What’s Happening with the Water and Electricity?

by Judy King 31. March 2010 23:47

agua A few weeks ago our blog posts explained that it is Mexican custom for all households to be responsible for storing their own water supply and for being sure that the water they drink is pure and safe. Little did we know that folks in Ajijic would have an opportunity to see the results of this custom so quickly.

There are a pair of developing events unfolding tonight (March 31) and tomorrow (April 1) and Friday (April 2).

There’s No Water!

First, Simapa, the local water company, announced via sound truck announcements through the streets of town that they are shutting off the city water supply (in the community of Ajijic) at 6 p.m. March 31, and that the distribution of water would not begin again until sometime Friday.

As I drove past their pumping facility on the highway at Marcos Castellanos about 6:15 tonight, there area was filled with special trucks large enough to pull the mammoth pump from the well. Work had begun, right on time.

DSC00808The Lights Are Going Out

Then via an email passed from hand to hand and computer to computer we learned that the CFE (the nation’s electric company) will be doing intensified work tomorrow and will be throwing most homes in Ajijic into “brown-out” mode at 6 a.m. as they explore the area’s major grid.

Their power outage estimates has them shutting down most of Ajijic around 6 a.m. April 1 and hoping to resume full service by 8 or 8:30 Thursday evening.

Beware of Brownouts

WARNING: Safeguard you valuable appliances and electronics during brown-out conditions. While the low level of electricity can stress some equipment, far more dangerous is the very real chance that when the power is restored, it can hit your lines with a much higher than usual level that can burn and or destroy:

  • refrigerators
  • dishwashers
  • washers
  • dryers
  • computers
  • printer
  • portable telephones
  • cell phones and chargers
  • cameras and chargers
  • satellite descrambler boxes
  • TVs and stereos
  • water pressure systems
  • water purification systems

Keep your equipment safe – UNPLUG IT!

You will want to remember this warning when the summer rainy season with it’s dramatic lightning shows begins. That’s the time of year that we can have power outages. Play it safe. Put a voltage regulator (not a surge protector) on valuable equipment. Unplug expensive appliances and electronics when the power goes out.

a July 2002 019Water Purification  and Water Pressure System Reminders

If you normally depend on a water purification system to supply safe drinking water and are in the brown-out area this week, remember to buy a supply of bottled water for the duration of this outage. When the power is out, your system will not be working to purify the water with reverse osmosis and ultraviolet light. Water that you pull into your pipes during the outage not only will not be purified, it can contaminate the remaining water your homes pipes.

Don’t forget, your aljibe (underground water storage space) can be chock full of water, but you won’t have water coming to your faucets or toilets until the electricity returns so that your system can produce the pressure to push the water from the tank through the pipes…unless you kept the rooftop tinaco and can switch a valve to allow the gravity feed of water. Those tinacos may not be ornamental on our roofs, but they sure are practical!

Want to Understand How Mexican Home Water Systems Work?

Read more in Mexican Water Systems: Answers for Questions you Didn't Know to Ask

and still more in Don't Drink the Water


Judy King is publisher of Mexico Insights—Living at Lake Chapala, a monthly online magazine for people interested in Mexico's Lake Chapala region, in the state of Jalisco.

Judy, a 19-year resident of Ajijic on Lake Chapala's north shore, conducts weekly newcomer's seminars and shares her expertise about Mexico in her ezine at www.mexico-insights.com, and in the "Mexico Lindo" column of the Lake Chapala Review.

Judy also is a speaker for local organizations and visiting tour groups about the Lakeside area about Mexican customs and holidays.

Semana Santa – The Passion of Christ Begins

by Judy King 31. March 2010 22:46

diciple Jueves Santo (Maundy or Holy Thursday)
In some of Mexico's cities and villages, the faithful spend Holy Thursday visiting seven different churches to commemorate the seven stopping places of Christ between his arrest at Gethsemane and his crucifixion at Calvary. For some the custom has  expanded to meditate on one or two of the Stations of the Cross (Via del Cruces) in each church.

Ajijic's reenactment of the passion of Jesus continues on Thursday evening when Jesus and his disciples gather for their portrayal of the Last Supper, (7 p.m. Mass in the atrium of San Andrés.)

During this service one of the priests repeats the motions of Jesus by washing the feet of the disciples.


clip_image001

After Mass Jesus and his followers walk up onto the mountain to replicate the Biblical scene in the garden. Jesus retreats from the group to pray and returns to find his disciples asleep.

Meanwhile, the Roman soldiers have been mustering and preparing to go in search of Jesus. By the time they storm the mountain, it is dark in Ajijic and their progress up the mountain to find and arrest Jesus can be tracked from the village. The flames of the torches moving along the twisting paths looks like a serpent of fire curving up the hill.

Once Jesus has been arrested and the soldiers march him to the town plaza where he is taken to the courtyard of the chapel on the north side of the plaza which represents the court of the Sanhedrin. There he is placed into custody to await trial. To complete the prophecies, the spectators also witness the three betrayals of Christ by Peter, and hear the crowing of the cock.

The Bells are Silenced

With the arrest of Jesus, the church bells which normally chime every hour and quarter hour and announce several daily Masses are silenced. They will not ring again until the Saturday night end of the Easter Eve vigil when the resurrection of Christ is announced and celebrated.

Come back Friday, Saturday and Sunday for more Semana Santa and Pascua (Easter) activities and traditions.

Want to Know More? Here Are Links to Related Posts:

During the Thursday evening portrayal of the Biblical scenes, Peter denies his Master three times, and then the cock crows, fulfilling a prophecy. The Rooster has carried unhappy and unlucky connotations for centuries. You can learn more in  Mexico Superstitions: The Rooster

Sunday was Palm Sunday. Did you attend the joyous procession that traditionally begins the Ajijic Passion Play? Read more: Celebrating Palm Sunday

Mary, the mother of Jesus is called the Virgin of Dolores (the Virgin of Sorrows) as she appears during the Passion of Christ. She is remembered with home altars on the last Friday of Lent; as neighbors visit they say, “Has the Virgin Wept Here.” They are served limonada (limeade) or other slightly sour fruit drinks, sometimes with Chia seed to recall the bitter tears of a mother in pain. Read more in: The Feast of the Virgin of Dolores

Are you curious about the Message of the Bells on ordinary days? Take a look at the stories they tell in our blog post: Listen The Bells Have a Message

 

 


Judy King is publisher of Mexico Insights—Living at Lake Chapala, a monthly online magazine for people interested in Mexico's Lake Chapala region, in the state of Jalisco.

Judy, a 19-year resident of Ajijic on Lake Chapala's north shore, conducts weekly newcomer's seminars and shares her expertise about Mexico in her ezine at www.mexico-insights.com, and in the "Mexico Lindo" column of the Lake Chapala Review.

Judy also is a speaker for local organizations and visiting tour groups about the Lakeside area about Mexican customs and holidays.

Forget Using MC, Visa, & Checks: This is a Cash Society

by Judy King 31. March 2010 09:17

bxp37878 We Use Cash – Pesos – at Lake Chapala
Forget the checkbook and get over the credit cards. You'll want to get used to using cash (pesos) when you are here at Lake Chapala. Once you get past the border, goods are priced in pesos, and most businesses refuse credit cards, traveler's checks and dollars (either US or Canadian.) They just take pesos.

Payment for almost everything here (gasoline, groceries, restaurant meals, purchases, and even telephone and electric bills and maybe even your hotel) is in pesos – cold, hard cash still changes from hand to hand.

Paying Workers

Our maids, gardeners, mechanics, carpenters, construction workers and most other Mexican workers all are paid in cash. Few have bank accounts in which they could deposit our checks. Also know that most Mexican banks won't accept a US check for deposit; those that do put a two to three month hold on the funds.

Consider this: if I did pay my maid (or another worker) with a peso check written on a Mexican bank account, she would have to find the time and pay the bus fare to go to Chapala, stand in line at the bank and then ride the bus back home. No wonder she wants cash payment!

detail-of-mexican-pesos-~-AA007426 Shopping

Most shops, stores and supermarkets require payment in cash. Some stores that can accept credit cards will give the customer a discount for using cash.

Utilities

We can't mail our utility bills to the office with a check enclosed. We go to the phone company, the cable company and the electric company (or other payment center including Walmart) to pay those utility bills in cash. We pay the propane delivery man when he is at our house refilling the stationary tank or delivering full cylinders. 

Rent

While some renters can write a dollar check on their back home bank account for their monthly rent, they'll find that the rest of the month the checkbook just gathers dust, along with their credit cards.

Getting All that Cash

So, now that you are convinced that you’ll be using pesos instead of checks or credit cards, how do you keep your pockets filled with cash?

Using the ATM

At first, you’ll use your ATM Card. There several cash machines in the area now, here’s a list of some of the locations:

  • Ajijic -- The bank on the plaza, Farmacia Guadalajara, Plaza Bugambilias, MultiVa, El Torito.
  • San Antonio – Walmart, Domino’s Pizza parking lot, SuperLake grocery store
  • Chapala – In all banks, Soriana
  • Jocotepec – Banks, Farmacia Guadalajara

Remember that what with the extra demand from Mexican tourists on weekends, especially on holiday weekends, and because several larger area businesses pay their employees via ATM cards to avoid having a large cash payroll, machines are sometimes empty quickly or not able to connect electronically with your bank.

Some full time residents prefer to avoid the ATM fees (both on the machine here and/or  those from the bank back home) or the chance of a machine malfunctioning and either “eating” the card or failing to dispense the correct amount of money, they look for alternate methods of obtaining cash for daily use.

mexican-pesos-notes-and-coins-close-up-~-74226437 Other Options

Some residents open accounts in local banks and at Lloyd’s from which they can draw pesos. In either case a rather large amount of money must be deposited into your account so you can cover the checks you deposit to replenish the account. Local banks and some investment companies put holds of 30 to 90 days on US dollar checks and other requirements and procedures that make getting cash a time-consuming process.

The Convenience of Intercam

Later you may want to do what we have -- open an account at Intercam (the office is on the highway in Ajijic next to the OXXO). Once you’ve provided the company with copies of the required documents (passport, immigration document, lease or deed and utility bill) and a single deposit into a savings account, you can write checks at the office on your back home US dollar bank account and receive cash on the spot – no muss, no fuss, no holds, just exchanging a dollar check for pesos.

Keep a Stash of Cash

When cash is your only option, you’ll find you’ll want to keep more than a petty cash stash. We recommend you keep enough cash for a week or two of living expenses tucked away at home so that if you are fighting a bout of bronchitis you’ll have enough to  send a neighbor for medicine and pay the maid and gardener. 

Where to keep larger amounts of money? You may choose to have a simple lock installed in the top drawer of a heavy piece of furniture, slip it into a select box in the pantry or freezer, or tuck it into the toes of your good shoes in the back corner of the closet.

Installing a Safe

Just like north of the border, some folks here choose to install a small safe in a secure location. A safe that bolts to a shelf or can be cemented into a wall is the best location. We’ve found that floor safes installed in the back corner of the closet may not be discovered, they also are not easy to use. Folks wearing bifocals find that it’s hard to get the dial into focus, that they are blocking the small amount of light that makes it way into the far reaches of the closet and that it gets more and more difficult to get up and down to access the safe. As a result they just don’t use it as much as they should. 


Judy King is publisher of Mexico Insights—Living at Lake Chapala, a monthly online magazine for people interested in Mexico's Lake Chapala region, in the state of Jalisco.

Judy, a 19-year resident of Ajijic on Lake Chapala's north shore, conducts weekly newcomer's seminars and shares her expertise about Mexico in her ezine at www.mexico-insights.com, and in the "Mexico Lindo" column of the Lake Chapala Review.

Judy also is a speaker for local organizations and visiting tour groups about the Lakeside area about Mexican customs and holidays.

Seven Habits of a Happy Expat

by Judy King 29. March 2010 15:08

bernabe painting Judy’s Note: I recently stumbled onto a great website and blog – Global Coach Center. This week the post that caught my eye lists Seven Habits of a Happy Expat. The more I read the more I realized that while the author’s experience is with life in Europe, these tips are universal.

Don’t just read these ideas…print this page and keep it handy for frequent reference. Following just this handful of tips will make a huge difference in your life.

Ever wondered what makes some expatriates happy and others not so happy?  Here is my take on it: THE WINNING SEVEN™ or 7 Habits a Happy Expat.

1.  Happy expats are intensely curious. Coming to another land is always interesting.  You get to learn about the culture, you get to experience a different way of life, you get to try new foods, and maybe even new sports and new hobbies.  A whole new world opens up for you.  Being curious around this new world leads to happiness.

2.  Happy expats accept others as they come, they don’t judge, and they don’t try to change people to their liking. No matter how much things may bother them and no matter how much they may disagree, a judgmental attitude never gets anyone anywhere.  Accepting that things run the way they do is the key to happiness.

markets1-oven 3.  Happy expats look at everything as an amazing learning experience. Someone once said that “life is always offering us new beginnings, it’s up to us whether to take them or not.”  I don’t remember who said it but it’s an empowering way to look at what’s available to us at every moment of every day.  And especially to those of us who get this incredible opportunity to not only travel but also live in different places.

4.  Happy expats find opportunities wherever they are and they don’t lament those they’ve left behind.  Life of an expatriate consists of one move after another.  Sometimes we know when that move is coming and sometimes we don’t (in these days of “the crisis” many of us will move suddenly).  Opportunities that were open to us in one place may not be available in another.  But remember “life is always offering us new beginnings…” There will be new opportunities, so do you want to spend the time lamenting about what you left behind or do you want to spend the time listening and looking out for what’s opening up for you?

5.  Happy expats know that feeling sad at times is part of the game. A happy expat doesn’t mean a giddy-at-all-times expat.  A happy expat means also an expat who knows that being sad at times is part of the expatriate experience.  Being sad about leaving friends behind; being sad about leaving your family far away; being sad about quitting a job or changing a career … this list can go on and on.  The difference between a happy expat and an expat that’s not happy is that for the former the sadness is something that’s natural and something that doesn’t take over your life and makes a victim out of you.

dancers with adult small 6.  Happy expats share. Sharing means so many different things.  It may mean sharing with your friends and family when you are sad – going through the stressful times alone is no fun.  It may mean sharing with a coach – a right client-coach partnership will undoubtedly make your expatriate experience richer.  It may also mean  sharing your experience with others, helping those like you find the best facets of their expatriate journeys.

7.  Happy expats stay clear of criticism, sulking, and stonewalling.  It is so very easy to blame someone else in your misfortunes.  It’s easy to say that everything around you is horrible; it’s easy to sulk in your misery when you’ve convinced yourself that it’s not up to you; and it’s easy to put a barrier between you and the place you live in.  Yet there is no way you are going to be happy where you live, if you consistently engage in criticism, sulking, and stonewalling.  Staying clear of those attitudes will help you be happier.

Copyright © 2010 by Global Coach Center. at www.globalcoachcenter.com


Judy King is publisher of Mexico Insights—Living at Lake Chapala, a monthly online magazine for people interested in Mexico's Lake Chapala region, in the state of Jalisco.

Judy, a 19-year resident of Ajijic on Lake Chapala's north shore, conducts weekly newcomer's seminars and shares her expertise about Mexico in her ezine at www.mexico-insights.com, and in the "Mexico Lindo" column of the Lake Chapala Review.

Judy also is a speaker for local organizations and visiting tour groups about the Lakeside area about Mexican customs and holidays.

Celebrating Palm Sunday

by Judy King 26. March 2010 15:06

palm-sunday-street-alfalfa Mexico is renowned for local interpretations of the Easter events in the form of Passion Plays which portray the last days of Christ as reported in the Bible. The oldest, largest and best known of these meaningful productions at Lakeside which takes place each year in Ajijic.

Cuaresma (Lent), the 40 days before Easter, is a time for Christians to meditate and prepare for the Easter season with its story of death and rebirth. Those 40 days are also the final countdown for the hundreds of Ajijic's townspeople who work each year to produce the elaborate sets for the numerous scenes and days' events that comprise Ajijic's Passion Play.

With the beginning of Lent on Miercoles de Ceniza (Ash Wednesday), the building of props and sets, the sewing of biblical robes and Roman cloaks, and the rehearsals gather steam with an eye on Semana Santa (the week before Easter Sunday) when the last days and steps of Christ are portrayed through the village and onto the mountainside.

palm-sunday-JesusBlessing the Palms, The Palm Sunday Procession, and Mass 
Semana Santa (Holy Week) and the annual Passion Play begin on a high note with the joyful celebration of Domingo do Ramos (Palm Sunday). Descriptions of Palm Sunday in the Bible tell of Jesus riding a donkey into Jerusalem in a triumphant procession surrounded by His friends while believers follow, singing hosannas and waving palms (and the branches of the fields).

palm-sunday-people On the Sunday before Easter (March 28 in 2010), artisans gather near the entrance of most churches to weave fresh palm fronds into a variety of clever designs from billowing sails, to crosses and even the Virgin of Guadalupe.

In preparation of the procession, townspeople all along Ajijic’s street that runs from the main church to Six Corners (Parroquia and Hidalgo) carefully clean and sweep the street, dampen it with water and then cover the surface with a blanket of fresh alfalfa.

The palms are blessed during the day’s Masses and at Six Corners before the late afternoon procession (beginning about 6:15 p.m.) in which villagers carry the palms, branches of fresh rosemary (for remembrance) and chamomile (representing the purity of Mary and the light of Christ) from Six Corners to the Templo de San Andrés (the large church near the plaza).

At the head of the procession, beginning the week-long traditional Passion Play, is Jesus riding a donkey, surrounded by a group of men dressed as his disciples.

The processions arrives at Ajijic’s main church just in time for an outdoor 7 p.m. Mass in the church atrium.

palm-sunday-ponche

An Old Fashioned Sunday Evening in the Plaza

Later villagers gather in the plaza for an old-time Sunday evening, Ajijic style. Lining the plaza are food booths decorated with palm fronds and tissue paper flowers – reminiscent of plaza celebrations 50 or 100 years ago. Area residents sell old fashioned, homemade treats including arroz con leche (rice pudding), home toasted seeds and nuts, jamaica (a cool beverage made from the dried flowers of the red hibiscus), ponche (Mexican punch) and a great deal more.

Organizers try to keep this truly an old timey event. Most of the treats are served without benefit of plastic cups and plates, and the music flowing from the band in kiosko (gazebo) is beautifully unamplified.

There are other old traditions, too. Children and teens delight in impromptu battles with cascarones (egg shells filled with confetti) flying across the plaza and breaking and showering friends with confetti.

palm-sunday-lotteria There’s a table for children to win old time wooden toys while playing Mexico’s delightful version of Bingo where pictures of common objects and people replace the letters and numbers on the card that must be filled.

As darkness falls, the villages young people, and those who are young at heart, begin the very traditional Mexican paseo (stroll around the plaza).

The boys and young men walk clockwise around the plaza while the groups of giggling girls stroll in the opposite direction. Occasionally a young man catches the eye and approval of a girl and falls out of formation to walk the rest of the evening with her. This explains why the Spanish word for walk (andar) is used  to describes a couple that is dating!

In the heavily not-too-distant old times, many couples met and started their romances and relationships in the Sunday evening paseos, under the watchful eyes of their parents, godparents, aunts, uncles and neighbors. In those days young men presented the object of their attention with a flower purchased at the plaza.  If the girl kept the flower, he knew she was interested. If she returned it the next time they circled the square, he’d been rejected in full view of the entire community.

Watch for our next post on Monday which outlines more Semana Santa (Holy Week) traditions and tips.


Judy King is publisher of Mexico Insights—Living at Lake Chapala, a monthly online magazine for people interested in Mexico's Lake Chapala region, in the state of Jalisco.

Judy, a 19-year resident of Ajijic on Lake Chapala's north shore, conducts weekly newcomer's seminars and shares her expertise about Mexico in her ezine at www.mexico-insights.com, and in the "Mexico Lindo" column of the Lake Chapala Review.

Judy also is a speaker for local organizations and visiting tour groups about the Lakeside area about Mexican customs and holidays.

About Judy King

Judy King

Hi There — Welcome to my little corner of the world. I'm Judy King and I live in the centuries-old village of Ajijic on the north shore of Lake Chapala, Mexico's largest natural lake.

I've lived here full time since 1990, and... [ more ]

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