A Little Background
My name is Howard and I am married to an amazing girl named Rose. I was born in Philadelphia and Rose in a small town in Northern New Jersey. Several years ago, I came across a property online that was here in Merida, Mexico. The Mexican décor and architecture were simply exquisite.
I began to explore properties in the Yucatan area and immediately became obsessed with the sheer beauty of the houses, land, and people. The more I researched, the more obsessed I became. For almost three years, I explored every facet of the Yucatan from my New Jersey home. I even drove up and down the streets of Merida through Google Maps!
Late in 2015, Rose and I were invited to attend a wedding in Cancun. We made arrangements to meet with two of the most amazing realtors in the Yucatan, Jim, and Kio. Unbeknownst to us, the two of them would turn into very close friends. After the wedding, Rose and I took the three-hour drive from Cancun to Merida. It was a simple and easy drive despite the very ominous looking Federales armed with machine guns at two checkpoints. Since the days that followed 911, the sad reality is that it is quite common to see heavily armed uniforms in New York and every other metropolitan area in America. Once you come to grips with that, it really isn’t a big deal.
When we arrived in Merida, we stayed at the Hyatt. Elegance and amazing service were the very first experience we shared shortly after we arrived; two of the elements that make Merida what it is today. A few hours later, we met with our realtors who showed us four properties in the city and seven on various beaches. It was a long day that ended with an incredible dinner at one of our favorite restaurants in Merida and drinks at a local Irish pub populated by an overwhelming number of expats who chose to make their lives here in Merida.
While we spent only a day and a half here for our first trip I quickly realized that everything I researched for three years online was true. I became even more obsessed with the idea of buying a property here. After what seemed like countless hours looking at thousands (yes, thousands) of beach properties in the Yucatan, I shifted my focus to the city. I am still enamored with the builders taking dilapidated colonials built in the 1800s and turning them into absolutely wondrous works of art. Combining Old World with modern touches makes for something that is really indescribable with words. You have to experience a walk-through to truly appreciate the beauty.
In April of 2016, we returned to look at more properties, all in the city. Vida Magica was the first house we saw and it was pretty much over at that point! The first two sections are restored from the 1800s and everything beyond that is brand new construction. The house sits on three lots and is like a fortress with ultimate privacy. The builder is Ian Arthur Smith. Arthur is originally from Europe but has lived in L.A. for a spell before moving to Merida. His homes are very well known as is his reputation for being an extraordinary builder.
About Vida Magica
The name has a dual meaning for us. I am a professional magician and for most of my life magic has been a provider of friends, experiences, and financial income. Since 2007, I’ve been doing battle with Leukemia so there’s an affinity for life and the wondrous experiences that we get to live and are a part of along the way. Life can be very magical if you allow it to be.
We wanted to create an atmosphere and environment where one can escape life, at least for a little while. We kept the furnishings to a minimum and were very picky about what we put into the house.
From the moment you step into Vida Magica, you will see an array of Buddhas and crosses. While my wife and I do not hold form to any religion, we are very spiritual. The crosses for us represent the culture here in Mexico and could not conceive having a house here where they are not present.
Minimum Stay: 3 nights
The first section of the house showcases a Buddha statue purchased from a friend who imported it from Bali. On the opposite side of this section is the garage. A car can fit perfectly in that spot, though we just like keeping it open for now. The fantasy of seeing a motorcycle there is appealing, though it would probably lead to divorce. Hmmmmm……
The second section is devoted to our small Mayan collection. The area is so rich with Mayan culture and history, how could we not pay homage! El Toro decorates the adjacent wall. Rose was immediately drawn to it as it represents strength and independence. For me, it represents the strength and independence I see in Rose and saw in her mother who was an amazing woman.
The Guest Bedrooms
The next section of the house is my favorite. There’s something about the indoor/outdoor conceptual view of the long corridor that never seems to tire. Bedroom Three is the first bedroom you pass on your right. Rose and I differ about the numbering system I employed, but I like to count from left to right! It is pretty much a mirror copy of Bedroom Two. Each has their own bathroom, ceiling fan, and air conditioner. A remote control operates the air conditioner. The rooms stay comfortable at 20-25, though during the really hot months here, I like 16.
As you reach the end of the corridor, our builder likes to refer to that area as the Religious Corner. It’s usually the spot where people coming into the house for the first time exclaim something like, “Oh my God!” I’m pretty certain I used a completely different superlative, but it’s reactionary nonetheless.
The left side of the house consists of giant glass sliding doors. This is the part where I will caution you to be careful as I have walked into the glass doors more than once thinking they were open. As crazy as this might sound… when approaching an entrance or exit, stop and reach out with your hand to see if it’s open or not and NEVER EVER RUN! We have an incredible person who cleans the house weekly or when requested. She makes the glass really look like an open door. PLEASE USE CAUTION WHEN ENTERING AND EXITING THE ROOMS!
The Television Room
The first room is the Television Room for obvious reasons. For a fleeting moment in time I considered a television in all the bedrooms, but then quickly dismissed the idea. We get caught up in redundancy; watching TV on a regular basis is just one example. Changing a routine and breaking a pattern, if only for a week, is a change that everyone should welcome. Here, with so many things to do, including just conversing with people and family (which may seem like an Old School concept ) will invigorate the soul and get you to experience a little life that we miss with all of the conveniences of the modern day world.
And this is cool. One of the remotes for the TV has a button called “Language”. In many cases, you can press this button and go from Spanish to English. I use it with subtitles to help me better my Spanish.
The Main House
Exiting the Television Room you’ll wander into the open-concept Dining room, Livingroom, Kitchen, and Pantry. You’ll find placemats and everything you’ll need to set a table in the kitchen cabinets under the counters. If you’re planning on doing some at-home cooking, the oven is lit with a lighter. With all the modern-day technologies of Merida, there are still old school concepts. The stove lights much like an outdoor grill. Open the burner and press the ignite button.
Since we’re talking about the kitchen and food…
A couple of crumbs left on a counter or floor will produce hundreds to thousands of little ants in less than 30 minutes! I kid you not! I didn’t learn this the first or second time, only on the third time. They are menacing! We do have an exterminator come in on a regular basis as it is a tropical paradise and I really hate bugs!
While we’re talking about bugs…
The other things that crawl that you will see from time to time are little lizards. I actually find them cute and they’re completely harmless. Should you have company and happen to be reading this before they do, tell them you were warned to lift the toilet seat just to check underneath before sitting because the lizards like to hang out there. Have a camera ready and watch the look on their face! While I’ve never experienced this, I actually do look under the seat before sitting. I really don’t like surprises.
And because we’re talking about lizards…
There once was a time we found a rather large Iguana hanging out in the first section of the house. They’re actually more scared of us than we are of them. The likelihood of that happening during your stay is less than 5% but thought I’d mention it. We did receive an invoice for rent from the Iguana and we paid him. He was really big!
For most of the year, the pool temp is warm like a bathtub; no shell-shock or risk of a heart attack when jumping right in! Towels for the pool are kept in a pretty straw basket to the left of the kitchen area. Pool toys are kept in the Pool/Laundry Room with the big wooden door to the right of the pool.
We keep plastic-ware in the kitchen for use in the pool area. Please…no glass outdoors. And remember red wine stains concrete. Please use a coaster or placemat…Under penalty of death.
The Master Bedroom
While we don’t rent this room out anymore, we thought you’d like to see some pics!
Regarding the showers and water system…
If you noticed, there aren’t any sewers in most of Merida. Every house has a septic system that keeps things flowing so long as it isn’t abused. Large quantities of toilet paper or other perishables will cause a serious and expensive problem, not to mention an odor that is indescribable.
The hot water is called Hot Water on Demand. The city pumps water into our house when the tank goes below a certain level. There is a master water heater located in the pantry and each bathroom has its own Hot Water on Demand Tank. Once the hot water is used up the tanks are automatically refilled and heated. If you’re coming from the states, you’ll appreciate what you never did before!
Cable Wi-Fi and TV
Necessities in today’s world! We have a large selection of local television and channels like HBO. We have Wi-Fi throughout the house though it can be a little spotty in certain areas.
There are four networks here which you will have access to once you’re settled in and comfortable. There’s a booklet on the coffee table with passwords.
Should your computer not be able to acquire an IP address through Wi-Fi, plug it directly into the router by connecting it to the Ethernet cable I left attached to the router. Once connected, restart your computer and it should automatically reset the credentials. When you have a connection to IZZYNET.BALTUS, unplug the cable from your computer and you should be set up for Wi-Fi.
In the Event of an Emergency
Your first phone call should be to Merida Property Management, our property management company. Georgina & Howard are the owners and will provide you with amazing service. +52.999.369.7183
The hospitals here are state-of-the-art. I made a comparison of Star Hospital to NY Presbyterian where I go every three months for an oncology visit. I’m very impressed with the level of service and care here in Merida.
I can also be reached at 973.657.0446 or 973.657.0447 or 862.377.9060.