How my life is different than before

Earlier this week, I Twittered about being out of water. It wasn’t a mechanical issue; there was simply no water in the city tanks because we’re suffering from a drought. The responses astonished me, because I’ve grown used to the vagaries of living here. Things that once would’ve totally flummoxed me, I now work around (and in quite creative ways).

Living in Mexico has changed me for the better. Things are different here in so many ways that I cannot easily enumerate them all, but I am going to try because I love this country, and I want to share it with all of you. The culture of consumption is not so prominent here. There’s not such an overwhelming obsession with newest, brightest, shiniest toys. If it works, it will do. I picked that mentality up as well, I’m happy to say.

When I bought my “new” laptop two years ago, it was an old Ibook from Mercado Libre. I’m totally in love with it, and I won’t replace it even if I have to walk up four mountainous flights of stairs to have it serviced (and I did). When I bought my “new” desktop this year, I got an old Imac (and it’s the cutest thing ever.) It can’t do a lot more than word processing or surfing, but that’s all I need. I’m better now at being content.

And there’s a lot more recycling out of pure necessity. If put something out that we’ve replaced, someone will carry it away before the rubbish men come by. It’s a lot like I imagine Victorian England must’ve been, with so many layers of sale and resale until the item wound up in the rag-girl’s basket.

Nowadays, I don’t throw stuff out as quickly. I repurpose it. A 1 liter water bottle is perfect to refill or add a packet of Clight (like crystal light.) Boxes can be used for school projects. I took an old table Andres didn’t want and stashed it in my office. It’s serving as a side table / bookshelf now. When we replaced our kitchen table, I put it in the dining room. We use it to play board games and the kids do their homework there. We have some old chairs I once would’ve tossed. Now I am going to tighten the screws and see about reupholstering them. Nothing goes to waste.

I used to not think about how much water we used. It’s easy to take it for granted until you run out. Once, that would’ve upset me very much. This time, I only gave thanks that we had bottled water on hand and could make do. It’s possible to flush your toilets from a bit of water you pour in the tank from a pitcher. There are worse things than bathing in a sun-drenched garden, while standing on sun-warmed terracotta tiles against a backdrop of fuchsia bougainvilleas. Making do from pitchers and jugs wasn’t as hard as one might think.

I don’t use the dishwasher anymore. The dishes are done in my house by hand (and I just did them) in a little red tub. You’d be amazed at how little water (and soap) it takes to clean up. I don’t use the dryer unless it’s raining. (I just hung my kids’ school uniforms on the line in the back garden to dry.) I can walk almost anywhere I need to go, living here. I like that.

But the power grid can be unstable here as well. Today, the electricity went off for a good two hours for no apparent reason. Of course I lost internet. Once, that would’ve have upset me too. Today, I said, “This is a good thing. Now I can focus on my work, and I better hurry while my Ibook battery lasts.” I finished my 3K just before the power came back on (and had 2 hours of battery life left. My little Ibook can go four hours or more).

Here, my eyes have been opened to another way of life, and it’s not because it has become fashionable to be green. It’s because there are many people here, sharing the same resources, and they’ve learned to care for what they have and make the most of it. Those were lessons I needed, and I am grateful to have learned. I find myself more patient now, less easily overset by unforeseen hitches.

We’ve bought land on a mountaintop , and eventually, we’re going to build a house. That will be the first new home I’ve ever lived in. We plan to work with a green architect who specializes in rooftop gardens. I’m thinking solar panels and a cistern to catch rainwater, make use of the rainy season. In mind’s eye, I can see this place. It’s different than what I’d have chosen five years ago, but I like the way I’ve changed.

What little things are you doing to save the world?