Thursday, August 25, 2016

An Aljibe or Underground Water Cistern

The majority of Mexico is not served by pressurized water systems, requiring some ingenuity to regulate the water pressure in your home

On our way to Zacatecas two weeks ago, one particular view from our bus gave us a view of the roofs of a housing development. I noticed on every roof was a black, round cylinder called a tinaco. You'll notice that most houses have a tinaco on the roof. I asked a number of expats how the system works. Few could tell me.

Here's how it works. The city delivers water two or three hours a day to each house. In order to have water whenever it is needed, each house has an aljibe or underground water cistern. The aljibe has a float that shuts off intake when it is full. Then a pump sends the water to the tinaco on the roof and it has a float that shuts off intake when full. The system is now pressurized and showers, sinks, water heater, and toilets can draw on the water from the roof. It is gravity fed and that's why we have pressure when we take a shower. If power fails, as it can here, we still have water from the roof.

Sometimes you will see the tinaco on stilts, to give additional force of gravity to an upstairs shower.

Every house has an aljibe. Our house on Umaran had a had a cistern in the guest bedroom. It was just a cover in the floor by the bed. Here on Huertas, our cistern is off the terrace outside the kitchen, near the BBQ.

Raise a glass to the wines of Guanajuato

I think we have become snobs when it comes to Mexican wines here in SMA. We turn up our noses at wine from here in favor of wines from Chile. It reminds me of the time in Oregon when everyone raved about California wines vs. Oregon wines. My, how the times have changed! Well now things are changing for Mexico.

By Meagan Drillinger at Travel Weekly Guadelupe on the Baja peninsula. But this is not Mexico's only wine region worth knowing. In the heart of Mexico, in the central state of Guanajuato, is another burgeoning wine country that is poised to make a name for itself.

You may know Guanajuato as the state that is home to San Miguel de Allende, Dolores Hidalgo and Comonfort, and these are all fantastic places to know and explore. But Guanajuato also has a rich wine-growing tradition that dates to the 16th century, when Spanish conquistadors brought European grapes to the region. Back then the production of wine was strictly for the use of the church; today the country is reviving its wine culture and making it a very vital part of experiencing Guanajuato. Americans may be unfamiliar with the wine tradition of the region because Guanajuato, like Switzerland, does not export any of its bottles to the U.S.

There are about 25 ranches in Guanajuato devoted to producing wine, but there are three that are must-visits. The first stop for oenophiles in Mexico is the Wine Trail, known in Spanish as the Circuito del Vino, which stretches from Dolores Hidalgo to San Miguel de Allende.The first stop on that trail is the Vega Manchon winery, which produces the much-acclaimed Cuna de Tierra label, winner of 31 medals in three years. This winery is located along the highway from Dolores Hidalgo to San Luis de la Paz. At Rancho Santa Gloria, travelers have the opportunity to make their own wine with familiar European grapes, like montepulciano, tempranillo and grenache. At the end of the circuit is Vinicola Toyan, with a wine cellar built at a depth of 82 feet. Mysticism is at play here as general manager Martha Molina marks the entrance to the wine cellar with meteorites she found, believing that they help to enhance the wine's organic properties. Wind your way down a dark ramp that is flanked with 24 strategically positioned pink and black stone monks, lit up in blue and violet.

But a real gem of a winery in Guanajuato is the Caminos D'Vinos, the highest vineyard in Mexico at 7,200 feet above sea level. The winery spreads out around a gorgeous, historical hacienda, Sangre de Cristo, that also serves as a boutique hotel. Also on site are a spa and a restaurant, El Tronco.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Billy Collins in San Miguel

One of my favorite poets will be a keynote speaker at the San Miguel Writer's Conference in February 2017.
February 15–19, 2017
Hotel Real de Minas

Keynote Address: The Rain In Portugal: A Reading and Partial Explanation

The Rain in Portugal by Billy Collins
My talk will include a reading of poems, many from my latest book, along with commentary on what triggered the poems and by what process they came to be written. I hope my talk will remove any mistaken bits of mystery while leaving the real mystery intact.