Elephant In The Riviera Maya – Part 9

–A Series On What It’s Like To Give Birth To A Mexican Elephant

Part 9: Infestations and Manifestations

If you ask most Canadians why they packed up their lives and moved to Mexico, I’m betting 99.9% of them would say the weather. In early November, my friends back in Canada started complaining about the amount of snow they already received and the -25 C evenings. I remember that northern cold: dry sinuses, dry skin, and dreary landscape everywhere. I garnered no sympathy and received an angry face emoji when I countered with our cool evenings of +25 C. I mention the cold Canadian winters because, to me, that was the downside of living in Canada.

The upside of living in the tropics is it rains a lot. It leaves my environment green, my skin hydrated, and my sinuses moist and clear.

A lone toilet sits in the guest bathroom and has a magnificent jungle view.


Excessive rain is also the downside to living in the tropics! Non-stop rain can drastically affect the progress of construction, putting the possession date constantly in flux, causing anxiety and stress. The thought of paying rent for an unspecified amount of time, especially when one is on a pension, is burdensome.

My architect explained that progress could be sped up if he had more money to hire double the crew, adding that 50% of the last instalment payment should cover it. Half my brain is thinking, “He’s got 90% of my money already, how can he possibly need more?” The other half of my brain is thinking, “He’s got 90% of my money, what’s another 5%?” And if it means I see progress, then so be it.

I know what some of you are thinking, and what one person said to me out loud, “If you pay him, he’s got no incentive to finish the job. Make him live up to a December 15 possession date!”

What my friend fails to understand is that you can’t make anyone do anything, and this may be even more true in Mexico than anywhere else in North America. When I expressed this sentiment, I was met with, “Hire a lawyer and take him to court. If this happened in Canada, that’s what you’d do!”

Clearly my friend hadn’t read a previous article in this series where I explain that taking someone to court in Mexico is expensive and time consuming. After 30 months and my life’s savings, I’m out of everything: time, money, energy, and desire. The tank is empty — I just need to get this house finished! 

Black chukum finishes the pool making it water tight.


In my current rental I have had a termite infestation, a micro-ant infestation destroying a headboard, a flying orange bug infestation on the ceiling, and a frog jumped down my shirt at the exact moment I noticed not one, but two, 3 foot long snakes inside the condo, for which I grabbed my machete, but was too petrified to use. To top it off, these infestations all occurred in one week! In addition, throughout the past month I’ve been fighting a massive mold infestation throughout the place.

An intuitive friend explained to me that all of these events have huge symbolic meaning. What it comes down to is this — the universe is telling me it’s time to shed this skin, leave this place that has provided me with such a positive and healing shelter for the period of time I needed it, and move on to the next chapter of my life.

Ultimately, moving into this house represents a burden being lifted — a path to freedom. And I couldn’t agree more!


I have been trying very hard to manifest positive outcomes every time an issue comes up with this house. Thank goodness only four concerns came up this month, in addition to the slowdown in work.

The first concern was mold. The mold in the condo got me thinking about how I was going to combat it in the new house. My architect assured me mold will not be an issue because the inside and outside walls are finished in chukum — it acts as a natural barrier to moisture, preventing it from penetrating the concrete. Ironically, even the pool is finished in black chukum. (Read last month’s article for a full explanation of chukum.)

A view of the casita from the second floor bedroom of the house, and the framing for the additional window.
Workers installing custom made tzalam hard wood closets and doors.

The second concern was the potential for a termite infestation given the problem in the condo. A friend told me to get an extermination company to insert “termite bombs” to the inside of the foundation before the floors are finished — too late! Luckily for me, my architect had already taken this precautionary step before installing the floors and it was included in the price of the house. Something to think about if you are building!

The third concern was the casita. When the roof went on, I noticed how dark the interior was. After a brief discussion with the architect, an agreement was made for me to cough up more money to pay for an additional window. The side of the casita was cut open, allowing for a floor to ceiling window, and what a difference it made! At this point, what’s another $600?

Fourth concern: the master bathroom tub. I recently discovered the faucet had been positioned in an inaccessible location — behind the tub. Like the tiny shower incident and the inaccessible electrical access panel incident (both of which have been fixed), the plumber was called and the faucet was moved to near the front of the tub. The correction was made although it required breaking concrete and moving pipe.


Currently, tzalam doors and closets are being installed. Tzalam is a local hard wood, and is not only beautiful, but resistant to insects. Given my recent insect infestations, I was thrilled to know all wood in the house is hard wood!

It was an exciting day when the numerous sliding glass doors and windows arrived. Watching the installation was interesting given they had to maneuver around the pool which skirts two sides of the house. One thing I have learned about windows in Mexico is bug screens are not standard. One needs to either request screens in advance with your architect or have them custom made after the fact.

Upstairs hallway overlooking the mangrove.

I was delighted to recently see the landscaper installing tropical plants along the upstairs terrace — it creates a beautiful oasis retreat (minus the blue construction barrel).

Looking from the upstairs hallway, which overlooks the kitchen, to the second floor terrace and garden.

One of the features I loved about the design of this home was the unique front entrance — a bridge over the pool leading to glass doors. Made of steel, the bridge was sealed with a red anti-corrosive finish, later painted black, and will be surfaced with wood slats allowing access to the sliding glass doors. The bridge will be connected to a raised walk-way leading from the front gate and running along the side of the pool. 

The main floor terrace built around a tree and the steel bridge spanning the pool to the front glass entrance. It will eventually have wood slats to walk on.

Next month will be the conclusion of this series, and although I should be moved into the house, the casita, parking area, fencing, and landscaping will likely not be complete. To me this is a minor set-back if it means I’m not paying rent anymore and I’m one step closer to this baby elephant making it’s final trip home.

Written by Brenda Calnan
Kitchen tile being installed while carpenters move custom made tzalam closets into the master bedroom.
The kitchen tile has a 3-D effect.
I tied purple ribbon around trees that I want removed. Only those that are too close to the pool, are diseased, or were damaged in the hurricanes are marked.
The master bathroom shower was rebuilt at my request and is now double the size.

Akumal Ambulance

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