Mexican life

Astounding advantages of solitude

AS MENTIONED in the previous post, I have been abandoned for three days.

Yesterday morning, I deposited my child bride at the bus station on the outskirts of the capital city, and off she went to Querétaro. I spent yesterday alone. Today will be spent solo, and so will most of mañana.

But this turn of lifestyle resulted unexpectedly yesterday in some exciting discoveries. Instead of driving immediately back up the mountain to mope, I detoured to Home Depot. My mission was to purchase a grab bar to install in the shower of our Mexico City condo. Mission accomplished.

Normally, when we — the two of us — visit Home Depot I walk directly to my goal, grab it, and head to the cash register. We rarely dilly-dally.

I am aware that women prefer to dilly-dally.

But yesterday I dillied and dallied. And look what I found! First, a cordless electric weedeater, Black & Decker brand. As recently as a year ago I had hunted a cordless electric weedeater to no avail. I even hunted one on the Mexican Amazon. Did you know there is also a Mexican eBay?

There it was at Home Depot for 3,000 pesos — about $157 U.S. — quite a bit more than an electric weedeater with a cord, but certainly worth the pain. I did not buy it, but it’s good to know it’s available. Perhaps another day.

Abel the Deadpan Yardman edges my yard with his own weedeater.

An even more amazing discovery was something I did not even know existed, and it’s something that can be of immense value in our Mexico City condo. It’s a bulky showerhead with an electrical cable that heats water as it sprays out. Good Lord!

Currently, we use a gas-fueled water heater.

Here’s some background: Our Mexico City condo long received its gas from a big LP tank on the roof. Then a fancy-pants firm called Gas Natural (Natural Gas in English) began expanding in Mexico. They expanded right up to our roof. We signed a contract. They installed meters on the roof.

They then billed us as if we lived there full-time instead of virtually never. Over 500 pesos per month for zero usage. We complained. They kept it up. I shut their pipe to our condo, bought an “instant” water heater and a small LP tank that holds 20 pounds of gas, which I refill not far from the condo via taxi about once every two years.

Works smooth as silk. Cheap too.

serveimageThat was five years ago, and Gas Natural is still sending bills and bitching that we’re not paying for zero gas. I ignore them.

The overwhelming part of the LP we use is to heat water for showering. But if we had an electric-powered showerhead, we’d almost never have to refill the small LP tank, which would be sweet. I read the instructions at Home Depot, and it is important that outlets are grounded. I’ll check next visit.

I haven’t purchased that showerhead. Electric wires, 110 volts, water, showerhead, shower stall, barefoot, Mexican electrician, what could go wrong?

I started my second day of solitude this morning. I wonder what exciting discoveries will be revealed to me today. I think I’ll get a shoeshine.

I’m liking this loneliness thing so far.

21 thoughts on “Astounding advantages of solitude

  1. Most of my years in Honduras I used an electric shower head. I am still standing. I had friends who traveled with me to Africa once. They didn’t shower so as to avoid the thing in the shower they called “a widow maker.” I showered, smelled nicer than they did, and I am still here. Go for it.

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    1. YaYa Girl: Very interesting. As mentioned, I had never heard of this thing. We’ll be back in Mexico City in the spring, and I’ll take a look at the electrical outlets. They should be grounded, but that does not mean they are. If they are, I’m buying that thing. It’s not even expensive. Thanks for the feedback about it.

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      1. Since I lived long enough in Central America to appreciate these fine devices, I would go with an Italian-made model. I forget the exact brand name. Grounded by a licensed electrician of course. The water is hotter depending on the amount of water pressure. If your home has poor water pressure you may be disappointed. I just returned from Nicaragua where the home had one of these contraptions. I had three choices on the head itself to set: cold (0ff) warm or hot. The hot setting could be managed a bit by just adjusting the amount of water flow.

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        1. PS: Licensed electrician? If there is any licensing of electricians in Mexico, I never heard of it. I’m guessing most electricians, plumbers, etc., learned their trade from fathers or uncles. We fly loose down here.

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          1. I forgot. Same as in Central America. I never used a licensed hair stylist either. Just make sure it’s done as well as it can be done because they aren’t called widowmakers for nothing.

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  2. We had a propane-powered instant hot-water heater for years and it worked great. It was a Bosche. Never heard of electric-powered shower heads but especially in Mexico I would be wary of them.

    Glad you’re enjoying your brief solitude. It gives one perspective and you will appreciate your wife even more when she returns.

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    1. Brent: The gas water heater, which is pretty much all you encounter in Mexico, works fine. But if I could get the electric showerhead to work, it would be far better for us in Mexico City. My fingers are crossed.

      Yep, solitude does provide time for mulling. I’m mulling away.

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      1. Many of our neighbors’ houses, here in our obscure and remote village, have been endowed with solar water heaters in the last year. My wife says that it was a gift from a local politician in an effort to get out the vote. We, non-citizens, were not included.

        Saludos,
        Don Cuevas

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        1. Don Cuevas: We too have a solar water heater on the roof, but nobody gifted it to us. We bought it. The first one (Rotoplas) didn’t work for squat. I just let it sit there about four years because the gas heater still worked. The solar heater had a 10-year guarantee. Finally, I bitched to the hardware store (Bocanegra on the libramiento), fully expecting to get no satisfaction whatsoever. But Rotoplas refunded every peso, didn’t even pro-rate it, and Bocanegra sent someone to take it off the roof. We bought a different brand, again from Bocanegra. It works pretty well. We pipe the water into the gas heater, which is one way of using it. The theory being that it reduces the need for the gas heater to fire up. I guess it does. Now and then, I test the water directly from the solar heater. Usually, it’s hot, but sometimes it’s tepid.

          I’m not sold yet on the technology.

          As for your situation, sounds like you should become a citizen.

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            1. Don Cuevas: As you likely know, our mutual amigo Ron recently did it. There is some tedium involved, including a trip to Mexico City. But he had citizenship in about four months. Took me a year almost, but with no tedium whatsoever, just waiting. Dem days be long gone now.

              But it’s really fun to be a citizen. I recommend it.

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    1. Ricardo: How right you are. I was creative this morning when I heated the solitary croissant. Later I got even more creative by changing the bedsheets, which she was about to do before she left. Pain in the kazoo with a king bed. I even flipped the mattress, an even bigger pain. I doubt she’s ever done that. Previous sheets are now in the washer.

      And the day has just begun. Shoeshine this afternoon.

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  3. Felipe, grounding is important when installing and using an electric showerhead. I’ve used several and most were not properly grounded. As a result adjusting anything while water was running, such as the heat range, turning the unit off and adjusting direction would often result in a mild shock. Mexican wiring tends to resemble the old knob-and-tube method used up north many years ago with no integrated ground or neutral for individual circuits or appliances, only a looped common neutral and only the panel grounded, as a result water often turns people using appliances into ground rods, usually without much effect beyond a tingling shock but it can be unsettling and possibly dangerous.

    One other thing about the de paso heaters, the elements are very fine and fragile and corrode quickly if your water is too saline or mineralized, like every three months or so with daily use. On the other hand, they’re cheap to replace. We find they work well once you get used to their quirks. We’ve found that performance can be an issue in your neck of the woods in winter because the water in the tinaco can get pretty chilly overnight.

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    1. JBSK: Yes, I know well the importance of grounding. One of my numerous occupational incarnations, one I’ve rarely mentioned here, is that I was a professional electrician for a spell in my early 30s, both residential and commercial. I even finished an associate degree in electrical construction technology.

      Even if I open an outlet in the Mexico City condo and see a grounding wire, I’ll not be convinced it’s actually connected to anything below. Further investigation would be required. Mexican constructors are good at smoke and mirrors.

      As for my instant water heater, whether the water is overly saline or mineralized, I have no way of knowing, and even if I did, I have no reasonable way of changing it. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow down here. If I do not get the electric showerhead and continue with the LP instant heater, and it one day gives me problems, I’ll replace it with an electric heater, which is what I should have done when I bought the current one. We’re there so infrequently that what it would do to our electric bill would be inconsequential. I saw electric heaters in the big store where we bought the instant one. I pondered that option, then went on and bought the other one. Silly me.

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  4. Yeah, water and Mexican electrician? Might as well install it yourself. 🤷🏼‍♂️

    Question: If you were looking for an electric weedeater and you found one, why didn’t you buy it? Women think that way. 🤔

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    1. Beverly: I could install it myself except for two problems: 1. I’m lazy. 2. I don’t have the tools there, and lugging them there in a suitcase has no appeal. Mostly, it’s No. 1.

      The reason I did not buy the cordless, electric weedeater is because I don’t need it now. When I was hunting one last year, I was planning on doing the edging here myself. About a year before that, I had bought a nice Stihl gas weedeater, but I have no patience with gas models, even the best of them like Stihl. Abel the Deadpan Yardman has his own weedeater, so I pay him. If something ever happens with him, I imagine I’ll go back to Home Depot and buy the cordless.

      Such is life.

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  5. On my first trip to visit my wife’s family in Honduras I was exposed to the widow-maker showerhead. You can imagine the surprise of seeing wires emanating from this device about 6 or 7 inches, then into a couple of twist caps covered with small tabs of electrical tape that was peeling back from the shower steam. Because of the excessive heat and humidity, just getting a cold shower was sufficient for me. Needless to say, I never turned the damn thing on, but advised my in-laws that better, safer connections would be advised, for which they all laughed a little, thinking of what a stupid Gringo I was for doubting their method of heating water. Honduras being a Nth-World country is happy with intermittent and death-defying water heaters. At least in Mexico the worst thing happens is the plumber checks for gas leaks with a lit match.

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    1. Tancho: I am sure they found your advice quite amusing and totally unnecessary. And their luck has held out so far. I refer to Mexican life as like Alice’s Wonderland but, of course, it’s actually Latino life, which is also alive and well in Honduras. Glad you made it back alive.

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