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.
Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life says
Thank goodness for google right? I watch tutorials all the time!
Financial Samurai says
Sorry you guys broke up. But there will always be someone else new, especially when you least expect it!
A new adventure right? Individual financial independence is important, even when we are with someone.
You may find this hilarious!: http://www.shoeboxblog.com/?p=15314
Kayla @ Femme Frugality says
I had never lived on my own before my divorce and it was a trying experience at first. I was scared to be there alone, but now I love it! I realize just how much stronger I’ve gotten because I have to do things myself. I don’t have somesome to complete a “honey do” list so I do it myself. I have learned new skills and I have learned a lot about myself along the way too.
I find when you are freshly single after a long relationship you become more more open minded and out of your comfort zone as you try to find a new normal.
I went through a period of singledom after my divorce and before I met my now husband. It’s scary at times having to deal with situations on your own but it seems like we usually tend to figure out the solution. Now that I’m remarried, DH tends to check on any issues with the cars but I remain curious to know what the problem is and what was the solution. We definitely use Goggle and YouTube tutorials as a first option.
Christine Srikala says
Being single, I have to learn to fix basic things around the house. I ask my colls what is done and try to do it. I am proud to say I managed to replace the rubber washer in my garden tap and that its stopped leaking. Cars are out of my league so best to leave it with experts.
I haven’t spent too much time alone, but I am also pretty independent, so husband is just an ‘ally’ and not someone I rely on too much, even if he’s actually a great guy. Anyway … google is indeed a great friend and am happy you found the solution. I do think we can do a lot of stuff, even as women.
I am generally the one to fix things in our house. I think I’ve spent so much time on my own I just decided things had to get done and I couldn’t rely on anyone else.
Tonya@Budget and the Beach says
I feel this way when my computer is acting funny. I would LOVE to have a SO that was handy and could fix things that break, be my IT person…oh and cook. lol! As far as where I live it’s an apt so I deal with easy fixes, but if not I call my landlord. But with everything else, I give it the old college try myself, but I have very trusty friends (and of course google) to help me with everything else. Probably not as easy living in a remote jungle to call up a guy friend?
Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank says
Being alone nowadays is easier that before especially on research. Google is really there to help us! Everything we need is almost in Google. Never be afraid being alone. But, having someone to help us is more preferable and more advantageous.
Nice work figuring that all out on your own. I’ve got to say – Google and YouTube have fixed more things around my house then I care to admit.
Brian @ Luke1428 says
It’s amazing what we can do when we are forced to by difficult circumstances. Sorry to hear what has happened but glad that you are managing by yourself. And the more you are able to manage the more confidence you will gain. It’s tough to look on the bright side of things in these circumstances but that’s what I’ve always done to help me move forward.
Yeah, youtube and google are a godsend for any emergency jobs like that. I hope the Americans enjoyed their stay (and preserved some energy/water)!
Sorry to hear about you and the boyf!
Laurie @wellkeptwallet says
I have to agree, we Americans are often times terrible with water waste. So cool that you took care of this on your own, Pauline. You’re one of the smartest, most resourceful people I know. You got this. 🙂
Americans are a little too obsessed with being clean. I admire your attitude. I used to be lots more dynamic when I was single. Now it seems that I do household chores and cooking and Jim does yard work, trash, repair type stuff. I don’t really consider myself traditional, but that’s how it’s ended up at our house.
What would we do without the internet?! I grew up in a single parent house and the independence is totally instilled within me. Good outlook Pauline!
Pauline, loved your article. It really is empowering doing things yourself!
I was lucky enough to grow up with a mother that taught me “if you want something done – learn to do it yourself!” I fondly recall a day when I was a teen where she baked a pie, sewed a jacket, and patched up my leaky eroded car floorboards. She kept me fed, warm, and my feet dry without batting an eye – a true inspiration! Your article made me think of that day, and all it taught me about figuring things out.
Please, keep us updated and keep on inspiring!
Thank you Lisa, looks like your Mum was a great role model to have around!
Anne @ Money Propeller says
The bit about Americans and water/A/C usage reminds me of a rather unpleasant experience with someone who felt extremely entitled to such things.
I am on my own in my late 50’s. I do most of the work around my cottage here in France and have learnt many skills. My father was a jack of all trades and I guess I must have paid attention when I was a child. I just wrote post on my website. “15 Safety tips for a single girl surviving a home renovation project”.
just had a look, that’s a great list! good for you for being able to fix up a house all by yourself.