Becoming Paco Rebar
How I got my nickname
On my first trip to Mexico, Lory and I were driving south toward San Felipe. I was looking out the window and noticed something very strange. There was rebar sticking up from the roofs of several buildings. Rebar is short for reinforcing bars, used to strengthen concrete.
I asked Lory about it and all she said was, “Welcome to Mexico, Frank.” During the entire trip, I kept saying, “Look, another building with rebar sticking out of it!” Again, “Welcome to Mexico, Frank.” Lory was not in “trip leader mode” and it was sort of comical for her, to see me notice how different the buildings in Baja are.
Why Rebar? Some building materials are scarce in Baja, particularly wood. For example, most of Baja is arid and trees are not as plentiful to harvest, so most lumber products would have to be imported. However, materials for making concrete are plentiful but it needs to be reinforced.
Okay, but it doesn’t explain the big question! Why is it sticking out of the roof? I kept asking the same question but didn’t really get an answer. Maybe it was supposed to be some sort of lightning rod for electrical storms? Perhaps, but on so many roofs in a place that rarely gets heavy rains or extreme thunderstorms?
Back to how I got my name. In the beginning of this blog, you see my name is Paco. Sometimes while traveling internationally, we like to use nicknames or aliases. Paco is the shortened version of Francisco and so is Pancho. At first, I was called Pancho but I didn’t want someone to start calling me Pancho Villa so we compromised on Paco.
Paco finally gets his big question answered about the rebar. One day, we were visiting our friend, Maria, who owned a hostel in El Sauzal, just north of Ensenada. I asked Maria why so many buildings had rebar sticking out of the top. The answer was simple. She said the buildings were not finished being built. She said, “Look at my roof. I can put a second floor on, so technically, it’s not completed and the tax rate is much lower because it’s still in the construction process.” A-hah! Now I know and so you do too!
Perhaps you’ll find your Baja name on one of your Baja adventures. You might wake up each morning in Baja and notice the awesome sunrises, serene beaches or the giant cardons and boojum trees. Who knows, someone might start calling you Boojum after your first time in Baja.
You can have fun with your Baja name like I do. When I’m cooking, I might ask someone if they want a Paco taco, or someone might say to me, “do you want a taco, Paco? It’s all fun.”
Why the Paco Rebar name? Because of my quest to find out why all the rebar was sticking out of the roofs of so many buildings. After our Baja trip, Lory said to me, “Frank, you will forever be known as Paco Rebar in Mexico.”
To this day, Lory is often heard saying, “Welcome to Mexico!” Hopefully, you’ll hear her say it to you as well!