Jungle Management

Jungle Journal

Jungle Management

The cat is not living up to its name. In order to extricate itself from the new situation Mortimer is building a house in our roof just above my head when I try to sleep. I’m losing respect. Morning arrives with a ladder and gloves and sleep deprived zeal to remove his happy house. No sooner is bucket filled with a handful of mouse house, Mortimer , with an equally surprised friend attached to her back , bolts for it across the roof beams and they both disappear . Maustrappe has noted the incident.

Day evolves into the collection of palm leaves. Our man needs 200 leaves to make the palapa roof. First tree causalties are the two that we bought off the neighbour for equivalent of £20 each. My newly gifted chainsaw has its first two notches. The big old Capomo tree make the ground shake as it realeases a hug chunk of sky to the ground. Green canopy becomes blue sky. The wood is only really good for burning but makes for good cooking and charchoal . We have enough wood to cook a lot for a very very long time.

A janky palm tree is next . The wood can be made into a bench or two and all the leaves will soon become roof. Not on our land but we don’t ever celebrate the felling of an old tree. Respectful assasins as we are.   The old RUSH track The Trees plays over in my head. My dusty memory thinks is goes something like…

“ There is unrest in the forest, There is trouble with the trees. As the Maples shout “Oppression !! “ and the Oaks ignore their pleas. “  

The trees and plants so used to shade are blinded by the light and savor new nourishement from protons . Our house is badly on need of protons.

In our favourite Ferritaria ( tools and good things shop ) I found a wire cage mouse trap. Cat and spoons and tippy bottle are ignored and I spend the £2.00. It’s an investment. Our man shows me how to set the thing and with a small plastic sack of peanut butter dangling deliciously from the trigger I put it in the cupboard and glare at the cat.

8.30 pm and dark has settled in and we are in dozing mood under the mozzy nets. SNAP !   Yes , it took about 3 hours of doing it properly to catch Mortimer alive and looking very guilty. She has no idea that if it wasn’t for my inept efforts it would not be here right now. Some less Mortimer friendly soul would have had for her by now . We have had all sorts of poisons and killing things offered up as final solutions.

I have to listen to Mortimer doing her time in the wire cell all night. Rowdy and beligerant to the last she is. I awake and carry her about 1 km over three streams and let her go. She stops and looks at me and runs back the way we came. She gets to the stream and drinks and washes herself and then follows at the heels of my welly boots (walkies style ) until I cross the water back. She then dives into the grass to build herself a raft ! She will be back.

It’s already hot and I arrive back with a few clean buckets and a half a dozen large banana type fruit ( but much bigger) that our man gifted me on the way back.   I’m glad to be home and that Mortimer is still alive ( bit guilty ruining his day ) . I celebrate by jumping into our wonderful refreshing hydrating pool .. with my i-phone. When I realise I scramble my way to removing it from pocket and instantly applying all life saving techniques I can remember. It is not happy.   Oh Khama you are so swift !

I fry slices of the banana/plantain in a large heavy pan and then coat them in the honey from the bucket. Heavenly.

Out truck is making horrible unhappy sounds. Like a pepper grinder chewing a bolt. We have been recommended a mechanic . He is another incarnation of Jesus. A Jehovas Witness so apparently lying is not a thing.for him And he’s a Mexican mechanic. We let that sink in for a moment and drag the squealing truck to him. Jesus is still considering the diagnosis.

How you make your vehicle survive here is down to knowing your Topes and Baches. Mexico is entirely covered in literally millions of Topes ( Toe-pays) speed bumps. Lumps of things in the road that are designed to take out your tyres and undercarriage if you drive over 20km/hr. There is shortage of police and those that are around don’t have much time to enforce anything. So Topes make any journey slower and tests your concentration . They appear at varying sizes from irritating to deadly at any point . The frequency can be every mile or every 50 miles . The speed limit could be 20 or 50 or 80 but these buggers will sneak up on you . It is not uncommon that your passenger wakes you up when you are happily day dreaming /driving screaming TOPE !! as you ram on the brake. Very relaxing …

Worse .. oh so worse are the batches (Bat-Chays) pot holes . Pot holes here are a drama. After the rains they hide right in the middle of every single road . Some may damage your tyres, some will snap your axle, some will send you the centre of the earth. At anytime the car in front of you may vear to the left or right to avoid such a fate. Then every car behind does the same. It’s bizarre ! Even when the day dreams are perfect and the sky distractingly blue the sound of BACHES !! will bring me right back and ready to swerve.

In reality we drive like old blind people. The need to overtake is removed. Idiots here do not overtake wisely. The tales of early deaths is horrible. We have seen the results. Happens with macho attitude to blind hills. Whenever we take a 40 min drive to North or South route 200 we take the pace of the slowest truck and chill. The alternative is too scary and very stupid.

We have no truck so take an hour to walk to Oxxo shop in the Pemex petrol station to get 5kg of ice for beer and a small packet of rice to dry out my phone. The sun bakes me . I arrive back at the pool with 2kg less ice, 1kg less of me, 3 kg of water in my welly boots. Honours even.

Our house in invaded by palm leaf hunters and a truck. . The boys only got about a hundred of them from the solar area and now require at least as many again. Tomorrow they weave their magic and create a roof. So we take the opportunity to put a few extra notches on the chain saw. We live on the North face of a hill. The trees above us deny us light . I am in with the Maples. Oppression ! We really don’t want to see trees downed. The ones that go are blocking light to the entire hillside and “jungle management “ requires some sacrifice we are told over and over again by local wise folk. In total our chainsaw has 6 notches and we call a stop. A very grateful hillside and the house roof are bathed in sun for the first time in years. The humidity drops instantly. And at 4.23 pm you can use our outdoor shower with the sun directly on your body. It’s epic.  The boys leave with immense palm leaves in great quantities sticking a good few meters out the back of the pick up bed . They look like they are riding a green peacock heading towards our new roof.

We consider our jungle management and feel sad for the trees and delighted with the results. Solar system will actually work now. The roof in our house will not rot. We relax into contentment and are abruptly focused by a high pitched squeal and sounds of great distress.

My torch picks out a rather proud Maustrappe with a sorry looking mouse hanging from its mouth. This must have been Mortimers passenger. I had reset the trap with no real hope of a repeat. The mouse is well chewed but not dead. It is in a wretched state made more miserable by Maustrappe pawing it and nibbling bits off him and making whats left of his mousey life pretty intolerable. Cats are vicious bastards. I have seen first hand shrews being slowly disembowelled and juggled at the same time. Vicious. I get a glove and after a few failed attempts grab what is left of the mouse and despatch it to the jungle quickly. The look on that chewed up mouses face when flying through the air into darkness and fire flies will stay with me.

So I have a drowned phone ( so no pictures ..they might be on a cloud somewhere apparently) , a lot more sun hitting ground , a resulting happier jungle, a well named cat, less humidity , lifetime supply of cooking wood, no truck and no mice. I’ll settle for that .

  • Jeannie Dettori

    Ah the struggles of mice and men. They will always rumble in the jungle with cats about and the law of the jungle reigns. Unfortunately, everything lives off of something else, nature seems cruel but it’s its way of providing for all. Trees are sacrificed to provide shade or cover and yet, this action also allows the sunshine in to provide light and warmth. Palm fronds provide work for your local people and so, as nature demands, every living thing becomes co- dependant. It’s the way things were meant to be.

    – Can’t understand why you wanted to take your phone for a dip though!!!

  • Mand 65

    Now there’s no more oak oppression
    For they passed a noble law
    And the trees are all kept equal
    By hatchet,
    And saw….

    The Disney Collection btw – the gift that just keeps giving. How happy is Phoebe to receive one per day. My God – how we have strung it out!! Much love. X

  • Rebecca

    Loving these reports, just caught up on a few. Thanks for writing!

  • sAM

    Here is another quote I stole from a friend. “Whenever I go to Mexico, the first asshole I meet is always a Gringo.”

  • sAM

    Yeah Beave looks like you are on the crash course on living in Mexico. I have been going through all this stuff for 10 years now. In a few months you should be caught up with me. And don’t worry, Mexican Mechanics are the best. They will rebuilt your transmission on the side of the road with a toy tool kit for less than your water logged iphone is worth. Turn-around time; however, is another story. I look forward to joining forces with you. I will leave you with my most famous quote: “In Mexico pronto does not mean soon, mañana does not mean tomorrow and adios does not mean goodbye.”

  • Stef Bricklebank

    Love it! Sorry for the IPhone loss … Hope the funeral isn’t too expensive!
    Pot holes know them very well when biking across Kenya. They took many women by surprise and caused enormous injuries to self and bike! We on the other hand Mel and I adopted a strange arm/hand signalling thing to miss the damn things!! Big Love xx

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