Ok. So I've been thinking about starting a blog for a while now, but it wasn't until my experience with el tinaco that I was pushed over the edge.

Here is a picture of el tinaco.

I've seen and experienced many surprising things in the five total years that I've lived in Mexico, but for some reason this one has me fixated. Maybe because it's a fitting example of how different I am from the person I was when I first moved here with my husband. That person was not only unfamiliar with many housewifeyish activities but rather loathed such things. I quickly realized after moving to this wonderful country that I was totally out of my league when it came to a Mexican housewife's duties. I usually pride myself on working to do my best at whatever I do, but when it comes to housework, I'd rather just go to a different room of the house that's a little bit cleaner than deal with toilets and dishes and beds and floors. So the fact that I actually felt the urge to take on el tinaco is close to a mountain moving-type miracle.

You might be thinking, “What's the big deal about cleaning that thing?” Let me explain.

First of all, I have to wonder how long el tinaco has been collecting filthyness since it's last cleaning. All I know is that every time I had to turn on our water pump and stick a hose in el tinaco I was grossed out by what I saw. Even for someone like me, who will go to many lengths of denial to avoid dealing with icky or bothersome cleaning projects, this was an unacceptable situation. So one day I said to myself, “I am going to clean el tinaco because I am a decent human being and that's what any self-respecting gringa-pretending-to-be-a-Mexican-housewife would do.”

I'm going to back up and explain a little bit about our household plumbing. A tinaco is basically just a water holding tank. They are positioned on rooftops and many rooftop dwelling views in Mexico will look something like this, often with many more tinacos.


Unfortunately, the tinaco that I use is not connected in such a way that it automatically fills with water. What this means for me is that every 24 to 48 hours I lug a hose that's connected to our cistern up two flights of stairs and plug in a water pump to fill up el tinaco. I always check to see exactly how low the water level is and that's how I came to be grossed out by what had collected in the bottom of el tinaco. I know that los tinacos come with a filtration system, but nobody should be using water with UFO's (Unidentified Floating Objects) in it no matter how filtered it is. So I set out to clean el tinaco and do a darn good job of it. What that required was a little bit of this

and a little bit of this


plus a bucket on a string, a disinfected plastic broom, an empty sour cream container, two bath towels, more old rags than I want to think about, and very cold and wet feet.

When all was said and done (with more than a few mild curses and thoughts of, “What was I thinking?”) the darn thing was as clean as it was gonna get. And the best part of all: I felt proud to be a Mexican housewife.

Sometimes I feel so proud of accomplishing new things in Mexico that I just have to brag about it to someone close to me. It's taken all of these five years to somewhat accept the hard physical labor that's required to achieve a semblance of cleanliness in the houses where I've lived. So I like to celebrate the milestones in my journey, milestones like getting inside a gross tinaco to do a great job. Usually I brag to my fabulous mother-in-law because she's witnessed and understood my transformation in Mexico better than anyone. But when I told her what I'd done and how I did it, she was incredulous and only exclaimed, “¿¡Te metiste?!” (“You got inside it?!”) I kind of expected this reaction because I've never seen or heard of anyone going to acrobatic lengths to clean a tinaco. Nonetheless, I had hoped maybe for more recognition of my gargantuan efforts and was surprised by my disappointment in feeling less Mexican for having gone to such lengths to do a good job. After all, my mother-in-law is rather famous in her community for keeping a spotlessly clean house in her time so I figured she would be especially impressed by my accomplishment. Oh well. Now that I look back on it, I'm still satisfied with a job well done, relieved that I don't have to think about UFO's every time I turn on the tap, and proud to be a gringa Mexican housewife.

If you're nerdy like that and want to know more about plumbing in Mexico, here's a good link: http://www.yucatanliving.com/yucatan-survivor/yucatan-plumbing.htm (No I don't live in Yucatan, but it's still a helpful explanation.)