Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Key

I rub the long silver key between my fingers feeling the gently worn notches.  The nights Ty and I sat on the patio in Midland, dreaming of a life south of the border. Hours of research, planning, saying goodbye to a life we had worked so hard to build, saying goodbye to family and friends. All of our past and our entire future all represented here in my hand in that long silver key. With a deep breath, I insert the key and turn the lock, tears well in my green eyes as I push open the hundred-year-old door. Stepping onto the tile floor dull with wear, I say, “Adie we are home” she wiggles out of my arms, with her nose to the floor she inspects her new surroundings. I feel small as I scan the thick walls and seventeen-foot ceilings crisscrossed with Belgium iron beams. Yesterday I sat in the air conditioned office of our attorney, Enna and listened intently as she translated the official closing documents on our Mexican house. Now, with bittersweet emotion I prepare to spend the first night in our new casa, Ty working two thousand miles away. 
Our new home. And yes, that's Adie in her stroller

Our new home built sometime around 1886 was once a humble colonial dwelling beside a dirt road on the edge of Merida. The land surrounding the casa was a small cattle operation called a quinta. Originally, one large room spanning the entire front, a bedroom and a large terraza, a small outdoor kitchen would have been unattached at the rear of the house. The hundred and twenty six-year history of the house has brought many changes, the street was paved and smaller homes sprung up around it. At some time, a new wall was erected dividing the long front room into a bedroom and sala, and the terrazza was enclosed, the outline of the original arches still visible. Sometime in the thirties a bedroom, bathroom and kitchen added much needed room. More changes came eight years ago when the previous owners updated plumbing and electrical along with adding a bathroom and storage. In the large yard, among all the tropical plants, we have mango, papaya, mandarin, and lime trees and no Yucatecan house would be complete without a sour orange tree.
Shaped by the climate, Yucatan houses built in the colonial era have features found nowhere else in Mexico. The export of henequin to Europe influenced the architecture. Ships returning from faraway ports loaded with ballast, dumped their load at the pier and originally offered these items free to anyone willing to haul it away. Belgium iron beams, French pasta floor tiles and clay roof tiles.  Influenced by Spanish, French and Portuguese architecture these one-story dwellings were designed with flat roofs, soaring ceilings, and large double doorways and windows for greater airflow. The conquered Mayan workers fashioned thick mamposteria (stacked stone) walls then covered them with stucco, using techniques inherited from their pyramid-building ancestors.
  As Adie and I snuggle in for the night, on the bed the previous owners graciously left for us I fall asleep to the sounds of our new neighborhood, in the distance I hear the faint melody of a traditional Mexican bolero. In the wee hours of morning, we are startled awake to the loud bang of fireworks. Ahh! Such is the contrast of a Mexican neighborhood.


  1. Congratulations. What a beautiful house!

  2. I can only imagine how this must feel. The firecrackers were obviously in celebration of a nice new neighbor.


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