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This is the story of my experiences living as an ex-pat in Mexico since 2003. It's to culminate in a published book. With your help, I'll be editing, selecting a title, and cover art: a participatory project. Your comments encouraged!

Letters from Mexico


ExpatsBlog.com - Where Expats Blog

My Neighborhood in Tepoztlan

Part One

July 25, 2020

Tepoztlan, Morelos, Mexico. Right across the street is this friendly frog who dispenses drinking water directly from the mountains. Photo by author

This is a personal description of my neighborhood in Mexico. It is not just any neighborhood, or an average one. Tepoztlan, a "Magic City," is in the central volcanic region, an hour south of Mexico City and half and hour east of Cuernavaca. Most of the residents are descendants of indigenous, but unlike most tribal people, they are middle class. They own property, and cater to tourists.

I live in a section (colonia) called Xilotepetl, a Nahuat word meaning "ear of corn," because of the shape of the hill it's on. It's a half hour walk from the center of town, and suits me well.

In this part (part one), we will cover what my apartment is like, including some views and sounds. Part two will take us beyond that and deeper into the neighborhood.

In the opening photo, I've introduced you to the tap where I get my pure mountain drinking water. It is untreated, and one can notice the difference in flavor from purchased drinking water. I've been drinking from this source for over six years and never gotten sick, but some folks are adamant about either filtering or buying water and will not drink from this. On my hill, there are three similar taps.

Water from the same source is delivered periodically into our cistern. The cistern is seldom cleaned, and the water no longer potable, but used for showers, cleaning, and etc. It is pumped to the roof, and contained in a large plastic container called a "tenaco." From there, it is gravity fed down to my apartment. All over Mexico they use this same cleaning water arrangement.


cistern tenaco copy

Tepoztlan, Morelos, Mexico. Inside water comes by gravity feed. It's stored in a cistern (left) and pumped up to a feed tank on the roof for gravity feed (right). Photo by author.

Apartment Tour

I moved into my current two-room apartment four years ago. That's the longest I've lived in one place in a long time. My rent is USD$130/month. Electricity is USD$3.00. There is no charge for water, and we don't need heating here.

The video below gives you a guided tour. NOTE: If you've a problem with this video, please click on this link at YouTube to see it: https://youtu.be/ZwrFoOM1jDs

Tepoztlan, Morelos, Mexico. Guided tour of my apartment. Video by author

The apartment abuts the street, and although it does't have heavy traffic, there is some. I can easily follow all that goes on there from my kitchen window. For example, one day I was in the rear-most room and heard a cow bell. This sounded strange to me, so I ran to the window to see what it was. In the video below you'll catch a glimpse of the rare sight.

Tepoztlan, Morelos, Mexico. Video from the kitchen window of my apartment. Video by author

Please note that the following video is only 15 seconds long.

In my last blog, on gardens, I showed you my terrace garden. In case you didn't get to see it, here it is again.

terrace garden

Tepoztlan, Morelos, Mexico. My terrace garden. Upper left: foreground is mint, followed by several pots with ungerminated seeds and with lavender at the end. Upper right: sprouted arugula. Lower left: leaf lettuce. Lower middle: mimosa, sensitive fern. Lower right: a flowering plant in a hanging pot. Photos by author

I love watching the skies from the terrace. They are different every day, and dramatically so when it changes to the rainy season. Below is a very unusual cloud formation at sunset.

Whimzical sunset

Tepoztlan, Morelos, Mexico. A whimsical cloud formation at sunset as the rainy season starts, viewed from my apartment terrace. Photo by author

Below I share two videos. One is a collection of cloud formations during the rainy season. The second is of sunsets.

Tepoztlan, Morelos, Mexico. Cloud formations during the rainy season. Video by author

Tepoztlan, Morelos, Mexico. Sunsets over Tepoztlan, intensified during rainy season. Video by author

If you are an audiophile, you might want to check out my blog on the sounds of Tepoztlan, most of which was recorded from my terrace and front window.

From the Terrace

To Conclude

My guest room has been frequented by many friends traveling to visit from the US. I've also hosted CouchSurfers from around the world. If you are interested in staying in my guest room, let me know.

I hope you liked my apartment tour, and the sights from the terrace plus the cows in front. Please check next month, August 29, for part two, where I'll go deeper into the neighborhood.