Almost Fearless

Casa de Ollas de Frijoles – The Beanpot House

I’m in love with the little house we found just north of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, in the sleepy town of Bucerias.  It’s a simple Mexican style compound with three bedrooms, a walled and gated yard (as is customary here) and two little extra houses on the property, which our landlord Pablo calls the “bodegas”.  One is used for laundry, the other storage.  Overall it’s an over 5,000 square foot property (the house is just about 1500 square feet or so) with fruit trees and flowering bushes.


I love the flowers.  They spill over the brick walls and add a fuchsia wall of color to that side of the house.  An older couple lived here before us and they took extremely good care of the garden.

These orange flowers open for a few hours a day, but mostly they are closed, waiting for the right conditions.

Some of the walls are hand-painted and there’s plenty of space for an outdoor room if we get organized enough to buy some furniture for it.

I need to write an entire love letter to the produce of Mexico, which I’ve devoured in bulk since arriving.  One of my first purchases was this fruit bowl, which I fill every 3-4 days with mangos, three different kinds of oranges, avocados, limes, apples, pears, kiwi, guava, and whatever else I can find.  There’s one variety of apple that tastes like candy.  We also eat a full watermelon every week (Cole polishes off most of it) and I’ve had 2 fruit smoothies everyday since arriving.  I have a massive sweet tooth right now, but smoothies with milk and fat-free yogurt has been my compromise.

There’s Jack!  He has his doggie bed from home, but usually he moves from room to room with the family, sleeping wherever we happen to be hanging out.

This area is all within the walled gates, so there’s lots of room for the dogs and Cole.  I’m planning on turning that patio into a second living space for us, maybe with some comfy chairs I find on Craigslist.

I think this is jackfruit.  The landlord didn’t know the name of it, and they are smaller than what we would see in Asia, but most of the fruit trees on this property (including the cherry tree and the now removed mango trees) have struggled to actually produce fruit, so we’ll see if they get big enough.  They smell amazing though, it fills the air with this light sticky-sweet aroma that takes me right back to Thailand.

We dry our clothes on the line.  That’s the cherry tree in the background, and it should bloom in May.

The house is called Casa de Ollas de Frijoles, or The Beanpot House.  That’s because of these little beanpots placed at intervals around the gate.

Everyday I go visit the flowers.

The weather is in the high seventies, which feels just a little cool to me in the morning, and we’re in the middle of winter here, so it’ll just get warmer.

The view from my backyard.

Here is one of the bodegas, it has a laundry room and it’s own full bath.

The owner’s wife loves doves.  This was their first house together.  They now live in a larger house just across town.

It’s old school Mexico.  If you go to Puerto Vallarta, you get this very modern, cool, and slightly touristy edge, then you come up north, cross over into our neighborhood and from one side of the highway to the other, it all completely changes.  All of our neighbors are Mexican, there’s music always playing (which I love, super sappy Mexican ballads playing all day, it’s atmospheric and sweet) and someone is always driving by trying to sell you gas, water, frijoles, tortillas, or whatever — and if you are out of gas you have to run outside and flag down the guy to buy some.  The prices are written on the side of his truck and he swaps out your old tank (we have several, one for the kitchen, two for the water heaters) and off he goes.

This is our street (our house is on the right, that’s our wall with the flowers).  On the other side there are two horses which are usually “parked” on the side of the road, munching on hay.  There’s about two dozen dogs, and they get all yippy if you walk past, but mostly they’re quiet.  It’s a dusty, sleepy part of town.

The old man across the street puts out a chair everyday and just sits there until dark.  His daughter has been coming over to help us clean three times a week.  The house is ours for the year, and because someone always asks, it’s $460/mo and we just had a phone line and internet put in, so that’s it, it’s feels official.  This is our Beanpot House for this year, maybe next, and when we visit Asia later in the year, the dogs will stay behind and keep our beds warm.

Christine Gilbert

I’ve been dragging my husband around the world since 2008 always with the promise that, “Yes, Drew there will definitely be hammocks there.”



  • Excellent shots 🙂

    I live on the other side, in Cancun, but in the city proper, not the hotel zone, and that’s the beauty of living here: things are so simple, so affordable, and just so damned homey and comfortable 🙂

    Thanks for sharing, and I love the blue color of the house.

  • Beautiful. I love how colorful poorer countries seem to be in comparison to America, Canada, England and the rest of us developed areas. 🙂
    And for 460 a month!?!? You can’t beat it.

  • Looks wonderful, Christine! The orange flower is hibiscus and they mostly open during daylight and last a day, maybe two at the most. And that is jackfruit. Should be a great place to spend the next year!

  • Soooonnnnii Gas. I feel like I hear it all day long. You would really have to be deaf to miss them. Just happy I don’t have to try and call them.

  • Love following along on your adventures, thanks for sharing! Your photos are inspiring me to find the beauty in our simple, everyday lives!

  • This looks soo lovely and quaint. I love all the bright sunshine and flowers and especially the turquoise (or is it light blue) wall paint. Soo Mexico 🙂

  • I love Bucerias!! My friend and her husband just bought their retirement home there too and she’s down there at this moment trying to slowly get things pulled together so they can move down permanently next year. I’m sure I’ll be down something this year to visit her as well so I can meet you too. I love following your tales since you’re living la vida loca and I’m not, yet 🙂

  • Ms. Christine Gilbert, Happy for you and yours! Best of luck in Mexico, and with the growing family. We will continue to look forward to your emails.

    My wife Marty and I really enjoy your site. Your articles seem to be honest open and “real”. Your photography is pristine, Christine! Especially appreciated your flower pictures this week …. and Cole … cute place in Mexico.

    We have been wanting to move to Thailand for several years, but had the upside-down mortgage devalued house problem in the states (Nevada where we lived being the worst) …… finally sold it to a “bigger fool” in early December. We may have lost a life time’s net worth, and are starting over at 65 and 59, BUT our pensions qualified us for and we obtained the coveted “Thai Retirement Visas” a week ago in LA, and made it to Chiang Mai yesterday. Concerned about the air pollution as I have asthma … burn season is soon I hear …. any thoughts? May try Chiang Rai, but is it the same there as Chiang Mai? …. our fall-back plan is Hua Hin on the coast of the Gulf of Siam. (Bangkok is obviously permanently out of the equation.)

    Signed, Fat Old Adventurous Farang Couple

    • Hi Jim,

      That’s awesome you’re in Thailand! Tough time a year for your first go at it though… unfortunately the burning season impacts the entire north and things are equally bad in Chiang Rai or any of the other towns up there. I was there last year around Mar-Apr and it was pretty bad. It’s a short period of time most people just suffer through, but since you mention Hua Hin, that sounds like a good plan.

      Enjoy Thailand!

  • This post was my appetizers,mains and desserts to last the whole week! How charming and inspirational! Thx

  • Looks like a beautiful house! I love the hand painted walls and the garden.

    Totally go for the full-fat yogurt in the smoothies. Your growing baby will take care of that extra fat. : )

    This reminds me I need to buy a blender and teach my nanny how to make smoothies and frozen fruit pops. Is watermelon juice common there? We can usually get it at restaurants in Saigon; it’s one of my son’s favorites.

  • Love your Beanpot House … what happy vibes surrounded by such joyful colours and flowers. Cole must be having fun with all that safe space to run around and hang with the pooches. Smoothie on,Christine!

  • Wow, stunning photography Christine. Love that the dogs are with you now… looks like a lovely place for a little family of four.

  • Beautiful! These pictures transferred me away from the freezing (-25C/-13F) temperatures of Norway for a moment. Maybe I don’t like winter after all….! If you are still thinking of looking for house/dog-sitters at some point, after this post I’m (plus the husband and baby) even more ready to volunteer. 🙂

  • Looks amazing, so much like our spot in Costa Rica. The pink flowers are Bouganvilla and the orange are Hibiscus. I love the bouganvilla a lot too, it comes in loads of different colors and if you snip a piece off and plant it someplace else you’ll have another huge flowering bush before you know it!

  • High seventies in January…that sounds ridiculously lovely. Would gladly trade for even just a couple days of that; meanwhile in Paris it’s supposed to snow this weekend…

  • My wife and I sailed down to Mexico and got married in Bucerias in front of Karen’s Place. We are down at the boat in San Diego at the moment, and considering where to take it from here…north to berth close to the house in Portland, or back down to Mexico…

    Your photos and story are making this an easy choice!

  • Hey Christine, Your house looks gorgeous, and that’s awesome that you’re living in Bucerias. Steve and I are living just up the coast in San Pancho. We go to The Little Bee store in Bucerias every now and then, and have been invited to a few gigs there. I’ll have to let you know if we’re in the area, and perhaps we could meet for a salt-free drink.
    All the best for the baby and the new home, Victoria

  • Really enjoyed both the photos and the words- it all paints a wonderful picture of a different side of Puerto Vallarta that I wasn’t aware of and touches on some of the aspects of Mexican culture that I love (I’m also a sucker for the sounds of Mexican ballads drifting out of houses and businesses). Makes me want to take advantage of the flight deals they have between SF and PV that I come across every so often. Enjoy your time there!

  • I have mixed feelings about your post. It is beautiful, I can feel the warm Mexican air through the photos and it makes me hungry for tamales.

    On the downside, it is 20 degrees where I am at right now and I am jealous. Very jealous.

    Thanks for sharing. That looks like a great place to call home and spend the winter.

  • Wow! i’m so happy for you guys! Just read the past few posts – you look great, the casa looks fabulous and drew cooks! Yah!

    Really this house looks awesome! And yes the pink flowers are Bougainvillea and the orange ones are Hibiscus. 🙂

    I love the bean pots everywhere – how cool! I miss Mexico.

  • Rod said to tell you that I have lots of experience. I’m 56 and I have lived in a house my whole life:)

  • Oh my gosh, your place in Mexico looks like a dream! And I love devouring all of the fresh variety of produce when I go to Central America (unfortunately, here in the UK there’s not much in the way of fresh produce, and the prices they sell at are heartbreaking).

    My parents are looking to one day buy a house in Antigua, Guatemala. Maybe I’ll keep encouraging them to. 😉

  • I love the tropical colors! The flowers and the house all look so appealing, I would love to visit, hopefully some day soon. Thanks for sharing the photos and lovely description!

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