Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday on the Land

Today we met with the builder and tested the size of the car port space against the car. Looks like she'll fit. I had been teaching an architect to dive a few months ago and he suggested that we stake out the plans we'd made on the land itself and walk from room to room to see how it feels. We did this today and it all looks great. It was a good exercise too because we were able to see that the car would be a little squashed in the front and have made the decision to move the whole structure 1 meter back. The next two weeks should see the completion of the front of the wall and hopefully by then we'll have the planning permission to get started on the house.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Land - More Progress

We're making progress. As you can see we have three sides of the wall in place. Thanks to the hard work of Josie, Julio's mom and sister and of course me we've filled a lot of the land so that flooding is more under control. Julio chopped down the tree at the left in the front. The only tree we have left is the one on the right with the sign on it. We had to cut through a big root of this tree for the wall in the front and for what will be the sidewalk, but that was two weeks ago now and the tree still seems healthy. I'm happy this tree will be staying as it is one of the reasons why we chose this plot of land. We going to grow some kind of flowering plant up the tree so the front of the land looks pretty. Next week the builder will start on the front of the wall. We're buying some natural rock for the front so that we don't have the problem of having to paint it and the maintenance involved in sun cracked paint. We had a look around at tiles this weekend which was a little bit exciting. Planning bathrooms will be fun.
Today I went to see an architect while BF was at work. I'd drawn up some plans for how we want the house and he's going to draw them out properly so that we can take them to City Hall to get planning permission and within the next two weeks we should be able to start work on the house foundations. All pretty exciting stuff - stay tuned for more!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Zen Buddhist Retreat

Last year my mother went on a retreat to a Zen Buddhist monastry and so on this most recent trip to England I signed up for Throssel Hole's introductory retreat. I arrived there early after a drive with my mam through some pretty dramatic scenery. I was greeted by one of the 4 monks who had been assigned the task of running the retreat for the weekend. The retreat was to be a silent retreat, although the monks is not a silent order.

The Abby is surrounded by well kept lawns which are full of rabbits grazing in the sun. It was a bit nippy (after all we are talking England in October), so my strolls outside were limited. That first evening we were given a presentation on how to meditate and set about the first of many meditations in the meditation hall. I really liked the feel in this hall. The big statue of Buddha dominated the room and during meditation the place was overtaken by silence. There were 9 people on the retreat and that night we all slept in the meditation hall. I was worried I would not sleep well but I actually slept like a baby. My bed was closest to the alter and there was something nice about sleeping under the big lit statue of Buddha. It felt like sitting under a giant Christmas tree and during the night monks would come and light incense under the Buddha - I guess I fould the smell relaxing.
I enjoyed the silent part of the weekend. The Abbey had been my first stop in England after New York and my head was buzzing with thoughts of BF, and experiences of the last few days. It was good to decompress. The schedule on the retreat was fairly strict. Morning meditation at 6.30am followed by service at 7am, breakfast at 8, a talk on some element of spiritual practice, a work duty (I got to carry wheelbarrow loads of rocks up and down a hill - it was good to be outdoors though and the body heat generated by the hard labor was welcome!). Then lunch, an other work duty, meditation, evening service and bed.
I did not love the rigid routine although I can see that for some it might be easier to meditate in a situation where everything around you is being taken care of. I enjoyed the silence but found it hard to be around people all of the time. I believe I am a bit of a loner in that it is very important for me to spend a few hours by myself every day. It is good for me in Cozumel that my BF works so many hours as I am left to my own devices for most of my day. I found that during the odd 15 mins of down time at the Abbey I would go off and find somewhere to sit alone.
I found the meditation easy the first few times. After a while my back started to hurt and I found myself longing to leave the Abbey and sit on a comfy chair, eat what I wanted when I wanted etc.
It was an interesting place though and I wonder how it would be to submit yourself to a regime of Zen meditation for a longer period like a week or a month. The Abbey would have been nicer in warmer weather too as the walk from the meditation hall to the common room was along a corridor which was almost outdoors with a flagstone floor which was very cold to walk on.
I prefer my meditations with Selene in Mexico, on the whole, although am certainly considering making the odd Zen meditation part of my weekly routine.
I would recommend the Abbey to anyone interested in Zen - but go in the summer and take a good pair of slippers!

Friday, November 6, 2009


I did have a wonderful trip back to England and New York and will write about it soon. I just wanted to get some pics up of the land as people have been asking about it:)

Back in Cozumel

After a month of being at home in England (via New York) I am finally back on my little Island with my BF. It was wonderful to see my BF again as the month appart was very difficult (thank goodness for skype!).

Its taken a week for me to get relaxed into the pace of life here again, get over my jet lag, get back into a healthy eating and exercise regime and get my stuff in some state of organization. Those of you who know me well will know that I am not a happy bunny when things in my life are not in a state of good order. Just before I left the Island the external hard drive on my computer started to overheat. Good timing, in a way, as I was able to buy a new drive in the US and bring it back with me. The frustrating thing has been setting the thing up. I'm almost there and for now have worked out a system for cooling my old external drive down with fans while it is at work. Life is returning to the kind of order I can deal with. The Archers (my favorite radio show) is again accessible and I am happily able to watch my favorite TV shows again. I'm back at yoga and meditation and my yoga studio has added three new classes which I am really excited about. Work is slow but set to pick up by the end of the month, which gives me a nice easing in period. We have a tropical storm approaching us right now, which is bringing a lot of rain with it. Great weather for tidying the apartment, cooking and getting some work done on my computer.

Apart from seeing my BF the most exciting thing about being back has been seeing the progress on our piece of land. BF worked hard while I was away, buying materials, organizing contractors and generally supervising the building of the wall which will surround our property. The wall is 2.4 meters tall (the tallest it can be without a more detailed and costly planning permission than the one we have). Anyway building work has gone well. All of the labor has been paid for and we have most of the materials. Here is the foundation of the wall:
The wall that you see on the right hand side of the back of the land is on the property behind ours and we plan to build our wall right up against it. We don't want to share any wall with our neighbors so that we can do what we want with it. Here is the first part of the wall built:
The gaps you can see have now been filled with rebars and cement to make the wall strong. The contractor has also made it round most of the back of the property and part of the other side. It has been an expensive job and has taken probably as much materials as it will take to build the ground floor of the house. When the contractor is finished building the wall he will cement over it to make it look nice and protect the bricks. We'll build the front part of the wall with rocks so it looks nice and doesn't need to be painted every year or so. We're very pleased with it as we both like our privacy. It will be wonderful to sit in our own little private back garden:)

Unfortunately the tropical storm which will be with us into next week has put a halt to building work for the time being. I am pretty calm about this though. A friend advised me to keep all thoughts of finishing our house out of my head. He said if you get excited about completing in any kind of time frame you will be faced with dissappiontment after dissapointment. Very good advice - slow but sure, I'm just excited that the building of our new home is underway!