Deidre and I both knew that selling everything and moving to Mexico would push us outside of our comfort zones, that was actually a big factor in our decision to move. However, living off the grid in Xcalak has pushed me outside of so many comfort zones I can’t even begin to count them! But for you, our loyal readers, I will try.
Before I start though, let’s remember that I am not the most “handiest” of persons. Sure, I have helped out on the occasional home improvement project but usually not as the man in charge. I’m quite comfortable as the beer fetcher board holder supervisor kind of guy. I work online. Which means I have soft, pink computer guy hands that spend more time typing than tiling. Or at least I did until recently. I still work on the computer a good portion of the day but now my keyboard hisses in disgust at my calloused (okay, blistered) hands and dirty, broken nails while my monitor stares at my oddly shaped and colored hair (we’ll come back to that later) and sunburnt, unshaven face. And my office chair recoils in disgust from my sweaty clothes and body.
How did I get this way you ask? Well, when you live off the grid miles from anywhere, you become the handyman, that’s just a fact of life here. If it needs to get done there’s no one to call – you either do it or it doesn’t get done. Oh, did I mention that we’re in the middle of a jungle full of jungle type creatures? Do these things make me uncomfortable? Oh man, let me count the ways.
After not having had a pet of our own for a little while we now have two dogs to take care of. That’s not the uncomfortable part, I like that part a lot. I knew about that part. I didn’t know about the thousands of other pets we’d inherit. The dogs having to drink really fast before the hermit crabs drink all of the water – that’s the uncomfortable part. I mean, who knew that those cute little guys (I’m talking about the crabs here) could drink so fast?
Back in the States we owned a boat so we’re familiar with their care and upkeep. We took great care to always put our boat up on the lift and snap the cover tight, heck, once a year we even called a guy to come and winterize it. Not so here. Hurricane season is coming and that means the boat has to come out of the water and way up past the high tide mark. We used a lift or something right? Nope. We did it the Mayan way. With manpower, a rope, some rollers made from logs… and a pickup truck.
I like to cook and over the years I’ve become accustomed to breaking down complete chickens, no problem. I think on some level I even knew that chickens had feet and a neck at one point but what I hadn’t had to do until now was deal with them. Then I bought a chicken here. I was expecting “pechuga” or breast and hoping it was boneless and preferably skinless when this guy popped out. It all worked out in the end but I was certainly a bit uncomfortable for a few minutes.
Yeah, yeah I know – it’s a fence. What’s the big deal? I agree totally, I’ve worked on barbed wire fences, chain link and I’ve even painted a picket fence (I think it was a short time after reading Tom Sawyer). But a fence made 100% from wood sourced from the property with only a couple of screws approaches a work of art. And when said work of art gets knocked down and needs to be fixed guess who gets uncomfortable? This guy (the one pointing two dirty thumbnails at himself). But I manned up, grabbed my machete and went to work. I also grabbed my sunhat because even wilderness living jungle men don’t really like crow’s feet. I’m sure that any passing expert would laugh at my fence but it’s still standing even to this day, 4 days after I built it.
- The Pool
Us pale hairy guys (subterranean yetis) tend to congregate around lakes, rivers and oceans so nice pools have always made me a bit uncomfortable, although I do enjoy swimming in them. I’ve even had lifeguard training and I’ve used it back in the day to fish a few swimmers out of the pool when they were in over their heads, but this is different. Now what I’m fishing out of the pool each day are not people but giant crabs the size of platters. We’re located directly on a crab highway between a lagoon and the ocean so we never know what to expect when we clean the pool in the morning. Except crabs.
- Homemade Haircuts and Bread
There are two things in life that I have heard are always difficult – cutting curly hair and making bread. When Deidre decided to take up both hobbies recently let’s just say I was cautiously optimistic. When she pulled both off successfully in the same day I was ecstatic! I’m very comfortable now with both her bread making and her hair cutting skills (especially since my head is much cooler now).
Okay enough of counting the ways that living in Xcalak takes me outside my comfort zone. Let’s just say that I’m continually banged up, dirty and covered in bites and normally pretty hot and sweaty. Everyday I am sidetracked by performing some sort of maintenance to the property that I have no idea how to do (sometimes I let Deidre help out as well). I’ve checked the water level in cisterns, tried to equalize the batteries of our solar power system, composted, burned our trash, used a machete on an almost daily basis and stopped flushing the toilet regularly (water conservation…). For some of you this might sound terrible and this place definitely isn’t for everyone.
But this place is also a place of unsurpassed beauty and wonder, a place that time has forgotten and modern civilization and the tourism industry has not yet found. If you want to step outside your comfort zone and see and experience things that very few people will, then Xcalak is the place for you. This weird, uncomfortable little place called Xcalak has somehow landed directly smack dab in the middle of my comfort zone and I wouldn’t change a thing. But a boneless chicken breast now again would be nice.