The Covid restrictions here remain confusing but there is talk of restaurants sorta kinda opening with the addition of social distancing and no menus to touch. We take a chance and go to Sayulita to see for ourselves. It’s about midday and we head to the beach. Bad idea. At every entrance to the playa there are armed marines and police with heavy weapons. Local families with kids and surfers are told to go elsewhere, anywhere, but not on the sand. There are no tourists. All the hotels are still closed. It’s a proper pointless show of force. The vast empty beach is clearly the safest place for everyone to be in fresh air and keep their distance.
We find a small empty restaurant patrolled by two guys with full face masks. Despite not being able to hear them well or being able to lip read we eventually confirm they are open, prepared to cook us food, serve it to us and allow us to eat it in front of them, at a table with a drink! This is a result. We feel a disproportionate measure of success and relief. We eat food we did not cook, we drink alcohol, we chat as best we can to the masked men.
We notice that the army and police are leaving town in a large impressive testosterone fuelled convoy. They pass by our table and head to the highway. Almost immediately we see a few heads appear, then a few surf boards and a few kids carrying large coloured floaties. There is a mad rush to the sea.
We head to an empty bar on the beach and are served our compulsory post lunch Margarita by a team of waiters all with full face masks and plastic head guards. It’s impossible to hear them but we make ourselves understood by the medium of mime. We refresh ourselves slowly watching the dozen or more surfers who are already in the waves and the families setting up for the day confident they will not be shot.
The very latest Covid update from our governor is that we are going to be put into strict second lockdown this week. No businesses are allowed to open. Beaches shut. No buying socks. Even the official numbers of infected and dying are high and rising fast. There are frequent tales of folk testing positive in San Pancho. Most urgently the hospitals are now full and there is not a single bed with a ventilator in the entire state of Nayarit. Airlines have pretty much stopped coming to the once packed International airport of Puerto Vallarta till November. Our friend flew to Canada last week and there were only two flights leaving the airport that day. One to LA that she was booked on and another to Mexico City that was cancelled. She was the only person in the airport apart from staff. Guess we really are isolated more than we know right now.
The pool at our place is going to become essential soon as the warm air thickens and becomes unbearable heavy. Our water situation is not ideal. Our well still has water but not so much . A few days of cloud means we can’t pump what water we have. Our tinacos are getting nearer to empty than full. Certainly, no spare water for the pool. Knowing this the pool has had little attention by us and is now green and swampy. The frogs however seem very happy with it. A few nights of moderate rain have teased us recently which has magically rehydrated a bunch of horny frogs . They kept us awake for two nights shagging themselves to death. The pool is now equipped with a frog escape ramp which saved many of them from drowning so there are very few dead adults to retrieve this year. We are however left with sleep deprivation, large gloops of stringy spawn and thousands of tadpoles.
I am reviewing the situation and realise that the long service rod with the cleaning net attached is missing. This is the only tool we have to remove what we must from the swamp pool. There are cow prints everywhere. A large herd of large white cows have been invading our land recently. They are not subtle, eat everything and clumsily pull the electrical wires out of our house. After much screaming, whistling and obscene swearing they slowly bugger off. We deduce that these cows have been watching the frog sex and knocked the 8-foot pole into the deep end which is now an entirely opaque deep thick green goo of frog juices and algae.
I reluctantly test our theory by stripping off and diving into the unknown. I feel around the blinding sludge and thankfully find the pole and make it to the surface without ingesting anything froggy. I spend the next hour or so committing tadpole genocide with the rescued net. Our pool is now still opaque green but all evidence of frog orgies has been removed.
While tadpole fishing I am distracted by a crashing noise coming from the jungle behind the pool. I investigate. Next to an old rotting tree stump is a large lizard. A very large lizard. It spots me and crashes awkwardly in my direction at pace. Lizard legs are not the most useful. They stick out the body at an angle where to run they need to make circles in the air to somehow create forward thrust. It’s not elegant. The large lizard does not let this embarrass him too much and gets rather near. He stops for another look. Now he is close I see the size of the bugger. He is huge, with a shiny black and yellow covering and blessed with a very long tongue. He has seen enough and is clearly unimpressed by me and my pole and crashes off into the bush and disappears. I can still hear him but he’s out of sight.
Further investigation and I find out we have a Mexican bearded lizard as a neighbour. They are the biggest lizard in Mexico and one of the biggest there is. They are also one of only two lizards that are poisonous. If they take exception to you and/or your pole then they bite you, hold on for dear life and poison you for good measure! They are known to eat eggs so we leave a few out in strategic places. They all vanish but that’s not so surprising out here. All we can be sure of is that we now have less eggs.
The frogs have post-coitaly shut up but just in time for the cicadas to kick off. These lumps of insect are loud. Really bloody loud. The male of the species starts creating their racket at sunset and continues for about an hour. It’s impossible to hear anything else while they scream their love songs to some deafened mate somewhere. The body of a cicada is similar to that of a violin or a guitar, in that much of it consists of empty, air-filled spaces that act like a resonating chamber and amplifies the sound they generate. Lucky us.
New things are seasonally dropping on our heads. The copomo nuts have stopped catching me out but are now replaced by figs. The loud resonant thwang as a fig bounces off the Sub’s roof is a common way to wake up a bit at 3 am. We are lucky we don’t have mango trees producing here. The town and surrounding areas are thick with over productive mango trees shitting fruit onto people’s heads everywhere. A single mature tree can deliver 250 kg of the missiles every year. Most of them end up unpicked. Surrounding most mango trees is a layer of mango jam being devoured by a few hundred sugar crazed wasps. The good news is we have piles of delicious mangos. We have been processing them into Mango chutney which is entirely delicious with cheese and tequila.
It is the time of year where the roads are dusty and hard and the Razor tyres give out semi-regularly. In one case I had two punctures in one hour. The second only moments after repairing the first. Such is life. Our tiny toothless local tyre guru Tun-tun is always very happy to see me.
The rising heat and humidity is also a graveyard for audio speakers. I have had two sets of headphones and my two best Bluetooth speakers give up the ghost. We have just started sending on-line purchases to our friend’s proper house in Lo De Marcos so I suspect I will get some more 13 month replacements. By some design genius they always give out a month out of warranty.
There have already been two successful deliveries to Lo De Marcos of stuff we have ordered on-line. This is pretty life changing for us. Our address “La Colina. The jungle. San Pancho. Mexico” is, to say the least, unreliable. So far, we have had only two pieces of post delivered ever. One was a Xmas card delivered last year in early March. We saw our names misspelled on a black board in town and discovered this was the postal system.
The second was a black package delivered to a local restaurant a few weeks ago who have taken over all postal services for a small collection fee. They rang us one day to say we had a parcel to collect. We were very excited but equally confused. When we arrived in town and paid our 50 pesos we were given a small box covered in black plastic and a pre-printed label with my name on it and our telephone number. The label suggested it came from China via. slow boat and may have taken many many months to arrive. We were too curious and couldn’t wait to open it. Inside was no note, no invoice no paperwork at all. Just a box containing ….. a new carbon monoxide alarm. As we have no enclosed spaces on our land it is perhaps the least useful thing we now own. We, to this day, have no clue what, who, how or why??
Our first on-line delivery managed to make it to the address we specified within 10 days. This is no mean feat as there is at least one other identical address some streets away. Jayne purchased a small portable solar panel. She has attached it to two copper rods which float in our pool attached to an inflatable swan cup holder and delivers a small current to the water. It’s our new pool ionizer. The point is to discourage algae. So far it needs a stiff talking to as it’s clearly not motivated. Our pool is as green and soupy as ever.
As our test delivery worked we finally bit the bullet and ordered Brian. Brian is our brand new big blue generator. A well-researched 6300 super powerful Yamaha. He is a monster. Took two Mexicans to lift it off the truck and one Mexican and two gringos to lift the thing into the Sub. It’s epically heavy. It took a further two Mexicans and me to drag the thing strapped to a sack trolley across our land and into the battery house. It was exhausting. Brian is now home and theoretically doesn’t have to move again anytime soon. We spend a day setting him up and venting his fumes outside the building. Brian can be turned on, purr into life, go strong for hours and deliver as much power as we will ever need with the simple turn of a key. Lucky Brian.
Camel is the latest addition to our tribe. Amongst the huge box of newspaper wrapped plaster casts that we spontaneously acquired from Guadalajara one day last year there are some forgotten gems. Camel was one such find. It had been many months since we had looked in that box. We somehow bought a mix dozen of skulls and Buddha heads that we occasionally paint up and display around the place. Hidden underneath these was a larger mystery parcel which we unwrapped to find Camel! Camel is a giraffe who we painted up and gifted a brand-new pipe. He is mounted on a tree overlooking the bar. Camel is our new security giraffe.
There has been a good amount of activity in the past month or so. I have beaten back my prevarications and completed both doors to the new kitchen. Pauly built a few when he was here so I copied his style and added a couple of my beloved round windows. Still much to do but we are getting there. Poco a Poco.
There are new bugs here to discover all the time. A few days ago, Jayne spotted a shape on the front gate as we pulled in. She went back to investigate and found what can only be described as a leaf with legs. It was a fair old chunk of bug. Maybe five or so inches long. Its legs were strong and armoured . Amazingly its body formed the exact shape of a three-dimensional leaf. Not only that but each side of him had the perfect markings of a leaf. Like he had actual leaves stuck to the side of him. If this thing was sitting on any branch on any tree it would be entirely invisible. I held it in my hand for a moment before it spread its leaf/wings and took flight. Incredible.
In other news, our outdoor kitchen has been thoroughly waterproofed and our cabanas are now in the process of being upgraded. We have rendered some walls outside and even painted the inside of one! We have moved tons of heavy red clay from the hill behind them to create a water channels so they don’t get flooded again. Jayne has finally got her wish. The beautifully impractical gravel floors are in the process of being levelled and have concrete added. A least one of them is now solid, raised and level with a smooth gravel finish. The outsides of all three are being landscaped with river rocks set into earth surrounding them. It’s a lot of work but slowly we are creating some seriously upgraded places that one day people will stay. One day.
There is very good news about Sasha. After leaving us for Tepic that fateful day he has had many eye watering adventures. He has swapped his spleen for a fair number of rather impressive scars. He is however very much alive and recovering slowly but well. We expect him to be back with us in the jungle very soon. He is ready.
I did not post pictures of his injuries to protect his privacy but he posted this a few days ago. It shows a before and after shot that tells a thousand words. I will try and persuade him to do a guest blog to fill in the gaps. It will be very good to see him home.
The fans are on. The frogs have literally come and gone. Cicadas are screaming. The crabs have migrated to the sea. The fire flies are on their way. The water pipes from the natural pools have dried up. The rains they are a coming.