Notes from the beach house: Week 3

mexico our ocean view

Last Updated on December 22, 2020

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.

Fun with the dog in Mexico

Weather makes all the difference

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.

mexico our private beachUnlike 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.

Mexico bad weatherOther 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.

a caribbean sunrise in mexicoThe other thing that we have to learn to limit our consumption of just happens to be the other word we have grown to hate more than all the Twilight films and Instagram food photos online alike.

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.

working in mexico

Our daily routine

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!

grocery truck mexicoDani 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.

fresh tortillas mexico

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Tags : HousesittingMexiconotes from the beach house


  1. Those tortillas look so fluffy and delicious. Not like the squished packet ones we get here in NZ!

    Neat that there is a couple from NZ up there with you. I’m sure they are good value. We generally are!

  2. I guess there is also something good about the limited internet bandwidth allotment, that is budgeting and prioritizing. Although we all do a lot of them in our daily lives, that also learn not to be overly dependent on social networks, right?

    1. Judy – you are right, having the limited internet allotment is actually a good thing – it gets us away from the computer and makes us focus much more on the things that need to get done. It also made us realize how many MB of bandwidth we are using every single day without ever thinking of it 😀

  3. Seems like an amazing experience. I totally get your internet woes – while in Ghana a few years ago my buddy and I were in the same boat. It really changes your browsing habits when unlimited internet isn’t an option — I’d argue I’m much more efficient working if I know that I won’t ALWAYS have internet.

    1. Hi Drew, it really is an amazing experience and we love getting a glimpse of life down here. I don’t think we could live here for more than a few months at a time (we are city girls after all) and the internet situation is not always ideal, but like you say, somehow we tend to be more efficient when we know we have limited time online 😉

  4. Ok, so you just sent the housesitting tips for NZ. But after reading this post, and picturing the idyllic remoteness there, I think Julia (the German side of *this* American-German pair) will be delighted to start discussing Mexico. We both speak Spanish and love that part of the world. Alright, I admit, the tortilla photo was enough to spark the geographical reconsideration. Are both of you veg? Easy there? (I’ve only had short visits in Mexico and never had trouble.)

    1. Hi Justin, another German-American couple, yay! 🙂 I think you would love it here! And these tortillas really are delicious 🙂 Yes, we are both veggies, but we have never had a problem finding food in Mexico. Here at the beach house we are mostly cooking for ourselves anyway, but the few times we went into town for dinner we never had trouble finding something vegetarian or get them to make us something without fish/meat. Speaking Spanish definitely helps! P.S. The website with the most housesits in Mexico is, by the way 🙂

      1. I’m so encouraged to read this! That’s reassuring to hear that you’ve not had veg food finding issues in Mexico. Julia and I did talk about Mexico yesterday, and she likes the idea, too. We’re still about a year off from such a plan as she’s transitioning to more location independent work (Spanish/English/German translation) and we’ve both got Berlin-based projects and some other travels planned for the next 6-8 months. I will look into and appreciate the tip! I bet the BEST way to find a housesit is actually a referral from previous housesitter to the tenant. Or maybe I’ve just been in Germany so long I’m starting to believe the rest of the world always demands RL connections and references. Ha! Still, always wise to network and inquire, I’m sure. 🙂

  5. Wow, it’s crazy how much work you have to do for a house sit. It doesn’t seem like a lot but at the same time it does. I would be so frustrated over the generator and internet situation, but then again maybe I’d enjoy the internet situation. One of the things that I learned in India was I am way more productive when my internet is limited when it’s not I spend all day on FB, Twitter and surfing. As for the storms I can only imagine how crazy they get since you are so close to the beach. The stormy photo is my favorite. Well I hope the 3 hour trip to the grocery store works out fine. 3 weeks down a few more to go. Glad yall are making the most of it.

    1. Yes, it is definitely not just ‘free accommodation’, but the gig comes with a lot of responsibility for expensive equipment and the right handling of it. I have to admit that I wouldn’t want to do it on my own (that’s why I totally understand that the single housesitter left) but Jess and I are a good team 🙂 You are right about the productivity when you’re not always distracted by the internet, but when we’re just about to finish something we’re working on and then our allotment runs out or we’ve gone over our MB and I can’t reply to a client’s email who is waiting to hear from me, it can be VERY frustrating.

    1. I know, right? 350MB is CRAZY! When we arrived here, it was only 250MB and there was no way that we could’ve worked with that, but luckily the owner was able to change their plan. We thought we would not be able to survive on it but you are right – less time online means more time in the water or on the beach 🙂 The housesit lasts two months, so we’ll be here until the end of August 🙂

    1. Tiffany – I was only familiar with generators because of our recent travels in India and because of some other destinations that run on limited electricity (Little Corn Island in Nicaragua had electricity only from 2pm to 10pm, but some of the hotels there ran generators the rest of the time) but I didn’t know that people in the U.S. used them in the same way! You are right though – extremely useful in hurricanes and whenever the power goes out, I guess 🙂

  6. The idea of being reliant on the sun for power is so primitive that I might actually enjoy it. Of course, I say that not having to move any generators. Have you considered working out an agreement with your housesitting friends where you can use the internet at their place once in a while?

    1. Scott – yes, we can use their internet if ours runs out, which is great, but so far we didn’t need to – we just adjusted to the limited MB and we’re fine with it now… It just took some time to get used to, I guess. I loved the idea of staying in a house ‘off the grid’ but it turns out that it is not as green as one might think – running the generator for a few hours is just as bad as driving around in a car for hours 🙁

  7. Wow, it sounds idyllic. I think I’d find the internet thing hard but would also probably be a blessing. For the past month, we’ve been in a flat with a TV and I’ve watched something almost every day. It’s madness as I haven’t had a TV in the UK for maybe 5 years. It’s just so easy to pick up bad habits (although Dirty dancing was on one night, which was simply awesome). We move out today and I’m looking forward to being free of it.
    And those skies – wow – the contrast is incredible.

    1. Victoria – yes, VERY idyllic 🙂 Maybe a little bit too idyllic but for a couple of months it is great. It makes us realize though that we truly are city girls 😀 I have to admit that I don’t mind having a TV occasionally – we don’t have one at the moment but we had a nice big flatscreen TV in our previous housesit in Tucson and it was great to watch some silly American TV from time to time 😉

      1. I think Steve and I are realising we’re city people too. We talked yesterday about where was our favourite places so far on this trip and it was really hard to choose. But then we talked about where we would go if we had to stay in one place for a year, and both of us easily agreed on Rio. We love being in remote places for months at a time, but it’s the city that captures us long-term.
        And yes, I agree it’s fun having the TV around for time to time. I can’t deny I’ve enjoyed watching old episodes of Friends, Big Bang Theory, and Sex and the City. I just find it amazing how much it sucks me in. I think it encourages my laziness – or perhaps that’s just an excuse.
        Anyways, have a great time. That beach really is gorgeous.

  8. Your tortilla man and a truck that delivers is so fun! Some of those other obstacles seem pretty frustrating, hope you guys are truly faring well…such little internet would send me into heart palpitations 😉

    But! Your beach is gorgeous and enjoy the down time with other expats. Miss you guys!

    1. The tortilla man is AWESOME, Shannon! The tortillas are still warm when he hands them over, and they smell delicious 🙂 We felt the same way about the internet in the beginning but we’re getting the hang of it now – how much certain sites use, etc. It is probably a good thing to help getting our Facebook addiction under control 😉

  9. Sounds like quite the experience! I have to admit I’d prob die without Internet. I’m that pathetic! And the generator thing would be tough for me as well. But it looks beautiful and sounds like an amazing time.

    1. If we did not have any internet at all for two months, we would DIE for sure, too, Cheryl! 😀 We’re that pathetic too but to be fair, we also need it to earn money 😉 I think by now we’ve adjusted pretty well to the limited MB allowance and I have accepted that I will have to live without watching Youtube videos or open my Google Reader for a while 😉

  10. This could be an opportunity for exercise and weight loss … if the food is mostly the same every day, it might be easier to be less interested in it …

    1. I feel like it’s definitely a dream coming true – would have never thought that I’d spend a summer living by the beach one day!

    1. Thanks, Scott! I am replying to you from my hammock, so I guess I can’t complain about anything here – it’s just blissful! 🙂

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