From auto repair shop to home bliss, fantastic staircase included
Since a new home in Mérida was a dream come true for both of them, it seemed fitting that Jim Jones and Ramon Alvarez named this ethereal blue beauty “Casa Dos Sueños.”
The dream began in Puerto Vallarta, where the two American residents visited regularly for about 20 years.
“By the time we found ourselves in a place where we could actually afford it, it was beyond our reach,” says Jim. “And after five or 10 years, there’s not much to do there either.”
The dream was also to have a place that belonged to both of them. For a while Jim worked in southern Oregon and Ramon was in Spokane, Washington – a distance of about 11 hours. On weekends, they would meet in Portland, Oregon, about halfway between them.
“While we were apart, Ramon was watching HGTV and saw Mérida on one of the ‘House Hunters International’ shows. They weren’t aware of the charms of Yucatán before.
They don’t remember which one sparked the idea of going to check it out, but “downloaded every Mérida-related episode and just binge-watched it.”
The first visit was New Years Eve 2017. They stayed at the Gran Hotel above Starbucks, less than a mile down the street from where they would eventually renovate a property.
“We walked across town in the Centro and fell in love with it,” says Jim. “The architecture, the people. On our second trip, we were walking and said “this is it”.
Renovation may be in their blood, and they had their eye on the potential for a ruin after buying, remodeling and later selling an 1855-1890 Victorian “sort of junkyard” in Connecticut. They also restored an abandoned Craftsman-style house out west, turning it into a rental property.
This property was previously used as an automotive air conditioning repair shop. From the comfort of the terrace, Jim points to where there used to be a parking lot, and where two other bedrooms and a bathroom are now unrecognizable.
After overseeing construction here, Jim says his Spanish has improved: “I’m fluent in food and construction.”
The house they built follows traditional lines, with romantic neoclassical elements. Carvings, reliefs and architectural details – such as a giant wall in the front yard finished with the Mayan cross stone technique. The colors are soft and soothing.
The house is south of the Plaza Grande, which loosely delineates the city’s economic divide. Most modern construction takes place in the north, towards the beach. But they are happy with their neighborhood, which they appreciate for its local family businesses, a neighborhood market and for having fewer expats.
“One of the reasons we wanted to move to Mérida is that there are fewer expats than in Puerto Vallarta, so being in a neighborhood that doesn’t have as many is good,” Ramon says. “And so there are no malls, but this house has a garage, and there is a car, so you can travel wherever you want.
And a walk to Santa Lucía takes 20 minutes, tops, to their favorite restaurants.
The couple worked closely with four-year-old Jessica Park Zavala of architecture firm Park Estudio. She arrived that day for a brief “watch party” in the living room for their home segment on Trasmuro, a YouTube channel that delves into what’s “behind the wall” in renovated Yucatán homes. . The show happened to drop on Jim and Ramon’s 27th birthday together, at their new home in Mérida.
Dreams come true, even in pairs.