Vanilla Orchids….. not the easiest thing to propagate. Having climbed the Copomo tree next to our balcony brandishing a the pool cleaning rod to make sure the host vine is heading upwards a certain way then downwards a certain way we wait. Months later we spot the first buds and then flowers. Each flower lasts but one day. During that time it relies on a particularly rare type of Mexican bee to happen across it and pollinate. No pressure. This is far from a certain event. To increase the odds of vanilla pods exponentially we have adopted the role of surrogate bees and have been sexing orchids. Up a ladder with a toothpick may not be obviously sexy but is apparently effective. We pollinate our first two flowers. There are buds for many more so we will be up a ladder with toothpicks doing all the sex for some time. In 6 months we may have vanilla pods . It’s a long and delicate process. How do we ever get enough of the stuff for ice cream ….or custard ….??
Took the time to get beyond the break and float on my back in the Pacific watching birds and sky and sun. It is remarkable and beautiful and humbling. The sea here is so powerful and yet today tranquil and supportive. If I keep air in my lungs I rest on top of the building waves with no effort. I close my eyes and consider taking a floating nap. Sure it wouldn’t last long but it’s entirely possible. Need to do more of this. Floating meditation is the way forward.
The moon is full, the bar is open, the food is cooking splendidly and our guests arrive. All goes in a very relaxed and enjoyable way. Good food, too much wine and a moonlit jungle with the now compulsory black light scorpion hunt. We are now recovering with a heap of over catered left overs, more beer than we started with, an amount of actual cash and enough wine to keep us out of trouble for the next week. There is the satisfaction of a very pleasant evening and the knowing we can cater at a high level for up to dozen people without much drama. We are told that there will be a write up on the night’s activities in the next edition of the San Pancho Life newsletter. This is certainly another potential thing to do to earn a crust when the season starts again.
Jungle wake ups are slow. There is a routine of moving towards the kettle and creating tea while showering that is now achievable with limited brain cell activity and only one eye open. A bucket of tea brings the synapses to life and my mind fills with the strangest of priorities. Do we have water flowing? Is there air in the tires? Any petrol in the tanks? Water, air and fuel. I’m becoming worryingly practical.
The sun is moving overhead and mornings are later and evening stretching out further and further. The solar panels catch sun very differently these past few weeks. Days are getting hotter and the humidity turns the air three times thicker every afternoon. Warm thick air to breathe for the next three or four months. Got to get that needy pool in good order. It saved us many times last year.
My buddies are building a temple on a lake in Netherlands. They want us to join them. It’s the first iteration of the Temple for Peace that we spent so many months evolving last year. Would love to be there to share the load and the laughs. I have foregone the delights of Kiwiburn and Afrikaburn this year and don’t see us making Nowhere, Nest or Burning Man either. I’m not too sad about that as this new adventure requires a different mind set. Over more than a dozen years I have devoted energy, love, time and cash to create the space for some magnificent art. We have chosen crazy places in many countries to build cities, temples, huge scale propane delivery systems, exhibition spaces, large theme camps and much more. With few exceptions these creations were burnt to the ground or dismantled within a week. I have learnt to let go. I’m very good at it, I’ve had a lot of practice. Our project here is different. I’m letting go of letting go… slowly.
Dogs for security. Everyone tells us we need dogs for security. It certainly focuses the mind at night when a pack of dogs starts barking at you. None of them will bite you and most are scared off by a good stare but it’s definitely a deterrent. Tripod is next to bloody useless. He is properly attention seeking and has well practiced “poor hungry me” eyes. The tart will flirt with anyone if he thinks there is food in it for him. We are sure he limps on alternating legs for effect. He turns up now and again and makes a good show barking excitedly at some confused armadillo that might have wandered by.
We have a fair chunk of land to protect so at the moment we are considering at least two (and probably more) large ugly dogs that look mean and sound horrible. They need to be self-reliant outdoor dogs that eat once a week and are protective of us and scare the be ‘Jesus out of anyone else. Tall order even for here. There are very many stray dogs here. A shameful amount. We have had a couple of slobbery candidates directed our way. We are looking for dogs that will thrive out here and do not need too much counseling. None has passed muster yet. The search continues…
The season change is now pretty dramatic. It’s hot. Flowers are bursting out everywhere but at the same time the leaves are falling from the trees. It’s like both Autumn & Spring have come at once. With the canopy thinning so dramatically we can see around us new places and all the birds and a lot further through the jungle. There is now a carpet of leaves drying to a crisp on the hot slippy dust. The palm oil coconuts rest amongst them like ball bearings. It’s a miracle we can stand up at the moment let alone walk around.
We recognize the growing need for the pool to be ready to escape to. The sand filter pump has been working hard fairly often (subject to sun on panels.) It’s the only thing we have that makes even a dent in our “Nano-carbon” batteries which sit happily at 96 % or more all day no matter what else we throw at them. Good job as they cost their weight in truffle oil. We are well serviced for power thank the goodness’s. The pool however is stubbornly cloudy. It’s significantly less dusty and the filter is slowly working but the chlorine fish needs filling and probably some other costly process will be necessary. It’s currently a darkening shade of green. More attention required. It has been foretold by wise folk that lawns and pools need more upkeep than wives. I have a very needy pool that’s for sure.
We bite the bullet and head to PV to collect some cheap tyres for the Razor. They took a lot of finding but are less than half price of anything else we can find. They are 6 ply and many times better than the ones we have broken. The Razor has been on chocks for many days and this has made us a lot less lazy. We don’t drive across the land now but walk. It is a good thing to get more in touch with the land. We notice a lot more nature and wildlife. And jobs that need doing….
We have been invited to a XV Quinseañera party. Our man has insisted we join his family there. His son is the boyfriend of the birthday girl and he has a very important role to play. It’s a very well organized event with lots of traditional happenings involved. In Mexico the age of 15 is considered a very important time for young girls. Families save for years to show off and give her and everyone they know the party of her life. It’s a “coming of age thing”. It is not uncommon for pregnancy and marriage to follow soon after. We arrive at the town square on time. The stage is set for a band and the whole town square is packed with tables decorated in burgundy and gold.
We wait for the families to arrive from their long catholic church ceremony. No one shows so we hide in the pub for an hour. On returning we are spotted and join our man’s mum and a gaggle of kids and family. Still almost all the tables are empty. The panicked looking girl arrives dressed in burgundy and gold. She is shadowed by an equally stressed looking Mum. Slowly oh so slowly the entire town turns up. The band starts. I am surprised the racket that a dozen guys on stage can make. It’s a strange mix of wailing vocals , trumpet, tuba and at least two trombones (played as trumpets) with other bashing things behind them. This is either bloody awful or the best thing ever. I decide to decide later which one.
The girl is looking less stressed now and performs a well practiced dance with a dozen boys all dressed in identical burgundy shirts. Her brother leads her and our man’s son is right up there too. There is a table laden with gifts. There are presentations of dolls identical to the girl dressed exactly as she is. Bit spooky. Flowers are thrown and caught and every male member of the family gets a dance with her. The band are enthusiastically belting out what has become clear is bloody awful music. By 11 pm the place is packed and more tables are shipped in. The endless free beer takes effect and the dance floor starts to fill with some rather entertaining sights. There is a tendency for the lardy in Mexico. It is now published by the WHO that Mexico has officially the lardiest population in the world. This is demonstrated by the happenings on the dance floor. A properly entertaining mix. Some sprightly older folk at least 80 years old (probably older) swing dancing perfectly and looking good. A number of rather large boys practically suffocating slightly traumatized looking girls and sort of jumping together on the spot as the band blares out. Most transfixing is the huge ladies who have in their grip some tiny looking Mexican men who cling on for dear life as they lurch around not entirely in time with the music (if that is actually possible). The finale is the presentation of the girls first “official” high heel shoes. A traditional gift from the father. A sort of permission and expectation go now and be a woman. She looks a bit too young to me but what do I know.
The fatted cow is distributed. We knew the cow as it was one from a nearby ranch that our man slaughtered and spent all day cooking over a wood fire. Rather good stuff. It is served with what is now my new favorite Mexican delight – “frijoles puerco”. It is beans and cheese and chorizo all mashed together properly and deliciously. There is also a bottle of Agave type liquor which the family and many other random onlookers encourage me to drink a lot of. It is a poor man’s tequila but given a good go is still effective. It is effective enough for me to distribute cow juice and beans and chorizo and cheese onto my white shirt in a “look at me” obvious way. Embarrassing. It is confirmed by everyone on our table that we are the only “gringos” non-Mexicans in the entire square of many hundreds of people. It’s OK they tell us. “We are all Mexicans here .” Despite the spiny head and foody shirt that makes us feel rather good. By now we are ready to leave the noises from the band far away and make our way home. Its only 12.30 and we are the first to leave. The young kids and oldest folk are just getting started. The party goes on without us till sunrise.
We have met a number of people who have spent time out here over the years. The most recent is a girl who we heard about many times. She lives in town and had her first baby just about when we arrived so it has taken this long for her to surface. She arrives with us unexpectedly on her horse. We show her around as she shows us around. We go up to the Selva Vista apartment where she spent many years. She is relieved and emotional (in a good way) as she sees what we have created. Those tears are the best endorsement we have had so far by a long way. Before she leaves she shows us the many things she planted before she left 4 years ago. There is the lychee tree and the passion fruit and to our surprise a now mature Ayahuasca vine right beside our Morning Glory.
The important issue of the World Cup has arisen. Much as we would like to see England squeeze past the might of Tunisia and Panama I am more interested how Mexico will do against Germany, South Korea and Sweden. One of the restaurants in town is talking about remaining open just for the tournament and showing three matches a day. That is a huge relief. Wouldn’t want Jayne to go without her precious football.