No, this is not a sob story about how my recent breakup has turned me into a way less appealing version of Bridget Jones… But now that BF is gone, I am truly by myself, in the middle of the Guatemalan jungle, and sometimes, I wish there were two of us to deal with things. Shit tends to happen more in remote locations, or at least its impact is way higher than in the city, where pretty much anything is a phone call away.
For example this morning, as part of my daily routine, I turned on the water pump, so the elevated tank fills up and provides me with water for one to three days, depending on whether or not it’s laundry day, how many people are staying and how much watering the plants need.
And I had come to expect the water pump turning on as a due. Wrong. Today, it didn’t ignite. It made a little noise like it was trying to, so I knew the power was not out, and the problem was inside the pump. I started freaking out because it was Sunday, and I would have to wait until Monday to get an electrician over. If it was a parts thing, I would have to hope the parts are available 30 miles away, or wait until they ship from the capital city, 300 miles away.
The only problem was, I had Airbnb guests coming the following day. Four of them, for two days. That is eight showers minimum, and they are American, so no offence, but the ones I have hosted so far haven’t done a great job of preserving water, or turning off the lights or the AC when they go out for 8 hours… So what do you do if you have no water and four angry guests?
Taking matters in your own hands is empowering
I decided to have a look at the water pump myself. We have already gone through two pumps in two years because well, I guess they don’t make them like they used to those days, or we are particularly careless. The last one was installed by BF on a different site from the first one, as the lake level rose. So I never saw how it was set up. The pump is inside a tiny hut to protect it from the rain, and it was pretty dirty inside, with mud and dust, so I tried cleaning that first, as the electric wires giving it power may be dirty and thus not able to conduct the power.
It did the trick and I felt like Wonder woman. Suddenly, being all by myself wasn’t so scary. I was able to do stuff I was too lazy to do before, stuff I gladly handed over to BF because “it’s a guy thing” and that was his role.
Yes, it was a tiny fix, but one that gives me back water, and a pleasant Airbnb experience, so it is a BIG win. I’ll probably need help when it gets trickier. But there is little money can’t buy, so I should be just fine hiring it out if it is out of my league. I will still always try to give it a go first, because most fixes are easy like that.
You can do anything with a little help from Google
Sadly, we are getting so used to working in an office and doing little else, it has made us useless when it comes to basic home and car maintenance and repairs. We can’t fix a leak or a faulty fuse, and handymen know it and charge indecent amounts of money to come do the dirty work for us. I just had a rubber joint changed on my UK rental property’s heater and it cost me about $300. For one little rubber! But the tenants were unable to do it and I was not about to cross the ocean to do it myself. I bought my peace of mind, and $300 is a steal compared to leaving that deteriorate some more and having to get a new heater next year.
When it comes to my house however, and to the things I have handy, I am determined to make more of an effort to stop relying on third party help. Not for the money saved, not because I don’t want to owe favors to neighbors and friends, but because it is not so hard, and building a set of life skills is important. I doubt I will be on my own forever, but whenever I am alone, I want to be able to take care of myself.
You can learn almost anything online, where people made tutorials for more than you can imagine.
You just have to de-dramatize the situation. You are able, you can do it with a little time and patience, and if you fail, you can then as for help knowing you did everything in your power.
Related: Over at Savvy Scot I discussed when it is useful to learn a skill and when it isn’t worth your time.
My little fix could have gone both ways, I know things would have been fine still, and they will always be because I have created a lifestyle where I have plenty of time to fix things, and if I can’t, I have enough money to have them fixed. I am already doing a great job at taking care of myself. Life is much easier when there are several people to share its burdens with, but being by myself doesn’t make me a cripple, on the contrary, it makes me stronger and more able.