A moonbeam heater

The music comes from the neighbors out back. Yes, it is that loud.


As I’ve mentioned numerous times, we have three hot-water sources here at the Hacienda: solar, gas and on-demand. What catches my attention most is the solar. I’ve spoken to a number of people with solar panels, and everyone says they work great.

And they do … if the sun has been shining. In the early morning, it’s useless, so for people who bounce out of bed to take a steamy shower before heading to work, a solar heater will disappoint.

In the afternoon and early evening, however, it’s hot enough to boil eggs or cook live crawfish to serve with ketchup.

What I want sitting on my roof beside my solar panel is another heater, a fourth, which has yet to be invented, that works on lunar power. Yes, I want a moonbeam heater.

“Green” energy has a way to go before rising to the reliability of old-school sources like natural gas and coal. Remember last winter when Texas came close to having its entire energy grid collapse during a prolonged, hard freeze? That was because Texas switched to “green” energy in a big way, which was a huge error.

“Green” is a great backup, but not as a sole source. At least, not yet. And as Texas went green in one direction, it shut down old-school sources simultaneously.

When we want hot water in the morning, it’s a simple matter of flipping a switch from the solar to the on-demand. And we still have the old-style gas heater sitting out there too with its pilot off. We have options. Texas stupidly had too few options.

Don’t put aging hippies in charge of energy.

I climbed to the roof yesterday to shoot these brief videos. In the middle of the top one, you see the roof of the sex motel next door. That orange room is the laundry. There are several industrial-sized washers in there but not a single dryer.

They dry stuff on those metal racks, which are new. Until recently, blankets, etc., were simply spread flat on the roof to dry.

In the bottom video, I was shooting over the glass top of the upstairs veranda, three-fourths of which is covered by shade cloth.

It was a very lovely day.

The DMV, Mexico-style

My driver’s license expires in less than a year, so I figured I should get started on renewal, just to be safe. A couple of years ago, my state began opening windows of opportunity during which permanent licenses could be had. That’s right, licenses that never expire.

It’s a dumb idea, but count me in!

These windows usually are open a month or so. We’re in the middle of one right now.

A friend in the nearby capital city obtained a permanent license there a year ago. Basically, what she had to do was go early, stand in a long line, have patience, pay fees, and then she left with the permanent license. All in one day at the same location.

Most who live in Mexico know that identical processes can entail very different requirements depending on where you live. It’s a case of the left arm having no clue what the right arm is doing.

Here is my driver’s license epic:


Day One

Driver’s licenses are only available on my mountaintop at City Hall, which is open from 9 a.m. till 1 p.m.

I enter and ask a “greeter” what I must do to get the permanent license. He lists the documents required and points me to a cashier window, telling me I must first pay for a medical exam, and take the receipt to either a nearby government hospital or a clinic on the edge of town.

I pay, get the receipt, walk three blocks to the Honda and drive to the government hospital where they tell me they don’t do the exams, that I have to go to the clinic on the edge of town. I walk back to the Honda and drive to the clinic.

A guard at the clinic tells me I need a copy of the receipt, and that a place across the street makes copies. I do that and return to the clinic. The guard points me down a hall to the administration office.

A lone man in that office asks for the receipt. He types stuff into his computer, prints a form, and hands it to me.

I passed my medical exam with no doctor in sight! Nobody even asked how I felt. It is too late to return to City Hall.


Day Two

I return to City Hall and go to the window where you hand in your documents and get the driver’s license. The clerk asks for my driving test results. I knew it was just a written test, and I assumed I would take it at City Hall. He tells me the test is given at the police station, which is a few miles away.

I return to the Honda, parked three blocks distant.

I drive to the police station where I am asked for the receipt of my payment. No one had mentioned this at City Hall, which I had just left. It was too late to return.


Day Three

On Days One and Two, I had gone to City Hall around noon, an hour before closing, because I figured most people went in the morning and I would encounter fewer folks in the afternoon.

And that assumption was accurate.

But on Day Three, I planned to go earlier, pay for the driving test, drive to the police station, take the test and, hopefully, have time to return and get my driver’s license before 1 p.m.

I arrived at 9:30 a.m., and it was a mob scene of epic proportions, spilling out into the street. I turned around and went home.

But I drove back at 12:30. Far fewer people. I paid for the driving test, walked back to the Honda, and drove to the police station. The test was multiple choice, 18 questions. I was told I could only miss two.

I missed four. The nice cop who graded me, however, corrected two, left two wrong. I had passed! But it was too late to return to City Hall.


Day Four

I returned at noon, wondering what other roadblocks would be tossed into my path. There were few people waiting at the final window, my window, and there were chairs, thank God.

After 30 minutes, it was my turn. I handed over my documents, signed some paperwork, was ushered through a door where my mug was shot. I went back outside to the chairs and, about five minutes later, I had my driver’s license.

If I do not lose it, I’ll never have to repeat this process again.

A permanent driver’s license. What a nutty idea. I can drive at age 100, mowing down pedestrians willy-nilly, but I’ll be doing it legally!

Licensed to kill.

Get married or else

Just a photo off the internet. Seemed appropriate.

A news story that’s making the rounds in Mexico this week is that of a girl of 14 years who lives in some distant indigenous community — the mountains, the desert, somewhere off the beaten track — where arranged marriages still occur.

A deal had been struck between her parents and the parents of the boy, which is how it’s done there, and money had been exchanged, perhaps cows and burros too, all of which were paid by the boy’s family to the parents of the girl.

A positive aspect of this is that the girl was not being wed to some lascivious old goat as happens in some spots — India comes to mind — but to a lad little older than her. So there’s that.

But the girl had other ideas, so she went on the run. Alas, she was caught and jailed, yes, jailed until some accord was reached between the two families because the girl’s parents had received the payoffs, which had to be refunded or something or other. Refunds are not something many Mexicans are fond of.*

Meanwhile, the girl is — or was — still in the slammer so she can’t hit the road again.

I don’t know if this has been resolved, but that’s not the point, which is that it happened in the first place. Arranged marriages still occur in this world of ours, and even some wives find positives to it, I have read, but not all, obviously, especially 14-year-old girls.

I bet she has a boyfriend on the other end of the village.

(Update: She has been released from jail. Her parents were ordered to return what they received from the boy’s parents. And she did have a boyfriend.)


*Buy something from a Mom-and-Pop Store here and then try to get your money back. Good luck with that, amigos. Or even chain stores if they’re Mexican-owned.

The Garden Patio

I’ve often mentioned the Garden Patio, but I don’t recall making a video to show perspective, etc., and where it is exactly. It’s a lovely name for the most butt-ugly area we have. I call it the Garden Patio because it’s where I store yard equipment, etc.

Below the table just to the left of the upturned wheelbarrow is where the lawnmower lives most of the year, but it’s still out in the Honda carport, its summer home during the rainy season. It’s more accessible there for Abel the Deadpan Yardman. It will return here soon because I think mowing has ended for 2021.

When we purchased the two-lot property in 2002, this area was covered with weeds, nothing more. In the video’s screen shot you see a black door on the right. It’s down a bit, and there are stone steps descending to the back street. On the left are two big trash containers, one for plant garbage, and the other for paper, plastic and glass.

No, I do not recycle. It all goes to a dumpster downtown.

Not visible is a roof of clay tiles that covers about a third of the area. That’s a support column you spot at about the 0:06 point.

Ladders, I have lots of ladders. Those are just two of them.

As the video pans to the right, you see a big, above-ground water tank, one of three here. Just a bit farther, there’s a black square on the floor, the opening to the underground cistern of 9,000 liters. Then the kitchen window. Just below it, to the left of the barrel, sits the pump that sends water to the roof tank (tinaco). That barrel does nothing.

And then we walk through a small opening to the yard.

Next May we will have been here 19 years.