Saturday, January 17, 2009

This is ONE weird spider....

My buddy Sooz in Chelem to the west of us this posted this photo she took in her back yard of the weirdest spider I've ever seen.  She posted it at Yolisto, which is a website us expats contribute to.  Look at this....

Anyone out there know what this is called (besides "odd")?

More later,

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Things work differently here.....

This post is mainly for the folks back home and for those contemplating moving to the Yucatan lifestyle.  Most of this has been written about on other blogs dealing with Mexican daily living and, most notably over at   Yucatan Living, better.
But here's my take on a few things that take some getting used to.

There is no shortage of water in the Yucatan.  We are sitting atop a huge aquifer that is easy to tap and city water service from Progreso is steady and to the best of our knowledge safe and clean.  It's how it gets to your faucets that is different.  Each house has it's own storage cistern.  Ours is in the back of the house under the back patio.
It holds 5,000 liters or somewhat over 1,200 gallons of city supplied water and is accessible through this cover.  Why such a big cistern?  Because the city water tends to run low especially during the peak months of July and August when the owners of otherwise vacant beach homes bring the family to vacation and the population in the Progreso area virtually doubles.
To get to the house the water is pumped through a small but incredibly noisy little pump located in the bodega under our stairs...
From there, the water is pumped upward to the roof to a storage tank called a "tinaca".  Tinacas are like cheap excuses; everyone has one (I cleaned that one up for mass consumption).  They come in all shapes and sizes, some plastic, some cement.  Ours is cement because our architect said that in a strong wind, say of hurricane force, the plastic ones turn into missiles and require expensive replacement.  Here's what ours looks like...

From here, all water pressure is gravity.  Some people have pressurized water systems added to their homes.  We opted not to as our pressure is just fine and the added expense can be prohibitive.  In order to get hot water we use a small, 40 liter, electric water heater which is located in the bodega.
We have one of the switches on the breaker box in the kitchen dedicated to the water heater and, when we want a bath or shower, we flip the switch and a green light Indra had installed shows us it's on and reminds up to turn it off when we are done.  It takes about 20 minutes to heat the tank and it's good for one shower or one bath.  The rest of the time it's off which of course saves us electricity costs and, who knows, maybe is good for the environment.

Gas here is not natural gas delivered via pipeline.  It's bottled propane such as one would use on an RV or gas barbecue.  Trucks selling gas canisters troll our street on a daily basis honking their horns until you wave them in or wave them on.  We have a two tank set-up so we don't run out during an important event (see Thanksgiving).

When a tank goes empty, we simply flip an A/B valve, open the new tank, and we're back in business.
This utility is supplied by the government owned and operated CFE.  We all have a love-hate relationship with CFE, mostly hate.  The power is on most of the time, goes off every once in a while for a few seconds, or a few minutes, or even a few hours.  The important thing to remember is that when the power comes back on, it hits all electronics with a surge that, in our case, fried our stereo and also our satellite TV box.  So, it is vital to have a reliable surge protector on all electronics.
There are no underground electric cables here.  The sky is filled with a confusing, spaghetti-like assortment of wires and cables that appear to be held together with nothing more than black electrical tape.
The meter reader has no problem seeing the meter or for that matter knowing who the house belongs to...

Another difference is that the rules state CFE has to be able access a master breaker from the street to turn off your power if they are doing work in the area...ours is just inside the front gate...
One more thing.  Your house will attract visitors from the neighborhood.  This cat has lately decided it likes sunning on our back deck cover...
And get used to these guys.  This is Harold who lives in the roof next door.  He likes to watch the dogs eat their dinner.  Probably glad he's not dinner.

More later,