We’re living in Mérida only sporadically, but already we can share with you our biggest challenges in adjusting from a snug little wood-frame Connecticut two-bedroom “cottage” to a partly-antique, mostly new-construction cement-and-rock indoor-outdoor-living home in the tropics.
- In Connecticut, if the doorbell rings, I can answer it right away. The house is barely 2,000 square feet. In Mérida, we stuffed a lot of utility spaces along the street, and put living spaces at the rear of the property. It can feel like an eternity to get to the door. We have an intercom to reassure visitors that we’re indeed on our way, and its electronic chime is … very electronic sounding.
- North of the border, our home is built on a stone foundation so that even the ground floor isn’t really level to the ground. In Mérida, we wanted the house wheelchair friendly, so there are no steps of any kind to raise us from the earth. Our first-floor bedroom is right on the ground. Right there with anything that crawls or lurks. At first, I found myself sleeping with one eye open. But I don’t worry about tripping on risers.
- I’m eventually going to step, or maybe fall, into the Buddha pond. The path from the terrace to our casita door includes a sharp right at the pond. I pity the fish.
- If I drop something up north, it may or may not break. We have hardwood floors, some of them carpeted, with lots of give. But that doesn’t work in the land of “pasta tile floors.” Even a ballpoint pen shattered once when I dropped it. Let’s just say that in Mérida, we didn’t even bother with stemware. Our iPhones have rubber protective shells because I already lost one when I lost my grip on one, and it fell maybe 2 feet. Some stuff didn’t even have a chance before we unpacked. Bubble wrap was no match for the airport savages who broke some porcelain tchotkes that would have graced our kitchen. So even before things have a chance to be dropped, they end up wrecked.
- Eventually, I’ll stop feeling self-conscious walking through the house. It’s a house we saw through at every stage of planning and construction. Now that it exists, I can’t shake the feeling of starring in my own movie whenever I’m there. Small slices of life feel like scenes shot in Panavision. I suppose we felt that way when we first bought the Connecticut cottage, too. Someday, I’ll get over that. The house will feel real and not a figment of my imagination.