Category Archives: Carnival posts

Surviving Years in La Yacata

La Yacata is more than a bug-out location for our family. It’s our home. Our quest to become self-sufficient is more than a temporary fix. It’s our lifestyle.

surviving all you get

At times, it’s irksome, inconvenient and downright agonizing. Sometimes, we want to just throw in the towel. We’ve had more than our fair share of disasters living here in Mexico, and most probably will experience even more disasters in the future.

So what enables us to continue this life which we’ve been attempting for 10 years now?

Here are some tips.

pleasure

Having hobbies. Each of us has our favorite pastime. My son and I love to read. We have a pretty good library of actual books and our Kindles.  My son has taken up the guitar. He’s taken some classes, but for the most part been self-taught. My husband’s main pastime involves caring for our ever changing livestock selection. Sometimes it’s chickens and rabbits, other times, goats and sheep. We’ve had horses, donkeys, turkeys, quail, ducks and even a cow for a time. We all like to watch movies on our rechargeable DVD players. We like to go on day adventures. There are so many beautiful places here to visit. I knit and sew. Having hobbies keeps us sane. (See also Finding your Passion)

Being flexible about our income sources. You name it, we’ve probably tried it. We are not yet self-sufficient and as such find it necessary to supplement our income with outside work. We’ve sharecropped, taught classes, done bricklaying, baked bread, sold fruits and vegetables, had a store, worked in a store, and even collected and sold aluminum cans and rusty metal. All of these have been learning experiences for us. And while some jobs pay better than others, we never consider ourselves too good for any work. It certainly adds variety to our daily routines. (See also Finding your Passion)

self reliance

Doing it ourselves. My husband built our house from scratch. It’s still quite a work in progress. It’s nearly an organic entity, growing and changing as our needs change. We’ve had plumbers, carpenters, and metalworkers come and do the things that are beyond my husband’s skill, but the bulk of the work he has done himself. We grow some of our own food, although that too is a work in progress. We collect most of our own water. Doing it ourselves keeps us from becoming too dependent on governmental agencies. (See also Homesteading and Prepping)

misson

Having goals. We have both short and long term goals. Getting solar panels is something we hope to be able to do in the next few years. Becoming totally self-sufficient is something that will take longer.  (See also Homesteading and Prepping) My son finishes formal schooling next year. Finding an apprentice type position with a carpenter or mariachi band is his next goal. My husband’s goal is to finish the second floor of our house. My goal is to move away from teaching in the Mexican school system and do more freelancing. Having goals helps us keep our focus on the bigger picture when day-to-day challenges present themselves.

change survival

Being adaptable. The key to making this lifestyle work is the ability to be adaptable to whatever comes our way. It’s either feast or famine sometimes. It has taken some re-orientation on our part to prepare for the worst while things are going well. It’s taken some attitude adjustment to get through the times when things don’t go quite so well. Being adaptable gives us the incentive to grin and bear it in gratitude.

survivor

I’d like to say that we’ve mastered the art of survival, but that simply isn’t true. We do the best we can with what we have at the moment and so far have been lucky. As you’ve seen in this month’s posts, there are things that are impossible to prepare for. So if and when they do present themselves, we will give it our best shot and hope for the best. If we survive life in La Yacata, well, great! If not, at least we tried.

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Filed under Alternative Farming, Animal Husbandry, Carnival posts, Cultural Challenges, Homesteading

Surviving a toXic cloud in La Yacata

Accidents happen. It’s part of life. Human error, mechanical malfunction, shoddy safety practices, deliberate terrorism, even natural disaster all could cause a life-threatening toxic cloud in your area.

Mexico has quite a history of such toxic cloud disasters. The thing is, it’s often hard to measure the real magnitude of the disaster with all the government cover-up that goes on. Here are a few examples.

In April of 2016, The Pemex facility in Coatzacoalcos had an explosion which reportedly killed 13 people and injured another 100. The explosion caused a massive fire (it is an oil refinery after all) which created a toxic cloud containing chloroethane among other toxic gasses.

Schools were suspended in six municipalities surrounding the toxic cloud site. Residents were told to stay inside their houses, although Mexican authorities insisted that the cloud posed no risk to the population. Pemex supported this statement and further assured the media that the explosion would not impact the plant’s oil exportation production. Whew! I’m sure everyone was worried about that!

This is not the first major accident for the Mexican company. In January of 2013, Pemex’s headquarters in Mexico City was hit by a massive gas explosion that killed 37 people.

In October of 2012, 30 people were killed and 42 wounded at another Pemex oil refinery in Reynosa, Tamaulipas. The smoke from the toxic cloud that resulted was visible up to 10 miles away.

In Poza Rica, Veracruz in November of 1950, the Pemex oil refinery “accidentally” released hydrogen sulfide into the air. Over 20 people were killed while they slept and 320 were treated for exposure. The toxic cloud killed 50% of the animals that were exposed to its gasses.

Another incident on Poza Rica occurred in May of 2002. A series of explosions occurred at the refinery, killing one, burning two and injuring 7 in the toxic cloud that resulted.

In May of 1991, there was an explosion and subsequent fire at the national pesticide plant ANAVERSA in Cordoba, Veracruz which created a toxic cloud made up of Xylene. The vapors killed 5 people and caused dozens to be treated for inhalation of the chemical compound that affects the central nervous system.

In Nanchital, Veracruz in April of 2005, workers attempting to repair a pipeline, mistakenly cut an ammonia pipe releasing a toxic cloud into the neighborhood. Six workers were killed, 297 others were treated for exposure and more than 1,500 were evacuated.

Pemex has numerous received accolades for its safety standards year after year, however, the death toll is in the thousands. Those listed above are only a small segment of industrial air contamination caused by the national oil company.

In 2005 alone, 516.9 thousand tons of SOx emissions were released into the atmosphere by Pemex facilities.  SOx emissions are the major precursor of acid rain.

At times a toxic cloud results from deliberate actions. An explosion on a drilling platform off the coast of Louisiana in 2010 caused a massive oil spill which was then set on fire in an attempt to keep the spill from spreading. The fire in the Gulf of Mexico created an enormous toxic cloud, which of course, the U.S. government felt would be the lesser of two evils and cause less damage than allowing the oil spill to reach land.

Then there was that naled aerial spraying in North Carolina in August of 2016. Not only were millions of bees and other beneficial insects killed, but naled is a compound toxic to humans as well, causing damaged to the nervous system, birth defects, paralysis, and death.

Smog is yet another form of toxicity found in the air.  Smog is highly toxic to humans and has been proven to cause sickness and death among those that breath it in.  Mexico City is the most smog-plagued city in Latin America

Although the Mexican government is quick to point out that Mexico City’s air quality is better than much of China and India.

So what do you do in the event of a toxic cloud in your area? Well, a biohazard suit would come in handy. However, in the event that your suit is at the cleaner’s, any cloth used to cover your mouth and nose that minimizes the amount of toxic fumes you inhale would help as you move away from the source as quickly as possible. A biohazard mask would be good to have in this case.

Another tip that might work in some areas is to go into an airtight building. I have to say though that most buildings in Mexico are far from airtight so this might not be as helpful as it would be in more modern areas.

Remove any clothing that might have been exposed to the toxic cloud and dispose of it. Then shower to remove any residue left on your skin. Unfortunately, some chemicals react negatively to water so this might cause even more problems.

Several prepper sites recommended listening for official announcements by someone in authority for instructions on evacuation. I’m going to say that again that government cover-up might preclude this as being a valid life-saving option.

La Yacata would be an excellent place to be to survive a toxic cloud catastrophe as it is far from any Pemex refineries, there are no pipes going through the area, ammonia or otherwise, and since our 95-year-old pesticide spraying neighbor no longer plants any crops, the air in and around us is totally breathable, unless you are downwind of the pig farmer that is. (See Hate thy neighbor). The area is still sparsely populated so government agencies are not spraying toxic chemicals to eliminate Zika carrying mosquitos either. They don’t really care if we get Zika or not, which is just as well I think.  Don’t you?

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Filed under Carnival posts, Death and all its trappings, Health, Safety and Security

Surviving a Windstorm in La Yacata

A windstorm can have winds more than 55 km (34 mi) per hour in short bursts or longer periods of sustained winds and can cause death, destruction, and general mayhem.

In 2015, Mexico was hit by Hurricane Patricia. This storm had sustained winds of 215 mph (345 km/h), breaking the record for the highest ever one-minute maximum sustained winds. When the hurricane made landfall near Cuixmala, Jalisco, the windstorm still registered up to 150 mph (240 km/h) making it the strongest landfall hurricane along the Pacific coast of Mexico.

The village of Chamela was completely flattened in the storm. In the town of Emiliano Zapata, winds tore roofs from homes and businesses, stripped the hillside of vegetation, toppled concrete power poles and crumpled transmission towers. Hundreds of homes were destroyed and 7 deaths occurred as a direct result of the intense winds. The total damage has been estimated to be more than 5.4 billion pesos ($323.3 million U.S. dollars). More than 59,000 acres of crops were damaged or destroyed in Jalisco alone. In Colima, the banana crop loss was estimated at 500 million pesos ($30.2 million U.S. dollars). Because of the extreme intensity of the storm, the name Patricia was retired from the hurricane list by the World Meteorological Organization.

In Mexico, one of the primary causes of injury or death as a result of a windstorm is falling billboards.

Here’s just a partial list:

In Metepc on March 10, 2016

In Fray Servando Teresa de Mier on June 26, 2016

In Mexico City on July 22, 2016

In Puebla on August 29, 2016

In Culiacán, Sinaloa on March 8, 2016

In Mexico City on April 18, 2016

In Mexico City on August 30, 2016

In Periférico Norte on March 12, 2015

On the Mexico-Queretaro Highway on March 10, 2010

In Tlalnepantla on Apr 24, 2013

So I would say that surviving a windstorm in Mexico would require that you stay as far away from a billboard as possible. Fortunately, there are no billboards in La Yacata.

Make sure to secure your tinaco!

Make sure to secure your tinaco too!

Other things that you might want to do as prevention including removing dead trees and overhanging branches, loose roofing materials, tie down outside furniture and garbage cans. In Mexico, it might be securing your tinaco (water storage container) as well or risk it flying off as happened in our neighboring town of Uriangato.

Park your vehicles inside if possible. If not, move them a safe distance away from objects (like billboards) that might fall on them. Stay inside, away from windows, doors, and billboards. Make sure pets and livestock are in a sheltered area, far from billboards.

Following these simple precautions will help you best survive a windstorm in La Yacata.

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Filed under Battling Nature, Carnival posts, Death and all its trappings, Safety and Security

Surviving a Volcanic eruption in La Yacata

Mexico is crossed by the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt, known also as the Sierra Nevada, which covers its central-southern section. Interestingly enough, this belt defies logic and does not run parallel to the Middle American Trench and many of the volcanoes are located at an angle to the highest peak in Mexico, Pico de Orizaba (18,491 feet), also known as Citlaltépetl which is currently dormant, but not extinct.

There are currently 43 active or dormant volcanoes listed for Mexico, but that’s not to say that one might not spring up in your back yard. That’s exactly what happened just a hop, skip, and jump away from La Yacata near Uruapan, Michoacan in 1943. It grew over a period of nine years, with lengthy periodic eruptions which completely destroyed the town of Parícutin. Three people were killed, not from lava, but after being struck by lightning generated by pyroclastic eruptions (See Surviving a lightning strike).

Other Mexican volcanoes that have erupted in the last 100 years include Volcano Barcena (1953), El Chichón (1982), Nevado de Colima (2016), Popocatépetl (2016), Socorro (1993), and the Tacaná Volcano (1986).

Of course, all of these eruptions may not be natural in origin. There is some speculation that aliens are controlling the timing and intensity of Popocatépetl‘s eruptions. (See Surviving UFO invasion in La Yacata)

So, being in the vicinity of active volcanoes (UFO triggered or not) means learning a bit about volcano safety.

The number one tip is to STAY AWAY FROM ACTIVE VOLCANOES!

It’s quite the thing to hike or climb the impressive peaks in Mexico with Iztaccihuatl being the most popular volcano to hike. However, as some of these are still active, they are technically closed for tourists. So don’t risk it.

More safety advice:

If you happen to be in your house and a volcano erupts near you, evacuate if you are in the direct path of lava, mudflows or flying rocks or debris. Before you leave the house, put on long-sleeved shirts and pants, wear eyeglasses or goggles, and put on an emergency mask or hold a damp cloth to your face.

Ash can damage vehicle engines, so avoid driving. If you must drive, stay below 35 miles per hour.

If you are not evacuating, close windows and doors and block chimneys to prevent ash from entering your home. Wear protective clothing when removing ash from your roof. Bring pets and livestock into closed and sheltered areas.

Stock up on the normal prepper supplies such as food and water. The effects of a volcanic eruption could last years leading to drought (See Surviving Drought), and civil unrest (See Surviving Martial Law). The great civilization that once inhabited Teotihuacan is thought to have been torn asunder after a massive volcano caused global climate change (See Surviving Global Climate Change) leading to an extended drought causing the starving inhabitants to overthrow its government. (See Teotihuacan)

Knowing what could happen and being prepared is half the battle when it comes to volcanic eruptions. The other part is just using old fashion common sense and staying the h*ll away from high-risk zones.  Of course, it’s come to my attention that we live closer to a high-risk zone than I previously thought.  In February 2017, a crater appeared in the small lake town of Cuitzeo, not so very far from La Yacata.  The ensuing dust cloud caused considerable health issues for residents and affected the air quality all the way to Moroleon for several weeks.

And then, of course, there is the suspicious amount of pumice stone found in La Yacata which makes me wonder if we are far enough away from a risk zone.  Well, I guess we’ll just have to take our chances on this one.

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Filed under Battling Nature, Carnival posts, Safety and Security