Oh, this isn't our first cement house, it's just the largest by far (3 bed, 3 bath) and starting to show its age (about 20 years) as well as its quirks of workmanship. Unequal stair rises, poorly set tiles, step-ups into rooms where the door height was calculated from the lower, not the upper, level, "2nd thought" outlets and lights (you know, "On second thought, we need a light here") that result in wires in plain view or hanging around cornices or between buildings. A toilet drain that was a bit too close to the wall so after the tiles were installed and it was obvious the toilet tank didn't quite fit, tiles were dug out to make room. Those same toilets that don't quite meet the floor so cement is used to "fill the gap". Slightly a-kilter cement shelves. Odds and ends like that.
There are no cabinets or closets, simply shelves or recesses which allow for free expression and a dose of ingenuity to enclose and decorate. I don't mind that at all. No need to hunt around, it's all in plain view!
Some cement homes are notoriously hot and I've always wondered why anyone would build a single-story block 'oven' instead of the airy, comfortable wooden houses of yesteryear. Fear of the destructive power of storms is the driving force I guess. Fortunately ours is a very comfortable cement home thanks in part to its overall design and, more importantly, the steady Easterlies we experience here. Open the doors and crank open the windows and what is a mild breeze outside becomes a whirlwind inside. The angle of the house, the various walls, and doorways and many windows all lend to great rushes of air through and between both stories. When sweeping everything has to be shut up or the dust bunnies will race like greyhounds across the floor. But once the floors are washed, they dry in a matter of minutes. Quite handy that.
When there is no natural breeze there are the ceiling fans. At least one in every room on variable speed controls keep the air moving which is all I need. At some point I'm quite certain I'll be asked if I wouldn't like some A/C in the bedroom. That will come sometime around August I expect. which is often the hottest and least breezy time of the year in these parts.
Speaking of August, that's the local start of hurricane season down here so I'm working on preparedness and response checklists and evaluating what needs to be better secured or modified for our needs. The cover for the tinaca for example needs to be strapped down better. Right now it's but a small cinder block holding it in place. There are a few electrical conduits that are exposed that need to be sealed from water. Little things like that. The house is cement. It has been through its share of storms already so in that regard, I've not much to worry about. However, it's the little things you know that are important.
The planning is doubly important for us since there is a language difficulty on top of being the new folks on the block who know nothing and almost no one. Here's a recent (and humorous) example: Earlier this year, an expat living near Mexico City has a medical emergency. She experienced some difficulties. In her words: "The problems we encountered that night were not Mexico’s issues really. They were mine. I simply wasn’t prepared with the knowledge of the culture and the local services I needed to have." I thought it was a good read (Emergency!) and it put me on the path to understanding what we have and don't have in our area of Mexico. Then I read her byline. "... author of the English Speaker’s Guide to Medical Care in Mexico, an eBook ... containing practical advice about how to plan for and use medical and healthcare services in Mexico." Well, I sure got a kick out of that. The expert had her comeuppance. But if you're interested, follow the link above. It's a good blog entry and given her background, kudos for her courage to write it!
We enjoy our occasional visitors from Belize and the US or, as it's written here, the EE.UU. (In Spanish, as in Latin, if the acronym represents a plural, you use the letter twice.) and enjoy hosting them at home or taking them down to the waterfront for seafood and ambiance. It's a great place to visit. Consider it!