Armadillo in the fridge & a techno handbag

Jungle Journal

Armadillo in the fridge & a techno handbag


The New Year is upon us all and we get to look ahead with the benefit of looking back.  Making loose plans to make our lives better, happier, easier, more fulfilling Working out what is working and what can be improved. No pressure. We can all prevaricate easily for a month and if nothing changes we will be well into 2019 so can drink just as much and settle into the same comfortable bad habits guilt free.

We have identified a missing element that we have not prioritized enough in 2018 and is a game changer.  There is a lack of excellent music in our lives because we haven’t invested in a reliable music device that is practical and impressive enough. We are motivated to fix this issue quickly.  During a rare visit to the big city we are tempted by a huge Mexican electronic box with the promise of loud Mexican style music delivery with a microphone to further irritate the neighbours. We are seduced and buy one. The big black box of promise lasts an hour of blue-toothed tunes before picking up some random clicks, farts and whistles that don’t really add to the experience. Our $28 USD investment is perhaps not the value we were looking for. 

Our mates who run the Cerveceria in town use a rather sexy single box of tricks to ply excellent quality tunes upon its customers. We identify one and return the big black box of promise and exchange it for what looks like a high tech handbag. It’s sound is amazing and we now have no excuse to trawl our endless supply of obscure and classic tracks hidden on endless devices. Over a three month period during 2017 I transformed my entire CD collection of thirty years into a tiny plastic box. This box is now delivering a frightening amount of music through my laptop to the techno-handbag and into our jungle. It’s fab.

Our new sexy techno handbag

These past days have been a rolling feast.  Xmas Eve we were presented with extraordinary freshly caught fish and other white food. Our friends who have one of the most impressive homes in the town and a strong Norwegian heritage feed us their traditional white pre-Xmas fare.

The Beef Wellington Xmas day get together goes swimmingly. Great food and company till just late enough. Lots of help with tidy up in the morning. Again our free bar created considerably more booze than we started with.  We again are reminded of fairly significant impracticalities when creating four Beef Wellingtons in the jungle. The most obvious of these is that the only oven we have is a treacherous hike down a very slippy hill, a jungle road, and a contortion through a cow gate to get to it.  The secret to creating good food out here is mostly not dropping stuff. Our twin burner on which we cook pretty much everything has become a single burner and recently started to manufacture soot at an alarming rate.

Beef Wellington Xmas Day

We have succumbed to circumstances and taken a further plunge and invested in an oven for the tree house. It takes some rearranging of fridges and space to make room but somehow it all slots in. The fridge is cleaned out before moving it. The same fridge that only days before was home to an Armadillo that the neighbours were trying to keep fresh as a treat for their boss to eat. Bonus is we find some forgotten delights. Mustards and precious horseradish. The oven being so close does have the advantage of encouraging pecan pie and other delights to appear more regularly. It also means that I will not have to make four separate 20 minute missions in the dark to babysit one Beef Wellington ever again. Henry our new horno (oven) is installed. Let’s see how he works out.

Henry Horno

There are further additions to our lives which have been coming for a long time. I have been constantly and enthusiastically informed over many many weeks that there are two things that my life cannot be complete without. I am less persuaded by the argument but have a strong desire to change the conversation so I surrender and drag two of the heaviest chairs I have ever had the joy of owning up our many stairs and somehow squeeze them into our lives. She is very happy. As is the cat that is now permanently installed in one of them.

Heavy expensive cat beds

Sad news. Hey–hey our half chewed chicken became, as predicted, eagle food. Well a snack anyway.  We do miss the ugly little thug.  The culprit has been identified as the large evil bugger we spotted on the chicken house.  It’s a Collared Forest Falcon; the top bird predator out here. They are also called orgasm birds. At sunrise and sunset they make a distinctive high pitched sound that is often mistaken for particularly successful love making.  Oooo-OOoo-OOOoooo-OOOOOoooo-AAAhhhhhhhh…..  We have heard them often but didn’t associate the noise with such a beast of a bird.  It’s an endangered species our remaining chickens will be pleased to know.

Collared Forrest Falcon full of chicken.

Worrying news. Pinto/Tripod (the dog that adopts us when it suit him) is AWOL.  It’s been an officially worrying amount of time since we have seen him. Food on our balcony remains uneaten. No late night cacophony as he chases some beast up a tree. Our friend is missing. He is a remarkably hard arsed jungle dog and it would take a lot to bring him down so we have faith he is still around somewhere taking up a better offer. He is a tart for attention and food as known by everyone who has met him. This scruffy, stinky, battle hardened character is well loved and has an impressive international fan club. We await his return.

Our new president “AMLO” has certainly showed his intentions in his first month. It’s not going to be simple or painless to change the old ways. There have been highly disruptive propane shortages due to the government not allowing price increases. Hot showers are a rare thing these days in even in hotels. There is also a National fuel (petrol) shortage, which is grinding entire states to a halt. There is a previously accepted process where 48% of Mexico’s petrol is stolen and sold back to Pemex (the National petrol stations.) AMLO decided this was not going to continue so stopped the flow. Only official outlets are supplying fuel now. The Pemex stations that were forced to buy from the black market are shut off.  In Michoacán there are over 90% of petrol stations without fuel today. Thankfully we have a small stash of propane and our local Pemex is buying legitimately so we are not as affected as most.  Interesting times for Mexico.  We just hope and pray that AMLO gets his way and doesn’t get stopped by less democratic means.

I have been banging on about our soon to be yoga deck now for months. As with any truly yogic project it’s on its way in it’s own time and space.  Breathe and relax. Don’t stress. We found the necessary stuffs to keep the jungle out of our wood and make it the required colour. I have applied it to the main beams and will slowly work my way cutting to length, sanding and treating the 120 pieces of planking. We have the necessary tools and even the hardware. So no more excuses. My piles of wood look more like a deck every day. I’m hoping it’s own time and space converges with mine in the not too distant future. But no stress right? Just breathe in the varnish fumes.

Yoga deck part one.

 We now have deep bassey playlists in our background thanks to our techno-handbag.  Mixed in with our auto-generated lists of tunes appear short excerpts from Spanish language lessons. This is not a bad thing. Most recently we had Tom Waits followed by a 5 minute Spanish lesson followed by Rage Against the Machine then George Michael then 2 minutes of past tense grammar. These sneaky Trojan horses are helping my Spanish, which needs it.

We know a universal truth.  Paying guests means much laundry and thankfully we have a heap of them. The girls in town are loving the business and we are becoming aficionados at recognizing a queen sheet from a matrimonial. Skills you never knew you needed. Good to have an income and make ends meet at the end of the month for a change. It’s our first season so we have a heap to learn but so far so good. Had really cool guests from all sorts of places near and far. Very nearly everyone gets what we are doing and 5 star loves us. Long may that continue. Validation always feels good and is motivating to make things even better in a positive way.  Worth the challenge of the very few needy buggers and the endless loo buckets. Metaphorically and physically dealing with other people’s shit.

Pauly our Razor Polaris ATV is unwell.  There has been dodgy sounds coming from the rear CV joint for a few days. This has distracted us from the clunky steering. We try and make a slow turn near our house and the steering goes completely. We are immensely grateful we were not traveling at any speed and our only problem is having to fix the thing where it stopped in the jungle.  One of our fabulous  mates is going to California to see his folks for Xmas and we ensure that there is a shiny new rack & pinion under his Mum’s tree to smuggle back to us post haste. Another mule is recruited from Canada to sneak us in a tiny little CV joint axle. We are resigned to be without our beloved and exceptionally useful ATV for a number of weeks. Django our trusted and much loved big blue van is employed. We thankfully just replaced her transmission and she is running well. Limonada the pick-up is still too thirsty and unreliable and we make plans to replace her. Life certainly slows down without Pauly.

Pauly in bits in the jungle.
Django back at the helm

We receive news about Pinto/Tripod.  Despite being enormously well fed and medicated against fleas and ticks and in generally great shape our happy dog has been “rescued”. Some white woman “gringa” randomly decided to relocate Pinto the jungle hardened pack leader and find him a new less exciting suburban home. Bloody cheek!  I‘m doing some research to see if I can trace this irritating self-righteous idiot and return Pinto to his exceptional jungle life. The search is on.

Pack leader and protector.

New Year Eve we deal with a significant influx and exit of guests and finally and gratefully we head out to meet friends at our favorite restaurant in town.  The place is packed with familiar faces filled with excellent food.  The Chamorro is a thing of beauty.  Whenever my body needs energy or my heart needs to sing I have a 10 hour cooked Chamorro.  The boys take a whole shank of pork and cook the life into it with oranges and herbs and just the right touch of care. Carlos is the chef here. I tend to avoid the young wannabes and head to the oldest slowest ladies to cook for me here. They are magicians. They really understand how to make the simple, the spectacular. Carlos is a young pretender with epic skills and all the love. He must have the best Grandma behind him somewhere.  I love the Chamorros here. A large table of happy hungry heads share the last three with hot fresh tortillas and wash it down with complimentary truffle and mushroom soup left over from the posh menu.  New year arrives in a blare of excellent noise from a DJ in a tree , highly dodgy pyrotechnics,  tequila and many friends. Perfect.

It’s been another extraordinary year.

  • Jeannie Dettori

    Happy new year and may you project continue to be a success and with a new oven, your cooking skills increase. Buon Appetito!

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