The masons who are putting up our casita are called “albañils” in Spanish. I think the old adage which in other parts has been used to refer to Italians, Portuguese and other nationality’s tradesmen, can be used to refer to a typical Mexican, that “he is born with a trowel in his hand!”
Much of Mexico is made of cement blocks, and what isn’t made of cement is made of our other palapa materials -- wood poles and ceramic tile. Very little except doors and furniture is made of lumber. As we have travelled through Mexico it is noteworthy to go through any small region where there are buildings made of boards.
The roof of our casita will be made of cement beams and cement blocks like the rest of the exterior. The cements roofs are assembled in an ingenious method and will be very strong, I’m sure.
Once the walls are up, cement beams are laid across the span of the rooms. These beams are made in the shape of an upside down “T”. They are set to a precise distance apart into which are placed the roof blocks. The roof blocks are shaped with ledges that fit between the beams, dropping into place, side by side, forming a continuous flat interior, ready for stucco.
The roof raising was not a job for the old and weak like me, as the beams weighed about 100 lbs and the huge blocks close to 50 lbs each. It added up to a lot of brute muscle work.
Then more forms are assembled around the upper parameter, and filled with rebar and concrete. The topside is then covered with a steel mesh and covered with a couple more inches of poured concrete, making a solid roof.
When all the forms were fixed in position, my ceiling electrical conduits in place our crew was ready to mix and pour.
This got going about 3 p.m.. Once again we had the motorized cement mixer on hand, making a combination of old methods and the new. Several batches were mixed in the machine, poured into a pool on the ground, then shoveled into pails and lifted hand to hand up a ramp to the roof where it was poured and trowelled.
Dusk arrived at 5:30, and the mixing and pouring went on.
I strung up a few lights from the palapa rafters, and the five guys kept going until the pour was done. With the cleanup of tools and equipment, the guys sat down at 9 p.m. to well earned pizzas and beer.