Poop hole, solar heat

excavateEARLY WEDNESDAY we left the construction crew working at the Hacienda and drove the 40 minutes down the mountainside to the state capital for a bit of shopping.

The honcho Ramón had told us he was renting a machine to excavate the septic tank. We envisioned a hand-held apparatus of some sort and a smaller hole, so imagine our surprise at finding this when we returned four hours later. The dirt this thing was excavating was being tossed into a dump truck out on the street.

That was Wednesday.


forpoopBy late afternoon Thursday, the septic tank was making progress, as the photo just above shows. There is nothing prefab about this baby. It’s being built from scratch, like Granny’s peach pie. The bottom had been covered with a layer of gravel, unlike the pie, and a concrete foundation lined the sides, atop which bricks were placed.

Liberal use of string keeps things level, and notice the spaces between the bricks in the lower part of the wall, obviously some sort of filtration system. It’s a hoot to witness this process.

For previous entry in this gripping saga, go here.

As always, for a blow-by-blow photo history, go here.



While we’re on the subject of home improvement, let’s turn now to the solar water heater on the Hacienda roof, which has never worked well in the four years it’s relaxed up there.

About a month ago, a commenter on another post inspired me to climb the circular stairway to the roof yet again and test the water. Still tepid, so I decided to return to the hardware store where I purchased it and complain for about the third time. The gizmo has a 10-year guarantee.

The reason I had not pressed harder on this is because I know that guarantees in Mexico are less a promise than a come-on, a selling point. They are not cast in rock. There is little a Mexican loathes more than giving a refund.

Previous complaints led the hardware manager to phone the manufacturer, a major Mexican firm, while I was sitting there with him. Drain the tank to get rid of crap, I was once told. I did that. Another time I was told to flush the whole shebang with vinegar. Never did that because I had no faith it would work.

I won’t bore you with details, but today the hardware store will send someone to dismantle and haul this bugger away. Turns out they had discovered a major design flaw. Well, duh. Initial indications are that I will get a full refund, not a prorated one. The purchase price was 10,000 pesos, about $850 U.S. at the time.

We’ll be buying another one, a different brand with a better track record. The hardware manager said they only sold six of mine, and four were defective. He does not sell them anymore. He’s sold 26 of a different model from a different company, and they work great, he claims, plus it only costs about $450 U.S.

This turn of events would not have happened were it not for the verbal, unintended nudge of a commenter here some weeks back. I don’t remember who it was, and a cursory (I’m lazy) search of the stacks revealed nothing. Please raise your hand and take a bow. I appreciate it.

Your reward, should you choose to accept it, is a free week in our lovely downtown Casita. Bring a friend. No smoking, no pets, but other than that, it’s here for you. No joke.

10 thoughts on “Poop hole, solar heat

  1. Well, I guess there’s hope after all. So I’ll say it again.

    Get a dishwasher.

    You’re welcome.


    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we’d be happy with simply seeing the sun. No need to expect it to heat water too.


    1. Kim: You’re a funny fellow. Actually, when my wife is on her baking spree every week, the quantity of dishes that have to be washed would overwhelm a dishwasher, or even two dishwashers. She keeps me busy.


  2. I came home yesterday to discover a backhoe parked in front of my house. It was about to be put to use on the new construction across from me. I have noticed that more construction equipment is being used by builders — including concrete pump trucks. I suspect that means that wages are rising high enough to justify equipment capitalization costs. Either that, or Mexican builders are simply like guys everywhere — they like their toys.


    1. Señor Cotton: I am paying a set price for all this work. The honcho Ramón told me that it was cheaper for him to rent the tractor than it would have been to pay one or more guys to do it by hand.


  3. Our kids who live in the ‘burbs near Boston and have septic for their sanitary service had to deal with a flooded basement last week. Septic overflowed. Should have had it pumped but city kids don’t know those little details 🙂


    1. Carole: Yuck! That reminds me of something. When I was 7 years old, just after we moved to Jacksonville, Florida, living in a two-story rented home, one night something or other backed up, and when we arrived downstairs for breakfast we stepped into a lake of sewage that covered the entire floor to about an inch or so. It had come out of a toilet. Septic tank or no, I don’t know what the system was. Thankfully, I was so young that I hardly remember it now.


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