Thursday, January 31, 2008

The landscape of Mexico is visually stunning. There is a mixture of old and new in the architecture that is fascinating. However, it is becoming more homogenous with the increased usage of American influenced architectural design elements. These elements that are added to the new homes being contructed with remittances from migrant workers are designed to bring pleasure to the eye, but are hardly practical. At times, for example, there are driveways built simply for the illusion of having a driveway. It is not functional but it is there. There is also an increase in the idea of personal landscaping. THe upkeep of one's yard so that it is presentable or comparable to your neighbor's yard. There is pride in having a perfectly trimmed bush or a blooming flower garden, but in Mexico most homes have been built behind walls so these added elements for curb appeal become redundant.
While travelling in Mexico I became accustomed to seeing skeletons of homes being constructed everywhere I looked. I wondered who was building them and why they looked as if they were taking so long to be completed. I soon discovered that these homes were the homes of migrant workers away in the U.S. They took so long to construct because whenever they could they would send money back for pieces of the construction to be complete at a time, the did. The idea of having money to build a house is one reason why so many workers travel north looking for work. In the Mexican economy there is no room for loans or borrowing. if you are not rich or inherit a home chances of you building one are very slim. Many of the people I spoke to wanted to work in the U.S. specifically to save money for a home for their family.
While in the pueblas, one can easily discern which families are receiving remittances and which are not. It becomes obvious when you look at the homes. Inevitably, a newer home is from the money of a migrant worker. Also the construction of alot of the homes inside the pueblas begins with the addition of another story. This story is built directly on top of the older ground story. The materials used, the architectual style and design elements are all different from the previous, indigenous design. There is no attempt to create cohesiveness, only to make it bigger and therefore, better.