Don't be a magician,
Typical Mayan home. All adobe wall. Often the fence is part of the house
A few homes did have wooden floors. Twenty percent of Mayan houses still have the original earthen or limestone floors but they are slowly being replaced by, supposedly more sanitary, concrete through government projects. At times, these homes included an open-side palapa (palm covered patio) extending at the back.
In this area, many Airbnb listings show you beds and hammocks as sleeping arrangements
Today, many of these homes have a second door directly across the first one for ventilation and especially if there is an attached cooking palapa. Some newer versions have windows but these additions made the newer Maya houses less cool in the summer. With the advent of electricity fans are used to cool off.
No adobe covering the wood poles in this case.
Using metal at roof peak.
|Wall 1/2 rocks (bottom) 1/2 wood poles (top)|
Ever so often, members of the family walk, take their bicicleta (bicycle) or tricicleta (three-wheel cart) out to a nearby forest to collect wood for cooking. As we drive through the Yucatán, we see well-ordered bundles of wood or kindling ready for collection on the side of the road, piled on people’s shoulders walking by, strapped to the back of bicycles or stacked in the front of tricycles.
Adding the last of the palm leaves before 'weaving' the peak
Sending palm leaves up to the rafters, ready to be woven
|Trimming excess roofing over doorway|
|With attached open side palapa at back|
Turkey babies play time. I can’t ever figure out how these kids stay so clean…
The roofs were thatched with leaves or tree bark but mostly of intricately woven palm fronds (huano) one foot thick or more, lasting about 20 years. Laid on a wooden frame preferably of the very durable zapote wood, its design was relatively steep to permit swift water runoff. As the Mayans had no nails, structures of the home were tied together using tropical vines or sisal rope (henequén plant).
Some homes were raised off the ground on poles while others were built on low rock platforms (high platforms used only for religious or government buildings) all depending upon the general wetness of the location during the rainy season. All in all, they were constructed of organic, sustainable, and easily available materials. Some homes were painted with lime to whiten them. Today, it seems the only touch of bright color comes from the front door, we have seen very colorful examples during our travels.
Family lots were made of
the home, a well (or cenote),
latrine, chicken coop, garden and a
laundry room. We have also seen many
with goat or sheep areas. Each adult had
a separate home. Families lived in clusters so that they shared a kitchen, garden
and other areas. Sons lived near their
father’s home. In each family, only sons could inherit, so it was important
to have a son, or the family compound could one day be lost to a stranger. If someone committed a crime, families had to
pay for it, sometimes losing their homes in the process, a very strong incentive
to keep everyone in line. Many different
generations of the same family lived in the compound, each in their own rooms
or building, connected by a series of courtyards and patios.
homes were built in randomly distributed clusters within the village, rather
than the strict grid patterns later introduced by the Spanish. The families had
household gods, often with an altar inside the house.
A large percentage of the Mayas are
poor. They usually are only able to find non-skilled jobs in which they are
paid very low wages. Children help in
domestic chores and many of them have an hour or more of workload before
starting school in the morning.
We stayed in a
‘replica’ of a Maya home for about 10 days when we first arrived in Campeche
and found it very comfortable. It is
however, like living very close to nature, maybe too close for some people. We encountered scorpions, centipedes, and
insects even though the Maya home we stayed at had just been fumigated against
critters. I hate to think what it
would’ve been like if it hadn’t. We are
not too squeamish about such things but it is not for everyone. I suspect, and may or may not be correct,
that one of the reasons Mayas used hammocks to sleep in may have had to do with
staying off the floor and away from rats and snakes.
hammocks did not originate in Mexico, Yucatecans have been weaving them for
over 700 years. It is believed they came
from the Caribbean’s Arawak Indians.
|Classic Mayan Naj design. Part of adobe off to show wood stakes underneath|
Family 'compound' and courtyard
Hammock, altar, sewing machine
Along the fence line
Reading further on the subject confirmed that thought. Snakes search warmth at night, someone sleeping on the floor is a perfect target. Even though the snakes don’t mean any harm, a sudden movement from the sleeper may lead to being bit. Being above ground in a hammock lessens the risk of such encounter. The Mayas call their hammocks ‘The Gift of the Gods’ or ‘The Cradle of the Gods’.
Making a hammock. It takes about two miles of strings to make one...
It takes 2 days to make one and they get paid $2.00 US for these 2 days of work!
A few more benefits to hammocks: no bed bugs, no mites, no sweaty mattress, and deeper sleep, leading to better concentration. The swinging effects of the hammock create a synchronization with the brain waves that is likened to what we experienced in the womb, leading to better sleep. Some research indicates that reading becomes more pleasant because of increased concentration, a benefit to studying. Miniature replicas of hammocks made of gold were found and are now displayed in museums.
The one drawback? Hammocks are more of a solo adventure…
|Woman wearing a spotless huipil, feeding birds|
Source: Violeta H. Cantarell
Adobe falling off where it gets wet. Roof peak covered with tar paper.