Category Archives: Construction

Outdoor cooking

We use a gas stove and gas hot water heater since we do not have electricity in La Yacata.  However, with the price of a tank of gas skyrocketing to $477 pesos in January, it was time to take some preventative actions.  

We had an extra bag of cement left over from the last project and my husband came across a grill top in one of his treasure hunts, so he determined that now that our porch was covered, it was time to make that outside cooking area he’d been promising for 10 years.

So that’s what he did.  He went back and forth as to whether he’d make it all out of cement or frame it with bricks, but as we were out of bricks, he went with the cement model.

It took 2 days to complete.  We were having carne asada (grilled steak) before you know it.

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Of course, it was time to get some new cast iron pans.  Cooking over the open flame makes tasty food, but sure does smoke the pans up.  So I ordered some at Amazon Mexico.  They arrived a week later.  My husband is incredibly happy with the pots. He’s even requested a large soup pot for other dishes he has in mind.  

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Maybe it’s time to search out a cast iron tea kettle for the morning coffee!

With the price of gas increasing yet again in February, pretty soon we’ll be heating our bath water over the open flames too!

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Window Installation

Little by little our house is getting done.  We finally had enough to have the windows installed.  So that became the summer project.  Houses in Mexico typically have windows that are made of metal and involve bars on the outside to keep intruders and thieves out.  Knowing our neighbors, bars are a good idea.

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As this was more than my husband could manage, we went to see G, the secretary of the now inactive Mesa Directiva (Board of directors) of La Yacata who just so happens to be a herrero (blacksmith).  His prices were about 5,000 pesos less than the other two estimates we got.  We knew him and his work personally as well, so more inspired confidence.  We made a downpayment and he started work on the 4 windows and 2 doors needed.  One door leads to the back porch.  The other door leads to  Joey’s roof, which one day will be another porch. Or so my husband says.

 

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The door over Joey’s room

 

We arranged for them to be finished by my next quincena (2 week-paycheck) and installation to occur the following quincena so that there would be enough money for the installation and any last minute issues.  Things are never as easy as they appear at first here in Mexico.

My husband rented a generator and welding machine for the day. Between G and my husband, everything was installed that same day.  Of course, the installation wouldn’t be complete until all the gaps in the frames were filled in, but that was a project for another day.

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tinted front window

Glass installation was not included in the work G did.  So we called a vidriero (glass installer) and had tinted glass put in the front windows and flowered patterned frosted glass put in the doors and other 2 windows.

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bathroom window

I wasn’t quite satisfied with the amount of light that reached the intended second-floor bathroom.  Since we still have no idea how long it will be until we can either connect up to the landline or purchase a solar powered system, natural light is absolutely necessary.

I bugged and bugged until my husband suggested glass bricks for the bathroom.  At 55 pesos each, we could have a new window for under $300 pesos.  Fabulous!  

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Making the hole for the glass brick window

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Installing them required a bit of hammering and cementing, but it was done in less than a day.  

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Let there be light!

Next project–patching the walls!

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Surviving a Jawhole disaster in La Yacata

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A jaw hole is a hole in which dirty water or sewage is collected. And yes, there are apocalyptical disasters involving sewage, and not just in third-world countries either.

London, UK. 1878. The local sewage system still in use today had formed large mud banks of waste in the Thames River. The steamer Princess Alice sunk in the middle of the Thames and 650 people died from drowning in the raw sewage.

Louisville, Kentucky, USA. February 13, 1981. Two miles of road were destroyed when hexane vapors illegally discharged into the sewers caught fire and caused a series of explosions.

Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. April 22, 1992. Two hundred fifty-two people were killed, 500 were injured and another 15,000 people were left homeless after gas explosions in the sewer system destroyed 5 miles of streets. Strong gas smells had been reported by residents four days previous to the disaster, however, city officials felt it was not necessary to evacuate the area.

 

 

 

Um El-Naser, Gaza. March 27, 2007. Seventy percent of the village’s homes were submerged in 2 meters of raw sewage when the earthen wall of a cesspool sewage pool collapsed. Five people were killed, including two babies, an elderly woman, and a 15-year-old girl, 20 more people were injured. The collapse was due to sand theft from the areas around the embankment. The sand had been sold to building contractors.

Edinburgh, Scotland. April 20, 2007. A pump failed at the city’s sewage processing plant and caused millions of liters of waste to flow into the Firth of Forth for days. It was devasting to the local fish and wildlife.

San Isidro and La Providencia, Mexico. April 2011. Three children were injured and more than 200 homes were flooded when a sewage pipe cracked.

So what about La Yacata? Well, we aren’t connected to the main sewer line. (See You can Lead a horse to water, sewage, and electricity) Although we reuse quite a bit of our greywater for our garden, our toilet and shower drains are connected to a pipe that connects to the drenaje (drainage) out to the road. To no one’s surprise, the pipes in the road are not the appropriate size. These smaller than requisite pipes run down the road and swerve to the left and open out to the arroyo (an open drainage pit or jaw hole). The little towns up the road, Caricheo, Pamaceo, La Ordeña, Las Peñas, all have the same jaw hole. The sewage goes away–to where I’m not exactly sure.

One of our neighbors once mentioned that he likes to stand under the pipe and bathe during the rainy season. EWW! Be that as it may…

We have a beginning of an environmental disaster on our hands. Our neighbor has pigs. (See Hate Thy Neighbor) He shovels the pig poop into the sewer pipes. The sewer pipes are not designed for human poop much less pig poop. Pig poop has backed up into the sewer pipes and has been oozing out of the open sewer pipe of the house down the street. Our house is above the pig farm, so the poop hasn’t reached us yet, but if it does, boy am I going to pitch a fit!

Our plan is to call the Departamento de Ecologia before that happens. I’m sure the neighbor won’t be happy with us, but hey, poop is icky!  And I hope the road doesn’t collapse over the sewer one day like happened to this poor woman in India!

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Surviving Global economic collapse in La Yacata

With the increased interdependence of formerly distinct countries and cultures, economic problems in one area will affect others which will effect still others in a giant domino tumble. Quite a few experts predicted 2016 as the beginning of the end in terms of economic collapse. (See also The risks for 2016 economic collapse, Global economy 2016, Will the US economy collapse in 2016?)

But what exactly is a global economic collapse and how will it affect life as we know it? Even Wikipedia had trouble coming up with a concrete definition. “The term has been used to describe a broad range of bad economic conditions, ranging from a severe, prolonged depression with high bankruptcy rates and high unemployment (such as the Great Depression of the 1930s), to a breakdown in normal commerce caused by hyperinflation (such as in Weimar Germany in the 1920s), or even an economically caused sharp rise in the death rate and perhaps even a decline in population (such as in countries of the former USSR in the 1990s) Often economic collapse is accompanied by social chaos, civil unrest and sometimes a breakdown of law and order.”

In Mexico, the value of the peso dropped substantially, and for a time was more than 20 pesos per dollar in 2016/2017. While quite a few Expat groups celebrated the high conversation rate, it really wasn’t a cause for joy in the everyday life of Mexicans or those that earn their livings in pesos. (See also Anxiety rises in Mexico as the peso tumbles, Mexican Peso surprising drop spurs speculation, The Struggling peso–Mexico for sale )

So it seems that global economic collapse just might be a world-changing event in the very near future for us. How have we prepared?

Keep Some Cash At Home. We have next to nothing in the bank. We keep our meager saving in cash. It’s not much, so we aren’t really worried about robbery.

Get Out Of Debt. We don’t owe anything on any of our vehicles or our house. All our construction projects are done as we can afford them. It does take a long time that way, but it keeps the debt down. (See Building a dream, Constructing a life)

Reduce Your Expenses. We live simply. (See Declaring Solvency)

Have a Place to Live that won’t be repossessed. We own our house in La Yacata. There aren’t escrituras (individual deeds) but all the lots are held in common in a sort of hacienda set-up. Hopefully, we will eventually be able to get individual deeds because this really does bother me. Of course, as the owner has said, nobody really wants La Yacata (there isn’t any water or minerals or petroleum to be found there) so we’re probably safe.

Start A Side Business. We’ve tried all sorts of business. We aren’t afraid to try and fail while we always hope for success. (See Failing at your Own Business)

Move Away From The Big Cities. La Yacata is outside Moroleon “city” limits.

Store Food. We store beans, rice and tea and other stuff. The stuff we store is often our emergency food between financial windfalls or financial trickles whichever comes our way. This is a temporary fix, though. Eventually, the food does run out. (Forcibly green, Obligatory Organic)

Grow Your Own Food. We grow a good selection of our own food currently and hope to grow even more in the future. (See Alternative Farming and Old MacDonald’s Farm) We keep animals which provide us with meat, milk, and eggs.  We also forage for food in our immediate area. (See Foraging)

Have a Clean Water Supply. We have amply water storage for about 2 months even with all our animals. We also catch rain water during the rainy season. (See Water Woes)

Have A Plan. Our ultimate goal is to be completely self-sufficient. We aren’t there yet.

Have Blankets And Appropriate Clothing On Hand. Without money, these things will become harder to come by. Of course with my nifty treadle sewing machine, we won’t run out of these things anytime soon! (See Dirty and Ragged)

Have a supply of Personal Hygiene Supplies, medication, and a first aid kit.  I do have a 5 or 6 month supply of my medication for hypothyroidism and use a Diva cup rather than disposable any feminine hygiene products. We also have a small first-aid kid. Toliet paper can be replaced with reusable cloths or leaves (provided they aren’t poisonous) in a pinch.  My husband insists we can use rocks if we haven’t any paper, but I’m sure something else would be better. Soap is easily made from natural ingredients.

Entertainment. Watching a movie on our rechargeable DVD player, listening to guitar music, playing board games, sewing, knitting, reading, horseback or bike riding are all activities that don’t cost an arm and a leg.

Know your Community. We know quite a number of people who are skilled at various survival trades. The butcher, the baker are accounted for. Still looking for the candle maker, though. In the event of economic collapse, it’s important to know people with skills that you can barter for.  It’s also important that you have skills people might be looking for.

Have a Supply of Survival Equipment. Matches, an ax or machete, good shoes, flashlight, radio, and such items are always a good idea. Who knows how long things will be tight and we’ll have to make due. We have all of that. If you’re looking for a good general list, check out my Useful Items page.

Extra Gasoline. We might have a liter or two of gasoline about the house, but that’s about it. Our motorcycles are way more economical than either Myrtle the volcho (VW bug) or Butch the truck. When the gas runs out we can always use our bikes or walk.

Self-Defense Equipment. These are supposed to help keep your supplies safe from the hoards of people that haven’t prepared. We do have a machete or two, and a big scary looking but friendly guard dog, but that’s about it. Our windows have bars, but it’s far from burglar proof. Guess we’ll get to working on that.

Keep Your Prepping To Yourself. OOPS! Well, since you’re reading this, I guess I’m not following this tip so well.  However, just so you know, La Yacata is the place to be in the event of global economic collapse!

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