National Preparedness Month

Did you know September is National Preparedness Month? Now, you may know that I am denial about my Prepper tendencies. In fact, I’ve been known to poke fun at the bunker building types in the past. Today I’m going to confess a few things you may have already guessed if you’ve read my blog for any length of time.

I’ve watched 8 seasons of the Walking Dead and was thoroughly disappointed with season 8. Michone hardly had any action at all although Carol is still there battling both the dead and undead!

My favorite Game of Thrones character is Arya, because she’s a survivor. Her direwolf Nymeria is also AMAZING leading her own pack now that winter has come.

My favorite historical figure in Mexican history is Malinche. Although slandered with slurs of traitor and whore, the fact is she rose above her position as a slave and used her intelligence to survive the turbulent conquest years.

And I’ve written a Prepper book about Mexico (which is free for the next few days in honor of my coming out as a Prepper).

Just to feed my hysterical Prepper side a little bit more, I’ve been watching the award-winning 2014 series Years of Living Dangerously. Each episode is sort of the Hollywood version of the dangers of climate change (which existence the current U.S. president denies emphatically). Harrison Ford, Jessica Alba, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, America Ferrera, Michael Hall, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Olivia Munn, Thomas Friedman, Ian Somerhalder, Lesley Stahl, Chris Hayes, M. Sanjayan and Mark Bittman are the commentators in the first season 9-episode documentary which was awarded an Emmy for outstanding nonfiction series–take that alternative fact Mr. President. World-renown journalists, not from Fox news, share the events, scientific causes and human toll of drought, hurricanes, global warming, deforestation and more. Let me tell you, each episode moves me just a little further on down the lane towards my secret Prepper alter-ego and bunker building inclinations.

It’s shameful to be an American these days. Not only do I adamantly oppose government-sponsored child abductions, but the fact that the United States is a knowing contributor towards global climate change and has gone so far as to repeal the several key environmental protection laws and encourage more fossil fuel exploitation makes me glad that I am living in exile.

Of course, I am well aware that what happens in the U.S. and other nations will ultimately affect my life and my child’s life and my grandchildren’s lives (when and if they make an appearance). My hope is that I will have Prepared enough and Prepared my son enough so that at least this branch of the Flores family won’t become extinct. To that end, I still have my eye on the lot next door. We need a larger garden if we expect to make it through the apocalypse and beyond.

So Happy Preparedness Month everyone! Although it might be more in line with the event to caution–Be Prepared! I encourage you to check out Years of Living Dangerously if you haven’t already and download my free book if Mexico is starting to seem like a better alternative to where you currently live.

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Lil’ Pup no more

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Lil’ Pup made himself quite at home since he found us. Although his size, or rather the length of his legs, kept him from joining Puppy and me on our morning walks for a few weeks, he took up his role as companion puppy as soon as he was able. From then on, he and Puppy waited at the door for me to go on my rounds. Lil’ Pup took flank position and Puppy did reconnaissance, or what he imagined was reconnaissance while chasing butterflies, rabbits, and birds.

Everything Puppy did, Lil’ Pup copied, down to ear twitching. Although Puppy seemed to get exasperated with his new little buddy at times, he was mostly good-natured about his little yellow shadow.

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Since my husband and father-in-law started work on my sister-in-law’s house across the street, they allowed Lil’ Pup, Puppy and my father-in-law’s 3 dogs (a mama dog and her two pups) to hang out at the construction site. It’s just across the street, so you’d think that they’d be safe enough. Unfortunately, the neighbors up the road started up on their own construction project again about the same time. Puppy really, really doesn’t like them. Seriously. He goes completely ballistic when they drive past on their motorcycle. And with good reason. They make it their aim to hit Puppy with a big stick when he barks at them. Instead of discouraging Puppy from barking and chasing them, it infuriates him. In fact, they even slow down in front of our house looking for Puppy to come out and bark at them so they can hit him some more.

Puppy’s chasing and barking days finally caught up with him when they ran him over with their motorcycle. Puppy is much subdued and his injuries are healing.

Then, the neighbor who has backed up the sewage line with pig poop made another appearance. He’d been MIA for about a year and we’d gotten comfortable with him not being there. In fact, Kitty has taken to spending the afternoons in the shaded pig area.

We think it was he who poisoned our Lil’ Pup and my father-in-law’s puppy perhaps in an effort to get rid of Kitty. She’s fine, but both puppies died the same day. And boy, do we miss them. My father-in-law even declared that we were officially “en luto” (in mourning).

Puppy still walks with me in the mornings, despite his injuries. However, two black as night male dogs have taken up with the 3 yappy dogs at the corner, so our walk is sometimes fraught with danger. The Alpha black dog doesn’t want Puppy to walk down HIS street. Puppy has never been an alpha dog, he’s barely a beta dog and isn’t looking to fight, but to defend me he would. So we’ve tried skirting around the dogs even if that means trudging through the mud. Sometimes that works and we pass unmolested. Other times, Alpha dog becomes more aggressive. Fortunately, he considers me more Alpha than Puppy, so some stern shouting (sometimes in Spanish, other times in English) usually keep him from following us for long.

So what’s to be done about these infringements to our lives, liberties, and happiness by the neighbors in La Yacata? Nothing.

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Doing the laundry in Mexico

Looking at CFE accounts, they would have you believe that 98% of Mexico has electricity even though 15% of the time there are unstable power outputs or loss of service for hours or days at a time. According to the 2016 census in Mexico, there are more than 500,000 homes without electricity.  Nearly 16% of the total population with access to water do not have water installed in their homes. Only 26% of the population of the state of Guerrero have daily access to water. Nearly 7,000,000 Mexicans live in isolated communities without adequate access to water and electricity.  Having limited or no access to electricity or water means doing the laundry can be a challenge in many areas of Mexico.

I don’t mind doing laundry. Hands down, I prefer it to doing the dishes. However, with not having electricity at our house for so long, we’ve had to be proactive about doing laundry. I mean, we couldn’t just throw it in the machine and let it wash itself now, could we?

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Our pre-remodel second-floor laundry area, complete with hand pump connected to the ajibe (dry well).

Necessity meant we found alternatives. One alternative is hand washing. Almost every house in Mexico has a built-in washboard just for that purpose. The raised cement ridges are just the thing for scrubbing stubborn stains. When the washboard isn’t quite up to the job, a bristle brush can be used to attack those manchas (spots). Clothes receive one-on-one personal attention and come out cleaner than regular ol’ machine washing. The drawback is that it uses a LOT of water. First, you have to soak the clothes, then scrub with soap, then rinse the soap off. Although we have our gray water running into the garden, it still was a major expense.

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My husband and father-in-law doing the wash.

The next laundry option is to go to the arroyo (stream) and wash. Water is limitless and the washboards angled to get a good suds on. Washing was much quicker with all hands on deck. Again, though, there were some drawbacks. Wet laundry is HEAVY and in order for it to dry properly, we had to haul it back to our house and hoist it up to the second floor where the clotheslines were. Then of course, occasionally, there were the lookie-loos who laughed at our public chonie washing. But what can you do?

IMG_20180727_104856There are other options should you not wish to air your dirty laundry in public and don’t mind other people touching your unmentionables. The washerwoman still can eek out a living here in Mexico. Just look for signs that say “se lava ropa ajena” (foreign clothes washed here).

If you aren’t comfortable taking your wash to someone else’s home, you can have a cha-cha (muchacha) come in and do the washing for you. These girls often come from very small towns and take the bus every morning to their jobs, usually one or two days per week in each home. They take care of everything, the laundry, beating out carpets, general and deep cleaning, minding the children, cooking, even dog grooming, so that the lady of the house is free to devote her time to other things. Pay is dependant on the number of hours and a chore list and can be quite affordable.

IMG_20180416_123629There are also lavanderías, but not the laundromats that you may be used to with quarter slots and TVs and dryers. These laundromats are drop-off service. They have one or two machines in the back and will wash and dry your clothes for pick up. This is a good option for blankets and comforters which are nearly impossible to wrangle clean in the arroyo (stream). Some lavanderías offer ironing services and small clothing repairs, like sewing on buttons or patching garments.

Another option for those special care items is the tintorería (dry-cleaners). Our local dry-cleaner even offers a pick-up/drop-off service.

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Knowing the pros and cons of hand washing, it’s more and more common for the lady of the house to request a lavadora for Mother’s Day. There are several options available. The most popular is the chaca-chaca machine. It’s a round drum that agitates the clothes clean and makes a chaca-chaca sound. On either side of the spectrum is the mini-washer which holds a maximum of 2 pairs of pants but would work well for undergarments and baby clothes and the modern washer with all the bells and whistles.

I opted for the later and have been blissfully using it at the Little House in Sunflower Valley for over a year now. We made an attempt to move it to La Yacata after we got the 3000 power inverter but unfortunately it didn’t work. It seems our power inverter uses a modified sine wave rather than pure sine wave and the washer wasn’t happy with the power output. So for the moment, it remains washing merrily in Sunflower Valley.

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No electricity = no dryer

As for drying options, dryers are quite rare, so sun-drying is the most popular option. Lines are usually made of a special wire that doesn’t rust instead of clothesline, although I have seen plastic clotheslines for sale. Make sure your line is sturdy and anchored well. It’s not fun when your freshly laundered clothing falls into a mud puddle on the ground. In the event that you don’t have a line, fences and cactus will hold your clothes nicely. Remember to turn your clothes inside out so as to minimize sun bleaching. And make sure the clothespin is clipped securely. Flying underwear has been known to cause a death or two (Motorizado se accidenta por calzón volador en La Ceiba).

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A local laundry mat, although not the one we use.

Now that you armed with this laundry knowledge, I give you the domestic goddess blessing “Go Forth and Clean!”

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A little about the Mexican National Anthem

The lengthy tribute to war that is the Mexican national anthem was written in 1853 by Francisco González Bocanegra as an entry to a presidential anthem competition sponsored by Antonio López de Santa Anna. The story goes that Francisco wasn’t interested in entering the competition but his fiancée, Guadalupe González del Pino thought otherwise. Guadalupe lured Francisco to an empty bedroom in her parents’ house and locked him in.  She refused to open the door until he wrote something for the competition. Four hours later, he slid the behemoth poem that was to become the national anthem under his door and Guadalupe set him free.

The first musical accompaniment to the lyrics was rejected, so a second competition was held.  Jaime Nunó’s entry, titled “God and Freedom” (Dios y Libertad), was chosen on August 12, 1854.

Since the full 10 stanza anthem is mighty long, President Manuel Ávila Camacho decreed that the official national anthem would be comprised of the chorus and 1st, 5th, 6th, and 10th stanzas in 1943.

Mexico takes its national anthem quite seriously. In the Law on the National Arms, Flag, and Anthem (Ley Sobre el Escudo, la Bandera y el Himno Nacionales) it is written that any interpretation of the anthem must be performed in a respectful way, that it may not be altered in any way, nor can it be used for commercial or promotional purposes. Permission must be obtained for all reproductions of the national anthems. The anthem must be played at the sign-on and sign-off for all radio and television programming (usually at midnight and 6 am) and that a photo of the Mexican flag must be displayed when the anthem is played on television. If a choir is singing the anthem, then there is no musical accompaniment. Spectators present during the playing of the anthem must stand at attention and remove head coverings. The national anthem must be taught to all children attending preschool, primary and secondary schools. If the anthem is played outside of Mexico, the Secretary of External Relations (Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores) must grant permission and verify that the anthem is not used for commercial purposes. If the national anthem is performed incorrectly or disrespectfully, the Mexican government has levied fines in the past.

Not everyone in Mexico speaks Spanish.  Thus, in 2005, the Mexican government allowed the National Institute of Indigenous Languages (Instituto Nacional de Lenguas Indígenas) to begin translating the national anthem into indigenous languages.  So far, it has been translated into the Chinanteco, Hña Hñu, Mixteco, Maya, Nahuatl and Tenek languages.

Lest you think you’ll never need to know the national anthem, up until recently, reciting sections of the national anthem was part of the Mexican citizenship test.  In January 2018, the process and test changed and no one is quite sure about the test process or the questions that will be asked but you can bet your bottom dollar that there still will be questions about the national anthem.

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