The winter weather, usually moderate and dry, has been a letdown for many, and I think it’s starting to get to people. Normally a public square where people encourage each other, Facebook forums are now repositories for crankiness, accusations, laments, and acrimony. On a Cancun-centered timeline, I see the mother of 2-year-old twins at her wit’s end trying to run a house and fight off boredom. “I have only met a very few honest people since I moved here,” an expat wrote on another Facebook group. I don’t know how to recover from reading statements like that. The weather isn’t helping; 2013 saw three times the normal rainfall in Yucatán, and soggy spirits abound. Even photos from Yucatán have lots their color and have taken on a gray tinge.
Even though we’ve hired the best professionals we could find, the Casa Nana project has not been easy, either. Our creative partners in Casa Nana have been the architecture and design firm of Reyes Ríos + Larraín, a well-known and widely respected husband-and-wife team who have hugely influenced contemporary interpretations of Yucatecan style and design. They have connected us with a top-notch construction crew and supervised the building, finances and paperwork, pretty much fool-proofing this project. Everything has gone swimmingly. Salvador Reyes drew up plans that kept our house in perfect proportion, fitting in four bedrooms and five bathrooms with a center courtyard, which was the challenge we handed him. He also got approval from the historical committee for a garage, a victory we don’t take lightly. Josefina Larraín is the art director. She has a fine-arts background and impeccable taste, and after raising two kids in the Centro, contributes a practical approach to living spaces. She not only designs furniture, she has a vast knowledge of gardens and greenery. She guided us for a day through the viveros and impressed us with her contacts and sophistication. We also hired a property manager, perhaps prematurely, to handle our bills and keep us square with the bank, utilities, and municipal authorities.
And you know what? This is still hard. We still have to drive the project, trying to anticipate what we will require, which is tough since we’ve never actually lived in the tropics, much less Yucatán. Figuring out lighting and electrical outlets from afar, unfurling and deciphering paperwork in Spanish. We still have to cope with trespassers, and even some malicious vandalism to the property. A grim reminder that not every single person in the Centro is our friend. Now we are adding extra security to the house, adding to the budget as well as the timeline. We have to make a lot of decisions from far away, which is a lot of pressure on us. We know one day we’ll be in the house, fighting off those “would have, should have, could have…” thoughts.
This year, on the advice of one of those Facebook groups, I decided to pay my fideicomiso by credit card. Once they have your card, every future payment will be automatically charged to it, I heard. One less job for the property manager. But Scotiabank required I email jpgs of my credit card, not exactly a secure transaction. Well, I did it anyway. It was right before Christmas, when it’s hard to get anything done, so that may explain why it took three weeks to get a confirmation that they received my payment. I ended up asking our property manager to talk to the local offices herself to sort this out. Again, it was difficult for even her to get a reply. Nerve-wracking.
My coworkers tease me about being a jet setter, always flying down to Mexico for vacation. They confuse taking vacation time for a project with taking a vacation. These are not vacations. Trying to put our lives on hold every three months to fly down is hard. We have elderly parents, and Paul’s the caregiver for his mom. Also, I’m on call. My boss is always available, even when she’s skiing in Vermont, so I too am on call, even when jumping puddles in Mérida.
We have a second job now. We work for Casa Nana. From concept phase to taking out the trash, she’s all ours now, and she’s a real taskmaster.