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.

* * * *

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.

21 thoughts on “Post-bagel labor

  1. I”ll never forget the sight of a long-dead rat floating in the top of the old cistern when the previous owner was showing the property to us. We bought it anyway, but we did install a new cistern, which has probably never been cleaned. OK, maybe it’s been cleaned once in 29 years. Clorox kills everything.


    1. We have no cistern, but our tinaco (roof side water tank) is long overdue for a cleaning. I’M not climbing up there! We have dirty birds that try to nest under the eaves and in the space of our garage door. My mind reels at the possibilities.

      Don Cuevas


      1. Don Cuevas: No cistern. That’s interesting. At least you don’t have to worry about cleaning it, but the water comes from somewhere, and I doubt its holding pen is very clean. As for cleaning the tinaco, that’s an issue. We’ve never cleaned ours in the 14 years we’ve been here. Due to its position it’s impossible to even see into it. Well, for me at least.

        And I’ve never cleaned the cistern in the Downtown Casita either. The opening is too small for me. I guess someone could get into it. But it’s only seven years old now. I peer into it, and it looks okay. It’s plastic.

        As for dirty birds, all birds are dirty.


  2. I have two aljibes, and they are covered from the weather, etc. Put a pool tablet in them ever so often, and they are crystal clear. Whatever spiders, etc., get into the edges the zapos eat those! Nothing floating or gravel, etc., on the bottom … very lucky.


    1. Peggy: Never thought of pool tablets. Actually, I’ve never even heard of pool tablets, but I imagine it’s something you toss into a swimming pool, a chemical, to keep the water looking good. Not a bad idea, but if you brush your teeth with tap water, there’s that to consider.


  3. When I was in graduate school at LSU I had a friend whose father worked for the water department in New Orleans. Said his dad only drank bottled water. I take that to heart whenever I visit New Orleans. Cleaning the cistern is a good practice,


    1. Ray: I don’t know about the situation in New Orleans, but Houston’s water system — at least back when I lived there — was excellent and always got high marks on tests. It always amused me that so many people — yuppies mostly — would always lay out cash for Perrier or some other such stuff.


  4. Given the complexity of every single house’s water system in Mexico, I often wonder if the country wouldn’t save a lot of money by going to a centrally-pressurized and sanitized Gringo-type system. Seems wildly inefficient for everyone to have tanks, pumps, float valves, and the cantankerous collection of switches and relays that keeps the whole thing running. Not to mention having to clean one’s own cisterns and tinacos. And woe be to the person who decides to clean just before some problem occurs with the central water system.

    As an aside, at one of the apartments I looked at renting in CDMX the woman had installed something like three 3,000 liter tanks because the water service was so unreliable. Ugh! Also one weekend last year, I was dismayed to learn that literally half the city’s water was piped through one huge pipe/tunnel from Valle del Bravo. When they shut that pipe for maintenance with little warning, drought ensued. One can only hope that pipe never fails.


    Kim G
    Redding, CA
    Where, despite the ample river water, the city supplies ground water.


    1. Kim: Do it like the Gringos do it? Where’s the fun in that? Keep in mind that one of the many interesting aspects to Mexican life is its resemblance to Alice’s Wonderland.

      For the first half of our living in this hardscrabble outskirt of our mountain town, our water system was unreliable and the water was brown. For that reason, we got tanker truck deliveries exclusively to fill our cistern. Then the local system was upgraded big-time. Now the water is crystal clear, abundant, cheap and better and more reliable than what folks get who live closer to downtown, which is an entirely different system.

      In short, we be happy.

      As for what you say about the system in Mexico City, it’s just another of many reasons not to live there.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Kim: Yes, it comes from underground springs hereabouts. As for drinking it, I wouldn’t drink tap water down here for anything. Even where it says it’s drinkable, I don’t trust it. I’m a 100 percent bottle man.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. A friend in DF drinks the tap water after it has passed through one of those Nestlé purification things. Eventually I’ll probably go to the same system. Lugging garrafones gets old fast.


            1. Kim: I think lots of folks have purification systems in their kitchens. I’ve thought about getting one, but I consider hauling the big bottles as a form of exercise. It’s getting rougher and rougher as the years wear on, however.

              By the way, there is no more DF. You know that. Habit, huh?


              1. DF still calls itself DF in many cases, so I’m not alone in clinging to the past. I use both DF and CDMX interchangeably. Frankly, DF is easier for us lazy folks. I’m surprised you’re so resistant.


Comments are closed.