Thursday, January 7, 2010

I Almost Fried Last Night

I am going to start off by saying I have many positive things to say about Mexico.  I've met two amazing American women living here in Reynosa with their Mexican husbands.  They are blog writers so you all can probably figure out who they are.  One of them was my lifesaver by inviting me to San Luis Potosi over the holidays when I was going through a rough time.  I like teaching and I like my students.  I LUVVVVV the food.

I don't like my apartment.  Or maybe I should say it doesn't like me.  I've had a multitude of problems since the day I moved in last August.  I bitched and moaned about the air conditioning or lack thereof until Mr. Luis from the school showed up with a mini-split.  I have to say it is wonderful.  It cools the entire apartment and it also is a heater that will almost sufficiently warm up 2 of the 4 rooms.  Cockroaches that could live through a nuclear bomb occasionally take up residence inside.  The pilot light keeps going out on the water heater, hence, cold showers. The water heater is outside so you would think the pilot light would be more likely to go out on a windy day.  Nope. It usually goes out on the calmest of days.  Again, Mr. Luis came to the rescue and built the handy dandy shield as seen by the uploaded photo.  And there are days when there is no water.  Nada. Not a drop.  Yes, I am American and used to "luxuries" such as hot, running water inside the casa and not being afraid to go to sleep and worry about insects crawling around my bed.  I realize that many here in Mexico do not have these luxuries, but if I wanted to do without hot water or live with bugs I would have joined the Peace Corps.

I have tried to keep my bitching about these inconveniences to a minimum because, well, they are inconveniences but not life threatening..... until last night. I was drifting off into dream world when something startled me awake around 11:30 PM.  It was a peculiar smell.  As I got up, POOF, out went the lights.  Using touchy-feely, I found my flashlight and made my way into the living room.  It was full of smoke.  Checking the control panel, I looked to see if a breaker had switched.  The breakers were all intact, but I could see the charred remains of wiring.  Damn!  This is serious!  Geez, who do you call in this sort of an emergency?  The fire department?  9-1-1?  I didn't have a frickin' clue and I still don't a frickin' clue.  I tried to call the director of English from the school but he was unreachable so I called the former director who is now a teacher at the school and got a hold of her sister.  Ruth was able to contact poor Mr. Luis who came out at midnight, switched off the breakers, and duly deemed nothing could be done until mañana.  Mr. Luis is truly a wonderful person but I've had enough of the mañana crap especially since the weather has taken a sour turn and we are expecting below freezing temperatures for the next several days.  So this morning instead of dressing in uniform, I put on my dirty jeans from the day before without bathing and showed up at school with an attitude.   The boss was all apologetic and everything until we went to the apartment and he declared it's not that bad.  Not that BAD?  Did the apartment need to burn to the ground to be declared bad?  Maybe my death needed to occur to be declared "bad". I had complained several weeks ago about getting a buzz when I plugged things into the outlets.  I could have gone ballistic, but I didn't.  I just calmly stated that I would return to work when I had a livable place because I was going to Texas until such time.  By 5:30 this evening, all the wiring from the street to the house and the entire control panel was replaced.  I guess I'll have to show up to work tomorrow even though with the cold weather I am willing to bet all my jalapeños that I will have less than 6 students out of 34.  And while I am on a roll can anyone please tell me why I have never seen a smoke detector in Mexico?  Is there a ban from using such a device? Good grief, we had smoke detectors in Iowa way back in the 1970's.  And now that I am thinking of it, I don't think I've ever seen a fire truck in Reynosa.  What happens if there is ever a fire?  Do people use garden hoses?  Maybe so, unless they are dead because they didn't have a smoke detector.


  1. Oh, by the way, the circuit breakers that didn't switch off were the Square D brand, the wonderful manufacturer where I worked for several years until they decided they no longer valued their IT department and outsourced us.

  2. Not a single student showed up for class today but we are suppose to be in meetings all day... in Spanish. I have no hot water so I am on strike. Not hot water, no meetings for me.

  3. Oh no! That sounds terrible! I too have felt that my house is the one that doesn't like me. (You can find the post somewhere on my blog!) Anyway, I'm glad to hear that you didn't burn to your death.

    I live in a small town where there is no Fire Department. There have been a couple of fires in the 9 years that I've lived here, and I have no idea how they put the fires out.

  4. Are you serious no kids showed up.....they should of let yall stay at home too. Bless your heart. So did you leave school on friday? Hey...i understand about your circuit breaker and stuff....ours exploded like fireworks on 4th of power for 24 hours and it was cold. Hopefully everything is back to normal now. Take care and you can always come over here for a hot shower.

  5. Our home is 7 months old and we have all kinds of problems with water & electricity connections...the worst of which was two weeks ago when our living room ceiling had a water spot the size of the entire bathroom floor. Due to the negligence of the man who first installed the pipes in the floor, we had to completely remove the floor, refill and retile it. Sparks occasionally fly from the breaker box when the microwave is in use. It seems these kinds of things are done in typical Mexican fashion - thinking in the moment only, not anticipating any future problems.

    I also have never seen firetrucks in Veracruz, which is a big city. I guess the concrete homes are far less of a risk to burn down than wood.

  6. Yikes this sounds scary, I am comforted by all the ceramic and concrete because I know the fires if they happen wont spread to far.

  7. Many years ago in my Air Force training on electronics I learned the most important part of any electronic device is smoke. This means anyone using electricity needs to understand this simple maxim - once the smoke leaves an electrical device, it is likely ruined for all eternity, so every effort must be made to ensure the smoke does not leave the device.

    Apparently Square D sends all their faulty units to Mexico. It certainly fits the outsourcing model. Send the junk to a place where the legal system doesn't work and you won't be successfully sued for consequential damages.

    Back to problem A - looks like a LOT of smoke got out from this device. Glad to hear you are still with us and have power to at least run your computer to update us all.