Mexican life

Post-bagel labor

MOST WORK around here gets done in the morning, and that would be after the bagels and cream cheese.

The labor this Good Friday morning included the yearly cleaning of the underground cistern.

Child bride descends to mop after I had descended to sweep.

Our concrete cistern holds 9,000 liters of water.

The reason you don’t want to drink tap water in Mexico is less because the water didn’t come from a clean source at the get-go. It may have. For instance, our municipal water comes from an underground spring. It is quite clear.

What happens is that almost everyone stores water in an underground cistern. From that cistern, water is delivered, one way or another, to a roof tank, and from there it’s dropped into the house faucets via gravity.

There are variations, but basically that’s how it works.

I have no statistics, but I’d bet a pocket of pesos that few homeowners ever clean their cisterns. I’ve peered into cisterns that you could use for a horror-movie scene.

But we are better than that.

Here’s how we clean ours. First, we turn off the incoming water. After that, it takes almost two weeks to empty as we use the water in the house. Finally, the cistern is empty, and we switch to a small backup tank for a day or two.

We leave the lid open overnight, and the cistern’s dry in the morning. I go down and sweep. She goes down and mops. We turn the water back on, and toss in half a liter of bleach.

Here comes fresh water into the clean tank! Yipee!

It takes three or four days to refill. The municipal water runs six days a week for six to eight hours daily.

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Other labor

Having finished that work, it was time to reassign cacti.

You’d think that after what happened with the monster nopal that I would have learned my lesson regarding prickly plants.

But I’m stupid that way.

I love deserts and the things that live in them. I used to plant cacti in my yard in Houston, and they never did squat.

The tall ones.

Next to the verandah, there’s this stand of pole cacti that I started years ago with one small one. The tallest now is six and a half feet high.

Another shorter — but not by much — stand nearby provided a cutting about 15 inches tall. It has been planted out by the property wall, and I anticipate a nice stand of pole cacti there in a few years —  if I live so long.

The little bugger.

Being a newbie, it needs a little support from string and a stick.

Following these two chores, I only had to water the potted plants on the verandah, dust the shelves and sweep the floor.

The only other labor for the day will be cooking pasta and broiling salmon. After that, it’s a café Americano negro on the downtown plaza, watching the beautiful tourist babes.

It will be a Good Friday. Even if I’m not a Christian.

The Odd Pot

The paper issue

sign

THERE ARE TWO primary rules for living in Mexico. Everyone knows the first: Don’t drink tap water.

The second is less known, except in U.S. border states where we Mexicans are all over the place: Don’t deposit toilet paper into the toilet bowl. It’ll clog the pipes.

I doubt we’ll ever be able to drink tap water because bottled water is a billion-peso industry here run, to a large degree, by Coca-Cola and Pepsi. They don’t want you to be able to drink tap water, ever.

Dang capitalists! Can’t live with them. Can’t live without them.

When we moved into the Hacienda almost 13 years ago, we didn’t ask anybody about flushing toilet paper. We just did it, and we’ve been doing it ever since with no problem, which is kinda weird considering the backwoods neighborhood in which we live.

The Hacienda’s wastewater goes out to pipes that run under the back street, and from there it goes to a big hole in a ravine about a block away. Yeah, nearby. I remember when they dug that hole, but I haven’t been down that way in years. It was open when I last saw it, but I assume it’s been covered. Lord, I hope so.

Now we have a new situation with the pastry workshop/storefront we recently had constructed. It has its own septic tank. I had never seen inside a septic tank before. I sure had not been down into one, but I have now. See photo below. The tank was cherry at that point. Unused as a starry-eyed virgin in Victorian times.

We’ve decided that perhaps it’s best to deposit only bodily material down here. Toilet paper will degrade in time, but we’re not gonna put toilet paper in there. So I hung a cute sign that’s directly in your face if you’re sitting on the throne in the new bathroom. That’s the sign in the top photo.

In Spanish, it says “Use trash can for paper. Thanks.”

dump

sink

Just for the fun of it, here’s the sink in the new bathroom. Today a carpenter came to give us a price on installing the Formica countertops in the pastry workshop. He’ll make a Formica-topped worktable too. When that’s installed I’ll post a photo of our totally finished situation.

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(Note: A friend in Mexico City told me years ago that she always drops the paper into the toilet unless there is something specifically indicating that you should not. Truth is that much of Mexico has modernized on this issue, but old habits die hard, especially among the ill-informed.)