My Dad, Alan, has come to visit us in the jungle for three weeks. He’s been reading my blogs since I started blogging in 2012 and decided a couple of days ago to write one for La Colina Project. I hope you enjoy the new perspective of my Dad’s very first blog.
I decided to come to Mexico to check out what Jayne and Beave are really doing here…as it sounded like quite an adventurous project, and indeed it is and then some.
I packed a picnic cooler with 20 kg of goodies for them including light bulbs, a soldering gun, a watt meter with a whole bunch of wires, plastic cards for direction signs, and a can of shingle nails to nail them up, and two quart jars of special fix-it lube for their truck to solve it’s transmission and differential problems (plus other tools, etc.). I was concerned all the way down on Westjet that somehow some security person seeing this on an xray machine may think this is suspicious. We left Calgary ok and on time, and landed early. The cooler was there… but I couldn’t find the carry on bag that I graciously let Westjet put underneath, as the plane was full and they asked for volunteers to put carry-ons under to free up overhead bin space. Turns out that a guy at the end of the belt in the airport was just taking off random bags including mine to save room on the belt, and it was hidden in with other luggage.
Customs then asked me where I was going, and then said push the red button. Turns out this button is a lottery to decide if your luggage will be searched by xray and hand, or give you a green light to walk out. Mine was green, so the cooler made it through without a hand search.
Then they asked me for the cart holding all my stuff before I got out to the main lobby, meaning dragging the other two cases as I struggled with the cooler… just around the corner, I thought there would be Jayne and Beave to assist… but not to be. Traffic from home had delayed them, and they showed up ten minutes later, all big smiles.
Their blue and white van was just across the street in the parking lot, and Jayne had the parking ticket for exit in her hand as they helped me load my luggage in the back, and gave me the seat of honour in the front. We get to the exit of the parking lot, and the ticket has disappeared. After some discussion with the parking attendant by an overheated looking daughter, he says he will not lower the price of what appears enormous in Pesos, but is only about twenty times the parking rate. Jayne backs up the van, and the search is on for the ticket. After 5 minutes, the ticket magically appears by my luggage, but now the machine beeps and won’t let us out. Turns out too long was taken looking for the ticket, and an additional charge is due for more parking time. Frustrating.
The ride up to La Colina was an interesting one, through a big city, country towns, and finally some two lane paved road with just trees, and massive traffic on the road. We then arrived in San Francisco, which the locals call San Pancho, and decide to go in and eat before it gets dark. We then sat in a bar on the beach and saw the last of the sunset, and a main street lined with many restaurants and other small tourist trap shops. Jayne sorts me out with a Mexican SIM for my phone that costs one quarter of what Rogers roaming would cost me for my stay here, and top-ups of internet are cheaper too.
The road to La Colina is from that point a real adventure in itself, and of course at night is just a tunnel of folliage and ragged barbed wire fencing with very rough dirt road with some larger stones, and four or five fords across various bits of creeks. There are a couple of random street lights in the middle of nowhere near the end of the power lines, just over half way, and several houses in the distance with the odd light. We arrive at the bottom of the property, and I am escorted into my new home for the next three weeks, which looks like an old Gypsy trailer from the outside, and a well worn, freshly painted RV on the inside with a double bed, and a table and benches that can eventually become a single bed once some cushions are fabricated. I am told the stairs to the yellow door have just been fabricated Rustico in my honour. Look like chain saw cut logs. The accommodation is quite comfy, and I am glad I brought my newly bought Red Lantern.
The whole of the land is on the side of a hill, with part of it then wrapping over top of a ridge. A small bit is sort of a clearing, which a couple of days later magically gets cleared using machetes to make a large open area where the solar panels on order will be located. There are trees everywhere, with small clearings around the buildings.
Since the whole place has been unused for 4 years, and subject to vandals removing anything of perceived value, and leaving large messes, and a jungle doing its best to reclaim what used to be nice buildings and walking paths through it… and even the area around the buildings, great amounts of brush clearing have happened by the three Mexicans hired from down the road who have accomplished an amazing amount in five weeks….along with a lot of work by Jayne and Beave.
Amazingly, not everything of value has been removed, and some of the infrastructure still remains hidden, like a giant puzzle. I have already been following mystery pipes and wires using a dowsing pipe, and will be doing more in subsequent days.
The Treehouse that Jayne and Beave are living in is majestically up on the side of a steep hill, with the swimming pool some 15 meters down and 50 meters away, near the edge of the property. The pool is in amazingly good shape, but needs some more troubleshooting to fix some piping before the pool pump will run and filter water. The water is amazingly clear, but cool.
The Treehouse is a single large room with the magnificent homemade bed with mosquito net screening like a sultan. They have given me similar netting in the Gypsy cottage, but the mozzies are not very vicious at the moment and only appear occasionally.
The main deficiency is that there are no permanent lights, and J&B have been living like the middle ages with candle light and flashlight head lamps, and tiny fairy lights left over from some past burning man festival. They brought some solar lights that do not work. They marvelled at the amount of light from the Coleman lantern.
We immediately started talking of putting in electric lighting… and I bring out my package of a dozen LED light bulbs I bought for 50 cents each at Rona, as they were subsidized by the Alberta Government last month to the tune of $3 per bulb. I am told that wiring is a priority while I am here, and we subsequently spend three hours of our Saturday afternoon at an Electrical parts supplier deciphering Mexican ways of wiring, and come up with enough bits to wire to almost Canadian standards, which is higher than the Mexicans… I marvel as I walk along the town streets and see many electrical cables and boxes that are totally installed to be practical but not up to our Canadian standards.
We now have a plan, and hopefully in a couple of days will have some permanent lights in the Treehouse, which will be for now powered by the generator, but later on by the solar panels.
We lucked out and the Electrical supplier had a 10 percent sale on everything for Revolution Day weekend, and also had some additional specials on some neat little hot water demand heaters at about $70 Canadian dollars each. Jayne is thrilled, cause she wants hot water showers. So in the end, three are purchased… two for La Colina, and one for me to take home to put in the garage, or at the Scout Camp. Once the required bits to pipe one in are in hand, the Treehouse may have hot water later this week.
We discuss ways of attracting possible guests for the facilities here, and Bird watching, and Geocaching are mentioned. There are many birds here. In Canada I listen to CBC radio in the early morning. Here, it is a collage of many birds, and other creatures creating a dull hum in the night, with the occasional larger noise. There is a continuous shedding going on in the forest… with crashes of larger palm fronds, and other bits. I comment: I don’t want to be standing under one. I also think I hear small creatures wandering outside, but not sure. There are dogs on the next farm that are very loud from the Treehouse, along with the farmer yelling at his cows.
The geocaching discussion continues with thinking if our family created 81 caches in the area… one each of every possible difficulty and terrain, that some cachers would be attracted to find them all…. and perhaps stay here. Heather replies that we would have to cheat on terrain…but I don’t think so… there are many steep treacherous slopes here that could be rated 5 out of 5 with no question by any finder. In fact, J&B insisted that a rope be installed on the hill behind the Treehouse to the water tanks on top of the hill so one has something to hang onto while going up there.
We have been for several meals in San Pancho, all very tasty, and J&B are greeted many times by servers they know, or other locals they have met. It is a very friendly atmosphere, and there is no sense of threat from the Mexicans…or the tourists, of which we meet many also.
Yesterday we parked in San Pancho with the truck, just recovered from the mechanics clutches. Across the street there was a black flashy ford, with a number of Americans, turns out from Houston Texas. They have this car from a friend, and the keys have been taken swimming… the electronics in the battery operated key now scrambled enough to not start the car, but only activate flashing lights, horn, etc. to which no one in the area are even looking at. The American girl asks for a boost. Jayne gets out Jumper cables, and hails down a car, so she does not have to move the truck and lose the parking spot, which is convenient on this busy Sunday evening. The car is boosted, but the Ford does not want to burst into life. The key corruption is stopping it starting. Monday is Revolution Day, a holiday… so good luck finding someone to sort out this car soon. I noticed it is still there on Monday.
Jayne says she feels safe here… apparently in these established tourist areas, there is not much gang activity, as the whole Mexican economy depends on the tourists.
The tragedy of the day is I have lost my camera, with all of my photos. Fortunately I do have some on Beave’s computer as I gave him a copy of most of them I have taken since I have been here. Hopefully it will show up, as I took some great photos at sundown on the beach last night.
I have been in discussion for some time with Jayne about the possibility of putting in some local internet dishes to move internet from San Pancho, via an intermediate house on a hill, to here. Good news is I can see the house in question from the hill behind the tree house. We await confirmation of the rest of the plan. So the saga continues, and it is an interesting exercise. I can see why things take a while to sort out here.
Jayne and I walked the road up the back side of property to the adjacent waterfalls. Another road with fords across creeks. The waterfalls are quite magnificent and totally undeveloped, with water coming across a width of about two meters. There are a couple of hoses there that feed water to several local farms, and now parts of La Colina has water from there also. Apparently this is the only local water source that is available year round. Like many jungle areas, there are two seasons in the year: rainy, and hot and dry. We are just nicely into the hot and dry, and thus the tourists are arriving.
Today is Revolution day, and we went into town and had waffles after watching a street parade with local children doing various gymnastics… diving through a fiery hoop onto a mattress, and climbing one each other making a human pyramid. There were a few horses at the end, and a band. We came back and decided it is too hot to install electrical plugs, so I am now writing this blog, trying to help Heather in Calgary sort out her phone, and eventually make a phone call that works to Linda who is with our granddaughter Rochelle and mom Kelly in Vancouver for a week. Generally the weather has been tolerable, but it is indeed getting a bit warm in the afternoons.
I have to watch what I touch. Beave is constantly getting bites, and bits. He has had three ticks or more land on him since I have been here and the card type tick remover I brought down from MEC has worked well. We haven’t tried the tweezers with the little hooks on the end yet. I just moved a couple of pipes outside without gloves and something on the second one created a deep burning sensation on my finger. The dirt just seems to collect under fingernails from nowhere.
Anyway, we are having a great time and I have been able to help with some projects… Two more weeks in the jungle to go.