Having a fire in your apartment is scary business. Having a fire in your apartment in a foreign country adds a whole new level of nerves to the already nerve racking situation.
The day started off in an odd manner.
We were coming home from our morning workout and there was a big black bird blocking the entrance to our apartment. Birds freak me out. They are nasty and weird. So I did what any manly man would do and I covered my head and face with a towel and used another towel to attempt to wave away this freaky black bird blocking our front door. After some stellar dance moves and a few screams, we got the bird to fly away to find another family to torment.
But we should have known that was only a sign for more trouble to come.
We entered the house feeling victorious, but slightly exhausted. It’s not every day that you have to fend off a grackle to get in your house! As we stepped into the apartment we heard an odd sound. It was like a cat hissing at us.
“What the heck is that!?” Hillary said.
Could there be another animal in our house trying to attack us? How is that possible?
The hissing kept starting and stopping.
We started searching the apartment for the source of the sound, sort of clearing the place like an FBI agent would--around each corner with slow, steady anticipation as if we were going to catch a burglar off guard or, who knows, perhaps another bird just waiting to torture us.
Somehow, it was worse than a grackle... as we made our way into the laundry room, we found a small flame coming off of a line from the tankless water heater!
“Holy crap!” I screamed!
We have never moved so quickly in our lives. We practically trampled each other trying to get out of the apartment. We moved to Mexico to have fun and get some beach time, not to get blown up in our own apartment!
We hightailed it out of the apartment and walked several blocks away to a coffee shop. We wanted to get as far away from the building as possible. Neither one of us had gas in our jokes growing up, so we don’t know much about how gas powered things work, but we know that a fire next to a large source of propane gas wasn’t good.
“Phew! We made it to safety” we said to ourselves.
The friendly barista at the local coffee shop asked us how we were doing.
“Buenos días! Oh, we are doing great. Weird day though. We think there is a fire in our apartment. Can we get an iced latte?”
“There’s a...there’s a fire in your apartment? Did you call the fire department?”
In our haste to get out of the apartment we didn’t even think to call the exact people that would help in that situation. We had only recently moved to Mexico and for some reason calling the fire department didn’t even cross our minds! (I’m not proud of it, okay!)
The barista kindly called the fire department for us and explained the situation.
Help was on the way...or so we thought.
We patiently waited for the firemen to arrive, just praying that in the meantime our building didn’t explode!
We could have never expected what happened next…
Two lifeguards come traipsing towards us wearing sandy flip flops and large flotation devices.
“Do you guys need help?” they asked.
“Uhhh. Yeah, we called the fire department... “ we responded.
We were so confused.
Who did the barista call? We did tell her it was a fire, right? And not that somebody was drowning in our shower?
The lifeguards flipped and flopped their stupid sandals up our stairs and into our apartment. I pointed them to the back room where the water heater was.
“Woa!!” we heard one of the lifeguards exclaim.
“There’s a fire on that! That’s dangerous, man!” the lifeguard said.
“Yeah, I know! That’s why we called the FIRE Department!” I replied.
They ran out of the apartment even faster than we did the first time. They wanted nothing to do with that fire. And for good reason. Their speciality is rescuing people on the beach...not putting out house fires.
They said something on their radio and told us that the firemen were on their way.
“Oh great…” we thought.
“Who is going to show up this time? Animal control!?”
We patiently waited. Again, just hoping that the flame on the gas line didn’t reach a larger source of gas thereby destroying an entire city block and anybody in it!
A huge fire truck came barreling down the street. We have never felt so embarrassed and relieved at the same time. Everybody on this busy street is wondering why in the world these two gringos called the fire department.
Luckily the firemen were able to quickly put out the fire, control the situation, and ensure that it was safe to return to the apartment.
They indicated that whoever had laid the electrical lines and gas lines put them too close to each other. Our landlady asked us not to worry and said that her dad was going to come fix it.
“Your dad?” we asked.
“Is your dad an electrician?”
“Oh no, but he’s really good with this sort of stuff. He can definitely fix it.” she said.
“May we ask who installed the gas and electrical lines so close to each other?”
“My dad of course!”
We frantically packed all of our bags. There was no way we were going to sleep in that apartment again. We just knew that we were going to die in our sleep from gas poisoning (if not another, more dangerous fire) if we stayed there.
So what’s the moral of the story?
If there happens to be a nasty, creepy bird blocking your front door, take it as a sign and listen to what that flying rat may be telling you :)