December rolled around and harvest came to a slow, disappointing end financially. After the final tally and all of the more important necessities were met, such as making sure we had enough money to support our animals thru the dry season, there was not enough to get our electricity reconnected. We had consulted the company and were told we would have to install five concrete electrical poles at $1000 apiece. It would not have been enough if we’d needed nothing else, also that amount would put us half way to a solar-powered system, so we declined. By this time I had lost my creek to the dry season, and we were looking at an indefinite time sin luz (without electric light). It was solar or bust.
We are both resolute people, we made our adjustments. I bought a lavadero, a long sink basin with a wash board in the bottom and rigged a hose to have running water over it after a month of using a big rock on a table. I read during the day and we played cards at night. We considered buying a guitar and learning to play. We both like to sing. We have always enjoyed sitting under the stars for an evening of entertainment. One night I said to Felipe,
I won a lot of respect with the Doña’s (a name of respect for a mature woman) during this period of time. They were already impressed that I ground my own masa, made my own cheese, butter and yogurt, and rode a horse. But while we were without electricity they asked me every time the saw me, “No tiene Luz?” (You still don’t have light?)
“No Dona”, I’d reply, “no tenemos.” (We still don’t have any.) They would then go thru a pantomime of all the things a women must do to run a household without electricity, hand washing, grinding salsas, with obvious amazement that a gringa would ever consent to live that way. Then they’d take ahold of my hands and look them over to see the truth in the calluses, give me a sympathetic smile, pat me on the back and walk away.