Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I was flipping through channels earlier this evening for a movie and saw "2012" starring John Cusack. The movie was just beginning so I watched for a few minutes. As soon as the roads in his city starting caving in swallowing cars, homes, and buildings as he speeds through the chaos to save his family, I decided that I was not up to watching yet another end-of-the-world movie.  Since I had my laptop in ...well, my lap, I googled 12-21-2012. There are enough sites to keep one occupied for weeks, including opinions from actors, sports figures, and rap artists, not to mention all sorts of New Age gurus.  Not interested!  However, I did find this article.

Carlos Barrios, who was trained as an Ajq'ij in the Maya tradition, has this to share in regards to 2012:

"Our planet can be renewed or ravaged. Now is the time to awaken and take action... The prophesized changes are going to happen, but our attitude and actions determine how harsh or mild they are.

"This is a crucially important moment for humanity and for earth. Each person is important. If you have incarnated into this era, you have spiritual work to do balancing the planet...The greatest wisdom is in simplicity. Love, respect, tolerance, sharing, gratitude, forgiveness. It's not complex or elaborate. The real knowledge is free. It's encoded in your DNA. All you need is within you. Great teachers have said that from the beginning. Find your heart, and you will find your way."

I like this. Here's the link to the entire article. It explains what the Mayan elders and scholars think about the ending of the Maya calendar on December 21, 2012. Simplicity, love, respect, tolerance, sharing, gratitude, and forgiveness - much of what I have been working on for the past three years. It's really neat that finding our hearts is leading Alan and me to the "heart" of Maya culture.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Natural Air (conditioning)

The bedrooms in Las Lechuzas have no windows to allow for air flow, so these  glass enclosed alcoves were included to allow hot air to escape through screened vents at the roof top, and when the evening breezes begin, the cool air flows inside and cools the room.

The stone walls add a nice backdrop for the plantings which seem to thrive in this protected environment.

There are two openings in the garage which serve as sky lights and air-flow vents. Hot air rises and flows out of the garage. Cooler air flows downward and through the screened openings in the doors into the front sala.  

...and when it is still too hot, a plunge in the pool is a surefire way to cool down. (the hearty palms survived the onslaught of demolition and  construction and are incorporated elsewhere in the landscape).
The pool surface is white cement, yet the water appears very blue.   I'm thinking  there are large quantities of copper sulfate in the water coming from the deep well.

Friday, March 25, 2011

FM3 is not to be...just yet

On the second day of my visit I had an appointment with Adriana at Yucatan Expatriate Services. Their website offers an amazing list of services to assist foreigners in relocating to Mexico.  The plan was to begin my application for an FM3 visa which allows one to stay in Mexico beyond the period of the simple tourist visa and can be renewed annually.  What I did not know is that you must remain in the country for the entire process, which is three weeks give or take a day or two. Since I would be here for only a week this visit, the FM3 would have to wait.  I am still working part-time, so arranging a three week vacation during the summer months will be a little dicey.  Adrianna told me that many of the Mexican Consulates in the United States no longer process visas ( visae?), but the Consulate in Washington still lists this service on their website, so I just sent an e-mail to see if that is a possibility. Other people have told me that they were able to obtain their FM3 in the states. D.C. is a 3 & 1/2 hour drive from Norfolk - inconvenient but not out of the question.  The website states that I will need a valid passport, two front-facing passport photos, a police report (how do I get that?), and proof that I have a monthly income of $1000.00 US.

Adriana is quite knowledgeable about all things expat and gave me lots of good (free) advice.  I'm certain we will utilize their services (very reasonably priced) in the future. If anyone is considering a move to Merida or anywhere in Mexico, check out their website.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Las lechuzas

I went outside last night to take a few photos of the pool.  When the camera flashed I heard a screech, but did not think much about it. Then when I took the next photo, the same screech and movement above. Then another flash, a screech and when I looked up, there they were. Two owls that appeared almost white in the dark blue sky and moonlight flew from out of the tree high above the back wall for an instant and then landed on top of the 100 year old water tower.  They were warning me to stop with the bright flashes, so I obeyed and set the camera to manual.

We've been told that this is one of only a few tall water towers remaining in Merida. Steve and Yuri placed a spotlight on top of the 16-foot wall to accentuate the texture. It stands right in the center of a large spreading tree and is quite striking at night.

Monday, March 7, 2011

A work in progress...

We are fortunate that the previous owners passed on their album of renovation photos. It is nice to be able to see the amazing transformation that occurred over the course of the restoration.  We found the construction of the kitchen island especially interesting. 

The beginnings of the kitchen island

Rough finish

This is all done by hand with no forms- how do they get it so perfect?

Is he taking a siesta or reading something?

Almost there          

Thanks to Stephen & Yuri for sharing their photos

Friday, March 4, 2011

We did it!!

We bought a house!  Well, we are only a few days away from the actual closing, but I'm sure that anyone who is following this blog would like for us to stop this silly "but there's more to the story" line and just spit it out. OK, we are buying Casa de Las Lechuzas. It's just that the way this all happened seemed to be worthy of a good "story." I have to tell you that we were about to make an offer on another of the homes we viewed, one that came with some very desirable advantages, but at the last minute decided that there was so much right about Las Lechuzas that it had to be the one. With only one day remaining before our flight back to Norfolk we made an offer that was accepted and here we are. There was much we liked about all of the homes we saw, but Las Lechuzas met and exceeded most of the criteria we had placed on our 'want list.' The size is just right for us, but should we ever want to add a master suite upstairs, the roof is prepared to accept an addition.  The home was designed and constructed by Victor Cruz, a young and most talented architect. The more I see his work, the more I appreciate his creativity and his penchant for using curves in places where a straight line is the norm (see kitchen counters, island, and cabinets). He even carries this theme outside with the pool that allows for laps. The owners of the home ( a Louisianan and a Russian) worked closely with Victor to ensure that the needs of two foreigners were met, like built-in closets, storage areas, and laundry room. There is even a studio with half-bath, and an outside shower just steps away, not to mention a small bodega for garden tools, etc. To top it off, a huge garage with built-in concrete storage shelves and a sky light. Perfect for two guys who have parked on the street, sometimes a block or more from our home, for the past twenty-something years.

We are thrilled and extremely grateful that we are in a position to catch this dream and live it.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The house on Calle 47-A

Our first night in Merida I got out the laptop, logged in to the wireless network provided by Casa 64, and checked the real estate site to see if there was anything new on the market. This has been a daily habit for the past year.  Most of the recent new listings had been for homes that needed renovations. We had decided that we did not want to go through a year-long (or longer) project from such a distance, knowing that this would most likely cost us more but avoid the considerable stress of restoration. In other words, we are not willing to pull out what gray hair we have left. As I scrolled through the listings I noticed a new home that had just shown up on the site. There were lots of great pics and I showed them to Alan and we agreed that this was one to add to our list. Noting that the house was located on a short cross street just a few blocks from Casa 64, we decided to go for a look the next afternoon. We easily spotted the house with its freshly painted facade but noticed there was no meter attached. Thought that a little strange that a new home for sale would have no electricity. We walked on past the house and I was quite sure I heard a small dog barking inside. We continued our walk but kept thinking about that house. Late the following afternoon we walked past the house again and as we neared the corner a man walking a small dog strolls past, says hello and continues on. I had a hunch that this was the owner of the house so we stood at the corner and watched as he crossed the street and entered the house. Alan looked slightly horrified as I turned to go back and knock on the door.
To make a long story short, Stephen graciously invited us in and spent an hour showing us every detail of the house (and it did indeed have electricity).  He explained that the meter had been defective so they were on a fixed rate plan until the meter is replaced. We told him that we were working with a realtor and that we would make an appointment to formally see the house the following Thursday. We asked about the name of the house and he told us that the original name was Casa del Muro, but that when their agent Henry Ponce listed it, he changed the name to Casa de Las Lechuzas - home of the owls.