"Living Simply is Beautiful" - special video

day-to-day life in our village
in rural veracruz, mexico

Jim and Mindy Phypers live in a small village (called a "ranchita") in rural, tropical Veracruz, Mexico. It is located about half way between the capital of Veracruz, Jalapa, and the Gulf of Mexico and the port city of Veracruz. Jim's failing health in Arizona necessitated a move to a warmer, more temperate climate. Financial pressures also figured into our decision to sell Solar Haven and move south.

Our village lies in a beautiful green valley with a large river, the Rio de Pescados, flowing through to the Gulf of Mexico from the slopes of Mt. Orizaba (elevation, 17,340 feet).


The population of our town is about 600 with many many many more cows, burros, chickens, oxen, horses, and dogs.


The town is about five blocks long and two blocks wide plus several houses sprinkled up the slopes of the valley, including our house. The pics below are of our house and neighborhood.


Most of our neighbors are "campesinos" who work in the fields. Many know how to build a house and have most likely built their own, first with bamboo or sticks and later with cement blocks... Everyone has their kitchen outside on the patio and cooks with wood...

Everybody knows everybody, of course, and support and care for each other in a most wonderful way. There is a community loud speaker with announces birthdays, who has what for sale at the moment, and upcoming events. Most of our food comes from a neighbor's yard or pasture. Prices for food are half of what they are in the United States, and of course the food is very fresh and organically grown. Everybody has unlimited free water from an irrigation canal above the town.

We can buy almost every thing we need either in town or in a larger town five minutes away. Most services are available locally as well. We have been able to get almost anything fixed for a song--stuff no one would repair in the states. To purchase big ticket items like appliances and electonic gear, Jalapa is a 35 minute drive on a four lane freeway. We have a Costco there plus Home Depot, Sam's Club, Office Max, Walmart, and "The Chedraui" (the Mexican equivalent of Walmart but better).

The people are very warm and friendly. They laugh and smile a lot...

The kids are just adorable...!

None of our neighbors speak English. A few have worked to the United States but were never able to learn the language. We understand why. Learning Spanish has been very diffiuclt and a full-time occupation for these past five years. Mindy does pretty well now--Jim still not so hot.

We have adopted five "rescue" dogs (or did they adopt us?) -- Bingo, Pippen, Brindle, Norman, and Chumi. Four of them would have starved to death on the streets had we not taken them in. We love them. Our daily runs down to the river and up the valley to one of two secluded mountain creeks is the highlight of the day for everybody.

Three more "rescue" cats have now joined us as well --
and did we mention the four fish tanks that somehow have been accumulating?


Our little town is the "old Mexico" with the traditional ways and customs very much intact -- including fiestas...

and parades...

and piƱatas at birthday parties...

and lots of fun and good eats...

and big "quinceƱera" parties to celebrate a young lady's coming-of-age at 15...

Most of our shopping is done in a large air market called the "Mercado" in a larger town five minutes away. It is open seven days a week though on Thursdays, it swells to three times its normal size as vendors from towns all over the area bring their goods and produce in to sell. We also buy meat and veggies from our neighbors.

It gets hot in the afternoons in Summer at our latitute of 19 degrees and elevation of 800 feet (around 100). We can easily cool off, however, in a big river three blocks away or in a lovely creek which runs down a side-canyon just five mintues drive from the house. With it's many pools and waterfalls, this creek area is easily one of the most beautiful places we have ever discovered. Here is a picture of Mindy heading down the trail to our favorite pool...

The water in the creek comes from a spring near the top of the canyon rather than a water shed. The creek therefore runs all year, is not effected by periods of low rainfall, and remains about the same temperature year-round. We swim and bathe here year around. We actually have never taken the storage boxes out of our shower and prefer it here...

We keep in touch with the world and maintain our website with a satellite dish installed in the back yard. We are the only folks in town to be connected to the Internet or to own a computer for that matter. Three of us in town have managed to pick up a cell phone signal from a nearby town using a high-gain antenna on a tall mast. No land lines were ever installed here.

We have kept our vintage Airstream trailer which we brought with us to Mexico and lived in our first year here. It makes a fine guest house...


For the past four years, we have made many videos of our life in rural Veracruz. Have a look on our "solarhaven2" channel on YouTube. Look for the separate playlist called "Life in a small village":



Before starting to make videos, we maintained a blog of our life in Mexico...




We have made several improvements to our house such as a secondary roof over the main one which is just sheets of tin. The new roof is made of palm fronds and a bamboo frame and adds much needed shading and insulation for the house and patio areas. We also built a privacy wall using bales of corn stalks (!) to form a new patio area and an outdoor kitchen. We are training "maracuya" vines to grow over the roof for additional insulation.

Maracuya fruit makes a delicious drink. The kids spoon out the pulp and eat it like candy. We get 12-15 a day. This is far too many for us to use so we have given away several bags to our neighbors who in turn give us their extra fruit and veggies, particularly fresh corn.

Our yard also produces lemons and bananas which we planted as tiny trees two years ago. Our yard was a little barren back then but not now!

Mindy has taught a few English classes here on a volunteer basis. Many of the moms were keen for their kids to be in the class. Many of the kids were also motivated but some were not. Note the two boys climbing the fence to escape.

We have taken countless photographs and video clips of life here. We can get prints made so cheaply at our Costco store in Jalapa that we just give photos to folks in the community as well as videos we burn to DVDs to be circulated among those who have DVD players. The kids love to get photographed and often play it up big for the camera. At first it was "Hi Gringa" when they saw Mindy coming with her camera, now it is just a loud "MINDY" with much waving and smiling.

Watching videos of themselves on our big screen TV is a very popular event. Very soon after a major event where we have taken pictures, like a parade or a graduation at the primary school for example, there are knocks at the door wanting to the see the videos...

Making music has always been an important part of our life. Jim plays all voices of the recorder with Mindy accompanying him on her autoharp. This is the most inspirational place we have ever lived and the mornings are usually blessedly quiet. We also have almost no air traffic, maybe a dozen planes a week. So we practice hard most mornings and occasionally play for our neighbors. We have been making recordings for the last few years and have produced a high fidelty, stereo CD of our music. It is available for $10, including shipping. Click on the album cover below...

Mindy has discovered a versatile, electronic version of her beloved autoharp called the "Q Chord" which is being used on this recording. It is a synthesizing instrument that can sound a piano or an organ, a guitar or a harp, or many of the other instruments of the orchestra.

Some of the kids and their moms too like to have a go on it.
Here Betsi is strumming while her mom is pressing the chord buttons.

The Q Chord is not the only unusual electronic gadget we have which is in demand by the kids...

We have written a new book entitled "Living Simply is Beautiful" - Life in A Small Village in Rural Mexico". It has 500 color photographs in addition to the detailed narrative. There are 27 chapters and 200 pages.






©2013 byJim and Mindy Phypers - SolarHaven2, Veracruz, Mexico