out of safety storage, and we are back to normal.
Oh well... I got back to electrical and cabinet building. Then on to the regular 3 pm volleyball match.

Nov 7, 2009

Here come the rains...

It is about 4 pm Saturday, and Ida is moving more away from land and is projected to pass between the Yucatan and Cuba.
Everyone is storm-proofing their palapas. All left is to bring in our couches and big chairs. Then the two satellite dishes.
It has been raining heavily off and on with more to come. There is a lot of standing water in the park already. Fortunately they just added three truckloads of gravel to our street. I'll try and get some photos in the early am.

Nov 6, 2009

Stormy weather...

In the next couple of days we will be here to experience first hand a named storm that is coming this way.
“Ida” started out a couple of days ago as a Tropical Depressions was up to a category 1 Hurricane, but it is now back to a Tropical Depression. After crossing parts of Nicaragua and Honduras, it is back out to sea, but still only with 35 mph winds and is projected to pass on the other side of Cozumel (Paamul in on the mainland opposite Cozumel) with 45 mph winds.
There are discussions here in camp, and our Paamul daily e-mail newsletter has distributed some information and advice for preparation. We will be bringing in our loose chairs, tables, and other outdoor items, probably tomorrow night. At this point, no one I have heard plans to evacuate.
Tonight, all is calm, perhaps the proverbial calm before the storm.
I’ll add more as it develops.

Nov 3, 2009

Back on the Beach.

When pulled in Saturday afternoon, the senior gate man, Sixto, greeted us with “Welcome home”. And home is what it feels like, seeing our many neighbours and friends who are part of this winter community.
We carefully backed our trailer in, and have been sorting and cleaning to restore the living conditions.
Our back yard garden thrived over the summer and will have to be trimmed back again. We are working slowly, as we are adjusting to the heat and humidity.
This morning is gloriously pleasant, air temp 81, as I’m sitting outside in a light breeze and Susan has gone for an early snorkel swim. The Caribbean water is a balmy 82.
Now back to my list of things to do.

Nov 2, 2009

Travels with Charlie...

Years ago, when I was still in my teens, I read Steinbeck’s Travels With Charley, a documentary of he and his dog, outfitting a camper-truck and crossing the continent. That book along with other wander-writers like Kerouak, planted seeds of the wanderlust which in some way, I’m sure, contributed to our current lifestyle, that of full-time RVing.
I am joined in this adventure by my wife Susan, who along with our dog, Pippin, have been up and down and across this continent for many years.
But I am truly blessed to also share it with Charlie... Charles Dickens that is. How did he get on board, you may wonder?
Susan, in her previous life, was a thespian and besides gracing stages all over Canada, was a reader of books for broadcast on the CBC. She has a wonderful voice and a great command of various British accents.
When we began our long RV trips, we fell into passing the miles by her sitting beside me reading to me aloud. In a short while, she recommended we try Dickens.
Wow. So many rich characters, and so many engrossing moral explorations, so many pages. Our sharing Dickens has become one of my favourite parts of our travels. The miles and hours fly by. One year, as we were approaching Canada and our home town, we spent an extra night on the road in order to finish Nickelbey or Copperfield, I don’t remember. (Susan just told me it was A Tale of Two Cities.)
We have dipped into other authors but return to Dickens as the standard of pure enjoyment. We are now on Little Dorrit, and as we are reach our beach destination, it will be put back on the shelf, to be continued next spring on our way back north, when once again, Charlie will rejoin us. Wish you could too.

Everything AND the kitchen sink (taps).

(This was written a couple of days ago as we stopped in San Miguel de Allende, but I didn’t get on line to post it.)
This trip has been unique for all the stuff we have packed along. Our palapa life is still a work in progress, so we spent time during the summer, collecting stuff to bring down. The Yucatan of Mexico had a lot of home furnishing shops but nothing to compare with the goods available in our weekly Canadian Tire flier. Irresistible deals each week, and we kept stocking up -- tools, kitchen appliances and new taps, a dehumidifier, fans, a compressor, weed whipper, lighting, and most recently, Christmas decor.
About midsummer, patio chairs came on sale at a local shopping centre, and we bought a set (non-folding) that I would have to figure out how to pack. I managed to build a little platform on our rear bumper and bound them on.
We were also on the lookout for a good table. At our Guelph recycle depot, we found a solid oak pedestal leaf table, similar to the one we had and sold 3 years ago when we cleared out our house. As solid wood, it should handle the Caribbean humidity, and it was built to be to disassembled. In its various parts it was stored about the trailer, mainly in the rear storage box, where the 2 satellite dishes used to ride. And those big dishes? They took up residence in our soon-to-be hot tub, which is riding on our couch. (What? A hot tub? More on this later.)
In Texas, we toured the discount outlets for bedding and pillows for a new folding guest bed.
We are driving down through Mexico this fall with fellow Canadians and palapa neighbors, Dale & Sue Urquhart. Here in San Miguel de Allende, we have gone out together to scour the artisan shops for Mexican style decor, lighting and ceramics.
Our trailer is stuffed -- three more days and we can begin to unload.