My apartment in Bucerias
A view from my apartment on a rainy day in Bucerias. Notice how there are no drains and the water just pools on the streets.
A detail shot of the door to my apartment in Bucerias. The door is a heavy duty affair made out of steel and bolted into the concrete. You’d need a tank to get past this thing.
The second floor landing outside of my apartment building. I occupy the last of four studio apartments on this level.
A view of my apartment from the stairwell coming up from the courtyard.
An overall view of the outdoor clothes washing facility in the courtyard of my apartment building in Bucerias.
A closeup of the basin for washing your clothes. Note the grooves in the concrete, which are useful for kneading your clothes as you use detergent to remove the dirt. At the upper left of the basin is a small drain hole for the runoff as you wash and rinse your clothes.
You use the cutoff milk jug to scoop out water from the well above and pour it on your clothes. When the well runs low, you turn on the tap to fill it up again. I used it once, just for the experience and I can tell you that it’s hard work, but it beats waiting for your clothes from the laundromat. It works great in a pinch, but many Mexican families use it to do their entire wash load, which takes a lot of time.
Look at this poor wretch, washing his clothing. In reality, the basin is bit low for me which causes a sore back, but this setup is a godsend, especially if you have a delicate piece of clothing that you don’t want to send to the laundromat (of all the apartments I’ve seen, this is the only one with this outdoor facility).
Filling the water jug to pour on my shirt. The basin to my right is huge reservoir. When It gets low, you fill it using a water tap (not visible in this picture and off to the bottom left).
The gate to my apartment building. The squeaking from the gate nearly makes your hair stand on end and can really hurt the ears, but it’s cheaper than installing a door chime.
A tense moment in my apartment in Bucerias, as I try to figure out how to deaden the noise from the nearby highway. When semi comes by, it really shakes the building. Worse is when a truck employs “jake braking.” From what I’ve been told, “jake braking” is where the trucker reroutes the exhaust of the truck back into the engine, forcing it to slow down. This method saves on the brakes, but the down side is that it creates an extremely loud “blap-blap-blap” sound as the truck goes by. Apparently the method has been outlawed, but no one seems to have told the truckers, or they simply don’t care.
An interior view of my studio apartment in Bucerias. Note the leather chairs. While a cool design, they’re not all that comfortable for sitting.
A sampling of Mexican furnture. It looks cool, but is quite uncomfortable. It seems that comfort and furniture are not a good mix in Mexico, but there are some exceptions. In my experience, many of the chairs masquerade as torture devices thrust upon the unwary.
Another interior shot of my apartment in Bucerias.
Remember the tank-like door? Well, at the back of my apartment, this is my window lock, the sorriest piece of —— I’ve ever seen. Not only can you spit peas through the window, all you have to do is rattle the window from the outside (while standing on the two foot ledge) and that will pop the lock, allowing the person outside to climb in. The solution? Jam a paint brush in the space between the window latch and the frame. It effectively tightens the locking mechanism, making it all but impossible to open from the outside.
To make matters worse, there’s a second floor ledge that goes around the outside of the building. While I’ve heard that my landlord wants to install bars on the windows, nothing has happened for 2 months. So much for security. My fears truly came to a head when I was getting my cable modem installed and one of residents casually walked along the ledge (with no railing), poked his head in my window and began conversing with the installers in Spanish. I almost had heart failure, but this walkabout on the ledge is commonplace. I was working on my computer last week and watched as my landlord cleaned the windows outside. It was a bit unnerving, but hey, that’s the way thinges are here.
The Bane of my existence in Mexico.
When I first moved into my new apartment, I noticed a leak at the base of the toilet, but unable to communicate with my landlord (who speaks only Spanish), there wasn’t much I could do about it. After being here a few weeks, I was without water and I thought that it had been turned off due to some construction work on the street. After two days, I was starting to stink and I was getting desperate. I was standing at the front door when I heard the sound of running water. When I opened the door, I saw the landlord watering the lawn. I immediately went out to the railing and yelled out: “Geraldo, no agua.” When he heard me, he looked shocked and hurriedly put the hose down. He came upstairs and when he got to the front of my apartment, he bent down, and that’s when I noticed 8 taps on the ground, two in front of each apartment. He turned one on and motioned for me to turn on a tap on my sink, which yielded water immediately. I looked at him and thought: “You bugger! You turned off my water.” After that, the water wars began in earnest. Rather than fixing my toilet, he’d turn the water off. At one point, I showed him the leak and he sealed the base of the toilet with mortar, but the leak continued, as did the water wars. He’d turn off my water and I’d turn it back on.
A further complication was the plumbing. The pre-Hispanic plumbing won’t tolerate toilet paper and clogs easily, hence the small waste paper basket beside the toilets in homes and restaurants. Even a decent dump will clog it. One strategy is to flush as you go, but that’s a bit uncomfortable.
Back to the water wars. One day, I was attempting to take a nap, when I heard a donging sound, followed by the sound of running water. I thought: “It sounds like it’s coming from inside, but it must be outside.” Still, the sound continued and I went into my washroom to investigate. Water was pouring out of huge crack at the back of the tank and sloshing all over the floor. Fortunately, the room is sloped towards a drain in the shower, otherwise I’d have had a flooded apartment. I quickly turned off the water, then, armed with my Spanish dictionary, went to find the landlord. When I spoke to him, he gave me a 10 gallon bucket (to flush the toilet) and let me know that I’d get a replacement. But I thought: “Hey, this is Mexico.” I was dreading the manana effect, but as luck would have it, a new toilet arrived the next day and was installed two days later. Now I have a dry floor and the water wars have (thankfully) receded into history.
Laundry from the local laundromat. Many apartments don’t have laundry facilities. As a result, there are little laundromats all over the place, where they do your laundry for a small fee. (To elaborate, this package weighed 3.5 kilos and I was charged $35.00 pesos, about $4.00 in Canadian funds – a great deal, in my opinion.)
One of the infamous Mexican locks, as seen from within my apartment. They seem a bit bizarre, but once you get used to them, you discover that they’re amazingly effective.
A sampling of the shelving in my apartment (but it’s hard to complain as I pay only $2,850.00 pesos per month – about $320.00 Canadian).
My hi-tech shower. It worked, but barely. Several of the holes were clogged, creating an uneven stream of water.
Quick! What do these sinks have in common?
Only one tap works; the one that delivers hot water hasn’t been connected with the steel sink above. When you do find hot water in apartments, it’s usually only in the shower (some places don’t have hot water at all, not even in the showers). Apparently, hot water is considered a luxury in Mexico, but many new dwellings have it.
I truly enjoyed your descriptions and photos of your apartment. I know the place well, as I lived around the corner for as much time as I could stand (3 months). The noise and fumes from the highway drove me away. But I just loved the little old gentleman who (maybe?) was your landlord. I went by the place several times every day when I walked the dog or wandered down to Mary Paz for supplies. The old gent and his wife (?) always has an enthusiastic “buenas dias!” for me. And the folks at the Chaca Chaca laundry were so very good to me too. I still take my laundry there even though I live near the Decameron now.
Are you still in Bucerias? Or have you moved on? In perusing your other Bucerias pages, it seems they are a little dated, but no less enjoyable. It was great to see another person’s view of settling in to this odd little town!
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