Santa, Spiders & Fluffy Balls

Jungle Journal

Santa, Spiders & Fluffy Balls

It’s been a while since my last blog. I have a number of great excuses. Technical issues and our site being hacked are amongst the most useful. At one point we thought we had lost our site and all our blogs into the dark mysterious unexplainable void of the hacker’s delete button. Thanks to considerably smarter people than us we are resurrected and spending much overdue retrospective efforts backing up our backups with backups.

Excuses aside, in truth I have been cooked. The baking humidity has poached me in its moistness and rendered me stupid. My ability to move, think or function productively escaped me entirely. The last few weeks of October were bloody awful.

It is with considerable relief that I can report that on the night of Halloween the weather finally broke. The humidity vanished. No more rain. Dry season is upon us. We have delicious fresh, dry air in our lungs. I am not constantly dripping on things and leaving damp patches behind me. The ceiling fan has been turned off and there are blankets on the bed. The best thing about this exceptional turn of events is that I have stopped banging on about how unbearably hot it is. Finally.

With the passing of the rains comes the passing of the fireflies. They hatch around September and live for around two months. For some weeks, we have been parking next to our front gate on our way home. We turn off the headlights and watch as many thousands of firefly bums flash in ever changing but certainly synchronised patterns. At intervals they somehow all turn off for a moment of dark and a fraction of a second later throw their tiny lights around in mesmerising fashion . They line the river banks and tree branches; the fields are thick with them. Yesterday we tried the same trick and saw only two tiny flashing critters who are most likely mightily confused where all their mates have gone.

Day of the Dead passed us by with no celebrations, pomp nor ceremony. Even the cemeteries, where families are used to spending the night with their dead, were closed this year. This was a purely political action too far for many. The Mexican traditions of honouring your dead run deep. Extraordinary alters of photographs, candles and marigolds usually fill the town square. This year there were none. We make up an alter on our balcony with traditional flowers and non traditional symbols to honour our own lost friends and family. It’s a gesture but lacks the unique communal mix of celebration and grief that this day is here to represent.

Canadian Thanksgiving came and went. Canadians wanting to drive their huge RVs down to Mexico for 6 months on a beach are unable to cross the Canada/US border as this is not considered essential travel. The result is that the usual influx of snow birds is not a thing this year. Almost all of them have cancelled their wintering in Mexico. Despite there being considerably less Canadians here than at any other time it’s still hard to avoid them.  

A gathering was arranged and for some days a truly obscene amount of food was prepared. When we finally got to the point where we could start the feast the heavens opened and it properly rained. The carefully constructed and decorated outside eating area was dismantled in moments.  We made a good effort to eat as much as we could, squeezed into a considerably smaller and drier makeshift covered area.  A splendid effort with enough left-over grub to keep us stuffed for days.  

Halloween was also allegedly cancelled this year. There was, however, a mini revolution from parents refusing to further disappoint their bored lockdown kids. The whole of the town was packed with the usual gangs of parents dragging around over excited sugar fuelled kids dressed as ninja turtles, spider men, batmen or devils. They paraded up and down the main street as normal. In anticipation, we dressed up and took a huge bag of high sugar Mexican candy with which to dose the little buggers.  I wore my theatrical gorilla mask which was perhaps misjudged for my audience. Terrified children scattered when I got close ironically throwing candy at me to keep me away.  Best intentions and all that.

Inexplicably the kids didn’t exactly warm to my efforts.

Thankfully our productivity levels have risen considerably and notably as the humidity has fallen.  We have serviced all our vehicles, kept the jungle fairly under control and rescued vast areas of wood from ravenous termites. We have also persisted with our river rock driveway. Despite the torturous heat the boys have worked the entire time dragging huge rocks and tonnes of hand mixed concrete up our hill. Along with our substantial road that will last for centuries they have created two splendid rather beautiful rock retaining walls.  Just this week in far more optimal conditions “we” laid a further 12m of rocks. It’s all happening even if the pace is often glacial.

The fluffy ball season has started again.  The Copomo trees are shitting endless quantities of these seed balls constantly everywhere. They make a proper racket bouncing loudly off our house and car roofs. If we didn’t know better we would be convinced it was raining again. I’m sweeping a full coating of fluffy balls from our balconies every morning.  

Fluffy Balls
All the fluffy balls

It is also spider season. Although we get spiders all year around we are currently blessed with Nephila. The females are big. Their bodies around an inch and half (4cm) with legs spanning about 6 inches (12cm). They produce highly impressive webs that shine like gold in the sun. They are often called Golden Orb Weavers.  The golden coloured threads they produce are very long and also surprisingly strong.  When we are making our way through the jungle paths we often clothes-line ourselves by walking straight into a cross thread that just doesn’t break.  We end up with a squashed nose and a slightly panicked hunt for the spider which could easily could be on the back of our head. They are poisonous with a neuro-toxin similar to a black widow so best to pay attention.

Gold spider thread gets wrapped around your head if you don’t pay attention.

A friend of ours has just returned back here after a few months away. He visited his new girlfriend’s place in the UK and then returned via his house in the USA.  He very kindly and very foolishly offered to bring us things that we were having problems finding down here. We have taken full advantage. Actually, taken the piss to be honest.  Our new best friend (or Santa as we now call him) drove his rather large truck over the border stuffed with our new things.

So Christmas came early for us. Our wish list to Santa included:  Full set of heavy pans, large stocks of batteries, a dozen pairs of reading specs, many sets of cotton sheets, Branston Pickle, Yorkshire Gold Tea, Marmite, Paxo Chicken stuffing, Cadburys Fruit & Nut chocolate, a dart board and darts, decking screws, a backgammon set, pan hanging brackets, meat thermometer, random kitchen stuff, food processor, some earphones, two speakers, throwing knives and throwing axes. Remarkably the Mexican customs reluctantly let him through without charging any duty fees as they were extremely disappointed that they couldn’t find any drugs underneath all our stuff. Bless them.

The boy toys will be an interesting addition. We have plans to create wooden targets so we can become proficient at chucking sharp things around the jungle. What could possibly go wrong?

We have news of more bees. This time they have been recovered from the top of building in Puerto Vallarta and are looking for a new home. We agree to be that home. We awake early to find that a box of bees has been delivered to our new kitchen overnight.  Our hives are looking a bit grotty as they have been sitting empty for over a year now.  We clean them up as best we can and suit up. Our new technique for calming the swarm is to spray sugar water on them. They are distracted by licking sugar so have less time and motivation to sting me. I approve. It appears more effective than the smoke. “We” carry the box to the renovated hives and manage to get the queen and her sugar high swarm relocated. We leave with only a few stings (somehow a couple of less sugary bees managed to find their way up my trouser leg.) 

The roof in our treehouse has seen better days. At some point, we will move out for a month and have it replaced. Maybe not top of our list for now. Some time ago we were wise enough to cover the whole roof in plastic to stop the leaks and then tied palm leaves together and placed them on top to keep an authentic aesthetic.  These purely decorative palm leaves have been soaked and dried one too many times recently and are now covered in a good layer of fluffy balls. Inevitably gravity has taken effect and huge sections of it have fallen off.  I can attest that hearing the sound of large lumps of palm leaves unexpectedly sliding off your roof and crashing onto the balcony is a touch terrifying. Thankfully the loads have so far landed where we were not.

There are some very reassuring signs from nature that our beautiful autumn days are back. Whip lizards dart about in our peripheral vision.  Huge inelegantly oversized white butterflies are thrown about by breezes. Flocks of brightly coloured birds feed noisily high in the trees. Some stunningly large hairy spiders wake you right up when you uncover one. Bright green lizards hide motionless; perfectly camouflaged by the river plants.  Whales are appearing close to shore. Whale watching season is just starting up again. It’s the best excuse to stare at the ocean for a few hours.

We returned to our bee hives to welcome in our new arrivals to find that they have all buggered off. It appears that the accommodation was not up to their standards and they have gone to find a better class of hive. We don’t really blame them. It is decided that we will invest in new hives and provide refuge to a couple of homeless queens. Despite our ineptitude we remain aspiring apiarists.

San Pancho Sunset Photo credit: Larry Drogett

The sunsets continue to stun. The water has far less poo in it now the rains have stopped so oyster season is back. My son is due to arrive here in a week’s time. We have plans to drink less tequila, eat more oysters, kayak, surf and go fishing. Now the heat apathy is no longer an excuse there is an outside chance this may actually happen. Maybe.

Wonderful Poo free fresh oysters
  • Sasha


  • Jeannie Dettori

    Looking good folks – all systems go! The Rocky Road looks great, the oysters even better! Good luck with the bees – honey will be forthcoming sooner or later. They’ve probably flown home to their old abode!
    All the best for thanksgiving and here’s to a very happy christmas next month. Take care. Auntie. xxx


    Great to catch up with your life in the jungle. Always a good read and some excellent photos – love the pics of the food (how I would love a good roast beef dinner right now!) and the jungle creatures. Have you ever seen a jaguar on your land?
    (An oyster’s main purpose in this world is to cleanse the ocean by filtration. So I am not entirely convinced
    you aren’t still eating some “garbage” even out of poo season!)
    Would like to see pictures of the river rock road progress.

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