Category Archives: Electricity issues

Solar by Increments

Since all was lost in our community efforts to bring electricity to La Yacata, I turned my attention to solar a few years ago.  My husband was not as convinced that solar was a feasible alternative. So, I set out to show him that it would work, bit by bit.

He loved the motion detector solar lights I bought last year.  side-light

He thought the string of solar lights I bought for the stairs was nifty.  IMG_20180207_160012He was so-so about the string of twinkling solar Christmas lights I bought for the downstairs bathroom.  

He was finally won over by this little solar setup.  It had two lights and a charger and was powered by two little solar panels. The lights stayed on all night. The charger worked for our cell phones and Kindles.IMG_20180403_104923.jpgShortly after the mini-solar installation, we were driving around and I spied a corner shop with solar setups.  We circled back and my husband saw that there was a generator like the one he wanted to buy there in addition to some stacked solar panels.  Only no one was there. We spent the better part of a week trying to find someone at the store. We even called the number listed on the front door–no luck.

On the way to my 6-month doctor appointment, we swung past just one more time.  The door was open. Someone was there! We stopped and met with the Mexican version of Shaggy, green shirt and all. He drew some diagrams, asked some questions and showed us the setup that he did for El Tiro de Pichon (the shooting range) right up the road from us.  He had every confidence that we could install it ourselves. I didn’t have enough cash on me, so we said we’d be back the following day.

We went back and nobody was there. My husband said we were going to wait.  So we did. Right there on the front step. About 45 minutes later, Shaggy strolled out of the CFE (Mexican electric company) and over to his shop.  He had been trying to get a permit from CFE for another solar setup. As La Yacata doesn’t have any electricity, we wouldn’t need a permit.

We handed over cash for one solar panel ($3000 pesos) and one controller capable of regulating up to 4 solar panels ($1900 pesos).  He went over the installation instructions again and we were off. We had the motorcycle, and let me tell you, traveling across town with a solar panel on a moto isn’t an easy feat but we did it.  

We dropped it off and headed to Autozone where we bought a battery ($2600 pesos with $500 deposit when we return an empty shell).  We dropped that off as well. Then went to see the Herrerro (iron worker) and had him make a base for the solar panel ($400 pesos).  It was ready by 5:30 that afternoon.

 

So with all our pieces (we already had the AC/DC converter $2799 pesos) installation was scheduled for the following morning.  In under 2 hours, we had electricity.

 

Since we had the electrician come about a month ago, we only found minor issues with our system.  The light in my son’s room had a loose wire. The switch in the spare room was upside down. The plug in the back room should have been installed as a plug/switch combo. And the laundry room light was missing its connecting wire.  My husband spent the afternoon taking care of these little problems.

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Of course, not having electricity in the 11 years we have lived in La Yacata meant we had no light bulbs.  So we went on our first light bulb buying trip. We opted for the low-energy use LED lights in 60w and 40w.  Soriana was running a sale. With the purchase of $100 pesos of light bulbs, there was a 30% discount. The universe was conspiring with us!

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The idea is to purchase more batteries and solar panels as we can afford them to create a fully functioning system.  As it is now, we can run the lights and small appliances without an issue but should we wish to use the washer, for example, we need more oomph. That in no way has dampened our excitement though.

I was so thrilled with our new setup that I told the neighbors about Shaggy and they went and bought their own system the same day. Now there are 2 solar electricity setups in La Yacata.

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Let there be light!

 

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Filed under Construction, Electricity issues

Too Much Signage

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So the other week, I noticed a lone worker digging a hole near the crossroad to La Yacata and I started to speculate. I thought to myself– maybe they were going to put in a light, perhaps solar as there are no connecting wires. That section of road is extremely dark at night and there has been more than one fatal accident at the intersection.

The lone worker dug steadily for a week. Each day, I was more and more convinced that it would be a light. After all, the town was putting in MORE lights every few feet on several of the main thoroughfares. Literally, less than 10 feet from existing lights, light posts were going up. There were even a few solar lights installed near the new CAISES. Yeah, baby! Our time had come!cam05234 cam05235

Imagine my disappointment when I came home one day towards the end of the week to find a HUGE green road sign, and then another. As the road that we live on dead ends in La Ordena, how much traffic does this road really get? Certainly not enough for such a HUGE sign. I guess it’s for the occasional lost cows that wander about. This way to Morelia.

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Take a look at how many signs there are in the 2 km between La Yacata and the intersection. Of course, not one can be seen at night, due to the lack of LIGHTING in the area.

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I have no idea what the smaller sign means. Women dragging men?

I have no idea what the smaller sign means. Women dragging men?

Meanwhile, there was a lighting celebration going on in town for those newly installed street lamps. Now it’s so bright when I take my son to school in the morning that I feel like I need to wear my sunglasses.

Just goes to show, there’s just no accounting for town spending practices.

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Filed under Construction, Driving Hazards, Electricity issues

A room of her own–Perks

 

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It may not look like much at first…..

Despite the small size, there are definitely some perks to renting in Sunflower Valley.  While it’s really not designed for a family, I think a retired granny would be delighted here. In fact, I can see the whole neighborhood being converted into a retirement community.  Here are some of the pros and cons.

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There is unlimited water.  I can wash and wash to my heart’s content and not have to worry about getting a delivery truck to come and fill up the tinaco (water storage container) or go to the arroyo.  However, there is some issue with the tinaco.  Every week or so, there was an overflow, and it dripped into the house, which apparently has been happening for years because there are signs of roof leakage in every room.  We did get that fixed though (See Waterfall in the kitchen and Fixing the roof)  Additionally, the toilet leaked, so we had to flush with a bucket. The pipes are bad which is causing the walls in the hallway and my office to disintegrate. That we haven’t fixed yet.  Although the water heater was replaced, we don’t shower here either.  It’s just icky.  Plus there were those extra water charges the owner tried to foist on us from the last tenants.  Although that too has been taken care of.

There is unlimited electricity.  We can charge our flashlight, laptops, portable DVD players, phones and Kindles every single day! And at 50 pesos every 2 months, the price is right! However, there are only 5 working plugs in the whole house, so we have to rotate our charges.

There is unlimited internet.  Well, there better be since this was the whole reason for renting this place, to begin with.  I use the internet to teach my online classes.  My son uses the internet to play Minecraft.  My husband uses the internet to check his Facebook account.  However, it’s a bit pricey at $349 per month, and it’s not lightning fast, but it will do for now I suppose.

There is also trash pickup 6 days a week.  We don’t generate too much waste and average one trash bag per week.  The problem is getting the trash out when the truck passes ringing its bell. Typically, it goes by before 7 am, and we aren’t usually there to greet it.  So sometimes the trash bag waits a week or more before hitting the curb.  Other times we just haul it to La Yacata and burn it.

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There is an abarrotes (convenience store) right across the street.  We can get detergent, toilet paper, ham, cheese, eggs, beans, tortillas, bread, water garafones (jugs) and junk food.  Unfortunately, my son goes overboard on the junk food.  Every chance he gets, he heads over for a bag of chips and a Zumba (non-carbonated grape juice) or cookies and milk.  He has made the connection between the food he eats and his zit outbreaks, so I’m hoping he reduces his junk food intake eventually.  

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The produce truck comes every Sunday afternoon.  Since there isn’t a fruteria (produce store) close, this is a fabulous plus.  He even stops right in front of the house!  However, the guy who drives it has lots in La Yacata, so my cover is blown! It didn’t take too long for other Yacata property owners to find me in Sunflower Valley either.

The bolillo (bread) guy comes every morning around 9 am.  We aren’t often there in the mornings with our current schedule, but it’s a really nice treat when we are.  I can’t think of a downside for this.  Freshly made bollillo is yummy!

The tamale lady comes every Saturday evening.  She sells rojos, verdes y dulcles (red, green and sweet) tamales for 9 pesos each.  However, she usually knocks when I’m in class, so my son handles the transaction.  Only she doesn’t seem to understand volume, so she’s practically shouting at the front door, which disturbs me in my classes.  

The saddest ice cream truck ever also makes the rounds most evenings.  It’s a rusty red van that plays the song Memory from Cats over and over again.  Not exactly a song that brings ice cream to mind, but it’s memorable that’s for sure.

Now that the little house is nearly furnished, there are all sorts of perks inside too.  Both my son and I have a bed for napping when we have to head there right after school.  Having a kitchen lets us whip up something quick as well.  I also like to have a cup of tea during my classes.  And if my classes run long and my teenage son is famished, he can fry himself up some eggs and ham.  We have chairs to sit on and hope to get a couch to lounge on soon.  It’s quite comfortable really.

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The house backs up to a soccer field.  If I stand on a chair, I’m actually ground level to the field.  Best seats in the house.  However, there are days the games are the same time I am teaching online, so there’s a bit of background noise when the two overlap.

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Guard’s room.  There’s a ding-dong sensor when someone passes through the front gate.

There’s a security guard at the front gate who monitors everybody’s coming and going. Despite this, in recent months, there have been 4 break-ins during the day.  I suspect that the thieves live in Sunflower Valley as well, so the items have just moved from one house to another.  The targeted houses have been all 2 stories and obviously better off financially than my run-down little dump.  Plus, the store is open all day, and the shopkeeper keeps an eye on things on our street.  Furthermore, our neighbor has a friendly pitt bull that is outside during the day.  He’d give the warning should any strangers come and try to pick our lock.

Yet another perk is the proximity to La Yacata.  It really is less than 2 miles.  When my classes run late, it only takes 5 minutes to get home via the highway.  Of course, I don’t like driving the highway at night, but it’s the shortest way.  It’s also within biking distance for my son.  Nowadays he prefers heading over there Saturday afternoons rather than staying in La Yacata.

Besides the tamale lady and the occasional soccer game, the area is quiet and peaceful.  In December, we even had Las Posadas right outside our door.  We didn’t stay long, but shared some ponche (punch) and received an aguinaldo (goodie bag) for our 40 pesos contribution.

So, as you can see, there are some decided advantages to our little out in Sunflower Valley even if there aren’t any sunflowers here.  I’m not sure how long we’ll keep renting, but for now, it’s all good.

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The Bougainvillea has begun to bloom–perhaps a sign of better things to come?

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Filed under Electricity issues, Water issues

A room of her own–a washer

Doing the wash at the community laundry mat.

Doing the wash at the community laundry mat.

Now that the water and electric were established, it was time to manifest my next desire–a washing machine. I spent several weeks checking models and prices at different stores. Did I want one of the commonly found round chaka chaka models that I was pretty sure would work on most Mexican plumbing setups? Or did I want a square one like my mother has? The price difference was enormous! Some careful consideration was in order.

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The round chaka chaka washers (so name because of the chaka chaka noise they make as they agitate the clothes) were around 2,000 pesos. Although extremely economical, I had no idea how to use one. I tried to find some information on the internet and struck out. It seemed like it would use quite a bit of water as well. Then things would be sopping wet and take forever to dry unless I invested in a wringer too. The wringer I would have to order from someplace because that sort of technology is just not available here. It might not be a bad investment, though.

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The next level of washers varied considerably. There were the basic machines with dials and then there were the digital computerized washers that were quite intimidating. They even came in fashion colors! Washers at the new store Fabrics de Francia cost up to 30,000 pesos! What did it do, fly? I really only wanted a basic machine. I hurried out of the store before a salesperson could convince me otherwise.

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I finally found what I wanted at a price I could afford at Famsa. It was a Whirlpool basic, cold water 15K capacity washer with a dial. It was under 5,000 pesos. Yep, gonna get it!

I mentioned my shopping experience at work, and a coworker suggested I wait for Buen Fin before I bought it. In case you haven’t heard of it Buen Fin is something like Black Friday, but not really. I haven’t ever gotten a good deal during Buen Fin sales, but since it was only 2 weeks away, I decided that it wouldn’t hurt to wait a bit just in case this year would be the year I would save money.  Furthermore, if the store did raise its prices to make it seem that there was a discount, well, I’d get the washer at about the same price anyway.

So I waited, mentally washing all the clothes, the towels, the blankets and the stinky, smelly jackets. When I had mentally washed all our items, I mentally washed all my father-in-law’s clothing and bedding. I plan on invading his home and taking everything for a good wash. Living in La Yacata means things often are not as clean as they could be with the limited water we have. (See After ecstasy, the laundry and Water Woes).

So the big day arrived. I headed to Famsa for my purchase. I checked out the other models but again found myself drawn to the same model. The price wasn’t any different from 2 weeks previously. I paid in cash with the option for store pickup because having it delivered was 120 pesos more.

The salesperson said it would be there on Monday. So we went on Monday. It wasn’t there. It seems the delivery truck broke down. So we went on Tuesday. It wasn’t there. The person who called had made a mistake and called the wrong person (us). So we went on Wednesday. After waiting 2 hours, it finally was hauled out of storage and in the back of the truck. Things in Mexico always take longer than expected.

Next was the hookup. I was a bit nervous about this. The plumbing and electricity in the house are not the best. And sure enough, there were problems. My husband changed the two prong plug for a three prong plug without incident. But when he went to add an adapter to the faucet, the whole thing crumbled to bits. Fixing it required a blow torch, new copper piping, and a new valve. But it got done.

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Then there was the drainage hose. First, it was connected to the sink, but the sink capacity wasn’t large enough for the waste water. So my husband drilled a hole through the wall to the pipe outside and voila, no more issues.

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My first load was towels. Man, you should have seen the dirty water! My second load of laundry was towels. Just as dirty! Then some jeans.  Then some uniforms.  I spent the weekend happily loading the washer, unloading the washer and hanging clothes. It took me a few loads to get the hang of it. I even watched the instruction video! But now, everything comes out spic and span! I have to say, everybody is pleased with this purchase.

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Filed under Electricity issues, Water issues