Category Archives: Electricity issues

A room of her own–leaving the Little House in Sunflower Valley

Where I’ve been working for the past 2 years

Once we finally got the internet up and running at our house in La Yacata, there really was no reason to keep renting the Little House in Sunflower Valley. The problems the house had with internet, electricity, and leaks, far outweighed any benefits it might have had in the past.

So, since the rent for the month was already paid, we started gearing up for the move at the end of the month. First, we needed to make arrangements to cancel the internet through Telmex.

This was a two-step process. I had to call the company and receive a “folio” number in order to return the modem to the company. The first time I called, I was disconnected. The second time I explained that I wished to cancel the service because of the numerous fallas (outages) and was given the folio number.

The next day we took the modem to Telmex. We couldn’t just turn it in at the desk with the number. We had to tromp up 4 flights of stairs to the “internet” office. Just like when we contracted the service I wondered about the lack of handicap accessible offices. So there, even though we were the ONLY people in the office, we were instructed to take a number from the number machine. We did. We were number 2.

So when the Telmex internet woman was good and ready, she called us over to her desk. I gave her the folio number. Apparently, my cancelation request was entered as a “baja” instead of cancel, whatever that meant. She deleted the transaction and created another one. I had to explain again that we did NOT have phone service with Telmex, only internet service that we would no longer be using.

Then she said I still had one month’s outstanding balance that I needed to pay before she could process the request to cancel. I sent my husband down the four flights of stairs to pay that. When he came back, she made a copy of my permanent residency card and had me sign the form ending internet service in my name.

As both the electricity and water bills at the Little House were still in the name of the owner, I could not cancel those services. I did make sure I had the last bills I paid with the receipt as proof of payment to turn over with the key. Because the bills are bi-monthly, as a renter I would still be responsible for the next water and electric bills. However, since I had paid $1000 deposit, I didn’t see why the outstanding balance wouldn’t be deducted from that, and instead, I would receive about $700 from the deposit.

The owner of the house lives in Yuriria, which is about a 40-minute drive for us, so we went there one afternoon hoping to catch her at home. Of course, she wasn’t there, but her son was. We explained that we would no longer be renting, that these were the last paid bills, and that there was an outstanding balance from the deposit owed to us.

The son refused to take any of the papers and said that he would have the owner call us to “inspect” the house and we could ask about the deposit then.  He asked about this month’s rent. I showed him the bank receipt proving it had been paid. He asked about next month’s rent. As it was still 2 days until the beginning of the next month, I certainly wasn’t paying another month. Fine, then. We didn’t leave the key.

The owner has not yet contacted me. I believe her thought process is to keep the entire deposit. While I don’t enjoy being taken advantage of, in this case, by not receiving the remainder of the balance on the deposit, I am of the mind that karma will take care of the matter for me.

You see, several months ago, the lock on the front door broke, so we replaced it. She will need to break into her own house and have a new lock made unless she calls us for the key. All of which could have been avoided had she done things as they should be done.

The move back to La Yacata took longer than I thought it should. We accumulated quite a bit of junk in the 2 years we rented there. My husband and son are heading to the tianguis in Valle this weekend to turn some of this crap into billetes (money).

In the meantime, I’ve started setting up my home office in the spare room in La Yacata.

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Filed under Electricity issues, Employment

Quest for internet

internet mexico

See that tan spot in the center of the country that indicates less than 8% of the area has internet? That’s where I live!

September was a bummer month for me work-wise. Every other day the internet went out. And if it wasn’t the internet, it was the electricity. Even with the UPS, I missed a number of classes and my performance review for the quarter was deplorable. This caused me to exclaim in exasperation one day that we had more stable power with one solar panel in La Yacata than at the rental in town connected to CFE (the Mexican electric company).

So, with that being the case, I decided to see what I could do to set up my office from home rather than continue to rent the Little House in Sunflower Valley with its myriad of problems.

A chance remark had me thinking. One of the ladies that makes tortillas with my sister-in-law is from Los Amoles, which is way up the mountain. She said that they had internet through DishTV since Telmex didn’t have any lines up that way.

Therefore, we spent the day looking for the Dish TV office in Moroleon, which we couldn’t find. Apparently, there had been an office, but it had moved out.

We went to the main TelCel office to see about satellite internet and talked with a representative about 30 minutes. We weren’t entirely convinced on the whole deal. There were a number of requirements, payment upfront, and the fact that my cell phone is through Telcel and often does not have a signal out in La Yacata.

Captura de pantalla (6)

Then we decided to check out a few other places. SkyTV also offered internet service called Blue Telecom which was comparable to what I have now with TelMex but uses the satellite setup like TelCel. Only, an agent would have to head to out La Yacata to see if there was a signal strong enough for internet reception. Okie Dokie.  But it wouldn’t be today.Captura de pantalla (7)

Next we headed to a place called Wi-Fi Moroleon. The name seemed promising. Unfortunately, their service only extended as far as Los Juzgados (2 km from La Yacata). They did have solar panels though and we bought two.

Then we tried Telecable. However, this company uses electric lines to provide internet. As La Yacata hasn’t any electric lines, it wouldn’t work.

On the way home, we came across a Dish TV car parked in the shade of the mesquite tree. We screeched to a stop and had a little chat with their representatives, who were on their way to a meeting in Morelia. They confirmed that Moroleon no longer had a DishTV office but that internet would soon be available in the area and that they were offering 20 megas which was double any other service in the area. It would just be a few weeks…..well, a few weeks in Mexico could be quite some time.

Captura de pantalla (4)

DishTv internet service ON coming soon!

The next day the SkyTV representative came out with his stuff and lo and behold, we got a pretty good signal. So we signed up on the spot. We had to pay for the modem outright which was the same make and model that TelCel offers but at half the price. Then to sign up for the service we needed an IFE (Mexican voter’s identification card). My husband has one of those. And we needed a comprobante de domicilio (proof of residency like water or electric). Umm, well this was an issue. La Yacata doesn’t have either water or electric service, therefore, we have no bills to provide as proof. Fortunately, the representative said that the certificado de propiedad (owner’s certificate) that we had for our lots would work. Whew!

We picked up the modem the next day and plugged it in. Voila! Internet at the house. I’m not entirely convinced it will be adequate for teaching online, however. Cloudy days reduce signal strength and just like TelCel, there are periods when the signal drops altogether.

What this means is that I most likely will not continue teaching online once my contract expires in December. As it is, at the Little House in Sunflower Valley I have issues every single class with bandwidth on the lined internet provided by Telmex which theoretically is more stable than satellite internet. So I’m looking at other options for regular income.

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Filed under Electricity issues, Employment

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?

laundry area

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.

doing the laundry

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.

round-washer

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.

hanging laundry

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).

local laundrymat

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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Filed under Electricity issues, Homesteading, Small Business in Mexico