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John Bokma MexIT
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Picking up the keys

Monday, June 7, 2010 | 0 comments

Sunday the 30th of May we went out to see a property for rent Esme had seen a few days earlier on and was very enthousiastic about. After I had seen the house as well I agreed, this was much better than our current house in Coatepec especially since it was not in Coatepec but in Xalapa. And today we went back to pick up the keys because we want to move as soon as possible.

Our new house, front.
Our new house, front. (large)

Around five we took a taxi to Xalapa. We took our babysitter, Denise, with us since she has no problem traveling from Coatepec, where we currently live and she as well, to Xalapa. When we arrived, Esme's mother and cousin were already waiting for us. People were still at work, fixing some things for us, so we could enter the house and check how things were going. Because Alice wanted to visit the little park in front of the house I accompanied her for a while.

Alice holding pine cones she has collected in the park.
Alice holding pine cones she has collected in the park. (large)

When we returned to the house I checked out the room I want to use as office, located under the street level at the front of the house. After I had taken a photo of it, Alice asked me to take a photo of the "semillas" (seeds), which resulted in the above photo. I think she looks fantastic in it, with a great, natural smile.

Balcony at the bottom level.
Balcony at the bottom level.

Next I walked to the other room located at the bottom level which we want to turn in our bedroom. It opens up on a balcony, which has a spiral stairs leading up to the back of the kitchen. I am quite sure that I am not going to use those stairs since I suffer somewhat from acrophobia (fear of heights). The drop down is like 6 meters from the balcony alone and those stairs add to that more than enough for me. Also, we have to make sure that Alice is not going to use it for climbing exercises; one broken arm is enough.

In the back you can see a waterpump which is used to pump water up to a holding tank if there is not enough pressure from the main supply, which happens now and then. To the left is the water heater, and also the entry to a small room which has sufficient space for a washing machine, so no more trips to the laundry. Via that very same room I can reach my future office, so when I need to do some thinking I can walk onto the balcony to get some fresh air and admire the view.

Living room, with spiral stairs leading up to the "studio".
Living room, with spiral stairs leading up to the "studio".

In the above photo you can see the living area of the house. The spiral stairs lead up to a small room, which in Mexico is called a studio. It opens up on a rectangular balcony that has the gas tank and access to the water holding tank. We want to turn the studio into a room for watching videos and relaxing. The studio reminds us of our first apartment in Xalapa which had a similar tapanco set-up which was used as a bedroom. At first I was considering to turn the studio in a bedroom as well, but it might be just too warm during the late spring and early summer to sleep comfortable. We'll see.

To the right of the stairs is an area with hopefully enough space to put a small couch, a chair and a table. Or even two small couches. I would like to use that space to have a cup of tea and reading a magazine or book.

Alice is skipping in front of the stairs that lead down to the bottom level with two bedrooms, the largest of which I want to turn into my office. The arced entry leads to a small alcove with shelves and the door to another bedroom which we would like to turn into a guestroom which my mom can use when she comes over to visit us. Not visible in the photo because it's more to the left is the entry to the kitchen. Where I was standing when I took the above photo is plenty of space for a dining table so no more holding dishes on our laps soon.

Vanessa atalanta rubria, Red Admiral, dorsal, resting.
Vanessa atalanta rubria, Red Admiral, dorsal, resting. (large)

After I had taken a photo of the living area I went back outside. Earlier on I had been trying to take a close-up photo of a Red Admiral, Vanessa atalanta rubria, a butterfly I knew from the Netherlands as "Atalanta". I saw several butterflies of this species flying around, sometimes getting together in the air. I was not sure if this was territorial behavior or courting. Now and then one butterfly landed on the light gray colored stones forming the drive way leading to our house.

And after several attempts I finally managed to take a few close-up photos of this beautiful butterfly. I couldn't recall if I had seen the Red Admiral before in Mexico, but I was very happy to be able to take a photo of a subspecies of the butterfly that's on the cover of my copy of "Field Guide to Butterflies of North America" by Jim P. Brock and Kenn Kaufman.

Nymph of Leaf-footed bug, Thasus sp?
Nymph of Leaf-footed bug, Thasus sp?

A little later our babysitter and Alice returned from the small park and asked me to come and have a look. They had found something. I went with them and easily spotted the colorful insect -- a leaf-footed bug, also known as squash bug -- that had gotten their attention. Next I took a picture; I had to, since Alice kept pointing and saying "photo, photo."

While I took the photo the babysitter spotted a much larger monster, around 4cm. Another leaf-footed bug, but more drab colors. I was quite sure that both animals were leaf-footed bugs, thanks to several browsing sessions in "Field guide to Insects of North America" by Eric R. Eaton and Kenn Kaufman. While writing this article I did some additional research and my best guess is that the colorful one is nymph (juvenile) of the same species as the large bug, most likely a member of the Giant mesquite bugs (Thasus sp.). A better identifaction of this bug is very welcome.

Giant Mesquite bug, Thasus sp?
Giant Mesquite bug, Thasus sp?

When we returned back to the house I watched birds with a yellow-green breast, dark head and a white line above the eye trying to catch a beetle. When Esme came out of the house she told me she had seen hummingbirds. So it looks like I don't have to walk far from the house to take photos of animals.

Back in our house in Coatepec I looked up the yellow-green breasted bird in "A guide to the birds of Mexico and Northern Central America" by Steve N.G. Howell and Sophie Web, a fantastic book, highly recommended. And I am quite sure I found the bird on plate 42: "Manakins/kiskadees and kingbirds", most likely number 6, the social flycatcher, Myiozetetes similis texensis, because it's the smallest of the three very similar birds on that plate, and I am somewhat sure the birds I saw had stubby bills. But will verify this the next time we visit the house.

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