Mi Baja No Hurry No Worry Chapter 7--A Little Water Goes A Long Way!

Baja Bernie - 12-22-2006 at 04:37 PM

When I first came to La Salina no one really even thought about water. We certainly didn’t drink it! A couple of gallons would last two guys a whole weekend. After all, the only thing you did with it was brush your teeth and wash your face. Oh! Sure, a few people used a little more because they drank coffee in the morning.

As women began coming into camp the need for water more than doubled. A couple would require five gallons of the precious stuff to see them through a weekend. At this point “all” of the water used in camp came from north of the border and no one wasted that which had to be hauled so far. Vodka and beer could be purchased a lot easier in Rosarito Beach or Ensenada and they “were” much safer to drink than the local water.

I knew a couple of fishermen who NEVER EVER brought water into camp. One of the reasons that they moved further south was because so many people started using water with an ever-greater frequency.

About two years after the camp was first established a guy named Heine (he had a trailer at the north end of camp) decided to build the first INDOOR bathroom that would also have a shower. None of us really believed that this was his idea. He ‘was’ one of the guys! We all knew that his wife, Dottie, was the driving force behind this ruination of our previously simple camp life.

Anyway, he did it! He built a two-story block building with a 200-gallon water tank inside the top. The plan was to have water pumped up to the storage tank and then gravity fed to the shower, sink, and toilet. Fine, a great idea, but outhouses were a whole lot simpler. All you needed to do was to dig a hole, throw some lime in and build a little wooden shack to provide a little privacy and to keep the wind and sand out. Now Heine had so complicated life that he also had to build a septic tank to hold all of the ‘stuff’ that came out of the “shower tower.” Prior to this if a fool wanted to get clean he could either go jump in the ocean or drive down the old road to the public baths in Ensenada.

The only guys who were willing to drive to town were the single ones who would then hit the bars and end up in a house with a “red light” affixed next to the front door.

Soon Peggy got Larry to build their house with the “first” indoor plumbing in La Salina. It should be noted that Peggy was the sister of that original troublemaker, Dottie. Keeping up with the Jones had come to paradise.

Now all of the houses (7) and a few trailers all had some form of above ground water storage. We didn’t get electricity until much later so everybody had to rely upon gravity to deliver more and more water.

In the beginning we only needed two gallons of water for a weekend and now we had 50, 500, and even one 1,000-gallon water tanks all over the place. Some were white, some yellow and the biggest one, at Harold and Peggy Reagles casita, had a great Smiley Face painted on each ends.

It should be noted that all of this water did not reduce the consumption of alcohol in camp by even one drop!!

Well, guess what! With all of this progress someone looked around and realized that they did not have a water source in camp. So things got even more complicated. Now the movers and shakers-Art, Larry, and Heine started hitting everyone up for money so the camp could buy Cayo a water truck.

He could then haul the water from La Mision valley to fill the water tanks. Soon Cayo was the proud owner of a beat up old truck with a leaky 800-gallon water tank and a small gasoline pump.

This era was known as the first stage of creeping progress in Paradise!

Shortly after we got electricity service in camp people began to build under ground pillas (water storage), the above water tanks were so unsightly don’t you know, and the standard size became 1,000 gallons based upon Cayo’s water truck holding 800 gallons. Things slowed down and everyone went back to enjoying life until his water truck broke down and we had to pony up more money to get a ‘newer’ truck. This one came with a 1,000-gallon tank.

This caused a re-thinking of what the standard size of a pilla should be. The shakers and movers decreed that 1,500 to 2,000 gallon pilla would be perfect. This would allow us to order water when we still had 500 gallons in the ground.
So, again, my friends you can see how we started out using two gallons a weekend and now we “worried” when we “only” have 500 gallons in storage. That is truly progress with a capital “P”—I really wonder!

Oh! Yes, the original “shower tower” still exists and is still in use. It should be designated as La Salina Historical Marker # 2.

Bruce R Leech - 12-22-2006 at 05:05 PM

I like it , there is a lot of history there.:biggrin:

DENNIS - 12-22-2006 at 05:23 PM

Ahhh Bernie.... more good stuff.
I sit here thinking of how it was in 1975 in La Bufadora. Not only there but, all over the peninsula at the time. Very quiet.....very beautiful.
In the early 60's we rode Honda Scramblers from San Felipe across the wide open desert and mountains to an exit, somewhere below Santo Tomas and met the road. We weren't racers or rowdy but we were treated like guests when we arrived. It was wonderful.

Anyway, thanks again Bernie, for the step back in time. I think our memory, if it's a good one, is the best part of our old lives.

FARASHA - 12-22-2006 at 06:50 PM

:bounce: I got my weekend and Chanukka, and Christmas FIX!!!
OMG - This episode just brings back memories, Granny and Grandpa had an Outhouse and a Bathinghouse, which was also the Laundryhouse, water was warmed in an HUGE cauldron - - about 30m off the House.
That was just a perfect timing Bernie, Thank you.
- AND nice weekend for you all, with lots of GOODIES

Mango - 12-22-2006 at 09:08 PM

Great story Bernie. Thanks.

Bedman - 12-23-2006 at 02:32 AM


Thank you Sooo much for a sweet trip down memory lane. 40 years since we first took our first Mar de Cortez bath. No kids then, it was a calmer, slower pace.

The first enclosed Baja shower we had was as a family. Jim was 3 and Colleen 1. They both squealed and screamed when the cold water hit them. The shower room was 6 feet x 6 feet of cement and cinder block. Every whisper echoed and magnafied inside. The other campers began to collect around the "Chamber of Death", for we were surely killing our two babies. After their torture was complete, we exited to view a dozen "Non" parents clucking, whispering and murmuring. The crowd warmed up when little 3 year old Jim exclaimed "Dad, I hate baths!!"

as always,



Baja Bernie - 12-23-2006 at 06:02 PM

I really appreciate it when guys like you chime in with some of your memory's and share them with me and other Nomads.

Please put pen to paper and provide us with some of your other trips down memory lane.

Tu Amigo,


PS if anyone wants to send me Baja specific stories at 'Baja Looking Back' I will be happy to put them in format and, where appropriate, post them for all to appreciate.