We are coming to the end of week two of our three-week stay at Casa Nana, the house we’ve been building since November 2013. Friends often ask if it feels strange, after all this time ruminating about it, finally being allowed to sleep, cook and eat here. That’s just it — it doesn’t feel strange at all. What’s strange is how not-strange it all feels.
The daily exercise of writing about Yucatán keeps me mentally in Mérida, even if I’m in my English Colonial in Black Rock, Connecticut, which I usually am. Maybe that’s what helps me mentally adjust.
Still, I struggle with remembering which lock goes left or right, and how many turns the key needs to open any given door. Where is the olive oil? Where is the most logical location for the olive oil so I don’t lose it again?Which drawer did I decide to stow my wallet this time? Is there a way to streamline the locking-up process that gets us out in under 10 minutes? I’m humbled daily by these things while I attempt to glide gracefully around the house, living the Hacienda Style dream. Writing these blog posts is like writing love letters to a stranger with whom you’re smitten, but haven’t even begun to really know. And then the stranger mocks me when I can’t find the right light switch or when I’m intimidated by the the water heater’s pilot light system. Speaking of gas, where’s the gauge on the propane tank? Search me. I only just learned to light the pilot; the WiFi installer showed us.
I’ve been sitting on the terrace every morning, the first of us to get up, before sunrise. It’s just me and the roosters, the palm trees silhouetted before a big sky. It’s actually not too different than what I would do back in Connecticut, just in a sunroom looking at cedars and magnolia trees. The stars are brighter than I remembered, although you still need to drive well past the periferico to really see them. Despite the dust and noise of the city, I notice the north winds coming down from the port city of Progreso this time of year that give the air a sweetness that makes me think of New England’s coastline.
Those high walls around the yard allow you to create a somewhat private, serene space, where you are still reminded by the strange chorus of roosters, trains and street traffic way in the distance, that a real city is waiting outside.
Just like early mornings, the evenings here are quiet. Construction workers down the block have taken their hammers and gone home, and the roosters have nothing yet to crow about. That north breeze makes our pool shimmer. The effect is calming and almost hypnotic, and we’re in that moment that makes it all seem worthwhile. Week after next, I’ll be back to craning my neck for a “winter water view” of Long Island Sound. At the end of the month, it’s snowboot time in upstate New York, for a design competition. But for now, I’m the proud owner of a pool that maybe one day I’ll swim in and a palm tree that might one day give me shade. If this house doesn’t kill me, it will add years to my life, I’ve thought to myself more than once.