After spending four days living with a Mayan family, there are a few things that I’d change if I lived there. Keeping in mind that I still want to be true to the Mayan spirit of living simply in harmony with nature. These small changes would make my life a little more efficient (we westerners are crazy about efficiency, right?).
“Give me Light!”
Even when it’s sunny outside, it is dark inside the houses. Dark natural wood walls, a dark cement floor and high, but brown ceilings and a roof overhang of 3-4 feet make for little light reaching the inside of the house. Add to that large palm trees surrounding the home, very few windows, and only one hanging light bulb, and you have the feeling of being in a cave. We love allowing natural light to filter inside. So we would need to cut out for a few more windows (with screens) and hang some more light bulbs. A few skylights would be nice too, but that would be a bit difficult in a thatched roof.
“The Pipe” is what our Mayan family called their only source of water. It comes from a pipe in the back yard and they have built a little shelter around it. This is where all the things requiring water is done – cleaning dishes, getting water for cooking, bathing, laundry, and general cleaning.
We would run a water spigot into the kitchen area of the house house with a simple drainage. When water is needed to cook, a pot has to be taken outside, filled and then brought back into the cooking house. All the dirty dishes are taken out to “the pipe” to be cleaned and then brought back in. By installing a second spigot that runs off of the main one, I’d save time and energy. And it could be done at a very little expense.
We would also “T” off of “the pipe” to a separate shower shack. This would avoid any embarrassing moments when you are scrub-a-dub-dubing and someone comes to do dishes.
The main pipe area could then be used for laundry and any other uses. These changes would be small and cost very little, but create more efficient use of time and allow multiple people to use “the pipe” at one time.
Assuming indoor plumbing is not an option regarding toilets, I would have to redesign the outhouse. First off, the seat was way too high. Mayans are usually short, shorter than me (and I stand at a whopping 5’3″). Even I had to stand on my tippy toes to not touch the worn ‘brown spots’ on the rim of the ‘toilet’. So I’d either build a platform to stand on so my butt could reach the toilet or I’d lower the hole so I had the option of squatting and NOT touching the wood that has surely been peed and pooped on by others. Or maybe add two holes – his and hers, or a standing hole and a sitting hole. Also, a “stink pipe” would be nice. A pipe that goes from the pit to above the roof so you do not get the smack-in-the-face smell when you are bending over the hole.
Can you imagine how difficult it was for us and our potty training little girl? I’ll spare you the picture.
With these few small, subtle changes, we feel we could live quite comfortably in the traditional Mayan living quarters. Do you have anything that you wouldn’t be able to live with or without in the jungle?