Sea Songs & Chicken Woes

Jungle Journal

Sea Songs & Chicken Woes

There comes a time when even the most reliable of us gets tired and has a break down.  This appears to be the time for Pauly our Polaris Razor ATV.  We are in possession of a brand new rack & pinion that appeared under our mate’s Mum’s Californian Christmas tree and was duly smuggled down.  With great skill, new tools and patience we remove the old one in situ neck deep in a bunch of jungle and install the new.  We start her up and she runs and steers like a dream until she doesn’t anymore. We get a good 10 minutes out of her.  Slightly depressing. 

We resign ourselves to assistance and a trailer is dispatched to remove her to a location more equipped with skill and tools. Steering apart there is a worrying noise coming from the rear CV joint and after a further quickly arranged smuggle we have a new CV joint from Canada.  Our genius new favorite mechanic manufactures parts in his magic workshop and presents us with a sparkly clean and fully functional machine in but a few days.   Turns out our deep jungle mechanicing has been of excellent quality but we had somehow installed a brand new faulty part!  He manages to repair & reinstall the original parts. Our friends are flying back to California and so we send the pointless brand new much travelled faulty part back with them to return to Santa for a full refund.

We have agree to deliver Limonada (our dodgy pick up truck)  in exchange for a happy working Pauly. We have decided to sell it and remove the many issues that accompany her from our lives. In a fit of over enthusiasm and confidence our now much loved mechanic agrees to buy her! We take his lovely arm off.  Farewell Limonada!!

All is well again.  We don’t have to bounce around in the thirsty van at snail’s pace anymore. Speed and efficiency is restored to our lives. Good job as the rivers and roads are drying up and slippy dust and slidey stones have coated everything.  Our joy lasts but a few days… there is a sudden and inexplicable horrible noise coming from the drive shaft. The trailer is called in. We are back in the van.

Our chickens are having a rather disastrous few weeks.  Late one night the frantic flapping wings and strange munching noises awakes me.  I am curious and little wary so investigate from the safety of the balcony. My torch disturbs silent dark shapes that move quickly away from the chicken house.  I take a large sharp stick and brace myself to take a closer look. Something has eaten the side of the chicken house and the chickens are extremely unimpressed.  Chief suspects are Coatis.  They look cute enough but they are far from it when they are hungry or cornered. We keep the chucks inside for a day or two to settle.  Egg laying has all but stopped.  Coati’s attack does not make for a relaxed egg-laying environment.

Munched chicken house
Chicken assassin

In but a week we are down to three chickens.  An egg layer and Sister Bland have vanished.  Snakes/eagles/coatis/dogs all love a bite of chicken.  A few days later we collect our very first white egg. Chickens only lay the same coloured eggs. The conclusion is that Sister Bricklebank, the last of the original five, is laying eggs at last!! The good news is short lived. Three days later she has vanished too. Down to two chickens. I return home after Sunday Birria breakfast to a disturbing find. The intact body of another chicken is abandoned on the path to our house with gruesome evidence of a clean kill. Coatis have been spotted who are almost certainly the culprits. We are down to one chicken.

Our lovely mechanic  has not only agreed to return Pauly in full working order yet again but is to deliver us six replacement chickens. We are designing a Coatis proof area for our single remaining free range chicken and her new mates to be slightly less free, certainly less rangey and many times safer.  

In exchange for Limonada our mechanic has also agreed to give us a lump of cash and manufacture us a bespoke trailer for Pauly.  The trailer will be used to fetch and carry dirt, tools, sand, plants and gravel but also have removable seats so we can ferry more people around.  Theoretically this removes the need for a pick up truck for the foreseeable future. For now the vehicle fleet is down by one needy and costly machine.

Limonada leaves the jungle

There is, however, the long forgotten jungle jeep.  We bought this machine a full 16 months ago.  It is still in the unbelievably lazy mechanics shop in Chapala.  The news is that the American wife of this lovely but entirely useless Mexican mechanic spotted that having vehicles in the shop for over a year is not the best business model and pretty much fired him.  She has taken the helm and in the past few weeks made it drivable and is currently working on the paperwork.  We are advised that we can collect her so we arrange that. The day arrives to leave but the latest news regards the availability of fuel means we have to postpone. There is pretty much no petrol in the state of Jalisco.  Even Guadalajara has very little. Long lines at Pemex stations for hours to collect a very limited amount. We abandon the trip. The jungle jeep is still, unsurprisingly, in the shop 4 hours away but somehow it feels closer. The vehicle fleet will soon, perhaps, be up one more needy and costly machine, maybe.

There is an outside chance the jungle jeep is coming home

 The yoga deck has manifested.  Many hours of wood preparation, cutting and reinforcing, sanding, careful placement, staining and sore backs later we have a rather splendid yoga deck.  There is more to do.  Handrails, tiling and a roof commeth soon. But we have a functional yoga deck from whence we do yoga and see birds and jungle and listen to the noise of those bastards cutting down the jungle to make their road.  Thankfully we can’t see them and they have all but moved on for now but there has been much pointless but cathartic cursing in their direction from the peaceful sanctuary of our yoga deck.

Initial testing …. by Jake
Final testing …. by bendy guest

The Mexican fuel shortages alongside the inexplicable USA Government being closed for a month has seriously reduced the amount of tourist traffic to San Pancho.  Mexicans can’t get here as they are saving their fuel for food collection and other such activities. Americans, we are told, just can’t make sense of the nonsense happening at home so are’t traveling anywhere. We are selfishly delighted as less people in town is an altogether nicer vibe and we have still been very busy with our guests. Some shops and businesses in the town are less happy about it.

We are treated to a rather spectacular lunar eclipse in the jungle. It’s 11.30pm and there is just enough night sky showing through the canopy. We stand in the moon shadows of the jungle watching the earth’s shadow moving across the moon’s face. Slowly she turns a rather extraordinary shade of red. Mesmerising stuff .

This is a real photo delivered thanks to the skills of John Curley.

The dusty roads have been settling in the baking sun and, in places of high traffic, long buried power conduit is emerging. In some stubborn areas we have trenched the lines deeper and deeper, under roots and rocks and packed with clay. This happens with irritating frequency.  Despite the effort the stuff still pops up now and again.  I am walking the steep pathway back up to the house and stop to examine a particularly frustrating spot and add a few rocks to the trench to make it heavier.  It is a good job I stopped as some yards ahead of me a huge lump of heavy Bromeliads falls loudly and dramatically from very high up directly onto the path ahead. I calculate, slightly paranoiacally but pretty accurately, that they have fallen in exactly the spot I would have been if I had not stopped. Saved by a dodgy conduit trench.

My son Jake has left his life in Europe and moved to Mexico for a few months of  rest while he contemplates his next adventures.  He has had three months in Berlin and a couple in Dublin working the high end bar scene where he has been “deprived of daylight, children and nature” It’s a wild and exciting life until it isn’t anymore and so this is a much needed break. San Pancho is short of a good cocktail bar so there are endless possibilities. He is broken in immediately with yoga deck construction followed by the great gravel day

We are awoken to the news that a large dump truck has arrived with many tons of gravel and is keen to unload it.  We ordered it only a few days ago and were expecting a few weeks before it arrived but here it is. Much maneuvering of the huge truck and we have a medium size mountain of gravel in front of the casitas where there are a few sleeping guests and a motorbike. Our guests are thankfully understanding but we can’t leave it here for long. My slightly hungover son is armed with shovel. A painfully physical number of hours later the mountain of tiny rocks becomes a series of paths and a large gravel area hiding what was previously an ugly patch of post rainy season mud and weeds. The guest and motorbike are free to go. Good effort but we are both fully and totally exhausted.

Restored herb spiral

New very heavy gravel paths

Jayne has two girlfriends from Vancouver staying who are keen to help. While we are moving bucket after bucket of increasingly heavy rock our friends are keeping busy creating new flower beds areas. The girls have taken a trip to the local vivero (plant nursery) and returned with a van bursting with trees and plants and bags of earth and tiles.  As they create new rock lined earthy areas we lay pathways around them.  Various plants and trees are abundantly placed, fertilised and watered.  We now have Cacao, Coffee, Fig, Lemon, avocado, grapefruit and orange trees. We also have much better knowledge about how to keep all this stuff from ending up inside cutter ants or dead from lack of attention.

At the same time we are transforming the outside space one of our more ambitious girl friends has taken on the task of tiling the floor of the Brick Sh*t house shower block.

It has been an unexpectedly intense, highly productive flurry of satisfying activity. We now have planted flower beds and numerous trees surrounded by gravel pathways and a tiled shower room.  It’s properly tidied the place up.

A large group is assembled and primed for what turns out to be a not so super Superbowl Sunday. The mass of people who gather are great fun. It’s a real excuse to get everyone together. The venue is our French friends restaurant in town where we helped them install a large projector to show endless surf videos interspersed with American Football matches these past few weeks. Despite the game being historically mind numbingly dull it saves us all from paying any serious attention to it. This allows us all to interact and imbibe a touch more than is absolutely necessary . A very good day that we refused to allow a very poor game to spoil.

There are semi-secret moves in motion to create another sunset burn on the beach at Los De Marcos in the next few weeks. We have a theme (the majestic local Fragata birds) and a location and actual officially real world permissions from officialdom. We are now in the process of arranging a select eclectic audience and getting something sexy arranged to burn. We have surveyed the burn site to make sure there are no turtle nests to disturb and have banned fireworks that would disturb the birds & wildlife. When all goes to plan it will be a fun, relaxed and a low stress event. After our initial coco lady man burn during the Summer Solstice last year our upcoming Fragata burn is attracting much attention and enthusiasm. Good to have the ever expanding coco lady man crew back together.

On the 24th Of February we invite anyone and everyone to create a Fragata bird out of any size and of any burnable media and bring it to the North beach in Lo De Marcos. It will become part of the art installation we will burn at sunset. Invoke in your Fragata bird the many and varied things you wish to release from your life that no longer serve you. This is an opportunity to let go of them all in the fire.

We take the unusual and wise decision to take a whole day off. Our first whole day off for many many weeks. Friends arrive and we start with a long jungle breakfast of freshly baked Southern style “biscuits” and squeezed oranges. An overdue sprawl at our majestic waterfalls is followed by a walk into town to see sunset. The sea swell is high and the waves lift us as the sun turns the sky a thousand shades. Pelicans dive bomb into the sea catching fish all around us as we float and watching the show. We are required to dive under the larger waves to save from drowning. While the waves move loudly over our heads we notice a stunning phenomena. Under the waves we can clearly hear the whales singing. Distinctively different sonic tones as calfs communicate with their mothers. Clear and unmistakeable whale song. Unbelievable but we all confirm it’s really happening. A glorious humbling moment of immersion with nature. A fine day off we concur.

Our last chicken has followed us around like a puppy for days. She is clearly a little lonely by herself. This comes to a sudden end as Jayne spots a dark shape appear suddenly from the jungle and carry her off.  Ironically this just one day after this honorary facebook post dedicated to her by one of our guests:

This is Cinnamon. Cinnamon is the only survivor of the La Colina Project chicken assassin. She has avoided its murderous clutches because she is a feathery ninja. And has Cinnamon let the trauma of watching her sisters be picked off one by one stopped her from living her best jungle life, or laying her morning egg, or having dust baths in the sunshine or sassily posing for photos as she struts all over the place? HELL NO. Cinnamon is one BADASS MOTHERCLUCKER. We should all be a bit more like Cinnamon.

  • Amanda

    RIP Cinnamon – badass motherclucker! Our chickens’ closest contact with the local wildlife tends to be when the wild rabbits come for breakfast and share the Premium Mixed Corn…. 🙂 Hope the replacements stay safe…. Love to all. x

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