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January 21 - February 1, 2013

This Habitat for Humanity Mexico project site was a small Town called Las Varas which is located in the state of Nayarit, about 100km north of Puerto Vallarta.

The Team was made up of fourteen Canadians, ten from the Edmonton area, three from Calgary and one from Montreal. For most of us this was not our first Habitat Build and a number of us had been on previous builds together. Click on the photo to get a better look at us and click on TEAM to see us in action.

We worked on two houses, starting with excavating for the foundations, laying in the foundations (rock & brick) and building walls out of brick. Neither house was completed during our two week build as each needed additional height to the walls, a roof and flooring work etc. Habitat Mexico and the owner families will continue the work until completion. To view photos of each house click on HOUSE1 and HOUSE2.

Mexico Housing facts (as at 2010) from Habitat for Humanity, Mexico:

  • The Mexican government calculates that 20.3% of the population lives in extreme poverty and 51.7% live in moderate poverty.
  • In Mexico 4.8 million houses are required to meet the housing deficit, and 700,000 new homes are required annually to meet the demand arising from the formation of families.
  • There are 24.1 million houses in Mexico of which 35.8% do not have adequate roofing, 21.7% do not have adequate walls and 13.3% do not have adequate floors.
  • 93.4% of the population has a toilet, but not necessarily a flushing toilet. The rest have no toilet at all.
While working on the houses in Las Varas we stayed in Chacala at the Hotel Las Brisas.
Chacala is a small beach-town on the Pacific coast of Mexico in the State of Nayarit. It is about 10 kilometers from Las Varas. The local population is only a few hundred full time residents, but closer to a 1000 during vacation periods. Hotel Las Brisas is small (11 rooms) and on the “rustic” side, but it is family owned and operated and the service was always very good, the beer was always cold and the food at their restaurant was great.

On the weekend between the building work we visited an indigenous Wixárika Huichol village at Zapote Picachos located near the municipality of Tepic. The village is on the reservoir of the Aguamilpa Dam on the Rio Grande de Santiago accessible only by boat. The Wixárika Huichol, who use to live by the river, were displaced in the mid 1990’s when the dam was build and Zapote Picachos is their second relocation because the first area they were moved to was not suitable because of floods in the rainy season. On this excursion we were accompanied by a group of three Americans and a local optometrist who were providing reading glasses to the village people. One of our team, Serge, also contributed a large supply of reading glasses for their use. Click on VILLAGE to view the photos of our visit to Zapote Picachos and to learn more about the village and people go to Kaw Mana Kau.  

As with all Habitat builds the families are expected to contribute both monetary and physical help toward building their home. In Mexico the family must also provide the land. Both the families involved in this build had owned their land for many years but had been unable to afford to build the house. Each family was actively involved in the building and at the same time having to keep involved with their regular livelihood and schooling. We had one afternoon when the families and Habitat provided a meal and an introduction to some local cultural activities along with a birthday celebration for one of our team members. On the final day they provided an afternoon meal and there was an exchange of gifts and lots of speeches etc. Click on FAMILIES to see photos.

The build period was two weeks and during that time we poked around Las Varas a bit, did a day trip to an indigenous Huichol village, Zapote Picachos which is near Tepic and attended a local festival at Capomo, a town not far from Las Varas. Click on OTHER for photos.

Immediately following the build we took a half hour drive south and stopped at Rincon de Guayabitos, Jaltemba Bay, Nayarit, Mexico. Guayabitos is a resort town that is much larger than Chacala but much smaller than Puerto Vallarta. We stayed at Estancia San Carlos which was an OK hotel. There is lots of shopping and a couple of good restaurants in Guayabitos and the prices are a lot less than Puerto Vallarta. Check out R&R.

After Guayabitos I spent a couple of nights in Puerto Vallarta. I stayed at Hacienda Alemana which was a very nice hotel in the old town area of Puerto Vallarta, close to the Malecon and with lots of good restaurants and shopping.

I have also added some great photos from other members of the Canadian GV Team. They include photos of the houses, the team and the things we did and places we saw. Click on these links to see them:

Charles & Serge
Don & Judy

Our Team Leader Orest stayed on in Mexico for several weeks after the build. He returned to Las Varas on February 15 and March 11 to check on the progress that had been made on the houses and has provided some photos - Post-Build. At the request of a number of his friends that winter in the Guayabitos area, he arranged for them to work at a Habitat for Humanity build in La Peñita de Jaltemba which is immediately north of Guayabitos (40 miles/72 Km North of  Puerto Vallarta). Photos of La Peñita Build

For more information on Habitat for Humanity click on the following links:
Habitat Canada
Habitat Global Village
Habitat Mexico (In Spanish)

And don’t forget our Trip Leader Orest – his webpage is