Letter Re: Mexico as a Retreat Locale and Advice on Water Filters

Hello Folks,
I just completed going through a portion of the SurvivalBlog archives and look forward to exploring the site further. I especially liked the animation about Libertarian philosophy. Very well done with excellent points to consider.

I have recently returned to the US after having spent four years in a small village in Mexico outside of Guadalajara. I am an artist and teacher of art and semi-retied there after having had my medical insurance increased a number of times to the point of being ridiculous. I just got fed up and moved south. Two years earlier I had spent a year or so living on a boat in the Sea of Cortez and so had some language and culture skills.

I had one of the Berky models sent to Mexico and proceeded to use it as my primary source of drinking and cooking water. I also used the 24 oz. portable version when traveling. I used the system for four years and was so confident that I began distributing them to local orphanages through a local Rotary Club. I liked the idea of not being dependant on electricity or a plumbing hookup. I lived on a lake and on occasion would use lake water if the municipal system was not providing water, which was quite often or if the utilities would not provide electricity, which was quite often. Although the Black Berky filter is classified as a water purifier by the manufacturer, it does not remove viruses. I would add either iodine or chlorine to the water to kill viruses. The filter would then remove the iodine or chlorine from the water.

I read an article in your blog about adaptation as a primary means of coping with changing circumstance. Mexicans are extraordinarily adaptive. Living with a history of political and societal instability for generations and with strong roots in indigenous cultures, they are experts at finding ways at making one thing substitute for another. I remember one time coming back to San Diego by sea from the Sea of Cortez, I was running low on fuel and had to stop in Turtle Bay about half way up the west side of the Baja Peninsula. I didn’t have enough cash and Turtle Bay was way way off the beaten path. I had to hitchhike 125 miles through the baja desert on a seldom used road to get to a bank to get the cash. One the way back I hitched a ride in the back of a pickup truck traveling with an old semi carrying supplies. The semi got stuck in a place where the road turned into a salt flat and while stuck, one of the tires went flat. We discovered the only spare was also flat and un inflatable. If you’ve ever tried to re-inflate a semi truck tire you know that it is not easy without a means of keeping the tire against the rim. We had nothing with which to do that. Instead, the Mexican driver had his compadre get some gas while he got the tire off the truck, patched and ready. He had the compressor hooked up and running and had his partner sprinkle gas on the inside of the tire and throw in a match. The tire blew up with a whoosh, sealed the rubber against the rim and the inflation began. All we had to do then was get unstuck–which is another story.

My ancestors on my mothers side were Mennonites and I have spent some time on the colonies. Surviving since the 1500s in small groups throughout the world, they have devised a system of cooperation that leaves them able to adapt easily to the winds of change. I’m sure there is much that could be learned from them and look forward to spending more time on their farms. Last time I was there they were making home-made root beer that was like nothing I’ve ever tasted.

Well, anyway, congratulations on a great blog site and for all the valuable information. Best of everything to you both, – Daniel N.

JWR Replies: I highly recommend Big Berky water filter. They are just about idiot proof. However, as they come from the factory in gleaming stainless steel, they are fairly expensive. Especially for your circumstances, I recommend manufacturing your own to sell or to distribute for charitable purposes. I described how to do this in a SurvivalBlog post a few months ago.