Tag Archives: living in rural Mexico

Showering in Rural Mexico

Today I’d like to talk about showering in Mexico because odds are you won’t get the luxury of a bath unless you are willing to sit in a horse trough in rural Mexico. 

We have a shower and we have hot water, but that hasn’t always been the case. So here are some showering things you might need to know about before stripping down.

C on the shower knob stands for caliente (hot) and F is frio (cold). And even though the hot water control should be on the left side and the cold on the right, that may not be true for the shower you are using. 

bathtub ledge

Showers are often built with small ledges that you can trip over if you aren’t careful. This is so water doesn’t spill out onto the floor. Our shower has a sort of reverse engineering. The shower is slightly lower than the bathroom floor and the floor is angled toward the center drain. Not all showers have that sloping and sometimes you can get quite a bit of water build up around your feet.

If you run out of water during your shower, mid-shampoo, hopefully, there is a barrica (barrel) of rainwater that someone can bring you a bucketful of to rinse out those soapy locks. Running out of water happens more often than you might imagine.

tinaco

Houses have tinacos (those ugly black round storage containers on the roof) that if you are connected to the town water supply will fill when the water is on. The thing is, water may only run two or three days per week. The tinaco is supposed to store enough water to get you to the next delivery. That’s not always the case. 

If you know ahead of time that there isn’t any water for a shower, you can take a bucket bath. When the occasion calls for it, my husband has been kind enough to heat water on the stove to take the chill off my bucket bath. Most homes have at least one enormous aluminum pot that will quickly heat water for your absolutions. Some have electric water heating devices. Just make sure to unplug it before testing the water temperature with your hand.

heating up water

The typical water application device for a bucket bath is a plastic bowl that we call a scooper. It’s the same plastic container that is used for washing clothes when it’s done with a washboard setup. 

water heater

If you have enough water for showering, then you’ll need to decide if it’s worth the effort to turn on the boila (gas hot water heater) or not. I’m a little afraid of it, having had my eyebrows singed before. 

The procedure for lighting the boila is as follows:

  • Turn the red switch to Piloto (pilot).
  • Push down the red button 10 or 15 times in rapid succession.
  • Open the portal.
  • Light a match.
  • Hold down the red button.
  • Wave the match around inside near the pilot light contraption until it whooshes. 
  • Slowly release the button. 
  • If the flame begins to waver, press the red button firmly down again.
  • When the flame is steady, turn the red switch to Abierto (open)
  • Close the portal.
  • Back away quickly.

After you have successfully lit the boila, then you need to wait around for about 20 minutes until enough water is warm enough for a shower. 

Make sure to turn the boila off after your shower. The contraption is gas-powered. If it is not vented properly, the gas can kill you or at the very least cause carbon dioxide poisoning if left on for an extended period of time.

electric water heater

I’ve also had the dubious pleasure of showering under an electric shower head. Although I loved every minute of the hot water on demand, it still made me very nervous. Water and electricity aren’t exactly the best of friends. However, if it is installed correctly and in working order, then there is no risk of electrocution. 

solar heater

The newest rage in our area is the solar water heater. It mounts on the roof and connects both to the tinaco and pipes that lead into the house. Many people who have this setup say that the water comes out boiling and even the knobs are too hot to touch. Yikes! We choose not to get a solar water heater because there are occasions when we don’t have water in the tinaco. If there isn’t water to run through the solar heater at all times, it can burn up the components. 

If it seems too much effort to get hot water, take heart. If your black tinaco is on the roof, the water is a comfortable shower temperature in the early afternoon. 

Most showers are set up on a gravity system. If the tinaco isn’t far enough from the showerhead, you may not get a lot of water pressure. Rinsing long hair might be complicated with the trickle-down effect. During the rainy season, the rain may be coming down harder than the water comes out of the showerhead. Feel free to take advantage of the heavenly shower Mother Nature has provided outdoors. 

rub a dub dub

Bathing children is somewhat simpler. Babies can fit into the sink off the side of the lavadora (washboard). Small children can splash about in the laundry tub. And several children fit nicely in a horse trough, which comes in metal and plastic for your bathing pleasure. 

Now I’ve heard that there are hot water on demand setups, but I’ve never been to a house that has one. I’ve also been to a plomería that had not just bathtubs, but jacuzzis, so they do exist too. These are just things outside of my own experience in this area of Mexico. 

So there you go! Tips for showing in rural Mexico. Follow these and you’ll be squeaky clean in no time!

Tell me, how do you shower?

 

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Filed under Construction, Cultural Challenges, Homesteading, Water issues

A Horse of Many Colors

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Cookie waited until we had left for the U.S. last month to have her anxiously awaited baby. My husband was over the moon that it was a boy and promptly named him Red, although I’m not sure the name quite fits him. He’s a mahogany color if anything, with yellow socks and a black muzzle with what looks like mascara rings around his eyes. Horsey people say that the color the hairs around the mouth are will determine what the final coat color the horse will be. So I guess we’ll just wait and see with little Red.

He’s friendly and smart and thinks he’s a dog. This angered Puppy so much that he ran away for a few days right after Red arrived. Puppy wasn’t interested in yet another new friend. He got over it and came back though he has made his new hideyhole where the food is kept because Red can’t get in there. 

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Cookie is an excellent mama, if maybe a little too protective of her son. One day the little Chivita (one of the triplets) managed to get into the stall with Cookie and Red, only mama wasn’t having any of that. She bit Chivita’s tail clean off. Needless to say, Chivita isn’t as curious about the new arrival as she was before. Her tail healed up just fine as well.

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About a week after our return, we had our one and only baby goat of the year. I think she was premature because she was just so small and wasn’t up and around as soon as most of our little ones. She’s doing fine now though, so it’s all good. We haven’t come up with a name though. Suggestions?

Some of our goats are in heat now and our hunka hunka burning love macho goat can’t seem to handle all the hormones in the air. He’s become aggressive. He’s butted the door until it has come off its hinges. He’s butted the wall between the goats and Lady until it fell over. If this keeps up too much longer, it might be time to trade for a new macho.

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Filed under Animal Husbandry, Uncategorized

Little by little…

The rainy season has kept our travels to a minimum lately. However, we have been doing this and that to the house.

Gate after

The improved gate to prevent the invasion of zombies (or peering neighbors) got painted. We used paint we already had, so it didn’t cost too much. Enough paint remained that we painted the front window and the garage door. They needed another coat of paint since it’s now been over 10 years since they were installed.

Then, my husband made a patio in the area between the animals and our house. During the rainy season, this area got quite muddy, so it’s a nice improvement. The bricks are not cemented down, so if we decided to change the purpose of the area, it won’t be a major hassle. Puppy loves it!

The rain did a number on one or two of my framed puzzles I had hanging on the wall. The water seeped through the bricks and molded them up. Fortunately, only one was unsalvagable. This issue necessitated a thin layer of cement being spread over the outside wall expanse. It was no more than a half of day’s work for my husband and son and has greatly improved the impermeability of the wall.

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And finally, we installed two more solar panels, bringing the total to 3, to increase the overall power production. We still need to get some more batteries, but that will have to wait until the next paycheck.

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Filed under Construction

Unbelievable Residents

So things are picking up in La Yacata. I’d like to say that this is a good thing—but it’s not.

The other day a guy came to find out exactly where a lot was that he had bought. I told him that the certificate he had was not the current valid one and that he should get the new one (which is blue instead of cream) from the previous owner. He went back to the previous owner who said that he didn’t have it. When he came back to report,  I showed him a receipt for the new certificate in the papers that he had been given. I then realized that he couldn’t read. So I marked the receipt with an orange spot and told him he needed to go back to the previous owner, show him the receipt and get the new certificate. If the previous owner still refused, then he needed to get his money back because the previous owner had plans to resell the lot to someone else, making double the profit and leaving a mess for the new owners.  What do you know? The previous owner “found” the blue certificate. Now that all that was in order, the new owner decided that he wasn’t going to register the lot in his name because, you know, there’s a charge of a $100 pesos and all. And I’d saved him way more than that. Whatever.

The next big adventure with certificates began with the neighbors down below. The lady met me on my walk one morning and asked about getting a certificate changed because her sister had bought a house in La Yacata. Curious, I asked which house. Why, Chuchi’s house, of course. Now, Chuchi doesn’t have any houses in La Yacata. When I said that, she said the house on the corner. Oh–well, that house doesn’t belong to Chuchi but to the original owner. She showed me a certificate Chuchi had made. It was white (which means it’s the second round of certificates that Chuchi gave out) dated 2010, when Chuchi wasn’t the president of the association, made out to Chuchi, signed by Chuchi, and property rights ceded to the lady’s sister by Chuchi. I laughed and said this wasn’t a valid certificate. She said Chuchi said it was. I told her I’d take it to Super Prez, but that I really doubted he would legitimize it. I mentioned that if Chuchi were the owner he should have a contract from the original owner saying so, or receipts of payments. She said Chuchi didn’t pay for the lot but received it as payment for his services as “encargado” person in charge. Again, I said that he should have something from the original owner saying that.

Chuchi’s house, built with the ill-gotten gains filched from the community and on a lot he has no claim to.

A week or two later, I stopped by Super Prez’s office and saw another certificate made by Chuchi, signed by Chuchi and ceded by Chuchi, only this one was cream (meaning it was from the first batch of certificates) and had a date of 1998. Since the lady down the road hadn’t mentioned this to me, I supposed she dropped it off at the office herself as “proof” that Chuchi was the owner. While I was there, Super Prez called his secretary and I talked to him on the phone. He said he didn’t have any intention of validating that certificate because the property in question still belonged to his dad, furthermore, that lot was our backup plan to pay the lawyer with. We still owe most of the balance on the court case occasioned by Chuchi. Then he said that the person who Chuchi ceded the certificate to was his own wife. Well, since the lady down the road is his sister-in-law, that would make sense even though she presented the situation to me as if it were a different sister living in the US, not the one married to Chuchi.

Now the lady down the road isn’t speaking to me as if any of this is my fault. And this after I explained she needed a power inverter to use the car battery and then sent her along to the guy who sold us the solar setup to get her own. No good deed goes unpunished I suppose.

The chicken feather guy’s compound. Chickens, pigs, horses and cows!

Finally, there’s the chicken feather guy who you know is the bane of my existence. He evolved from chickens and pigs to cows and horses (sold for meat). Only as cows and horses eat more, he’s decided that he’d let them out all night to forage instead of buying more feed. Whatever crops were still alive despite the heat wave have now been devoured. Of course, the chicken feather guy puts his cows and horses back in his compound before anyone is up and around in La Yacata. So, naturally, it’s our new horse Lady that is the culprit even though she’s never untied or unsupervised.  

Then the other night I’m pretty sure the chicken feather guy was auditioning for a role on the Walking Dead because he certainly tried to recreate that scene where Neegan rolled a car into the compound with the radio blaring to attract zombies and Maggie had to run it over with a tractor. Too bad I don’t have a tractor.

He must have gone up and down our road 10 times with his radio at full volume playing that horrible banda music. Each time he passed our house, the automatic sensor light went on and he slowed down and backed up so that it went on again. I think he thought we were turning on our light to express our displeasure or something. Then he’d go past AGAIN and sit in his car, music blaring, in front of the neighbor’s for a bit, then circle around the block for more fun.

I asked my husband if he’d ticked the chicken feather guy off or something. He said that he didn’t think so since he hadn’t spoken to him in over a year. So the best guess is that someone, probably the horse guy, said that we had said something about him to somebody and this was his revenge.

I can’t wait to see what lies in store for us in La Yacata next!

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Filed under La Yacata Revolution