Astounding advantages of solitude

AS MENTIONED in the previous post, I have been abandoned for three days.

Yesterday morning, I deposited my child bride at the bus station on the outskirts of the capital city, and off she went to Querétaro. I spent yesterday alone. Today will be spent solo, and so will most of mañana.

But this turn of lifestyle resulted unexpectedly yesterday in some exciting discoveries. Instead of driving immediately back up the mountain to mope, I detoured to Home Depot. My mission was to purchase a grab bar to install in the shower of our Mexico City condo. Mission accomplished.

Normally, when we — the two of us — visit Home Depot I walk directly to my goal, grab it, and head to the cash register. We rarely dilly-dally.

I am aware that women prefer to dilly-dally.

But yesterday I dillied and dallied. And look what I found! First, a cordless electric weedeater, Black & Decker brand. As recently as a year ago I had hunted a cordless electric weedeater to no avail. I even hunted one on the Mexican Amazon. Did you know there is also a Mexican eBay?

There it was at Home Depot for 3,000 pesos — about $157 U.S. — quite a bit more than an electric weedeater with a cord, but certainly worth the pain. I did not buy it, but it’s good to know it’s available. Perhaps another day.

Abel the Deadpan Yardman edges my yard with his own weedeater.

An even more amazing discovery was something I did not even know existed, and it’s something that can be of immense value in our Mexico City condo. It’s a bulky showerhead with an electrical cable that heats water as it sprays out. Good Lord!

Currently, we use a gas-fueled water heater.

Here’s some background: Our Mexico City condo long received its gas from a big LP tank on the roof. Then a fancy-pants firm called Gas Natural (Natural Gas in English) began expanding in Mexico. They expanded right up to our roof. We signed a contract. They installed meters on the roof.

They then billed us as if we lived there full-time instead of virtually never. Over 500 pesos per month for zero usage. We complained. They kept it up. I shut their pipe to our condo, bought an “instant” water heater and a small LP tank that holds 20 pounds of gas, which I refill not far from the condo via taxi about once every two years.

Works smooth as silk. Cheap too.

serveimageThat was five years ago, and Gas Natural is still sending bills and bitching that we’re not paying for zero gas. I ignore them.

The overwhelming part of the LP we use is to heat water for showering. But if we had an electric-powered showerhead, we’d almost never have to refill the small LP tank, which would be sweet. I read the instructions at Home Depot, and it is important that outlets are grounded. I’ll check next visit.

I haven’t purchased that showerhead. Electric wires, 110 volts, water, showerhead, shower stall, barefoot, Mexican electrician, what could go wrong?

I started my second day of solitude this morning. I wonder what exciting discoveries will be revealed to me today. I think I’ll get a shoeshine.

I’m liking this loneliness thing so far.

Felipe goes green!

green

HAVING LOST ITS raison d’être, the gas-fueled water heater sits silent out back.

Even its pilot light has gone dark.

After four-plus years of wanting to go green (well, save cash, actually), we have a solar water heater that really works. Our first solar heater, some readers may recall, sat on the roof for about four years doing pretty much squat, occasionally squirting some tepid H2O.

But since that first set of panels was only connected to the gas heater — the theory being that it reduces the gas used to heat water — it did not have any practical effect on us personally.

We still enjoyed hot showers.

But I knew the solar panels were doing little because I’d climb the circular stairway to the roof now and then to open a valve to find tepid water coming out most every time.

That first heater, manufactured by Rotoplas, one of the biggest names in Mexican plumbing, had a 10-year warranty. Finally, I got off my lazy keister and returned to the hardware store where the Rotoplas had been purchased. I expected one of two responses:

1. Warranty? Ha!

2. Okay, but the warranty will be pro-rated. You’ll get 60 percent of your cash back.

Option No. 1 is common down here.

Imagine my shock when Rotoplas picked up the old heater and returned 100 percent of the purchase price, 10,000 pesos, about 665 American dollars these days. I used that money to buy another solar heater, a different brand, Solemex. Never heard of it. The Solemex cost 6,000 pesos, about 400 dollars, but I paid about 1,000 pesos to have it installed.

The Solemex did not work either.

The water it produced was blazing hot. It just did not deliver the water to the faucets in the Hacienda. Oh, it sputtered out some hot water now and then. On rare occasion, it even worked well. Sometimes no water at all came out of the showerhead. Nada.

You might imagine my irritation.

We even installed an inline pressure pump. The poor pressure remained the same.

But, to make a short story even shorter, the problem was not the solar heater. It was that the plumber who installed it was clueless. After returning twice, he finally figured it out, and now it works like gangbusters. We are hot and green!

The Solemex is connected directly into the house, not to the gas water heater.

A friend down the highway has installed a massive array of solar panels on his roof to generate electricity. He does not do solar water, but his electricity bill has mostly disappeared.

Maybe one day I’ll go green with electricity too. I feel like a hippie tree-hugger.

Heater
The new Solemex!