The art of building the typical Maya house is slowly dying with the introduction of modern materials.Most villagers now are looking more towards what they call a more modern approach in building houses.Cement blocks ,indoor plumbing and wiring(for some not all).Yes the designs looks attractive and modern but the villagers tell me these houses are far too hot in the summer to sleep comfortably. The cement and brick house have a way of keeping in the heat which is great for el norte in the winter months.Some opt to keeping the old style palapa at the back of the properties so that they can sleep peacefully on the hot days and nights ,that are so frequent here in the Yucatan.
My reason for building traditional palapas is ,I feel, its in keeping with this area and so to help preserve the traditions the best I can.Also for the enjoyment of tourists that visit this area that they can get a little feel of how it would be like to live and sleep in a traditional Maya house.
As you can see by the photo I like to have hands on whenever I can and time permits. This day was an exception I donned my old work clothes and got stuck in .Candelario my friend mixed the red earth with dried grass and water (in Maya Pa,Luum) then I had the fun of slinging it on the outside. After finishing I washed up and to my surprise I had the softest hands I had had in ages.Now I know why mud packs really work at cleaning out the pores and dead skin!But it brought lots of laughs and fun whilst working alongside Candalario.
The wood is cut at a special time of the month to avoid termites, usually around the full moon and a certain type of tree that is found deeper into the jungle. This is a very hard wood which lasts for years and as I mentioned before to avoid the penetration of termites.This process of cutting wood can take two to three days depending on the size of the house to be built.Then, at times ,the bark is cleaned off to give a neater appearance, cut to size and ready to erect.The last work is of the roof which is covered with palm leaves(huanos)that are cut and dried before attaching.Its an interesting process to watch all of this taking place and with how much ease the men do this work whilst the sun blazes down on them.
Now the house Woolis Nah which means round house in Maya is ready for renting with its own bathroom,patio ,fan and will sleep a family of 4 or 5 quite nicely.These houses don’t really require air conditioning as the air here in the evening is cool due to the higher elevation than the rest of the Yucatan