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Homes in Oaxaca, Mexico: "Why Are So Many Houses Unfinished?"



I’m asked the question at least once a month: Why are there so many houses in Oaxaca started and apparently not finished? It’s one of the most remarkable sights in this southern Mexico colonial city, as well as in the towns on its outskirts and further beyond. The phenomenon is clearly visible while traversing connecting highways throughout the central valleys.

The brickwork on homes is completed, but there are no panes on the windows, and it otherwise appears obvious that no one is living in these cash cows, edifices which have obviously had a considerable amount invested in them. And even if the homes are finished, and inhabited, the rebar still extends skyward from the roofs. Why is it left there, an eyesore by western standards?

It is a fallacy that leaving the reinforced steel bars intact on the top of your roof signifies that your home is not finished and thus you do not have to pay realty taxes. In fact, at least in the city of Oaxaca and suburbs, in the early 2000s tax reform began to be implemented, whereby you became assessed based on both your land, and your livable space, at different rates. Curiously any structure with a concrete roof was considered livable space, and thus taxed at the higher rate. Even a carport used only for vehicles. You see, many Oaxacans tile their carports and use them more for living and entertaining, than for parking vehicles, and some residents don’t even have cars or trucks. Many residents get around the regulation by constructing a ceiling of river reed known as carrizo, thereby keeping their vehicles shaded and not having to pay the increased rate. In our case, our concrete roof is used only for our vehicles, so we had to negotiate the issue with the tax department.

Because many homeowners are of modest means, you are given the option of having a government authorized architect come to your home to do the measurements with a view to then calculating the increase, or, defer the process. If selecting the latter, the new rate only becomes effective upon your death, or sale of the home, with penalties, interest and back taxes passed on to your heirs or purchasers. Let the negotiations begin! We elected to take the bull by the horns, have the reassessment done, and immediately began paying about ten times more than we had previously been paying, still a bargain relative to what we were paying as homeowners in Toronto, even without the bonus of now being taxed at the seniors’ rate (over 60), that is, 50% of the regular rate of taxation for a principal residence. At the end of the day our daughter will inherit will a bit less to tax the transition.

Then why the rebar? Upon their demise and earlier, most Oaxacans have little to offer their children other than their homes, or better put where their existing homes are situate. Thus, there is always in contemplation building a second or a third level onto a home, when funds become available at a snail’s pace, and when the time it right. If you cut off the extending rebar upon completion of your initial construction, and later decide to build another level, it’s more costly; rather than simply tie into the old rebar, you have to break concrete to access the bare rebar used in earlier construction. There is a different sense of aesthetics, or, more likely, a priority placed upon economics. Hence it is prudent to leave the rebar.

Returning to all those partially finished homes, it all relates back to the cost of borrowing in Mexico, and the fact that Oaxaca is one of the poorest states in the country with most residents lacking savings. Only the non-astute or the very wealthy have mortgages (for that matter, buy anything on credit). I’ve seen interest rates as low as 9% and as high as 65%, for secured loans. Regarding the latter, a couple of years ago I was contemplating buying a scooter for our favourite god-daughter. Buying on credit would have cost us 65% per annum.

So, the norm is to buy when you have cash on hand. This means if you want to build on a piece of land, you buy 1,000 bricks, then another thousand, then block, then rebar, and then cement. You hire your bricklayers, and your plumber who roughs in the below-ground installations. You build, then save, then build more. You can leave your “obra negra” as it’s termed, indefinitely, without concern for theft because there is nothing to steal.

You can then have your electrician break the interior concrete, brick and block, to install the wire and connections for switches and the like. Once those installations and the rest of the home have been covered with concrete, again your future abode is secure from vandalism and theft (yes acknowledging that copper can still be accessed, yet it’s rather difficult with cement covering it). That’s your “obra gris.” It, as well, can then be left, unattended, indefinitely.

The foregoing are the two most common completed stages of home construction one encounters driving the roads and highways around the city of Oaxaca, its central valleys and beyond. It all makes economic sense while at the same time affords the homeowner-in-progress a reasonable degree of security. While delaying home completion, it avoids being saddled with prohibitive rates of mortgage interest.

Family members often provide some of the labour involved in advancing with these two stages of construction. However, home completion often requires more specialized trades, and along with that much more significant financial outlay. Thus, we find many homes at the “obra gris” stage, remaining there for years if not a decade or longer.

The final construction phase involves finishes such as more detailed and finer tile work, painting, door and window frames and glasswork, electrical fixtures and plumbing installations, and so on. Especially regarding the latter, one generally does not leave a partially completed home unattended at this state of construction, and so most often a night watchman or “velador” will be hired to ensure security. Only then is the family ready to move in, and the home from all outward appearances will appear completed – with rebar nevertheless extended skyward.

So just remember, an unfinished home is likely a sign of a hard-working family struggling to get it all together, for itself and its individual members, without yielding to the pressure to borrow at an often exorbitant rate of interest.

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Factors to Consider When Setting Up an Enterprise




Setting up an efficient enterprise does not come by chance. It involves a lot of input or factors. Proper consideration and planning of these factors can help one to be able to set up a very industrious enterprise. Some of the factors that merit serious consideration are discussed below.

1. Capital: This refers to the funds or money available for the establishment of the enterprise. The entrepreneur should have a start-up capital as well as working capital to help the enterprise to stand on its feet. The start-up capital is the capital that is used for the purchase of tools, equipment, materials and machinery to start the business operation.

On the other hand, the working capital is the capital used in the day-to-day running of the business. It caters for the salary of workers, transportation costs, and purchase of new materials for productions, operation costs, maintenance of machinery and all the other things that ensures the smooth flow of business activities. The entrepreneur should have a sound financial bedrock to enable him set up and run the enterprise.

2. Room or Space for Workshop: The entrepreneur should also search for an appropriate room or space for the workshop. The space should be large enough to accommodate all the equipment, tools and machinery as well as the entire work force. It should also allow free movement from one area of the workshop to the other.

Moreover, the room should be well ventilated and well lit to make the execution of business activities very smooth. The space should be located at a good spot where tools, materials and machinery can be well stored without any hazards internally or externally.

3. Skilled Labour: The working force or labour of the enterprise refers to the people who are employed to work in the enterprise. The appointment of these people should be strictly based on their technical expertise or skill that can be utilized for the success of the enterprise.

The entrepreneur should seriously consider this factor otherwise he will end up paying people who do not in any way contribute to the generation of funds for the enterprise. Qualified personnel should be employed and they must possess excellent traits that can positively affect the business activity. Never should persons employed to work in the enterprise be based on sympathy or family grounds. Doing this would eventually collapse the business enterprise.

4. Availability of raw materials: The entrepreneur should ensure that he has a sustained supplier of the raw materials for his enterprise. He should have a large stock of these raw materials that can sustain him for a fairly long period of time. This would not cause the business activity to cease or halt when the raw materials are very scarce. He must have reliable suppliers of his raw materials. If possible he can even initiate the production of his own raw materials.

5. Transport and Communication: The entrepreneur should consider the means of conveying his products from the enterprise to consumers and shops. The roads from and to the workshop should be well constructed or accessible to ensure easy transportation of products. Means of conveyance of products such as vehicles can be made available to aid in transportation.

Communication lines must be readily accessible to prospective clients who might want to call to propose business transactions. Telephones must be installed in the enterprise as well as in all its departments. This would ensure the smooth flow of information, enhancing productivity.

6. Nearness to market or customers: The location of the enterprise should be near to prospective buyers or customers. It should be closer to the market. This would promote and maximize the sale of the products.

7. Selecting a Business name: The entrepreneur should select an appropriate business name for the enterprise. It should be attractive, easy to remember and must have a direct bearing or full description of what the enterprise produces. The business name should be unique and original.

8. Registration requirements: The one who desires to set up an enterprise should endeavor to meet all the registration requirements. For example, he has to register the business at the Business Registry Department. He has to see to it that the enterprise together with all its resources is insured.

He must also pay all his taxes and have the name of his business in all the legal documents and books of the country. This would spare him of any future business close down.

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What to Expect From Therapy




If you are entering therapy for the first time you may be feeling a little anxious. After all, you don’t really know what to expect. You may have been in therapy before, but dropped out early, because you didn’t know what to expect. Many people enter therapy hoping to find quick and easy solutions to their difficulties.

That expectation is usually too high. So, what can you expect from therapy?

You can expect to feel a little awkward at first. It takes time to establish a trusting relationship with a therapist. After a session or two you should be feeling more comfortable.

Be prepared to answer quite a few questions. Remember the therapist must gather information to fully understand you and your situation. One question you will hear a lot is, “And how do you feel about that?” So, be prepared to talk about your feelings.

Don’t be surprised if you are asked to complete homework assignments or read books. Therapy is less effective if you only concentrate on your issues and concerns once a week for an hour. Doing the specific activities assigned by the therapist speeds up the time it takes to work out your problems.

Therapy can be very painful. Expect to be emotional in session. It is normal to be tearful and/or angry. You will be talking about situations and people that have hurt you. You may need to talk about your past. You might be discussing things that you are ashamed of. This is an emotionally charged process.

Therapy is hard work. It requires time and patience. You might be tempted to quit right before any real change or breakthroughs happen. We are all naturally resistant to change.

Others may resist your changes and growth as well. Don’t be discouraged by this, they need time to adjust. As you become more healthy and balanced you too may need time to adjust. This may be uncomfortable at first as it can feel very unfamiliar.

If you stick to your commitment to therapy it will change your life. Be prepared to feel some loss. It is a normal part of change.

Therapy is a journey. Expect it to be like any other journey with roads that go up, down, and twist. There will be some smooth sailing and some rough seas. When you work hard and stick to the course, therapy can get you to your destination.

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Divine Soul Purpose Signal




Divine Signals and Messages

Our soul is different from spirit, and often confused. We are given divine signals and messages. Our spirit is the connection to our higher source, where answers will be heard with actions to be taken. Our soul is the expression of how we will live in this world, because we are a body.

Living with the soul is a natural way of living in the world. Your soul is being expressed through your everyday experiences. So today you can start to become the person you are most seeking, making you life more fulfilling, living with soul will help you to become more alive and purposeful.

When the search for spiritual connection and it works well, it brings great relief. You want this experience to last forever. All it takes it a few minutes a day to remember. Your soul will show up more as it becomes better connected to higher source.

Connect to your Higher Source

Give yourself a few minutes and try this exercise to connect to your higher source for answers of your soul purpose

I recognise there is one power and presence in the universe. God the good, omnipotent. I am one with this power and presence of God. Therefore, I claim my perfect divine signal and divine message to come to me now with divine order and timing.

I call upon the Holy Father to give me a divine signal and message. Release all seeming blockages that have prevented me from receiving my perfect divine signal and message now. Release and let go f all ideas that I am separate from God or that God is out of reach. In doing so, I accept and welcome with open arms my perfect divine contact with God now. Thank you, God, and SO IT IS.

Once you make contact with your higher source take a few deep breaths

I now let go of the outer environment and go deeper to the physical level

Take three deep breaths

I now relax and become aware of my conscious mind

Take three deep breaths

I now relax to the level of my subconscious mind

Take three deep breaths

Connect with your higher source

Ask for the signal

Take three deep breaths

I call upon Holy Wisdom to give me your divine signal now. Feed it stronger feed it stronger feed it stronger

Take a few deep breaths

Let go and Let God

Recognise and verify my signal

Once recognised a clear signal than say aloud:

Holy Wisdom is the signal that I have identified as being my signal? Then please feed it stronger to me now?

Take three deep breaths

Ask for a message and say aloud

“Holy Wisdom please tell me (ask the questions you are most seeking answers to) now”

IT is critical to ASK for direction of your soul purpose.

  • Why am I holding back?
  • What is it that I need to do?
  • When do you show up in my life?
  • Is there a message that I need to understand?
  • When will I live my truth?
  • It there anything else you would like to say?
  • What would you like for me to do?
  • How will this look like in my life?
  • Is there anything else you would like to say?

Let go and let be

Take another deep breath

Do nothing and less than nothing. Do not try to get a message have a neutral attitude and give up completely.

Give Thanks and Gratitude

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