Building a Home in San Felipe

San Felipe, Baja, Mexico

Oh the stories! The wild successes, disasters, frauds, surreal methods, beautiful workmanship, cheap short-cuts, clever innovations, bone-headed mistakes.Construction That's the interesting thing about building a home in the Baja. There's absolutely no common level of workmanship, no minimum height for the highjump bar. A man who has spent the last thirty years of his life pulling nets into his panga will present himself as an expert framer or a gyprock Rembrandt. Funny thing is, he might be.

An American friend once mentioned he would like a thatched palapa built in his backyard. I asked Carlos, a long-time Mexican friend, if he could do the job.

"Por supuesto," Carlos replied. "Of course." He gave me a look that seemed to question the intelligence of my inquiry.

I delivered Carlos to the American's home and some weeks later heard the story.

The American shook his head sadly. "I knew I was in trouble when Carlos started climbing the ladder," he said. "Somehow he ended up standing on his own foot." The American laughed, remembering the scene. "There he was halfway up the ladder, yanking away with his trapped foot when all he had to do was lift the other one. Just between you and me, I don't think he's ever seen a hammer before. But he's a helluva nice guy so I let him build it anyway."

I looked at the finished product. Carlos' thatched palapa looked like a Tennessee William's character in a rainstorm. It was truly sick and tragic. Eventually the American had to "put it down" and build another.

Blueroadrunner will carry stories from people who've had large or small building projects in the area. The content of these pieces in no way reflects the views of Blueroadrunner. These stories are presented "as is". Blueroadrunner takes no responsibility for their veracity or accuracy.