Spinning Plates

Jungle Journal

Spinning Plates

Be careful what you ask for, right? We have been nagging on about the lack of water for months. We are now hunkered down after 30 hours of constant rain. The rivers are too strong to cross and a category 5 hurricane is heading our way tonight. We are stocked up and confident we can get through fairly unscathed but the poor buggers 50 miles North of us are set to get smashed. Huge seas swells and up to 18 inches of rain are forecast. Roads already closed due to landslides and there is a mass evacuation to higher land along the entire coast. Been up connecting generator to solar batteries and trenching water paths since first light. I’m soaked. We are not half as worried about our well levels today.

The Malecon in Puerto Vallarta credit: Edgar Garnica

Our fixation with getting lamb also has come to a head. Our butcher has promised us he now knows the difference between a goat and lamb and we order one. When we ask him about it the next week he tells us it has been delivered and is at his house. His kids are feeding it. Would we like to meet him? So that’s our meat eating choices becoming very real and in our consciousness. We decide that we cannot be too hypocritical and we will collect the meat the next day but decline the introduction. We are presented with our lamb skinned and whole. We agree how we require it butchering and take it all. The head is saved by me for a slow cooked treat at some point when I’m by myself. Jayne cannot face the face. Our freezer is now full.

My prison wine has had a lot of loving attention and sugar feeds. It’s time to decant it into glass and mature it to perfection. There is, however, a strange phenomena that we notice when it is in the bottle. Under the sunlight coming through the window the opaque amber liquor appears to be moving in patterns. A sort of shimmer and slight changes in colour. I examine closely and then chuck the lot very quickly into the jungle. It’s full of very tiny drunk worms. Wine fail. I am disappointed we lost all our banana stash. Jayne less so.

Our mate Pauly has arrived with us from Essex, UK for 9 weeks of helping us out. We take a “business trip” to Puerto Vallarta to collect him from the airport and indulge somewhat with what the big city has to tempt us. Recovery times are long and we arrive back to the jungle late. Our new 24V DC water pump he brought in his hand luggage from UK is installed immediately. His gifts of cheese, tea, marmite and whisky are quickly hidden away in the “precious things“ store. Pauly’s first night brings 4 inches of rain and a rather impressive lightening storm. He emerges from his new jungle cabin home shaken but not too phased. That is a good start.

He reminds us that he is about 300m from our treehouse. That is the furthest he has slept from another human being in his life.

Since we left for PV our man and his mates have taken machetes to the land and spent hours pulling roots. The place has been transformed. I can see the ground and jungle appears for the first time in weeks somewhat tamed. The water system repairs include a few broken lines and we get around to fixing them. While I am swinging a machete to make extra space for pipe I get a large painful strike to the ear. I consider that I have somehow lost control of the machete and hit myself. I then get another strike to my solar plexus and I rapidly work it out. I spot the nest. Hornets. Run. We leave the repairs for another day very rapidly.

I’m feeling slightly “other-worldly” as the day progresses. We go to town for a business meeting about some land for sale but I am just not able to make much sense of anything and am deposited in a restaurant beach bar to watch the surfers. The sea has taken on some extraordinary swells and the surfing at our beach is the best I’ve ever seen. The hornet venom adds some extra colour to proceedings. We watch as the beach is eaten away by the sea swell. The beach is only a few meters from the sea now and ends in a sharp drop down which a few large palapa shade structures are headed. We help save them and miss the main event. A freak wave has landed on the far table from us where Jayne is sitting. She is entirely soaked and covered in a thick layer of sand. Her amusement does not match my own. We leave for home as a tornado forms in the sea up the coast.

The disappearing beach is an annual event and is expected to return again within a few weeks. One of the benefits to the very high tides is that it is badly effecting a development that has been inflicted on our beach by less than scrupulous developers. Punta Paraiso was proposed some years ago as beachfront condo type apartments. The whole structure has been built far too close to the sea, which effectively steals land from the Mexican people and more disturbingly the turtles that have nested there for thousands of years. It is not supported in any way by the town and a strong campaign is underway alongside an active protest group to have it removed. Despite all the objections building continues and apartments are being sold off plan to unsuspecting Americans and Canadians. Karma may, however, be being played out as large sand deposits and waves have caused havoc already with the build (as well as Jayne.) The impending hurricane may just add to their worries too. We do hope so.



We are becoming a lot more productive. Wood has been ordered to construct our yoga platform in the trees. Not sure how we will get it all out there but will deal with that problem as is comes. We also acquired a load of pine wood and set about making a door for the Selva Vista apartment to replace the mosquito net and child gate that is there at the moment. What we end up with looks like a door from a pirate movie set and we are delighted. Just the right amount of nonsense. Fits perfectly. It’s good to get back into it again. Bit of creativity and the smell of wood being transformed.

Our truck is overheating, our razor exhaust has come adrift and our van’s transmission decides to stuff up as Jayne is on the highway going to collect her brother, his wife and her niece from the airport. Family day out required where we find someone to weld the exhaust and leave the van to get a new transmission. Living here has been described to me, by those who observe, as a constant process of spinning plates. There is always something that needs our attention. I’m not sure that it’s very different than most peoples existence juggling kids, work, habits, fun. We just have different plates to spin.

Our friend is having health issues and is in hospital getting rehydrated and contacts us to help her by letting her three dogs out. We are in the re-opened bar in Lo De Marcos and there is talk of baby turtles to be released on the beach at sunset. Jayne heads to see to dogs and agrees to meet us on the beach soon after. It turns out that it was a dog release day too. One of them decides to make a beak for it and vanishes. Jayne is distraught that her friend is in hospital now with a lost dog to add to her woes. The turtle release coincides with a spectacular sunset and a very stressed Jayne. The dog is eventually recovered, friend recovers and all is well again.


Juan Gabriel is a local horse. A fine good-looking sort that lives happily for most of the year outside near the local ranch. Unfortunately for him he has been recently deemed delicious by vampire bats and is covered in bites. Vets and local cures are deployed so the future is good but he is a sorry sight at the moment poor sod.

After a few days of overcast weather we awake to find we have no power. No sun means, of course, no solar power. We have become far too complacent with our fabulous system trusting it to power up in the dark. Not a good strategy. The generator is plugged in and saves the batteries. It’s been many days since we have seen the sun now and the humidity and rain have set in. Sun not expected to return for a while yet. Our clothes and our bodies are constantly damp or soaked. Hang anything up to dry and it gets wetter?? We make emergency runs to laundry just to get our stuff dry before it rots.

It’s a particularly wet day and so Jayne’s brother, Pauly and myself decide to lay 300m of Internet cable through thick jungle. As we know there is a perceived benefit to far too many to have constant Wi-Fi, Facebook and instagram available. Although our plan for jungle wide Internet does cater to those perceptions the biggest benefit to us is that we can talk directly to our solar system. Jayne is very excited by the prospect. It also allows the possibility of her Dad in Calgary, Canada to effectively monitor and manage our system remotely. Nerdy paradise. Another hornet encounter and a proper muddy soaking later the cable is laid. A day of fiddling and twiddling with modems and some trenching later and we have it. Our solar system talks to Jayne wherever she is and there is the facility (for those who need it) to attach a phone to their face at all times.

Our friends live in a rather amazing house on many floors overlooking Lo De Marcos from a hill. We are invited to Canadian Thanksgiving there. I didn’t know that was a thing . In advance of the party our man has been commissioned and has found some stunning Parota from which a table has been made and a bar constructed. Both bar and table are required on the very top floor of the house on top of the hill. We set off in the pickup truck which is massively overloaded with wood and men. It takes six of us to sweat and grunt and swear these enormous lumps of wood up all the stairs. My truck and my back will never be the same again. It was worth it. After a sand and varnish they look incredible. The party starts early afternoon for us with Mezcal and continues until late and we stay over. I somehow manage to survive my first Canadian Thanksgiving… but only just. I feel like I’ve been hit with a moose. Not a pretty sight.

We have had some aircrew friends and a pilot stay with us overnight. It reminded us that we need to be ready for guests at any time. Even off season rainy times. There is a flurry of sweaty & sweary cleaning and preparation not at all helped by my post thanksgiving moose hangover. We find that hornets love it around our cabañas and deal with a number of substantial hornet homes. One further discovery was that pillows just don’t survive the wet season here. They take on mold like nothing else even in these few short months of high humidity. Our “good value” pillows that were in protective plastic are covered in black mold and stink. I borrow some to get us away. Our next mission is to acquire good quality pillows and protect them with special covers and provide a delightful cloud like head space for our future guests. Our aircrew were sufficiently refreshed for it not to be an issue when the time came to collapse. They braved the jungle and the beasts well despite some clearly expressed anxiousness. Waking to find your window covered in black biting ants , however, may not have been the perfect start to the next day. At least they were on the outside.

Ants are everywhere just now. We have seen them take over entire areas in no time and then move on.   Streams of them attack everything and anything in their path. Getting them in your shoes or sandals is not fun. We have seen large scorpions being carried off, hornets nests entirely overrun and even attempted to save a snake from them. The snake did not look well afterwards. They hurt when they bite.

Our bug of the month award goes to a very large black armored chap that gets to be the size of a small bird. They appear in the tree house attracted to the lights and fly very noisily around until they stupidly or clumsily collide with something. There is a “tock” noise as they impact the fridge or a wall and knock themselves out and land on the floor. I have to retrieve them and throw them outside before the cat chews on them. Not the most elegant of creatures. Dumb Bugs we call them.

Our perfect guests appeared on us with almost no notice at all. Our friend from  Birding San Pancho delivers them to us. Thankfully our aircrew friends encouraged us to clean and prepare for them so we are a lot more ready than we were. The new group is a professor and four students from Mexico City. They are all entomologists! Unlike every other guest we have ever had they actually want to see bugs. Lots of them. They bring nets and screens and equipment and spend a couple of rapturous days in and around our place exalting all those things others revile. They leave very contented. That just might be a long term thing. Bring on the bug lovers.

So after a quick farewell surf Jayne’s brother and his family have returned to Vancouver. She misses them already. No more guests for a week or two. Pauly and I are still waiting for wood and a break in the weather to start the yoga platform. The hurricane is now just a few hours away and it’s still raining hard. We are attempting to stay dry and be ready for anything. Spinning plates.

  • Inge

    LOVE all your stories!! One day I’ll visit 🙂

  • Jeannie Dettori

    All’s well, that ends well! xxx

  • Doug T

    Nice door! A bit of Temple design in the middle of the jungle! 🙂

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