We’ve only been house-hunting in earnest for a few days. We arrived in Oaxaca Monday night, and have been staying in the lovely Al Sol Apartments for most of that time. They are a great short-term place; some people even live here for months, but none of the apartments is big enough for us to do that. We want to have a room dedicated to art–having to clean up after oneself before dinner every night is an impediment to working–and if possible, maybe even another room that is reserved for the many guests we hope to host. With the exchange rate approaching 20 pesos to the dollar, we can probably afford what we want, if it exists.

We have visited half a dozen places to rent. Most have featured either depression-level dinginess (think 40-watt light, the furniture your grandmother bought on sale in 1959, and an 18-inch stove) or a distance of 20+ minutes’ drive from the Centro, the central part of the city. Then, today, we found a really nice apartment, big enough, well within what we can afford, and nicely furnished. We could say yes to it and stop searching.

But this is what’s making it so hard to do:  the memory of the house we rented in San Miguel.  Oh, it was funky and a bit broken down. There was peeling paint, and our rooftop garden was just a rooftop. The gas pressure was so low that it was hard to use more than one burner at once, and impossible to crank the oven up to consistent baking temperature. But look at that kitchen! Look at the tiles, and the ironwork and the woodwork. We had a courtyard and it was gorgeous. The whole house was a casa tradicional, not something you’d be just as likely to find in Seattle. We’re all holding out for that in our hearts. It makes “good enough” feel not quite good enough.