A Quick Update

In 2010, we moved back to the small town in Colorado that I never stopped missing while we lived in Mexico. Now I sometimes miss Mexico, but I wouldn't travel as freely as we did when we were there, camping out in remote areas and so forth.

Mexico today is in a period of change, and in many ways it is more dangerous now. That said, I have plenty of American friends who still live there very happily, just taking a few more precautions than they did in the past.

Just to say!

Rosana

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Visit Expedia…

Expedia is my favorite place to book airfare, and they handle hotels, car rentals, cruises, etc. I like the organization of the site for figuring out what flights I want. Click on the suitcase to take a look.

I was very pleased to win an award for this blog! Even better for you: click through for lists of all sorts of award-winning travel blogs.

Tripbase Blog Awards 2009

Tripbase Blog Awards 2009
April 18, 2009 — With Earth Day coming up on Wednesday, I thought I’d write about what Kelly and I do to minimize our ecological footprints.

We chose to live in one of the most benign climates on earth, at 5,000 feet in the tropics. Days are warm, nights cool off. There is seasonal variation, but no snow and certainly not the humid heat I grew up with in Washington, D.C.

The heating and cooling needs of our house are minimal. For about three months in the winter, we have radiant electric space heaters by our desks, which we use in the early mornings and the evenings. In the hot season, we keep the house open all night, at least the windows that thieves couldn’t get in easily, and we shut the whole house up in the heat of the day. When we reopen later in the day, we run a window fan for a few hours.

Speaking of the house, we use compact fluorescent bulbs even though they have a trace of mercury. Life is full of trade-offs, and we are watching developments with LED lights. By having a tiny house, we need few lights and we are pretty faithful about turning off lights we don’t need.

Our hot water came through a propane hot water heater with a tiny tank when we bought the house. We added a solar array to pre-heat the water. At this time of year, we keep the propane heater off and go totally with solar hot water.

We drive so little that a tank of gas  for our VW Jetta lasts at least two months. We cluster our errands so that our weekly trip to Ajijic and other towns along the north shore of Lake Chapala includes getting some of our groceries and doing other shopping, often having a massage, visiting friends, and eating out.(We sometimes stop in at the new Wal-Mart. I have found all-cotton queen sheets and broccoli sprouts nowhere else lakeside.) We don’t hesitate to drive at other times if there is a reason – Kelly goes to the monthly Chapala Greens group meetings, for example.

Our solar clothes dryer works perfectly in this sunny climate, and we get some stretching exercise putting our wash up on the clotheslines. Last year during the rainy season I wondered about getting a gas clothes dryer and that gave Kelly the idea to cover a walkway behind the house and put clotheslines on it too. Works fine, even in a downpour.

Recently at home we’ve been eating primarily vegetarian, emphasizing salads. That’s easy to do here – we can get lots of fresh fruits and vegetables at the weekly tianguis here in San Juan Cosalá. It takes both of us walking down with our large cloth tote bags that we lug home, usually full to the brim. And we have an organic garden. It’s pretty much impossible to know if the produce we get at the tianguis is organic or not. We cheer when we find live bugs in the greens!

We reuse the plastic bags we do get – taking them down to the tianguis with us to refill over and over. Eventually they get used for cleaning out our indoor cats’ litter box. I would like to get away from using plastic bags at all but haven’t figured out how. Some of the larger bags we get (at Wal-Mart of all places) are themselves recyclable.

The state of Jalisco is encouraging recycling, and our town happened to be one of the first to institute it. So we do that; we were already composting our veggie wastes.

We don’t give up things that we don’t want to, though.

  • I leave my desktop computer on, with all my programs set up how I like them, when I take a nap or eat a meal.
  • The very fact that we live so far from family and dear friends does mean that we travel further to see them than we used to. But we donate to one of the carbon-neutral websites to at least help with that.
  • Having an in-ground swimming pool is hardly simple living, but it’s great exercise and we have solar heaters and floating covers to make it usable for more of the year.

So we’re doing what we can, and trying to figure out more. It isn’t always simple to live simply! I started another blog a few months back, simplegreenliving.com. Actually it’s a site I began three years ago but bogged down on. Now, with the greater awareness among people and greater urgency for the planet, it’s more of a priority.

Other Americans and Canadians who live here, your comments on living ecologically here? And my readers from north of the border, your comments are welcome too.

We are all in this together, and every little bit helps. Or does it? That link is to my reflections on that topic at the new blog.

7 Comments from the old blog:

  • At April 20, 2009 1:45 PM,  Leslie Limon said…

    I’m also an american living in Jalisco. I enjoy reading your blog, and I’d like for you to take a look at mine at leslielimon.blogspot.com

  • At April 20, 2009 9:05 PM,  Rosana Hart said…

    Leslie, enjoyed your blog! Readers, go take a look… Leslie is fluent in Spanish, married to a Mexican, and raising 4 kids here. Quite an interesting view of life here. And she cooks too!

  • At April 20, 2009 9:34 PM,  Leslie Limon said…

    Thank you so much! I am greatly enjoying your blog. Hope to keep in touch with you.

  • At April 22, 2009 6:44 PM,  The Cheap-Ass Curmudgeon said…

    Zana, Michael here from http://thecheap-asscurmudgeon.blogspot.com/. I sure am enjoying your blog posts. I have some friends who are living down in Mexico off the pacific coast in a tiny little sailboat (no motor). They have a 1 yr. old little girl and a cat—all on the boat. Boy does one have to pare down to live that lifestyle! They’ve been doing it for a few years now. My wife and I envy where you live and how you live. We have our house for sale so we can begin our journey south to Central or South America. Wish us luck!

  • At April 22, 2009 7:58 PM,  Rosana Hart said…

    Yes, good luck! And thanks for coming by! Readers, he has a fascinating blog too, take a look!

  • At April 23, 2009 9:33 AM,  Calypso said…

    Now if you just get that compost toilet going ;-)
    Good effort – thanks!

  • At April 23, 2009 10:50 AM,  Rosana Hart said…

    Oh yeah — I forgot to mention our composting toilet because I don’t use it much! it’s quite far from the house…
    We actually have one… when Kelly’s sister came for almost a month last summer, she couldn’t come in the house much because she is allergic to cats and we have 2 indoor ones. She was using our motorhome as her guestroom, but its bathroom blackwater would have filled up way too fast. So we actually happened to buy a nice fancy brand new compost toilet that someone had brought down here from the US without measuring the width of the bathroom door into his casita. Ooops, so he sold it to us for a fraction of its original price.
    We have this set up with curtains made of petates, just outside the motorhome. Works fine. Kelly just put up a good page about making a humanure – style composting setup:
    http://greenhomebuilding.com/articles/humanure.htm

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