Friday, January 25, 2013

Personal choices – private castles

Casa Luna Turquesa on Aeropuerto Road
Houses fascinate me.  They are three-dimensional expressions of individuality, culture, history and of course the climate.  On Isla Mujeres there are a lot less regulations than in Canada governing what you can or can’t build.  

The Municipality of Isla Mujeres does control the height and the property setbacks, but not the style, colour or overall design. 


Provided an engineer signs off that the house can be built without collapsing under its own weight you can build your dream house.  The creations can be quite fanciful at times.


Our Casa - John and Lawrie waiting for a parade
Six years ago we scratched out the design for our tropical home, with paper and pencil, while sharing a bottle of our favourite wine.  It is a relatively maintenance free home constructed of the standard 8-inch concrete blocks, finished with three coats of hand-troweled plaster.  

The house has a variety of outside decks, and airy living spaces.  The upper deck in covered with a romantic, and very tropical structure, a palapa, made of grass thatching.  


Fun combination that would scare a design committee
We have the ocean breezes on the east-side, and can see the lights of Cancun from the rooftop deck on the west-side of the house.  


We don’t need central heating, and have air conditioning only in the bedrooms as electricity is very expensive in Mexico.  

We have tried to mitigate the cost by installing fluorescent or LED lighting, a propane-fired hot water heater, BBQ, and cook-top.

On the other hand all of our various Canadian houses were built true to time honored Canadian standards.  They were built of readily available and relatively inexpensive timber, with sheet-rock, or Gyproc interior walls, carpeted floors, and a cozy fireplace in the living room.  
Our previous home on Okanagan Lake BC Canada

They were all warm and snug designed to withstand the long and cold, sometimes really damn cold winters.  We had natural gas central heating in all cases, and air conditioning in only the last two which were situated in the dryer, hotter south-central part of British Columbia. 

Here in coastal Mexico heavy rainfall can occur at any time of the year, flooding the streets in a matter of minutes, as it is happening today.  

Houses here are not as waterproof as we are accustomed to; windows leak, the wind blows rainwater under doorways, open-air courtyards and patios flood, furniture cushions get soaked, and then it is over!  The sun comes out.  All is forgotten. 

More eye-popping colour combinations
We enjoy looking at the variety of houses that people have built, expressing their own individuality, their personality.   

And the colours!  

Island houses are joyfully decorated, painted with eye-popping combinations that would scare the bejesus out of a Canadian community design-committee.






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