I live in the little community of Pinar de la Venta, located on the edge of the Primavera Forest, eight kilometers west of Guadalajara. Local politics have always been a mystery to me, so I wasn’t terribly surprised when we were left high and dry all last week.
“High” was not the problem, as most of Pinar is over a mile above sea level, but the announcement from our administrator saying we would receive no water for a week would mean total dependence on our aljibe (home reservoir) and therefore cutting down on showers, not using the washing machine, and frequent trips to pee in the back yard.
We called the Pinar office. “Why no water?” They replied that many Pinareños had not paid their water bills.
“So, to teach them a lesson you are going to cut off **our** water?” I said, “but we are among the ones who pay!”
Ah, yes, cutting off the nose to spite one’s face turned out to be exactly the strategy they were using, but as I mentioned before, I have never been able to figure out local politics.
By now you may be wondering why great numbers of my neighbors refuse to pay their water bills. Well, I should clarify a point: they don’t pay for other services either, such as road maintenance, street cleaning, security, etc. Members of the community who do pay refer to these individuals as morosos (delinquents).
Why don’t they pay? Well, all the reasons are listed on huge, brightly colored, extremely wordy banners fluttering at strategic points along various and sundry of Pinar’s cobblestone roads. “We are against corruption and we want transparency,” they say, among (many) other things.
Well, some of those people have been waiting for transparency for three decades and I have a feeling they’ll go on waiting (and conveniently not paying) for many decades to come. Meanwhile, as I write this column, I am waiting for something else. I’m waiting for the electricity to come back on, for the telephone to start working and, most of all, for Internet service to be restored.
This is life in the high hills of rural Mexico during the rainy season. Right in the middle of our week with no water, we were visited by a monster lightning storm consisting of non-stop flashes from big black clouds accompanied by a deafening roar you’d expect to be heralding Judgment Day. One blinding bolt from the black hit so close that several neighbors claimed they saw sparks flying in their living rooms. Naturally, the power went off, but for us that is “el pan de cada día” (the usual thing).
The next day, when “la luz” as they say here, finally came back on, we noticed that the internet had remained off. Well, that’s el pan de cada día too. “Why don’t you call our niece to see if they’ve lost internet too,” I said to Susy.
“I can’t call them,” she replied, “their telephone hasn’t been working for two days. “You’ll have to go knock on their door.”
Naturally, another humongous storm was raging at that very moment and, of course, after battling my way to our niece’s place through the rain, wind and mud, I learned that we were not the only ones without internet. In fact, by the following day it was clear that a large number of
Telmex’s Internet Control Boxes had been fried throughout rural Jalisco and a call to Infinitum’s usually helpful technicians resulted in a recorded message stating that “Infinitum is no longer accepting calls for technical assistance.”
What is worse: a week without water or a week without internet? I have a feeling I will soon find out.