Sweep, rake, burn

MEXICAN LIFE isn’t all about sunsets and margaritas. Sometimes it’s work. Yesterday, for instance.


First, I swept the upstairs terraza. I got to enjoy a view of the mountains and our neighborhood’s red-tile roofs.


Then I swept the service patio downstairs. That’s where the washing machine, water heater, clothesline and propane tank live. Not much of a view there.


Third on the list was the veranda. Pretty good view, but there’s lots of stuff to sweep around, complicating matters.


At that point, I moved outside. First, the rake which resulted in three piles. Here’s one. Most leaves fall from a pear tree.


I lit a match to a piece of ocote, stuck it into the pile, and flames erupted. Soon it was consumed, a black smudge.


Back to the broom. I head out beyond the Alamo Wall to sweep the driveway and clear the pastry workshop entrance.


And, finally, it’s out to the street where I swept the sidewalk and a bit of the street too. Unlike in some cities above the Rio Bravo, we have no mechanical street sweepers.

I’m a Virgo. We like to be tidy.


Lastly, the gardener gets a breather on the veranda, posing with his tool while his child bride wields the Canon.

Water, water, everywhere*


WHEN WE PURCHASED the double lot in 2002 on which to construct the Hacienda, someone told me, “but there’s no water out there.” He was referring to the outlying neighborhood where we live.

That puzzled me because the neighborhood is full of folks, and I was sure they had water. It was only after we’d moved in that I understood. Sporadic municipal water was available, but it was the color of tea.

Now everybody knows you don’t drink the tap water in Mexico, but I would like to take a shower in it without toweling off to find myself looking like Al Jolson. So we did not connect to the municipal water supply. We dug a 9,000-liter cistern and a tanker truck filled it about once a month for $20. Not bad.

Years passed. About three years ago, a middle-class neighbor mentioned that he receives municipal water, and I asked: “Isn’t it dirty?” “No,” he replied, “not anymore.”

So, we connected, and it’s crystal clear. Seems that the neighborhood system had undergone an upgrade. We connected to the street pipe out back to fill the cistern near that wall, and we also connected out front to the underground pipe on the main thoroughfare.

We already had tanks, tons of tanks. The below-ground cistern out back is next to an above-ground backup tank. Out front, which is what you see above, are two tanks. The smaller is filled automatically from the street, and I fill the bigger one with a hose. Each has its own electric pump.

The municipal water costs about $4 a month. It is not metered. I use what I need.

Now I realize I’ve written about this before, but as we walked out the front gate this morning in the cool sunshine, I had my camera, so I took that photo, and after it was developed, it cried for an accompanying tale.

And you’ve just read it.

Pan to the right and ...
Pan to the right and …

Speaking of water, this is what lots of rain does, especially after a few years when a plant has made itself at home in its personal plot of dirt and staked a claim.

* * * *

* From the Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.