car. Instead of issuing tickets, the cop takes your license plate and you can
retrieve it at the police station--after paying a fine.
Utilities: I had the secretary at the real estate company where I purchased
our home call the utility companies to start my service. The cost is much less
than in the U.S. except for electricity during the summertime when air condi-
tioners are running. I'm in Mazatlán from November 1 to May 1, and although
I have a window AC I never use it. My ceiling fans are enough to cool the house
on those rare hot days and when I have several guests.
Electricity: Most of the wall outlets are two-pronged, and many do not have
the right size for your electrical appliances. Many appliances have a third
ground plug. The cheapest way is to purchase adapters at a hardware store. In
some cases, builders will put in a three-pronged outlet, but not install the
grounding wire. There are no electrical inspectors required in Mazatlán so
some builders will scrimp on the ground wire. Another common problem is in
the kitchen. When the house was built, there was not enough consideration to
all the appliances to be used. As a result, your circuit gets overloaded and your
breaker switch keeps clicking off. The only way to solve the problem is to install
a new circuit and put some of the outlets on it.
My electric bills usually run between $20-$30 U.S. per month, and the bill
is delivered around the first week of the month. (But not always.) When it
arrives, I walk down to the corner bank and pay it. It can also be paid at a
drive-through window at the electric company near Sharp Hospital. My friend
and neighbor, Bob Story, found a way to pay electric bills on-line. The official
web page for CFE is at http://www.cfe.gob.mx.
Water: The typical water system in a Mexican house is called a Gravity Flow
Water System. The city water is piped from the street to a cistern, usually locat-
ed under the carport or garage. It has an electric pump that moves the water
up to a tank on the roof. The large tank on the roof has a float that when the
water drops to a certain point, turns on the pump and it runs until the tank is
full. When you turn on the water faucet, the pressure of the water that flows
out is caused by gravity. Hence the slow moving showers and long running
washing machines. You can have a pressure tank and water pump installed. It
is pricey, but it is worth it, especially when you have those houseguests. The
advantage of this system is that when the water is turned off due to an emer-
gency, you usually have a reserve in your roof tank.
I learned how to troubleshoot my water system the hard way. If no water
runs out of the faucet, first go up on the roof, take the cover from the tank and
lift the float bulb. If water runs into the tank, your mechanism was stuck, and
you may just have to spray some WD-40 on the moving parts (above the water
M a z a t l a n I S P a r a d i s e