Saturday, November 13, 2010

(Slight) Fright Night

Brother Doug - our first guest!
Here we are again. Came in on the flight from Houston this time. I've been trying out all the travel options for getting here and back. A plane full of young teenaged girls apparently returning from a Justin Bieber concert, clutching stuffed toys and copies of the 16-year-old Canadian's insipid new biography.
Brother Doug arrived a couple of days earlier, catching the bus from Cancun. First time in Merida, first time in Mexico. My first guest. He spent a couple of nights getting eaten by mosquitoes in a nice hotel before I arrived. Sunday night was the first night staying over in the house for both of us.
Last trip I rented a room elsewhere because I didn't know if the electricity and plumbing worked, and a proper lock was needed on the front entrance gate. I wasn't sure if the house was habitable, but by the time I left it definitely seemed to be so. But Sunday night we both had doubts about whether it was fit for even the most rudimentary kind of habitation.
The house was damp and sour-smelling. This was in part because the plumbing for the kitchen sink was leaking. We had water all over the floor (again). I'll be glad when that plumbing's replaced. The dampness was probably also due to the heavy rains seeping through the roof that needs repair. It hasn't had the chance to dry out with the house all closed up. Cracks showed where I hadn't noticed them before. All the rooms seemed smaller.
Tired, jangled, having pissed off the airport taxi driver by asking him to drive an extra 10 blocks, everything seemed wrong. I couldn't sleep. Every sound was frightening. What were the neighbors' dogs barking at all night? It was one of those occasional what-the-hell-have-I done kind of moments.
One good thing: there were no mosquitos in our house the first night we were here. I guess they figured out there hadn't been a meal in the place for going on two years. It didn't take them long to notice fresh prey. In the morning we opened the windows and back door to air and dry out the house. Immediately they followed our carbon-dioxide vapour trails inside. Later, whenever we disturbed any of our papers or clothes, they rose in little clouds from their hiding spots.
Monday morning started better, with the shower water in the hideous bathroom nicely heated by the new stationary gas tank, and tasty, cheap panuchos and fresh juice at the market stands down the street. Some challenges regarding internet and bank machines commanded much of the day's attention. But when we got home the house felt different, dry and fresher.
Tonight (after an inaugural trip to the new, nearby mall for some basics like towels and anti-mosquito artillery) we just sat around on the bare floor, talking reading, eating cheese and crackers and learning how to do things on computers when you don't have internet. And everything seemed just fine with this place.


  1. You remind me of my first nights in my Mérida home, in which I stayed during visits for two years before moving permanently to Mérida. The house was unrenovated, and I recall discovering upon arrival for my first night that not only was there no back door key (I was unable to lock the door), but that a glass panel had fallen out and broken. The lack of this panel would allow anyone outside to simply reach in and open the door. The house was musty and damp from months closed up, had no fans, and the plumbing traps had dried out so the whole place smelled like a sewer. The screens were all ripped, so the mosquitos soon found me. I discovered after about a week of being eaten alive every night that my rooftop water tank had no lid, and that I was breeding my own "moscos" virtually right outside my bedroom window. Then there was that bat that flew in an open door and began circling around inside the house about the time I bedded down one of those first nights. Ah, the memories.

    There were the many night noises. But now, after years here, those same sounds simply mean to me that I am safe and comfortable at home.

  2. Thanks Marc,
    It probably doesn't sound right, but your descriptions of your initial experience in your house gives me a lot of comfort. It's already getting better, actually.

  3. Hi Debi,

    Mary and I will be lurking here to learn of your gleanings in the renovation experience. We're viewing properties in greater Merida. It was fun to meet you at the conference. ¡Buena suerte!

    ~eric. (hatcat)

  4. Thanks Eric, it was great to meet you and Mary too. Looking forward to following your house hunt on your blog as well. Have fun!