Monday, May 25, 2009

Project San Pedro Nohpat: Terreno

I felt the only way to cover this "story" would be in three separate parts. Welcome to Part One.

This is the raw land before we did anything, well, other than have weeds whacked down.

Pablo has a sizable piece of property, 10 sq. meters by 30 sq. meters, out on the outskirts of town. We wanted to build something on it. The area is being developed slowly, but the city continues to spread its wings outward. After I completed my own house renovations Iwas looking to invest what (little) money I had left. I wanted to buy some financial security. I was working with an international consultant from my US bank, but when I was getting serious about studying the information, options, etc., I never received the packet of info the guy was supposed to send me. I called him and he had disappeared from the employee roster. Omen.

In my research, I came across what I thought was excellent advice, considering the US economy was showing signs of trouble last year. I read "Do not invest in anything you can't touch or step on." That sounded like good advice. So when Pablo suggested we build bodegas on the property, I thought, "Why not?" It's land improvement. We can't go wrong, Even if our little development is premature for the slow growth in the area, there is a shortage of storage space here, and mini bodegas just off the highway just might come in handy.

I have never had money to invest before, so I had cold feet about the mutual funds. Oh, Jim and I had mutual funds once, thanks to the generosity of my brothers when my Mom and Dad died. But we didn't understand what mutual funds were at first, so when my brothers suggested specific funds, we went for them without much additional research. I will say that we had incredible luck with that investment. The funds increased in value considerably. When Jim and I decided to buy our first house, we cashed them in and had enough for a down payment on our piece of the rock in Kona. Here's the lucky part: the day after we closed our mutual funds, the stock market had its first major crash of the new milennium.

The current project is located in San Pedro Nohpat, “a la salida de Cancún” (at the exit to Cancún.) Most locals know where that is with that simple information. On the periférico (the highway that circles the outskirts of Mérida) there is a bridge and glorieta offering the motorist many options. One of those is Cancún. A few kilometers on the highway toward Cancún or Valladolid, between the Hotel Real de Palmas and the Pemex Gasolinera, there is a white road (as of now, unpaved) turning to the right. One and a half blocks back is our construction site, which we lovingly call the “terreno”. It is visible from afar since it is the only completed construction, as well as having the only buildings painted white. Or painted at all.

Looking out to the right from the property, there are some houses constructed, and a few neighbors living in the area. Yes, they are humble abodes.

There are houses built, half of which are occupied. A block away is a dirt bike race track, and of course a beer store. A block back to the highway and the Pemex station, there's a 7-11, and a few cocinas económicas (cheap eats) within walking distance. The cross country truckers park their rigs at Pemex and stay in one of the hotels, or sleep in their cabs. We are also hoping some want to sleep in a room nearby.

Looking straight out from the terreno, the connecting road currently leads to nowhere. Paving is in the plans for this year. Water was piped in to the area two months ago. Yes, we have water and electricity.

The actual colonia of San Pedro Nohpat is a small community, and only a few blocks walk or tricycle ride to the outskirts, or "polígamo". To me the area still a bit of the wild wild west, but it is safer than I imagine our old west was! You can see a factory in the distance, and a slew of partially constructed condos and houses. Hard times have hit México. With no tourism many jobs are affected. With no real estate market and little construction, those jobs are also cut. Mexico is used to living with hard times, but this year has been particularly harsh.

Looking left from the gate, toward the factory and location of the condo developments. You can't see the condos in this shot.

I was somewhat hesitant about the project. I am not used to being in areas like this, let alone have visions of their futures. I don't really have this kind of imagination. What I see is what I see. Luckily Pablo did have a great vision. And after several months of "it will be finished next Thursday", we finally have a finished site. We have our own little community.

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