Let’s be frank – there are 2 subjects on the topmost list of concerns about Mexico: Sanitation and bugs!
The good thing about driving in a motor home, your toilet is always nearby and you will never be surprised by its condition or cleanliness. This perk comes with an inconvenience though, the whole messy business of dumping your sewage. From the unholy burbs of your full toilet tank telling you it’s time to dump, to the long hoses travelling uphill to the dumping hole that you have to “milk” to drain – it is quite the learning curve.
On this note, let me tell you about Mexican campgrounds septic systems as I saw it first hand in my last campground. The crew was digging a very deep hole in the ground. Curious, I asked them what they were doing, it’s for the grey water they tell me – and dark water I though, they both come out of the same hose! Oh, so you are going to bring in pipes for evacuation then? No, they say and point at an old rusty barrel and at the hole in the sand. Oh I see, so the water (and waste) just sits in the barrel? And they do the universal hand gesture meaning it will just seep into the ground!
I ran over to my neighbor Nadine to tell her the news. We are both surprised the campsite doesn’t smell at all. Nadine laughs telling me: ”and you were concerned about dumping on the side of the road! Mexicans do it”. Later on that night half a dozen men were rolling a large palm tree over logs, Egyptian style, and planted it in another hole next to the now covered dumping hole. Ah, says Nadine, this must be their filtration system.
I also learned a few dumping tricks from the old timers, the people that came before me and plowed the way so to speak.
First of all, do like the natives do and use a pee pot (I also have a poo stick – but I’m sure you don’t want to hear about it!). Because the sewage system does not allow toilet paper, the custom is to place your used toilet paper in the basket sitting next to the loo. I had actually started this habit when I was dry camping last summer to conserve water. It also makes dumping easier and does not clog the hose. I’m sorry, but in the RV I only do this for #1. A plastic bag works but really you need something with a lid.
Second advice is when settled at a full hook-up campsite, do not open your valves, otherwise your waste just sits there in the hoses. Fill half of your toilet tank with water to allow for faster decomposition, and then on days when you’ve used a good amount of water from showering or doing the dishes, drain your tanks. Always drain the toilet tank first and leave the valve open when you drain the grey water second. It will certainly wash out any residual waste in the hose. OK, got it, thank you Harvey!
The other big problem for me, freshly out of Canada, I became a buffet for mosquitos, horse flies and noceums – tiny little flies, so tiny they go through netting. Anything that bit or stung had a piece of me! I was miserable. My arms and my face, the only things sticking out of the covers at night, were covered in bites every morning. I would joke to my friend Reg back home that I was having Botox treatments at night. One night we focused on the forehead, as I woke up with a huge lump there, another night we worked on the eyes and one morning I found out we plumped up the lips. The works!
But on one of my trips into town I came across the best invention since sliced bread: a rechargeable bug zapper in the shape of a tennis racket. At first the zapping scared me, but I soon got the hang of it and before bed I would wave my magic wand in the air and showed no mercy. Zap! Zap! Zap!
I couldn’t even see what it was catching those bugs are so small. One time it caught a big flie and it smelled like burnt bug I guess. Another time it must have been a swarm of noceums because smoke was coming out of the Zapper’s mesh. I would zap before going to bed, but I would still hear them in the night and get stung, they were coming in through the window screens. So I decided to pull out the big guns: first I would burn some of that mosquito coil inside of the van to repel them out. Then I would close all of my vents and windows and I would zap mercilessly. I would sleep with my fan on, and later found out that opening a window after dark was ok too.
The pets were scarred of the zapper and hated it. One day it was lying on the sofa and somehow Marley dropped it on the floor and it stopped working since. I think Marley did it on purpose!
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Au plaisir de la route!