Somehow our pipes got stopped up. Maybe there was stuff in them that dried up while we were gone, but since we got back every time you flushed the toilet the shower would burp and sometimes even toilet paper would come up. It was worse if somebody was IN the shower and then another innocent person out of habit flushed the toilet. That was gross. Finally last Friday we got the plumber to come down from Santa Elena to check it out. I don't mind doing all the plumbing for water coming into the house and have repaired and replaced many of those pipes, changed the kitchen and bathroom sink drains, replaced faucets, replaced our pump...etc, but I do not work on toilet drainage pipes. I let the expert handle this very gross and very important job. Because of the way the pipes would slowly drain out I thought it was possible there was a problem with the septic tank, but thankfully that was not the issue, there was just a big back up.
The plumber arrived at 7:30 am on his nephew's motorcycle ready to get to work. They quickly cut out a section of pipe and using a 1/2 in. pipe flushed water up the pipe and broke up the plugged area. They had dug a hole where the pipe exited the house and let everything dump into that hole. Then they scooped out the paper into a bucket I provided, and got to work fixing the pipe.
I thought they were going to need money to go buy some connections, but instead the plumber asked for newspaper. I don't have any laying around so then he asked if he could use our gas stove top to melt the replacement section of pipe to make his own connection. I found some printer paper instead and he got to work on that.
I'm not sure how plumber's do it in the States, but I can't imagine too many of them starting a fire in the customer's backyard to fix their pipes. Either way they got the job done.
After the pipe was repaired they dug a hole in another part of yard and filled in the hole around the pipe with the new dirt. Of course our dogs were right on this new disgusting smell and wanted to dig down to find the source. I sprinkled some chili powder around the area and they haven't messed with it since.
Total time: 1 hour 20 minutes. Total cost: $30. Not having the toilet flush into your shower: priceless.
Update on the power lines drooping at shoulder level in our front yard: They came about a week and a half later to fix our power lines the right way. We had been bumped to the bottom of the list since we actually had power, which I understand. It turns out that it was the metal pipe where our wires leave the house, which all of the houses around here have, that was causing the problem after all. They circumvented it, so maybe our wires won't melt again anytime soon.
Since we have been back our breaker kept tripping if we had more than one large item on at a time during the day. (Everything in our house is on one breaker.) At night when we were running the window units in ours and the boys' rooms we couldn't turn on any lights. This seems to have helped with that problem.