We've moved into our Mexican casa at last! Actually living here is wonderful, yet I can tell we will have to acclimate to living in a different climate and a different culture. In this post, I'll show you our new home and discuss some of the differences between this home and the kind of homes we're used to.
First of all, Mexican houses are constructed entirely differently. They use very little wood, except for trim, because of termites. The houses are constructed of brick and concrete, and many interior surfaces are ceramic tile. I am so used to worrying about water damage, ice dams, etc, that I like the idea of everything made out of tile so if the roof leaks, no big problems. Our house has dark blue tile throughout, including on the two patios. The kitchen and bathrooms have old handmade tiles on the wall surfaces. In this area of Mexico they build brick "Boveda" ceilings which are arched for stability. Overall the houses have a different look, and are easy easy to keep clean. The floors are obviously hard and less "giving" than wood floors. But no vacuuming, just sweep and damp mop.
Most houses here are made to accommodate outdoor living. We have the two patios, but many homes have entire open garden spaces within the walls of the home. Restaurants are the same way. That is a very different and appealing concept to us Mainers who must have a clear differentiation between inside and outside! There are few bugs now, but in the rainy season, I am told, we will get mosquitoes until the dry season returns in October. No black flies, but swarms of "bobos" At least they don't bite. I haven't seen any scorpions yet.
One reason we didn't bring any furniture with us is (besides the cost of moving it) that the furniture here is different. Because of the dry climate, our New England furniture's wood joints would dry up and come loose. Plus, it would look out of place in Mexican houses. The two types of furniture I see in most Mexican homes are rough carved rustic wooden tables and chairs (like the colorful ones they have at Margarita's in Lewiston), and leather Equipal furniture, native to this area of Mexico, made from wood, leather, and cactus fibers. It's comfortable, but, as you can see, it looks totally different from any other furniture. Mexican beds are hard; they don't use box springs. We got a thick matress pad to bring with us, and it's not bad.
Mexican plumbing is not like the US. HaHa. First of all, you can't drink the tap water, not because the water is polluted, but because the way it's transported and stored, often on tanks on the roofs of the houses, it can develop bacteria. Our house has a ultraviolet purification system on it (which can be purchased for about $800 USD), which make all the water in our house safe for drinking. We have bottled water to use during power failures, but we drink the tap water and it tastes good. Mexican homes have little gas hot water heaters which produce limited hot water. The pressure is often low, but it's great in our house. The water doesn't get scalding hot, but hot enough. Now here's the delicate part: Mexican toilets generally don't do well with toilet paper because the pipes have lots of right angle elbows. TP clogs up the system. So in most Mexican homes (ours included) used TP is folded neatly and put in a special covered trash receptacle and emptied every few days. It does not smell and is easy, once you get used ot the idea. Really!!!
Because the climate is so temperate, the houses in this area of Mexico have no central heating system. We have small fireplaces in the living room and bedroom which can provide heat during the colder winter nights with temps in the 40's. Because the houses are made of concrete and brick, they have little insulation from the cold, and temps in the 40's can seem quite cold. So we need heavy blankets for the middle of winter. During the day, the temps rise to the 70's though. Although it would be nice during this time of year, there is generally no AC. We have four ceiling fans, and if we close the curtains and keep the fans on, it's not too bad in the hot part of the day.
Electricity here is reasonable, but the cost per kwh rises as you use more. So if you cross a threshold of electricity use, your rate goes up for all the electricity you use. By not having a dishwasher or dryer we hope our bills are not too high. We also lose power or partial power frequently. People here just deal. I think that's why everyone has gas stoves. This morning our ceiling fan slowed way down. We thought, "Oh, no. It's broken." But it was just a brownout. The electricity waxes and wanes a bit. We need to have voltage regulators on our electronic gear to prevent damage. After about an hour, the fan was working fine again. When I mentioned it to some UU friends at church this morning, they said it's a fairly common occurrence.
So....living here has its challenges as well as its rewards. Pixie is feeling better already. We are spending lots of great time together. We have our Vonage phone hooked up, and it works great, so you can call us at our old Auburn number 783-3900. I will try to think of interesting things to write about Mexico and post to this blog every week or two.