Friday, November 23, 2007

My Kitchen

My favorite room in the house. You can make a roast and bake a pie at the same time. Plenty of room for friends to help chop or hang out. I love the rustic brick and cement and the open shelves. It's a cooks' up is another matter. Still I dream of the days when I first came to the Yucatan and I had nothing better to do than sleep all morning, cook all day and play in the dirt...

Skulls and Skeletons

A couple of years ago when I still lived at Ermita and before renovating 8 other houses I took a sculpture class in hopes of getting my hand back into making art. These skulls are a result my efforts and recently they were photographed at my friend Herve's house in Paris for a dinner I was supposed to attend but did not because I was renovating my 9th and last house for a client....It's just as well I had nothing to wear and I would have been twice the size of anyone there.

Living room

The living room is not looking quiet so minimal these days. I found a great old leather suite of furniture from a woman whom I'd unknowningly bought a lot of paintings from in the past. I coaxed her into selling me a few pieces of pottery that she was 'saving for her children' as well.

Patio Garden

This was taken 3 years ago for the Taschen book, "Living in Mexico". Now the bouganvilla spills of the ruin and over the ponds. The wall on the right is covered with passion fruit vines. I've collected enough antique paving stones to cover the patio but they are stacked up in the ruin waiting for a free moment...The koi have outgrown the side ponds so they have taken over the plunge pool too, sorry..... The good news is there were no hurricanes this year so the fruit trees in the back garden should do well. There are bananas, avocados, anonnas, ciricote, and lot's of citrus trees. There are persian and key limes, valencia and sour oranges and lima yucateca. For the kitchen there's chaya, rosemary and bay. It's a shady and quiet place to string the hammack too.

From the Bedroom

This is the view from the bed. The furniture in the hallway is constantly changing as we redo houses and buy more junk....
The cross photograph by Cuban artist, Mina Barcenas, is currently hanging over the bed at Casa Azul. Josh has pilfered the table and stone base for his new house in Candelaria. But rest assured I've just bought a new display case and a new painting and a lot of old pottery and old retablos...


All of these antique doors to the bedroom are orginal to the house. The old terracotta tiles had worn down to dirt and I was very tempted to keep them but I lost that battle. With it's thick stone walls this rooms is always cool. Nothing much has changed here for the past 300 years.


The rustic aspects of the bathroom drive Josh crazy but I love it. An antique colonial water spout pours water from overhead and is more like a waterfall than a shower. The tub will fit two humans and at least a couple of dogs. I mixed the dirt from the yard with the cement to get the color of the burnished tub. An old grinding stone and a copper tube fill the tub.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Casa Ermita de Santa Isabel

This early colonial house is in one of Merida’s oldest quarters next to the Hermitage of the Safe Journey. It is a delightful one bedroom home half a block from the church, park and botanical garden. The nearby garden is open to the public from sunrise to sunset and is a favorite oasis of shade and water to the local birds. The gardens are dotted with Mayan and Spanish colonial limestone sculptures. There are acoustical trova concerts in the square most weekends. The street is closed to traffic on Sundays and open to pedestrians and bicycles.
This 17c house is owned by John Powell, one of the partners in Urbano Merida. It features very rustic and curious antiques , antiquities , curios and crafts. The central location in the south just 6 blocks from the main square means less tourists and less ex-pats. This is a more authentic Mexican neighborhood with a slower pace where the clip clop of the horse and buggies on their way to the zocalo can make you forget which century you're living in. 
Ermita also gives you a head start on trips to the Ruta Puuc and Uxmal as you can skip the bustle of downtown traffic. Casa Ermita sits on one of the last brick paved streets in town, the old Camino Real to Campeche. Alas, the real danger here is you might not want to leave the house. There is a cool plunge pool surrounded by koi ponds in the front patio garden. Upstairs there is a open white rooftop terrace that evokes sunny days in the Aegean or cool nights in a Moroccan medina.
 The house features furniture designed by John and his partner, Josh Ramos, They have worked for several of the local haciendas finding antiques or designing modern alternatives with local craftsmen.
The kitchen has been placed in the garden to keep the house cool year round. It features two Bosch stoves and two stainless steel under the counter refrigerators. There are ample polished cement counters with racks of Calphalon pots & pans. The owner’s passion for cooking may be contagious once you’ve been in the kitchen. The Mercado Central and the Mercado San Sebastian are just a short stroll from Ermita
The library features a collection of Mexican cookbooks. The giant antique wooden doors open onto the garden. String a hammock or lie in the daybed and you don’t live here year round. The dining room table seats eith comfortably. And it’s comforting to know that if you invite your friends over to dine there is absolutely nowhere for them to sleep over. You’ll have L’Ermita all to yourself in the morning! The simple bedroom has its’ original wood beamed ceilings and the 17c Proven├žal inspired bed looks into one of the rarest sites in town, a bathtub. The 5 feet square sunken bath with unlimited hot water and old stone spouts makes it a spa-like experience. Is this Mexico or is this heaven?