More stuff about water

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The shiny, new pump above, and the old faded one below.

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A FEW DAYS ago, I wrote about where water comes from, and the annual cleaning of the underground cistern, a chore we handle ourselves, the two of us. Coincidentally, during that same week, the nearby pump that delivers water from the cistern to the tank on the roof made funny noises for the second time in recent weeks, so I decided to replace it. It was 17 years old, installed during the Hacienda construction.

It is not a pump you want to fail. Without it, there’s no water anywhere in the house.

I don’t know the useful life of such a pump, but 17 years seems a long time, and the pump looked quite ratty, as you can see from the photo. The new pump is big and beautiful.

Like Muhammad Ali.

Coincidentally again, and also water-related, the Honda got a new water pump last week, another precautionary measure. That pump too was the original, and the car has 210,000 kilometers. As I write this, the Honda sits in the shop having its A-C radiator replaced. The A-C decided to commit suicide during our hottest month of the year.

Yes, the Honda has a streak of malevolence.

But enough about the Honda. Let’s return to the house. The tank on the roof sports some sort of electronic gizmo — with mercury inside, I think. It dangles inside like a snake — that senses when water falls below half full. At that point, it signals the pump below, the one that was replaced, to ignite and send water from the cistern up to the roof.

Following this?

Just after the pump started acting goofy, the electronic gizmo up top failed its mission, and the roof tank’s water level fell considerably below half. I knew this because I went to the roof, put a ladder against the tank, popped the top, looked in, saw the situation, and gave the electronic snake a shake. It turned on the pump below, and water started to come up.

But obviously, there was a problem. So today, Jorge the Plumber came with the new pump, plus a new electronic snake for the roof tank. Jorge is also an electrician.

So now I have a new pump down below and a new electronic snake up top. With luck, this pump will top the 17 years of the previous one, and the snake will last as long as possible. And the Honda’s A-C will keep me cool for a long time to come, especially in May.

The entire cost — the labor and materials — ran the peso equivalent of $160 U.S. The cost of the work on the Honda has yet to be determined.

Let’s go have a coffee now. I’m bushed.

Another waning day

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A waning day makes nice light.

TWENTY-FOUR hours after the last post, I was walking to the Honda again. But this time I was returning from the Basilica.

I had gone there with my child bride, her sister and the nephew we once called The Little Vaquero. But he’s not so little anymore at age 15.

Once a year, the local luminaries pull our version of the Virgin Mary from her high perch in the Basilica and parade her around town upon shoulders. People take this very seriously. Being neither Catholic nor Christian, I view it less as a religious event and more as a tourist attraction.

It was supposed to start at a civilized hour but being Mexicans we got off to a tardy beginning. So tardy that I wearied of waiting and left, which is when I walked down the hill and shot these pretty photos.

The rest of my crew hung around, but an hour later they too tossed up their hands, figuratively speaking, and left. I’m sure the Virgin managed to make her annual trek through the cobblestone streets of our mountaintop town, but none of us bore witness to the sacred event.

Anyway, if you’ve seen it once, and I have, you’ve seen it sufficiently.

A friend of ours, a fellow who went by the nickname of Don Chino, used to manage this event, but he died last year. When Don Chino was in charge, the Virgin headed out the Basilica door with a spring in her step.

Now she has fallen into bad Mexican habits.

R.I.P., Don Chino. We miss you.

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This is not the Basilica. It’s a big church just one block from the Basilica.

Getting rid of the chicken

Caramba, mi amor! Caramba, mi amor! sang someone on FM 106.5 as I drove the Honda home in the dark of early evening.

Twenty minutes earlier, I had been walking in cool twilight across the beautiful, downtown plaza, clutching a brown paper bag containing two sugar donuts, and thinking of my chicken.

Our neighbors have chickens that roost overnight in an apple tree that abuts our property wall. Now and then, an adventuresome soul will make the leap and walk about in our yard for a spell. Then she’ll head home, back over the wall, in a flap of feathers because chickens don’t fly well. They have a low-max altitude.

This has been going on for years, and we didn’t mind much because the nasty things always went back where they came from. Till a week ago.

One came over and decided to stay. She sticks mostly to the side of the wall that abuts where her kin live, and she lurks beneath aloe vera and bougainvillea. Sometimes, she stands in the big, center semicircle of grass to taunt me.

I’ve tried to catch her, but I’m not as agile as I once was. My child bride assists on occasion, but so far the fowl has eluded our grasp.

New ImageOn Monday, a couple of guys come to lay talavera tile in the downstairs terraza. They’ll be out there for quite a few hours. They say the work will take two days, maybe three.

Here’s my plan: The first day, I’ll offer 50 pesos to whomever catches the chicken and tosses her into the street. If she’s still there on Day Two, I’ll offer 100 pesos, and that should inspire them enough.

I don’t want to eat her, and I don’t want her tossed back over the wall into the neighbors’ yard because this chicken has wanderlust and might revisit. That’s far less likely if she’s out in the street with multiple options for adventure.

The walk across the twilight plaza would have been more enjoyable had I not been thinking about the cursed chicken.

I would have focused fondly on those sugar donuts.

* * * *

(Update! My yardman came Saturday morning and had the bird in his clutches within a minute. Incredible. Mexicans can do anything.)

Goofy stuff happens

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Orchids that hang onto the peach tree are blooming in the yard.

A FUNNY THING happened on the way into what’s normally the stuffiest month of the year: It rained. Repeatedly. Cooling things off.

Usually, May is the final and worst month of our seven-month, bone-dry season. That “worst” is a relative matter because the weather here is about perfect all the time. What you read about Cuernavaca — that “eternal spring” business — forget that.  That’s what should be said about our mountaintop.

Oh, it will rain in the dry season, but it’s really rare, and it usually is just a one-day deal. However, the first week and more of May has seen almost daily rain. I hesitate to label it an early onset of the rainy season, as so many are doing. I think it’s a fluke, and a look at a satellite map seems to confirm that. A front the Gringos sent is very slowly moving through Mexico.

No matter. It’s been really nice the last week or so. Alas, the grass has started to sprout and needs a good trim. I dropped the Craftsman mower off at a shop yesterday for a tune-up and, with luck, Abel the Deadpan Yardman will come this weekend to put all in order.

In the meantime, we’re sleeping at night without the fan.

* * * *

LONG TIME GONE

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it would be like to visit the United States, something I have not done in almost a decade.

No two abutting nations in the world are more different than the United States and Mexico. This was startling, and quite disturbing, when I arrived at the dawn of the 21st Century. But it’s become normal now, and I imagine a return visit above the Rio Bravo would be weird at this point.

From what I read online, things have really changed up north.

I follow a Yahoo forum that caters to Gringos in my area, and it seems that most of them are going “back home” to visit on a regular basis. Nothing wrong with this, but I view them as vacationers here, not residents.

I have no plans to ever return to the United States, surely not to live but not to visit either. It would probably give me a headache. Everyone would be speaking English (except in those Sanctuary Cities), paying for stuff with greenbacks sporting pictures of George Washington and Alex Hamilton instead of pesos with pictures of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Damn communists.

The streets would be smooth, confounding my old Honda, and red-clay roof tiles would be a rarity, found only on rich-folks houses. And hard-shell tacos. What sort of person eats hard-shell tacos?

No, I better stay home. It’s cheaper, and the weather is better. Medical care is nicer, and the government generally leaves you in peace.

And the summer rains can come in May.

Though they usually don’t.