Our return to Mexico from Burning Man goes pretty much to plan. We spend two blissful weeks being thoroughly anti-social and busy ourselves doing absolutely bugger all. The growing list of jobs, tasks and projects can just wait.
In our absence the rainy season has delivered significantly less rain than expected. A lot less. The jungle is alive and every colour of vibrant green. We can see it growing in front of our eyes but it’s a bit of a worry that the rivers are stubbornly dry. The flashing displays of the fireflies entertain us every night but there are a few million less of them this year. They are attracted by the water that isn’t there. If nothing dramatic happens there is the real possibility that the town well will run dry disruptively early next year.
We notice a very large Copomo has fallen too close to our main solar panels. If it had drifted twenty feet on its way down it would have demolished them. It’s a full size 150 foot tree. It’s a stunningly huge. It has taken out a few fruit trees and now lies on the river border of our land where our fence used to be. It’s an impressive amount of wood. The trunk is too broad for even my extra-long chain saw. Copomo is not useful for construction as it degrades relatively quickly. It does burn well so is mostly used for cooking. We will have to wait for this massive lump of tree to slowly break down or organise an epic cook out.
The first of the significant hurricanes is due. We have had a few good rains but only short lived. Nothing to worry about. The rivers still aren’t flowing for longer than it takes the, still easily passable, roads to dry out and that’s not long. We spend a few days in preparation. We share satellite images of Lidia’s predicted path. The threat is somewhat increased as she moves closer. We are now expecting a full on category 4 with thirty foot waves and hundred and twenty kmph winds.
There is little else to be done. We are as waterproof as we can be and we just have to wait and see what a few decent gusts of wind can do to us.
A great assistance in maintaining my sanity and connection with the world is the Rugby World Cup in France. Time differences are not too disruptive with games at 9 am and 1 pm. Our beach front bar has been nagged and hounded for months to show every match while ignoring the American tourists who turn up insisting on watching their precious “football” games. Many weeks of epic battles ahead. Wales appear to have found their bollocks and are looking well. Springboks and All Blacks are waiting should we progress (so nothing much to worry about!). It is nostalgic to remember my youth when I endured many hours of bleeding in frozen mud and biting winds while buried in scrums and mauls to deliver a ball over a line. It was, and remains, very important.
Slowly our usual suspects start to return to Mexico from their Summer excursions North. The last few months there has been little open in town, so those few of us that have chosen to remain bump into each other all the time. Whenever we meet up we all agree that the damp heat is ridiculous and we crave a cool ocean and the odd breeze. We now prepare for the oncoming season when the town and beach fills with hordes of transient tourists and snowbirds.
The hurricane is upon us. At the last moment the warm jungle air that reaches out to sea has diverted her a little South. At one point it was predicted to hit us fully in the face. We stock up with last minute fuel and supplies and wait. The rain starts at sunset but not as much as we might expect. The issue for us, surrounded by so many huge trees, is the wind gusts. We listen nervously. The canopy is blown around noisily. The Copomos sway ominously and gracefully. It’s dark until our world becomes instantly bright as lightening hits close by followed by earth shaking thunder. And then we hear it.
There are a number of tell tale sounds when a tree is coming down. Often there are loud explosive bursts like gun fire or fireworks as the trunk splinters, followed by a low deep cracking noise and then eventually the crunch as it hits other trees and branches before the ground. What we heard was a highly speeded up version. We hear the crack and crash very quick, loud and close. We instinctively hold on tight and close to the concrete pillars in the house. After a few moments we are confident we are not currently being crushed and look outside. The Bodega is still standing.
I grab a torch (“flashlight” to you North Americans) and head out to survey the situation. I am very enthusiastically discouraged from going outside but I have to check if there is a Copomo with our name on it. The gusts are moving the elegantly tall trees a bit too much to the left and an uncomfortable amount to the right. It becomes obvious quickly that the landscape has changed. The limited light from my torch picks out a number of substantial trunks lying right next to the Bodega. There are now a great deal of new shadows obscuring our view to the arroyo.
The biggest, oldest and tallest Copomo, that we have been using as base for our compost, has finally given up to a gust of wind. It’s fully uprooted and now stretches out all the way to the arroyo. This was another ancient beast previously over 150 feet tall. On the way down it has taken a number of others. They are somehow all neatly piled next to each other. The closest missed the Bodega by inches. By midnight the winds are gone and the rain gentle. We are once again amazingly fortunate.
The following morning is blessed with slightly cooler air with the welcome smells of freshly smashed jungle and petrichor. The rivers are still not flowing. I spend an hour or so clearing the paths but can find no further damage. The roads are somehow better. The empty rivers aren’t cutting trenches and removing dirt so the rain water has helpfully created localized mud that has filled in a few holes. Could have been a heap worse.
We are without internet for the next five days. A new cell tower has been built in town that services the whole area except for us. The old tower on which we still rely on has now been dramatically relegated or often forgotten in the service/repair schedules. We call it the sugar lump. If there is a drop of rain then it’s done for.
We cannot rely on sugar lump anymore. In order to ensure WIFI we need to invest in a satellite system. This is, as always, not simple. We tried one out that was loaned to us. Because of our canopy (lack of sky) it wasn’t able to cope. Our plan is to pick a tree and acquire a long pole and a brave soul who can climb up and install it for us. Our mate turns up with his drone and launches it above the trees. According to the altimeter we will need to get the dish at least 100 feet up to stand a chance.
I am walking over our land to check the water, avoiding the Golden Orb spider webs and macheting the new growth. There is something different that I can’t quite work out till I look up. The huge Copomo that is no longer up has left behind it a massive amount of sky. Brand new gorgeous sky and lots of it. This one single tree accounted for a great deal of shade. The total area of sky above our panels is now about a third bigger. This explains why we are noticing that the solar panels are converting photons surprisingly well. There are loads more of them!
On returning to the house I look above the Bodega where the downed trees were and again find a new large blue patch where once there was none. The sun floods through the windows in the morning for the first time. The big old Copomo that fell we estimate to be over 150 years old. The last time light hit this bit of jungle floor was over a hundred years ago. It will transform the place. We might even get some sun hungry fruit trees going.
We have finally acquired a satellite internet device and a long heavy pole to attach it to. After much research a number of stand-off brackets have been created that we can screw to our chosen tree with lag bolts. This is the considered wisdom to keep our Copomo happy with the procedure. The trunk will accept the lag bolts as new branches and not push them out. Amazingly we have found a bunch of absolute lunatics that have accepted the challenge of installing the thing.
We can’t help but be uncomfortable as the over confident boys rope up and start climbing. We follow their progress nervously until they vanish into the high branches. Eventually the pole assembly is hauled up higher than we can see from the ground. It takes a number of excruciating hours and some very questionable Tarzan moves but somehow the dish is clear of the canopy, the pole is secured and the cable connected.
Internet signal floods downwards. Lots and lots of it. Twenty times more than we have ever had before. Jayne is ecstatic. It means that she no longer has to dash into town to borrow signal when ours drops out in the middle of a meeting. No more will our sugar lump connection be lost for days due to a bit of rain. This is very good news. And more remarkably, no one died.
Halloween and Day of the Dead arrive. We celebrate Halloween with a party to christen a newly constructed pool at our friends’ condo complex and a competitive fancy dress beach party. There is a great deal of effort put into both costume and cocktails. The horse won. Day of the Dead is a marked in Puerto Vallarta by an enormous world record 24 Meter (78 feet) Catrina statue that dominates the Malecon. In San Pancho it’s a quieter affair. We create our own traditional alter in the trees to invite my Dad to join us. It’s emotional as always.
There are strong and tempting rumours of a very discrete gathering of creative nonsense somewhere around the Nevada/California area. Should such an impressively secret event actually exist, consciously outside the pseudo-reality that is social media and unspoken of by participants, then it would certainly tickle our curiosity but be very tough to write about.
If it was a option to be personally invited and sponsored to allow us to learn more then, theoretically, we would have to fly to Reno and stay with friends for a few days and then travel to an unadvertised venue, should such a venue exist. The timing of such a trip would mean we could possibly be in an area where the weather would test our soft warm tender slow cooked Mexican bodies. Should I decide, for reasons unknown, to wear a kilt for three days straight in minus 8 degrees, for example, essential bits of me might go into shock, change shape and texture. Perhaps.
If we were to imagine such a place it may involve many rooms filled with creations from boundless and varied imaginations designed to challenge and delight thousands of possible people. A snarky AI driven Furby Octopus could exist to bitch and argue with you. A room that takes the colour out of your existence would be unlikely but not impossible. There may be talk of bizarrely complex adventures driven by anonymous phone messages. A psychedelic clown cabaret show could be a thing. Entertaining elevator and gate shifts might coexist amongst DJs and extraordinary art. There could be a highly engineered ski lift ride through tantalising and almost unbelievable landscapes existing behind a gentle tea room. There is an outside chance that there could exist rooms of roses, music , bodies, eyes and ice. Or not. This could all be a figment of our delusions or a secret never to be told. I really couldn’t say.