Sunday, August 29, 2010

Casa De Blackshear

One of the first things you will notice about our new home here is the amount of natural light that comes in through windows and skylights. This brand new home seems to have been built for energy efficiency with lots of natural lighting, insulated windows and concrete construction, which helps keep homes cooler & more structurally sound during hurricanes. We only have to turn our lights on in the evenings. Electricity can be expensive if you are not careful. The floors are all tiled as carpet is not used here. Area rugs are used on tile living spaces.
If you cannot afford a washing machine for your clothes, you are provided with an outdoor wash basin (see left) This is placed in an outdoor room off of the porch area. We do have a washer, but the homes are built with cold water spigots only & most appliances here are in spanish. Clothes dryers are expensive here. For a clothes dryer we use plastic racks from WM of course with a fan blowing on them. Many people just use clothes lines.

Dishwashers are an item of luxury here and only afforded by the wealthy. We do not have a dishwasher, we have become “The Dishwasher.” The amount of water and electricity usage from dishwashers can be pretty consuming.

We have air-conditioning only in the upstairs bedrooms and use a fan at the bottom of our stairs for our living room and kitchen. They do not have standard HVAC systems like you see in America. Gas stoves are preferred as natural gas costs much less than electricity.

We opted for a smaller refrigerator for two reasons, first and most important was that the front door entrance to your Casa may not be wide enough for a regular size refrigerator and secondly, the smaller refrigerator uses less energy. This forces us to shop a little more often as we have several grocery stores near us. However, this gets us in front of people more often for more social contact. Several friends have asked us what it really costs to live here. I will put that in a later post as we are still waiting on our first round of utility bills. We will have a better idea in a couple months. I can definately tell you we are paying less to live here than we did in San Antonio.

We run into Americans from time to time. Here is a picture of a group of American teenagers from a boarding school in New Jersey. They are here for the summer as foreign exchange students. We saw them at the mall near our house and were immediately curious about them. We approached them and struck up a conversation with them and asked them if we could take a picture. They of course happily agreed. We asked them if they spoke any Spanish and the answer from them was pretty much "no." We then asked them if their host families spoke any English and the answer was again "no." Nothing like lots of hand gestures and a hard core crash course in language studies.

The weather here is pretty much the same every day during the rainy season. Light cool breezes in the early part of the day and the early evenings. Potential for rain almost every day. The picture to the right is of the skies over the southern part of Merida moving into the southern part of the Gulf of Mexico. High's are usually around 95 degrees from May through September. It's no worse to us than Dallas or San Antonio, TX. In fact, I would say it is probably a little cooler than Dallas but the increase in humidity makes up for the lower temperatures making it feel hotter more often. I, Jay, went for a jog last week and found out the hard way you don't want to be out jogging past 10AM. The humidity can hit you pretty hard if you are not used to it.

This is a picture of a palm tree in our neighbors yard. I am not sure what kind of palm this is but you see them everywhere down here. You can see a palm branch fell off and onto our fence. This particular tree is about 30 feet tall. I would describe them as having a very "majestic" appearance. Their trunks are as hard as concrete. Also, as you can see from the picture, most fences around peoples homes are fairly tall. Talk about privacy. Most people have fences that are anywhere from 8 to 15 feet high. We have a certain kind of lizard down here that we were told is called a Toloc that you will see crawling on top of these fences from time to time for a good sunbath.  It looks like a small iguana. We looked out our second story bedroom windows today and saw two of them crawling on our neighbors fences. One of them looked like it was almost 2 feet long. They are afraid of humans and will run off if they see you coming. If we can get a picture of one we will post it. We asked Javier, the man who built the house we rent, what they taste like and of course he said "chicken"

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