Elephant In The Riviera Maya: Part 3

A Series On What It’s Like to Give Birth To A Mexican Elephant

Part 3:  A Home In Isolation

Well, it happened!

Three weeks into the birth of this elephant and a nasty global pandemic hits our lives and sends the world into a tailspin. Boom, life as we know it, comes to a halt. Not an end, just a pause. We don’t know just yet how it will all pan out, but we do know life will be different on the other side.

As for my house construction, well it seems rather unimportant at the moment. Everyone and everything is on hold, isolated and alone, including the lot and the meager beginnings of a foundation. There it sits, alone like the rest of us, isolated from the once bustling work going on to build it up from the earth. Okay, a bit dramatic, yes, but it has been an overwhelming two years.

House Build
A home boarded up after developer bankruptcy.

Onward hoe, as they say, to a short story about another house, being built in Canada, that might never have been if it weren’t for the patience and tenacity of the owners, and a Mexican father and son team that finally got the darn thing built. What an ironic connection!

With all my ups and downs getting my own build off the ground, it got me thinking, what would typically cause a two-year delay in construction on a house in either Canada or the United States? It happened to some dear friends of mine and their “forever home” in Calgary, Alberta.

Construction was completed to the stage of walls being up when the developer suddenly went belly-up, out of business, kaput (probably not a universal word but you get the idea). The process that followed was arduous to say the least, and it took another two years for their home to be completed. There it sat, concrete foundation and wood framing for almost 18 months through seasons of rain and snow with freezing temperatures to -30°C, and summer temperatures to +30°C, all the while dirt, mold, and a family of pigeons taking up residence leaving a wonderful residue of feathers, food, and filth to decay throughout. (See photo through the peephole of the pigeon on the stairs, the wood rot, and bird poop). Needless to say, when the new developer took over, the entire structure was demolished down to the foundation, and they started over.  Every aspect of the build had to begin again and with it, came a price increase. My friends retained their sanity throughout, which was no small feat!

Pigeon Through A Peephole
One of the many pigeons sits on stairs in this peephole view of a house left unfinished.

They visited the site frequently talking to the Mexican father and son crew from Chihuahua, who were now in charge of the re-build. My friends told them of my husband and me, who were in Mexico trying to get their own house built and the difficulties we were having. The irony escaped no one. (See photo of the demolished home before the rebuild and all the wasted, rotted wood.)

A three-fold whammy hit this wonderful couple all at the same time: the developer going bankrupt, supply prices rising drastically due to the economic depression, and a housing market crash. Not only was their house delayed by two years, it was costing them more but was worth much less.

Wood Waste
After demolition, a mountain of wood waste.

Now for the fourth wave of bad luck. Six months after finally moving into their forever home, an even worse recession took hold, one not seen since the Great Depression, and hitting with even more ferocity: Covid-19. To top it off, they both work in the medical industry in Canada, on the frontlines of this global pandemic, risking their lives every day so everyone else can stay safe. The irony of this does not escape my friend, who with deadpan humor says after a long day at work fighting the hard pandemic fight, “Well, at least we finally have an awesome home to go back to!” What a great thing to have at a time like this – humor!

So to end, I am not alone, as none of us are, when it comes to the trials and tribulations of building a home. Mine just happens to be on hiatus while the globe sorts itself out. We are all in this great unknown future together. We all may as well slow down, take a breath, and let come what may.

— by Brenda Calnan

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