New Event “Palapa” for Project Mayan Encounter

[August 2013]  A year after finishing my house construction in the jungle, my 5-Star Mayan team helped me adding a 2nd floor on top of my house. My dream was to create a space for retreats and workshops with a focus on healing, well-being and education. The first booked event was a Reiki Retreat, co-created with my very dear, long-time friend from Germany.  More news on that separately. I also wanted to bring in Mayan botanists and healers for workshops, as well as experts for nutritional counseling and cooking workshops for diabetic and overweight locals. In the end it became a Bed & Breakfast Inn, to fulfill another of my dreams.

Here is a recap of the construction progress of the upstairs palapa:

The dust had just settled after the construction crew took off in August, and I had about 2 days to “venusify” my “martian”  battlefield, until the next wave hit: a tropical storm that brought water masses of the amount that came down with hurricane Wilma in 2006 – just without the wind. And thank God there was no wind, because I would have been washed down thoroughly. It rained through the screen doors very bad, and the water advanced well into the ground level living area. I wanted it all nice and open for air flow, and was not prepared with an awning or shutters. Good lesson!

I scanned my surroundings for quick solutions, and was able to improvise with sticks, ropes, plastic tarps and other props.  When the rain stopped for a moment, I risked a quick run to Puerto Morelos to buy better material. The most pressing tasks were to fix the roof of the brand new storage hut, drill drainage holes in the new upstairs palapa, paint the house from the outside with a waterproof product to prevent mold, and also fumigate my brand-new palapa to protect the wood. A thick layer of fungus had already covered everything that was of wood or straw, and there were water puddles on the floor downstairs. The upstairs floor was about 1.5 inch under water and needed to be swept daily – sometimes several times. Especially the downstairs walls to the east and south, from where the rain came, had already very bad water stains and it took several days for them to dry so that I could start painting. This is the subtropical rain forest!  Raining season is officially from June-ish to November-ish, and humidity ranges around 90% then. Mirrors and glass fog up from evaporating steam, and the floor sweats a little with each temperature change, just like a bottle of cold something that you take out of the refrigerator and put on the table at room temperature.  Drops will run down the bottle, and so you find little sweat drops on the floor for the duration of temperature acclimation.  Unless you use an air conditioner or dehumidifier.  But I hadn’t gotten there yet.

To test my skills in crisis management, I was sent on a hunt for one special accessory for the fumigator.  Then I was forced to deal with a tall, 10-12 inch thick tree that was starting to come down because it got eaten by termites from the bottom up.  It leaned on a thinner tree with a bird nest and young ones just hatched. It squeaked from time to time and made me extremely nervous. I didn’t want to risk the birds’ lives, but also not have that heavy tree crash on my well and water pump – my only drinking water source. 

Per the weather forecast I had just a few more dry days to work off my to-do list before the next downpour of rain. Clouds of mosquitos filled the air.  The good news: I’m off the hook with watering the plants!  

Luckily, we always have these nice stretches of sunny days during the raining season to enjoy the beach – and in my case now – continue working on the house so that the upstairs palapa is ready to host retreats and workshops soon, and the house can be rented to travelers.

I was glad that I got my repair list worked off substantially just before the next shower forced me to call it a work day. My bones appreciated the break. 

In retrospect I can say that my event palapa saw better days and many awesome events ever after the record rains in 2013.  And it is still standing!

Check out photos of the progress on Project Mayan Encounter’s Facebook page.  

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