We have been out here on our most remote housesit ever for three weeks now, and with the exception of some small town drama and intense weather we have settled in to a nice routine here at the beach house.
Dani took our dog for a walk at sunrise this morning along quite possibly the most serene beach setting either of us have ever seen. Herons hunt and peck for fish in the sea grass popping out of water still and flat as glass at low tide. Pelicans glide overhead for a catch further out with their dinosaur-like beaks. A gorgeous redheaded woodpecker tap tap taps away at a palm tree near the house as I wait for the water to boil to make coffee and listen to the silence.
We can walk north just under two miles before we hit a house that is inhabited. American expats own the two other houses we pass, but they sit vacant during the summer. One had an American woman staying there, a fellow housesitter, but she recently hopped in a pick-up headed for Cancun and left, distraught at the lack of support she received from the homeowner, who is back in the States. When we got here, we were given a list of all the houses around here and the names of the housesitters in each of them. Usually we are the only housesitters in a neighborhood, but on a Mexican beach lined with vacation homes, we have actual housesitting acquaintances for the first time, and can compare notes on life out here.
Unlike the American, we are still very happy with the opportunity, and luckily have no need to plan an evacuation just yet and the only thing that will cause us to leave would be the threat of a hurricane. Although these are rare, almost every day the sunny sky blows over the house and brings with it a black sky. Darkness first forms at the reef wall, about 500m from the beach and by the time the storm reaches land, the winds have been whipping for over an hour; the palm tree leaves can be incredibly loud as they slice through the air like knives. Sometimes, the big sky is all talk, throwing only intense wind and the feeling of impending doom.
Other times, it is as though someone has pointed a field of power hoses directly down onto our beach. When the weather is good, it is so beautiful here we stop whatever we are doing to just stare out at the sun bouncing off the water, looking like diamonds, and the different shades of blue that stretch out to what seems to us like the end of the world. There are no in between days. The weather is always present in our minds.
Two dirty words
Along with the power of the storms, there are two words that have gained quite a bit of power since we arrived to the beach house – words that cause Dani to emote deep feelings of anger and frustration. One of the words is ‘generator’.
Our lives here are ruled by the weather in this solar powered house. Most days during this semi-rainy season, we do not get enough sun to fully charge the batteries. When there is no sun at all, we have to lug out the compact red gas-guzzler of a generator. It weighs more than a dead man’s body (or so we’d guess) and lugging it out of the store room is just short of causing us ulcers. But it’s not the weight, the filling it with gas, the starting it and hooking it up to the energy inverter. It’s the fact that because it might always rain, we’ve got a tarp over it and have to be aware that, at any moment, we have to lug this now super hot deadweight of a machine back inside, like some sort of Strong Man X-Games contestants. This constant state of alertness is intensified by the fact that if the generator doesn’t run long enough and it rains too long…not only will we be without power, but there is a possibility that the batteries could go kaput as well. This means keeping our electricity consumption at a low at all times.
That word, my friends, is ‘Internet’. Of all the things about our remote life, our strict daily internet budget has been the hardest thing to adjust to. We hover between 10-15% remaining on our minuscule daily allowance of 350MB. Our Facebook time is VERY limited; luxuries like YouTube or just surfing the net no longer exist for us, and some days we have chosen to only check emails in the morning and do the bare minimum to keep our business in tact.
The truth is, we are growing quite accustomed to the pattern of our new lives, and there is plenty to keep us busy. A couple from New Zealand is housesitting up the road and we have had beers, went snorkeling and even had a movie night (their house is massive and has a movie projector/screen!). There have been trips into town for dinner with some of the expats, too.
We receive a daily visit from the tortilla guy, who delivers a still-hot stack of fresh corn tortillas every day on his motorbike and the grocery truck comes two times a week. We can’t predict what he might have, so some days we buy tomatoes, avocados and lychees, other days we buy eggs, tomatoes and a pineapple – at inflated gringo prices of course, but hey – he delivers!
Dani went out every day until she beat back nature and cleared away all the dense piles of accumulated sea grass in order to clean up our patch of beach, and between paying attention to the solar batteries, sweeping the house, and laying in the hammock, I could fiddle around the house all day without running out of little things to do. The snorkeling in the gorgeous corals right off our beach is breathtaking and whenever the weather is right, we go out to snorkel in the afternoons as well.
The next great adventure
We’ve been living off rice, beans, tortillas, eggs, tomatoes and cheese for way too many days, which means that tomorrow we have to make the three hour drive (and three hours back, partially on a dirt road) into the big city for some heavy-duty grocery shopping. We’ll hit up all the mega-supermarkets and snap up as many canned, boxed and frozen foods as we can realistically get back here, plus produce that will only last us a few days in this heat anyway – and this time, Dani won’t forget to buy enough sweets to soothe her cravings for hopefully the next three weeks at least.