Eco Living Yucatan
First the contrast;
Some people are color blind,
no amount of explaining will
ever get them to see red.
Still others are garbage blind
and likewise no amount of
explaining will ever get them
to see trash.
The ecologically blind are a
hopeless lot that are entirely
incapable of living in harmony
with nature. These are the
PPP or ecology enemies that
pave it, pollute it and poison it.
The eco-enemies are the
builders of solar powered
pressure cooker heat traps.
The PPP are also often times
found to be smokers that
drive black gas guzzlers and
cut down every tree in sight.
As George Bernard Shaw so
aptly put it; “an art gallery is a
dull place for a blind man.”
Being ecology friendly is not
for everybody, but for those
who embrace this kind of
unpolluted untainted world
the reward is incalculable.
  Requirements for our ecological house and its location.
We needed a home in a semi arid tropical location with fresh natural air flow
because of my wife Jane’s asthma.
The year round climate had to be salubrious with no extremes.
We wanted a quiet nature friendly environment.
Privacy in a sanctuary setting.
Location, close to shopping, abundant restaurants and on quiet bicycle friendly
International airport in town.
Excellent public transport by bus and taxi.
World class medical facilities; Mérida is renowned as a prime leader.
Yucatán is a bicycle touring paradise we have not fully explored even after 25
Mérida has a wonderful municipal market that features an unimaginable variety of
garden fresh indigenous food products ranging from fresh home grown fruits,
vegetables, herbs and spices to special Yucatán dishes that you can sit down and
consume while being serenaded by street musicians.
A seemingly endless variety of goods can be found in the market: jewelry made on
the spot, artesian crafts, shoes, pets, repair of anything and more. This is just one
of many photo-op places that is a pleasant bike ride away down quiet side streets.
Our ecological concept house didn't just fall out of the sky.
In our many years of travel we fortunately discovered Yucatán with its tropical semi-arid climate and set about
locating a north-south facing lot to take full advantage of the prevailing sea breezes. We would want high land that
didn't flood in a heavy rain, away from busy thoroughfares but close enough so we would have good public
transport. After four years of poking around and investigating nearly two hundred places we finally found our
“special spot” that suited all our requirements.

When our search ended our work began and after two months of hard effort the first person finally came by that told
us they thought the place might have possibilities.
Hardly anybody could envision the dream that Jane and I shared.
The property we ultimately purchased resembled a garbage dump in the desert but we both immediately recognized
its hidden potentials.
Two years after we had begun our ecological home project that would use thermo siphon air exchange without fans
or motors to heat in winter, cool in summer and maintain humidity at low levels we achieved our goal.
Finally when Jane and I finished we were told how very lucky we were to have such a lovely home and jungle garden.
The harder we worked the luckier we were.

The garden was another case;
We started with a desolate rock strewn terrain devoid of foliage. Using no chemicals we began by composted
everything in sight included shredded paper and even sawdust from a local furniture factory, in order to build all
organic top soil. This process took us fifteen years before our jungle garden ultimately became self perpetuating.
Now eighteen years later, having started from seed we have a real canopy tropical jungle filled with towering fruit
trees that also provide heavenly cooling shade.
Our secluded jungle garden provides many of our produce requirements including fruits, spices, herbs, medicinal
plants, hot chili peppers and even the palm fauns to keep our Mayan palapa roof thatched. Everything here is
We are synchronized and coexist with nature creating a positive impact upon the planet...and it just feels good.
Amazingly this has all been achieved
using absolutely no chemical insecticides or poisons in our twenty-one years
We live peacefully, in parallel with nature by means of natural insect repellants amazingly our home stays free of
bugs…they just have to live elsewhere.
Tropical birds and butterflies abound freely in our private jungle sanctuary wide-open and unrestricted to the sky.
Our screened in spacious covered patios command stunning views of our garden.
This ecological home and jungle garden is in three parts enclosed behind a tall privacy wall inconspicuously tucked
away. Each separate dwelling is equipped with two bathrooms and their own separate kitchens.

Our eight meter deep well provides us with abundant cool fresh water to fill our indoor Jacuzzi in summer and water
the garden when necessary. We also have city water piped in and bottled drinking water delivered two times per
The cool well water Jacuzzi is a great place to linger in the warmer times of the year when we even drink our coffee
and listen to audio books there. However, we have a solar hot water heater system, which I designed and built from
locally obtainable materials that use no electric, gas, pumps or valves for the few cool evenings of winter.
When I pull the large ball valve to the rooftop hot water tank open the water cascades down like Niagara Falls and
fills the Jacuzzi in just two minutes. The water is so hot that we have to ease into it and the nicest thing of all is that it
comes to us every day free of charge courtesy of the sun.
We clean and then fill the Jacuzzi with fresh water every day recycling the old water to our jungle garden each night.

Our sanctuary is equipped with places to hang twenty-five hammocks. Even on our rooftop patio covered with
flowering vines we can accommodate hammocks in the shade fanned by nature’s salubrious sea breezes.
Though we have no motorized vehicles we have off-street covered storage that can accommodate three vehicles.
There is plenty of space for our bicycles.
Viewed from the street side our super solar dehydrator, the domed ventilating chimneys and vaulted roof thermal
siphons that capitalize on heat differentials have little meaning to those unaware of the functionality of our very
private environmentally friendly home.
So here is the story presented with captioned photos where you can venture inside and learn of the ingenious
innovations that we put into action in order to better live in harmony with nature.
Our spiral stair ascends into a seven meter tall domed chimney that beams in reflected sunshine by day. By night
this has 125 watts of illumination that is ingeniously generated by a single 25 watt bulb reflected off of four mirrors.
This chimney day and night silently extracts heated air using thermal siphon like a hot air balloon rising and expels it
out vents adjacent to the domed top. The hot air departing sucks in cool fresh air from below making for economical
natural air conditioning.
This ceramic tiled room that opens onto the street is far more than a sitting area or parking place. This is our super
solar dehydrator where the sun heats and dries the air. Employing large black doors and a tin roof to soak up the
suns energy thus setting up a temperature differential and sending the hot air rushing up through the covered gap
you can see running the entire length of the building adjacent to the steel girder. The rising dehumidified air that
exits sucks in cool fresh air from our jungle garden and low louvered vents.
In the cooler dry season of the year this room is used to heat the house. The only difference then is that the
windows and doors to this room are opened during the day and the northern exposure garden side is closed. In
warm weather we do just the opposite and close out the heated air of this room and open the tree shaded garden
We call this downstairs house our “gruta” or cave because it is refreshingly comfortable.
Our location here in Mérida at nearly twenty-one degrees north latitude is ideally suited to the seasons. At the very
hottest time of year in May, June and July the sun passes to the north of our ecology home for about two months so
that our super solar dehydrator does not overheat especially at a time when it is not needed.
Hammock hooks abound everywhere in our home.
Even the little wall mounted coach lights have mirrored reflectors to double their luminescent efficiency.
Another feature we built into our ecology home is sloping tiled floors throughout that make cleaning a breeze.  
Our seldom used ceiling fans are all equipped with silicon controlled rectifier controls that optimize their efficiency at
all speed settings.
Within our cool “gruta” downstairs home natural light is reflected off of large wall mounted mirrors that also enhance
our view of the jungle garden beyond our screened in patio room. This is where in our hammocks we spend warm
afternoons reading until our books become too heavy and then we tranquilly snooze.
Nearly all year many pleasant tropical evenings are spent in my computerized office with the doors and windows
wide open to capitalize on the delightful garden fresh air before going off to enjoy our hydro therapy Jacuzzi prior to
turning in.
In the downstairs cool “gruta” wife Jane in her active office produces computer miracles with her multitasking abilities.
Viewed from our cool shaded hammock equipped screened in patio room, our jungle garden flourishes in natural
composted soil where wild birds and butterflies freely fly.
The dry season sees the foliage thin while nature adjusts to drop seeds waiting for rain.
When the rain arrives the vibrant foliage exuberantly springs into harmonious action.
Seasons are all part of the natural cycle of life that makes our secluded sanctuary special.
Looking in from our lovely cool screened in patio where we sling our hammocks you can easily see the natural
illumination flooding in from the tall chimney in our super solar dehydrator room.
Enter our canopy jungle garden where pleasant shade abounds from our towering tropical fruit trees. Everything in
the garden was started from seed and only nourished by natural composted soil using no chemicals or insecticides.
Amazingly our ecology home sanctuary and canopy jungle garden are well within the city where plentiful public
transport is twenty meters from our front door and we are in the heart of Mérida’s “restaurant row” one block away
on the famous Paseo de Montéjo.    
Shaded by papaya, banana, avocado and zapote trees our traditional Mayan style thatched roof palapa makes a
perfect place to repose in a hammock or sit for coffee. The palapa is equipped with indirect lighting and a ceiling
fan. We also have an electronic bug zapper that hasn’t been used in over four years. Even the roof of our palapa is
biodegradable and we raise our own replacement palm fronds.
Not a day goes by without harvesting fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs from the insecticide free jungle garden that is
now self perpetuating.
This is our upstairs looking in from the screened in patio to the living room and kitchen beyond. Designed to
capitalize on temperature differentials to either heat or cool the fifteen foot, five meter high vaulted ceiling is
equipped with easy to open and close louvered windows that are the key to this process. When the French doors in
the foreground with their one-way mirrored glass are opened in conjunction with the upper louvered windows the
natural air flow is so intense it feels like you are in the prop wash of an airplane ready to take off. This incredible air
flow is natural without using any fans. The process is exactly like a hot air balloon that hoists its load aloft.
In the cooled times of the year we reverse the process closing the upper windows and French doors. Then we
extract heat from our super solar dehydrator room below through the door you can see where the natural light is
brightly beaming in. That warm air is then trapped here to take full advantage of nature.
All of this thermo siphoning is accomplished merely by the opening and closing of the proper windows and doors.
A sanctuary of serenity and relaxation on our upstairs screened in patio that overlooks our jungle garden is
equipped with the essentials to optimize priceless moments. While wild birds and butterflies find a home in the
garden we have the requisites to capitalize on this unique ambiance. Seated at our dinning table or rocking in our
rocking chairs or just reposing in one of our many hammocks makes our many options heavenly.
Looking out from our upstairs screened in patio this is the tranquil view we take pleasure in. It is incredibly easy to
totally forget that you are in a major city and not far off in a remote jungle while taking in the serene tropical rain
forest below. We are serenaded by a cacophony of wild avian confabulations and blessed by the sweet essences of
tropical flower scented sea breezes.
Our upstairs patio takes advantage of the salubrious tropical climate where the French doors are open most of the
year. Here you have a view of the entrance to our bedroom and walk-in closet beyond that is illuminated and
ventilated by its own dome topped chimney, making it the driest place in Mérida. Another feature we were happy to
incorporate into our ecology home is the partially covered side patio you can see through the door at center.
Besides one of the six bathrooms in our home we also have a clothes line where we have the option of hanging
things out in the sun or even drying them under cover in case of rain. From this little patio we have a built in ladder
that leads to the rooftop. At the peak of the roof you can see the cathedral in the city center five and a half
kilometers away to the south. Also incorporated into this little patio is an opening railing where the built in pivotal
boom crane makes it very convenient to bring in or take out large objects such as a refrigerator.
Looking out to the patio from the bedroom and viewed through our vanity mirror that runs the entire width of the
room you will see more hammocks and the dinning table beyond. We have capacity to swing twenty-five hammocks
on our premises. They can be furled and unfurled in seconds, used as seats, recliners, loungers and of course
Another interesting feature we incorporated into our ecology home is that all of the ceramic floors are inclined all the
way out to the end of the patio where we have scuppers to discharge wash water that naturally goes down hill and
ultimately waters our garden.
This room has a high vaulted ceiling exactly like the one in the living room
Here you have another example of how light and bright our ecology home is where the natural reflected sunshine is
dispersed gently and evenly throughout. If you observe the ceiling you will see one of the several domed and vented
chimneys that not only keep the air exchanged without the use of fans but illuminates with no electricity. Along the
far west wall you are looking at are located two bathrooms, a walk in closet and book shelves. Each one of these
areas has its own domed and vented chimney plus the outside wall is painted gray to absorb the afternoon sun. The
net effect of this is bright very dry rooms with natural air exchange and plenty of ultra-violet to insure fresh no-mold
storage even in the wettest of seasons.
Looking the other way from the same spot as the last photo you have a view of the living room from another
prospective. The light in these bright rooms is all reflected and gently gives our home an easygoing ambiance.
French doors leading both from the living room and bedroom out to the patio are equipped with, (reflect-a-sol)
mirrored plate glass that allow a nice view of the patio and garden but also give a measure of privacy within when
We employ lots of mirrors in our home that make it much brighter and also provide a spacious open sensation. Even
the china cabinet you can see on the extreme right is lined with mirrors along with all of the small light fixtures.
Here the (reflect-a-sol) mirrored plate glass in the French patio doors is evident on the left looking back into our
living room in the opposite direction of the last photo.
Natural air cools and natural light floods our home and amazingly our electric bill is one seventh as much as our
friends with a conventional house half our size.
Apart from our main garden we have another sanctuary isolated and independent containing a microcosm garden
and guest house where we luxuriate in our Jacuzzi with hydro-therapy. Cool well water in summer and hot solar
heated in winter. This is one of our favorite features of our ecology friendly home and on occasion we may indulge
in the Jacuzzi half dozen times a day. After an exhilarating bicycle ride or just before bed time this is pampered
treatment at it’s finest.
The guest house in this little sanctuary is the coolest location on the entire premises because of the thermo siphon
heat exchange coupled with dense foliage shrouding the upstairs patio garden where we frequently swing in our
hammocks. The roof top shade is provided by a variety of vines that reach up from the garden below and cover a
trellis that forms walls and ceiling above the roof. The beauty of this is that the flowering vines change color with the
seasons and in the cooler part of the year I merely trim them back to let the sun beam in and heat the house along
with our solar hot water heater.
This light bright room with its doomed chimney above and mirrored walls incorporates a pleasant view of the jungle
garden from our hydro therapy Jacuzzi. The ultra violet light you see beaming down into the Jacuzzi is entering one
of the domed vented roof top chimneys.
By night our hydro therapy Jacuzzi gives yet another view. Using numerous small wall lamps you can see in the
photo with reflector mirrors and a dimmer control we enjoy romantic times viewing our garden with its subdued
luminescence. Notice the large louvered window that opens in three different parts to naturally optimize air flow.
Ascending to our roof-top getaway sanctuary garden is like stepping beyond the jungle and into a haven of refuge.
Mornings here are like solitude supreme only with all the amenities of civilization at our fingertips. Evenings here
begin with year round spectacular sunsets and are followed by celestial gazing with gentle onshore sea breezes.
The density of foliage nearly conceals the stair leading to the roof top garden and above it you will notice the lush
mass of pink flowered vines that gives soothing shade. Shortly the season of vibrant blue morning glories will
change our roof-top getaway sanctuary garden…a natural process that is ongoing.
In the springtime before the pink coral vines you see above enshroud the rooftop we employ a roll-out canopy to
give us shade when we desire it.
Here you can see our roll-out canopy deployed a process that takes a few seconds.
By July the vines have enshrouded the rooftop trellis and the canopy is no longer needed.
Wife Jane has collected about eight different types of indigenous climbing vines that flower in various seasonal
colors to keep our roof-top getaway sanctuary garden decorated. All of these climbing vines are planted in the
ground below so they can benefit from the water we recycle from our Jacuzzi. In the dry season it sustains them.
This is a real jungle. Looking down from our roof-top getaway sanctuary garden you can see through the dense
foliage our palapa roof to the right and the main house beyond.
Next the rainy season arrives and then the view looking down from our roof-top getaway sanctuary garden changes
again when the thick foliage becomes so impenetrable it obliterates our main house completely. We have nature
working with us now.
Above our guest house a second roof of brightly flowered vines casts a heavenly shadow down upon our remote
jungle sanctuary where we have our morning tea and read. Many times we linger here to have morning coffee while
listening to audio books or just enjoying each others company while listening to the wild birds singing.
Here you get a good look at the density of foliage enshrouding our garden that is the product of natural composting
and no chemicals.
Another plus we enjoy as a result of our seasonal vine covered roof top is cool showers in summer and warm in
winter. We have not ignited our water heater in many years thanks to these lovely flowering vines we trim back in
winter making our home environmentally friendly.  
Ascending from our roof top garden the view of tropical lushness is astounding. The bright pink coral vine or San
Diego in Spanish you see in the foreground is indigenous and flourishes seasonally rebounding in summer and fall.
Wife Jane has planted eight different kinds of vines that are native to Yucatan and each has its own distinctive
season and color. Soon the brilliant Dutch blue morning glories will appear. We have three different colored
varieties of morning glories. The different climbing vines naturally come and go with the seasons.
Our ecological designed home didn't just fall out of the sky. This is not for everybody.

Total house size =
348    sq. meters or 3,753 sq. feet
House down =   
162.6 sq. meters or 1,748.25 sq. feet  (16.26x 10 ms)
House up =  
128.6 sq. meters or 1,384.16 sq. feet  (12.86x 10 ms)
Guest house =        
40.0 sq. meters or    332.3  sq. feet (4x 10 ms)
Palapa house =       
20.8 sq. meters or    215.3 sq. feet (4x 5.2 ms)
Outdoor bath           
7.3  sq. meters or      73.0  sq. feet (2.35x3.05 ms)
6 baths and places for 25 hammocks at the same time, plus three cars and ample bicycle parking
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