Monday, June 18, 2012

Building a house

Arnulfo chatting with the owner
of a house Marlu built.
My German friend Arnulfo is about to take a huge step. He came back to Mexico in March after returning to Germany for about six weeks. His old life there had changed. The woman whose dog he walked had died and the dog went to a new home. Other things he'd been doing in retirement just didn't have the pull for him that Chiapas did.

His dear friend Edith asked him to come back and see if they could share a life together. Beyond that there were no promises, and from time to time, their relationship has been a bit rocky. Edith is very independent and protective of herself, and her children. Arnulfo is the kindest man in the world, loves those kids, and is a grandfather figure to them. He loves playing that role since he has no grandchildren of his own. Now, after a few months, the relationship has settled down. The man who owns property behind Edith has offered to sell a nice chunk of land to her. Arnulfo would like to buy it and build a house for himself.

So I introduced him to Marlu, a Dutch woman who has lived here for thirty+ years, and is an architect. I know of her because people I know live in her designs. I took Arnulfo to see Linda and Andrew's townhome, and he was very impressed. Marlu can turn the tiniest walled lot into a spacious airy and useful home, full of custom cabinetry and multi-use spaces. And she speaks Dutch, close enough to German, so the two of them hit it off royally.

The tiny house, an octagon, where 40 people
gathered to play music and dance. 
Marlu also takes belly dance lessons with my landlady, Margaret. Yesterday the four of us and Marlu's friend Pepe went to a friend's house for a belly dancing party. Arnulfo is almost as fond of Turkey as he is of Mexico, so he had a ball; belly dancing with all those women in their silky costumes to lively Turkish music, and eating hummus, baba ganoush, safron rice, home made pita breads, and halva. There were three houses in a row on that property, right next to a forest reserve, all designed and built by Marlu, so Arnulfo got to see some more excellent examples of her work. The homes are adobe with solar features and environmentally sound construction. They're tiny homes, but one could envision living in any of them very comfortably.

After seeing those little houses, and getting an idea of what it might cost to build one (between $25 and $50K US) Arnulfo was on fire. He was so excited he's already made a list of the features he wants, and how it might be situated. Now he just needs to purchase the land and the work will begin.



An even smaller octagonal house

Larger two bedroom home in the trio of houses