Friends & Frigates

Jungle Journal

Friends & Frigates

The eyesore of a condominium building on the beach that we have been bitching about for months has attracted some very high level attention.  The Punta Paraiso development is clearly infringing on the public beach which is a known turtle breeding site. In order to get permission to build there was clearly and obviously a serious level of corruption. Our new president AMLO was voted in on an anti-corruption ticket and has started an investigation to find out the story.   There is a chance the thing will be stopped or even taken down. The whole of the town turns out for a march to the beach in support of tearing the building down and bringing the corrupt officials to justice.  It’s an impressive turnout and some fun is to be had protesting next to dancing horses, leaping stilt walkers and an very enthusiastic lady dressed as a turtle. No idea if this will have the desired effect but you never know. All eyes on AMLO.

We  have been steadily prompted (repeatedly nagged) to do another jungle dinner. The last one was a roaring success so there is a bit of pressure to get it right again. We have found a chef from Montreal and after some tortuous shopping trips have finally collected the correct number of plates, glasses, and cutlery. No mean feat that. We take many hours re-sanding the huge Parota tables that are looking less than perfect after the rainy season humidity. Our attempts at hand sanding and varnish now look distinctly shabby.  After many hours of play with my lovely new sexy electric sanding machine and a surprisingly large number of sanding belts they are looking their spectacular best.

Tables spruced up and proper posh. Photo: John Curley

Jake is positioned behind the bar.  Friends are recruited as waitresses , entertainment and general help.  New lights are created from old plastic pressurized beer barrels.  Tables set , glasses polished and wine chilled.  Our paying guests arrive. 18 of them this time.

Porota Wood looking well buffed. Photo: John Curley
Full House of Happy Punters Photo: John Curley

It all runs rather swimmingly.  The food is extraordinary and much better than I expected.  The wines match.  The music plays. The chat is easy and there is much laughter. There is also much juggling of plates and food  through jungle paths in the dark but no disasters.  All leave happy.  We promise to do it again before they all depart North for Summer to avoid the worst of the humidity.  Most of the winter avoiders will have gone soon after Easter.

Our post office in town has our miss-spelt names  written outside it. We have had a number of calls from friends in town telling us that there is mail for us to collect. We wait for the one hour a week when it is open. An ancient deaf lady collects mail for the town and attempts to distribute it from her tiny office. When we arrive she has her head down on the desk, her wrinkled eyes appear shut and is unresponsive to our shouts and waving of hands to get her attention. She may be asleep or deep in thought or…. The poor thing  nearly ends herself with shock as Jayne taps her on the shoulder. Grumpily she hands us a slightly overdue Christmas Card from Australia in exchange for 5 pesos. Our first mail.

T’is certainly getting warmer. These past few months we have been blessed with Goldilocks weather.  Not too hot… not too cold… just right.   The sweaty times are, however, approaching fast. I expect to be damp and uncomfortable to touch for the next six months. Oh joy.

We have taken some advantage of the climate and allowed ourselves more working days.  Productivity has taken a leap.

Our yoga deck now has  a sturdy wooden handrail to prevent yogi wannabees toppling into the jungle. There is also the addition of a large Mandela image created for us on the freshly painted white bathroom building to encourage us clean the place up and get the water plumbed in.

Yogi proof railing installed

Mandala in process

We have a brand new palapa roofed structure which with some imagination, luck and effort will become our new outdoor kitchen next to the bar. This will avoid the need for us to juggle plates and food precariously over great distances in the dark. This will allow us to hold further jungle dinners and catered events  with much less risk and effort.

Kitchen palapa progress

Our tiles in the brick sh*t house bathroom have been grouted and polished to a sexy sheen. This has inspired me to add art to the place. I am currently attempting to reproduce some simple Mayan graphic symbols in strategic places. Bit fiddly but getting the hang of it. There is a lot of talk and planning for further art installations. A friend in town is in process of welding together an impressive turtle sculpture that will adorn our well head. Our favorite artist is due back with us soon to transform more of our walls with fabulous murals. Endless possibilities.

Pimping our bathroom.

Super sexy newly tiled floor

Finally we have addressed the issue of creating an appropriate space for our growing hammock collection. Despite the large amount of trees we have to choose from there are few spaced correctly in the areas we would want to suspend ourselves for long periods.  We identify a perfect lounging spot not far from the casitas. It provides seclusion and shade and has a rather splendid tree in the centre of an overgrown but very pretty jungle spot. There is much effort added as the area is strewn with logs and debris and thick bush.  Our gravel is extended down a freshly cut log lined pathway. Two posts are concreted in at perfect distance from the central tree.  Within a day we  are able to install four hammocks from the centre point. At long last we have the required sanctuary in our secret hammock lounge clearing.

Our New Hammock Lounge

There are few regular local community events (except sunset) . A small restaurant bar called La Buena Vida (The Good Life) hosts “Open Mic Night” every Tuesday which has become the town meeting spot during “the season”. The bar is almost entirely empty for the rest of the week but on Tuesdays it is rammed until the early hours.  For such a small town there is a large pool of musical talent. Some very gifted musicians that jam with the less gifted to keep the standard high and the stage full all night. We have many friends & guests who play and more who come to watch.  

We are lucky enough to have some very highly skilled professional musicians with worldwide reputations as neighbours.  The San Pancho music festival in February every year is a showcase to the local talent.  This is the 19th year of an event that started in someone’s back yard and now attracts regular visitors & performers from around the world . It is held at the town square close to our beloved Ceveceria which makes for a very good weekend. We befriend a Californian professional jazz trumpet player who is visiting for a few weeks to go fishing and play the music festival.  We encourage him to visit us and bring his instruments. We take the hike up to the waterfall pools. He positions himself at the top of the falls with the valley below and plays. To the background of running water Chet Baker classics fill the trees. The acoustics are stunning.  It’s my Dad’s birthday. It’s a memorable moment.

Musician : Jeff Ostler

Our Vanilla beans are demanding some attention.  They have finished growing now and have turning a yellow hue. Some more mature examples are brown at their tip.  We harvest these ones.  Each lucky bean is then bathed in water at precisely 60 degrees celcius.  When carefully dried each is lovingly sunbathed during the day and then wrapped cozily in wool each night to rest. These incredibly spoilt beans will enjoy this care for some weeks until they are cured and fully black gooey & vanillary.  There is a growing number of beans awaiting sun bronzing and nights in my socks.  Should be a good haul eventually.

Over-Loved Beans preparing for a night in my socks

Friends of ours have just left for California to pack up their stuff after agreeing to buy land here. We are helping them with the process.  They have managed to acquire a stunning spot away from the town overlooking the sea at Lo De Marcos.  This is the stretch of coast where we have been seeing  huge humpback whales leaping out of the water close to the beach. She came to stay with us a year ago with her daughter and fell in love with the place. The whole family came down to check out land and schooling for the kids and now they are soon to be our newest neighbours. It’s strange to hear how visiting this place and seeing what we are doing can influence life changing decisions like this for other people. Not the first time and we suspect not the last.  They remind us that it’s the things we don’t do in life that we often regret the most.

I am currently suffering from a bad dose of PMT.  Pre-Match Tension.  Wales this coming  Saturday have the opportunity to win for the 14th time in a row, beat Ireland and secure the Six Nations, Triple crown and Grand slam.  Full house. I’ve been fiddling with VPNs and other such techy stuff so that I can persuade the BBC that I am in fact watching TV on a sofa drinking tea in Tunbridge Wells, UK rather than on  a laptop upon a large Parota table outside in the jungles of Mexico with a bottle of Mezcal. I  get up early and have managed to watch all the games so far from the jungle. International Rugby at it’s best and a great tribute to my Dad. It’s been emotional.  Just one more time.  It’s the hope that hurts.

Our plans to burn an art piece on the beach developed in a very short time due to the motivation of a few enthusiastic & talented folk.  In order to capture the seriousness by which we all approach these things we  have called ourselves The Coconut Lady Man Burn Crew.  This in recognition of our first burn on the beach last year when our artists created a  Lady Man with distinct coconut features.   A similar piece will be represented in this year’s structure for continuity purposes.

In order to make this event as participatory and inclusive as we can we have evolved the idea of burning a large frigate bird. The extraordinary black silhouettes of huge frigate birds are a feature of the sky everyday in Lo De Marcos. Instead of a single artist or group being responsible for the art we encourage everyone who attends to participate.  We have asked all of our invited guests to bring their own representation of a frigate bird to add to a base structure which we will burn.   We have encouraged  people to leave messages or icons in the structure that represent things in their life that they would like to change or let go of. As the fire is lit everyone will watch in silence until the structure falls.  That silence and the experience of watching  the fire can be transformative   We will all meet up on the day and throw something together.  We have musicians, DJ and fire spinning for the after party.

Considering the highly seat of the pants nature of our planning and execution Lo De Marcos Frigate Burn 2019 was a special evening. At least 70 people made the walk up the beach to participate. There was a solid crew of people helping carrying wood, building frigate birds, creating the structure and the art piece.

Art Captured beautifully by Art Artist : Eva. Photo: John Curley
Lighting her up as the sun throws it’s colours into the clouds.

The sunset was appropriately gorgeous .  The art piece that evolved was beautiful. The burn was very pretty & safe. The silence was observed perfectly. There were many tears and prayers in that silence. We then all tucked in to a fabulous beach after-party under the stars. Over the course of my extended midlife crisis I have been involved with dozens of “burns” of this type in many parts of the world and in some cases involving vast crowds. This humble cooperative burn on our local beach under the colours of sunset was as good as it gets.

Coconut Lady Man burns first
Rare moments of silence and reflection
Frigate Burn 2019 Logo by Betty
  • Jeannie Dettori

    Yes indeed, it’s amazing how one’s own adventures influence and change and redirect the lives of others….so lovely to see your dream come true….


    Ooh! Lots going on down there. All looking good. Well done.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.