present PLANs FOR

(last updated, April 1, 2013)

Jim and Mindy Phypers now live in a small village of 600 people in the mountains of Veracruz, Mexico. The are gradually working to build a "Solar Haven 2" based on the same ideals of living simply and sustainably as the original Solar Haven in Arizona. It can be somewhat more modest in scope. Since there are no protective covenants or building codes in Mexico forcing us to build as large a house as we did in Arizona, the house can be much smaller, about 500 square feet. There is also no need for heating or cooling living so far south in Mexico. Veracruz is not wheat straw country. Having the bales trucked in from two states away would be prohibitively expensive and using all that gas to transport them is anything but environmentally friendly. Living in the tropics means so much more living can occur outdoors. The entire kitchen is always outside on the patio. Mindy will of course continue to do most cooking with the sun and we can sleep outside much of the year if we choose to. No heating or cooling is necessary--this is the tropics! Water is easily heated by the sun in a black storage tank located on the roof.

Electricity will be provided eventually by solar panels, inverter, and storage batteries. We brought some panels and a big inverter with us from Arizona. Since we took such a loss in selling Solar Haven due to the depressed real estate market at the time, however, we have not be able to afford to purchase more solar panels and a bank of storage batteries to complete the system. Grid-power is available most places but of course costs money every month and is environmentally unfriendly to produce -- it is just not sustainable and continues to consume resources that are becoming scarce now on our planet.

We wish to undertake a demonstration project this summer to show families how to build their own homes using inexpensive natural materials readily available close to where they live. All houses now are built with concrete blocks which are expensive for a whole house and result in many, many houses never being finished. Labor is relatively plentiful here. Extra pesos to buy construction materials are NOT. Earth-bag construction, now becoming popular many places in the world, lends itself perfectly to the needs and resources of our neighbors. Please see a complete description of this project with many photographs.



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 will add 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 "marcuyo" vines to grow over the roof for additional insulation.


Maracuyo 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 veges, 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 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 finally produced a CD of our music.


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 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 in A Small Village in Rural Mexico".
It has approximately 500 color photographs
in addition to the narrative.
It has 27 chapters and 200 pages.



This book is now completed and ready to be sent to the printers in China. We are currently exploring sources of funding for doing this.

In the meantime, we have published a short photo essay called "The Beauty of Family in Mexico" using the Amazon Book-On-Demand service. Click HERE to see the front and back cover and two sample pages... available on, 32 full-color pages, $7.95.-

We could use this service for our complete book, but it is an expensive way to produce a book, though there is no up-front costs to us. We would have to price it at $30 to make a $4 profit -- too expensive, we feel, for a 200 page book even if it has 500 photographs. Printed in China, we could offer the book at $20 with the same profit margin!

Please get in touch with us if you might be able to help us get the book printed and offer it at a reasonable price.



Read about where we live in the mountains of Veracruz
and what life is like living in a tiny village of 600 people


©2013 byJim Phypers, SolarHaven2 Mexico