A Quick Update

In 2010, we moved back to the small town in Colorado that I never stopped missing while we lived in Mexico. Now I sometimes miss Mexico, but I wouldn't travel as freely as we did when we were there, camping out in remote areas and so forth.

Mexico today is in a period of change, and in many ways it is more dangerous now. That said, I have plenty of American friends who still live there very happily, just taking a few more precautions than they did in the past.

Just to say!

Rosana

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August 10, 2006 —

I’ll start with one of the joys: we’ve been back home in Mexico over a month now, and Kelly finally managed to get rid of the algae in the swimming pool. It took a lot of experimenting and learning about the complexities of pool maintenance. I took my first dip yesterday and it was great!

But the real saga here is our domestic water. There have been so many events that I asked Kelly to write it up. Here is his account:

It is ironic that while we have been having massive rainfall (about 3″ one night recently), our gravity-fed domestic water storage system has been running dry because no city water has flowed through our pipes for about a week. Why? Well, our neighbor Maria said she thought that the city water was off, so I figured that we would just wait some; it usually returns within a day or two when that happens. But then Maria also said that the workmen down at the corner, four houses down the block, wanted to change our water line because it was interfering with a planned sidewalk.

Several days ago I talked to the men working on the wall down by the corner and asked about our water line, and they said that it was buried with debris from their work, and would be accessible in a few days. This means that the valve that controls our water is also buried under a heap of debris, so we don’t really know if it is open or closed. Obviously, this could be the reason why we don’t have water.

Today I noticed that the our tinaco (storage tank) was about a day away from being empty, so the situation was getting serious. I decided to pump some water from the lower cistern (aljibe) into the upper tinaco…something we have done many times. I flipped the switch on the pump, but no action…just a hum. Not good! I fiddled with the pump some, enough to realize that the armature seems to be frozen, probably from lack of use and the recent high humidity.

OK, I thought, I’ll go down to the corner with a shovel and dig until I find the water pipe and valve to discover if it is on or off. This was actually pretty easy, because all of the rain had washed the dirt away from the valve handle, and it was clearly off. Great…mystery solved…I’ll just turn it back on and see if we have city water.

YES! There is water spraying all over when I turn it on. There is a large smashed area on the PVC pipe where a stone had probably toppled on it during the work on the wall. The workmen’s natural solution was to turn off the valve and resume their work, which buried the whole mess.

Now I have a pipe to repair, which fortunately I happen to have the parts to do. I decide to dig the whole affair down as far as I can to protect it from further damage, and replace the broken section of pipe.

Soon I can turn the water back on to see if we have water at our house again. When I turn on the faucet at the bottom of our property there is nothing. Bummer. But then when I tried the valve to the aljibe, there was water. Go figure…it turned out the the hose on the faucet was crimped.

Great. Now I need to make sure that we are actually getting water into the tinaco, so I climb the ladder to take a look. I can’t hear running water, which is not a good sign. I peer in, and there is no running water.

OK, so then I checked the faucet right below the tinaco, and, sure enough, there is water. So I connect a hose to this faucet and run it up to the top of the tinaco…and there is no water there! It turns out that there isn’t enough water pressure to get all the way to the top of the tinaco, which at the highest point of our property…there only enough pressure to go about half way up the tank.

This is actually not all that unusual either, since in the late afternoon, our water pressure often diminishes noticeably. The solution at this point is to wait until tomorrow morning when we will likely have better water pressure, and we will be happily back to normality…whatever that is.

Well, the next morning there still was not enough water pressure to get to the top of the tinaco. I decided to see about repairing the pump, which meant disconnecting it from the pipes and getting it out where it would be accessible. I was able to manually turn the motor armature enough, so that when I turned the switch on again it whirred into action! So then all I had to do was reassemble the plumbing, prime the pump, and bingo…we had water pumping from the aljibe into the tinaco.

Now we can just pray that the the city water pressure returns to a reasonable level so the whole system will work automatically again.

[Update: Our prayers were answered the next day.]

Comments from the old blog:

  • jose said…

    viva mexico!

  • Anonymous said…

    Oh yes, water woes. Well my water was off and the power too, well I had just bought the home. We kept taking buckets out of the aljibs and it never efilled. After a few trips to the Chapala municipal office, we found that there was a broken pipe in the street and I had to pay for the pipe as well as 500 pesos labor even though it was in the street. So i did it. There hadn´t been water service on the property for 6 months to a year. The property always got a water bill. I wonder if I´ll get a credit? Probably not.

  • I said…

    Guess I will echo Jose: Viva Mexico! So far, in my experience and the experience of many other foreigners here in Mexico, the truly amazing hassles that can and do occur (and not necessarily at convenient times) are more than outweighed by the graciousness and warmth of the people and other plusses of living in Mexico.
    Your mileage may vary!

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