La Belle Verte
It’s dark. Once again I’m on the balcony watching the fire flies and the lightening close in anticipating the rain. Through the window I see Mausetrappe chasing something around the floor. It catches my attention as it’s not clear or obvious what it is. It looks like some fair size bug with its wings bitten off. This I decide is the most likely but it is moving unusually fast and acrobatically. Not surprising because the cat looks intent on eating the thing. The escapee jumps in the air and hides under the fridge. Mausetrappe looks away for an instant and it leaps out and lands at my feet. Taking a closer look I am properly freaked out to see something twitchy and unidentifiable with no eyes, legs, wings or features. It’s a disembodied tail. It is winding the cat up magnificently. I check the corners of the room to see from whence it came. I catch sight of a snake and chase it out the house via the shower but it looks intact. Tail fully attached. I then spot the cat trying to pry a tail-less gecko from its hiding place where it is proudly and safely watching events. I catch him and release him. His unbelievably animated tail sacrifice saved him. Since this incident I have tried to save a couple of geckos from the cat and seen them dispatch their tails at close quarters. The gecko speeds off and leaves their tail to break dance and summersault wildly. Best distraction ever. Smart nature but proper weird and not a little creepy!
We have put out the word with a local butcher for a lamb. Rumors are amuck that such a thing exists and that we can buy a whole one for a very reasonable amount of pesos. Lamb chops, melty shanks, Sunday slow cook leg, roast shoulder…. in our future. We wait for the call from the man who knows the man who knows the lamb. We wait. Eventually we have the offer. A man will deliver to the man who will deliver to the butcher who will deliver to us a goat. It’s the same as a lamb in Birria right? Birria is a dark red highly spiced hang over stew/soup of long cooked meat available to nourish the dehydrated and sweat excess tequila from the body for breakfast every Sunday. No one can quite understand that we want to eat lamb when there is perfectly good goat available. The word is still out…. We wait.
We are completely swamped with enquiries from locals, internationals and gringos alike wanting our help with all sorts of buying, building, selling and renting adventures. Our makeshift office in the pub has been fully occupied for the last few days. We are sorta kinda relived the pub is now shut for the next three weeks. Tequila & bad karaoke and complicated Mexican legal procedures do not mix perfectly. Our first “corporate” day out involved much ale, pizza and a flat tyre. It’s a good start we think.
There is a good scattering of strange fruit on the ground that is attracting pretty much everything. Two large trees are shedding them in great numbers. The butterflies cling to them and drink the juice as they sweat in the heat. The jungle floor is alive with a multitude of butterfly wings of all patterns and a slightly fruity smell. We are surrounded by colour as they take flight around us. The ants and wasps eat the yellow flesh in no time and leave the orange stones. I have taken to using the side of my machete as a bat and hitting the stones at pre determined targets (usually a tree branch or a chicken). It’s a simple pleasure but my accuracy now is much improved. It has been suggested by the locals that the yellow fruit we can’t identify is some sort of sweet fig. I am unsure of that but we have asked a number of very nature savvy people who shrug and suggest it’s another local freaky hybrid.
Protecting turtles is a huge issue for Nayarit and the entire Pacific Coast of Mexico. Turtles have nested here for many thousands of years and thankfully the government take their well being very seriously. We heard tell of a local poacher who was caught with 300 eggs and sentenced to seven years imprisonment. He was up for release recently and faced the judge again with 6 months to go to be informed that he still had to pay a fine. 100 000 pesos for each 100 eggs. As you have to pay for your own blankets and food in Mexican prisons and his wife had left him and sold everything while he was inside he was unable to pay. He is not attracting much sympathy so may be inside for a long time yet. The police have just conducted a raid on our beaches here to catch more poachers. We were invited to assist but there is a law that only Mexican citizens can be “official turtle protectors” and the police were in serious mood so we gave it a miss. Last night at 2 am there was a nest of 110 eggs saved and two poachers chased through the hills. The big result of the night was that a local “turtle protection officer” was found to be in league with the poachers. There is a tradition that he will suffer the wroth of the community he has deceived by being taken to a remote spot and beaten with wooden sticks before the law get to throw him in prison. You don’t mess with turtles in our town.
We are looking ahead to dryer days and deciding what to create next. There are two structures we haven’t touched on our land as we ran out of time and cash. The scorpion temple and the white house. The large white house is likely to be our forthcoming focus. We will wait for the rains to blow themselves out when they eventually come and then make a plan. The roof trusses are in place and in good shape so that just needs a cover of some sort. All the floorboards and supports are termite food so they need to be completely replaced. The shower and toilet block are solid so a new window or two, taps, shower head, paint and some spit and polish should make it a splendid prospect. The view from that spot is over the treetops of the protected jungle and is one of our best. We expect to have created a multi-function space for a yoga/bird watching platform and an open air bedroom overlooking the canopy in about 6-8 weeks from the start point. There is a little creative vision required. Looking forward to starting this process as soon as I can work outside for more than 10 minutes at a time without passing out.
Pineapples are appearing everywhere. It’s one of the many pineapple seasons locally. Our man has been working in the local fields planting maize and picking pineapples. Our current method of production is to save all the pineapple tops we use and dry them, soaking them and replanting them. He has however acquired us a large number of fruit and pre-rooted well-established bases from the fields . I spend time creating space in the green landscape and planting them out along with the half dozen heads we still have rooting in pots of water all over the house. In about a years time we will have heaps of them. We know that pineapples require a seriously worrying amount of chemicals and water to grow commercially but we will deploy organic methods. More learning required. It will be worth it as our house currently has a very healthy fresh pineapple smell, which is a great deal better than damp flip-flops and moldy pants.
Jayne does something remarkable. She gets out of bed and gets dressed without violence or injury before 8 am. We have been invited to meet our man at a local farmstead and milk the cows. We are in need of a reliable source of fresh milk and so we present ourselves. Two bleary eyed gringos watching rancheros do their thing. Our “help” is an event in itself. Jayne realizes that a milkmaid she is not. The cow stubbornly holds onto its milk and the teat delivers but the tiniest dribble to the bucket. Our man takes over and extracts about half a pint a squeeze! I give it a go and soon realize the hand strength required. I’m told not to pull but squeeze hard. Our cow has her rear legs tied together so I don’t get kicked so I am over confident. I manage a steady stream of high froth and then quickly relegated to the bench while our man takes over. Life is too short to watch a gringo milk a cow. The kicker comes with the tradition of breakfast from the milking stool. Large cups are filled with spoonfuls of Choco-milk powder and heavy pours of good tequila. We then take turns to milk the cow directly into the cup which now overflows with warm, sweet, frothy Choco-tequila. It’s surprisingly delicious and filling and effective. Great way to let the day begin.
We had an unexpected flush of guests in August which was welcome. This we found to be partly due to the Mexican four week school holidays which have just finished. We have learned, however, that we have to improve our information, especially in Spanish. Despite being as clear as we thought we could be about what to expect from an AirBnB booking and managing guests’ expectations (this is not a 5 star resort in the jungle) it is becoming obvious that a lot of folk just don’t bother reading it. Minimum requirements to book with us are that everyone accepts that we are off grid, in the jungle, a few km from the beach down a country road and that we don’t use water in the toilets. This comes as a great surprise to a few guests when they arrive late, in high heel shoes, with no torch in their town car wanting the wi-fi code and horrified by the thought of crapping in a bucket. There was a family of five adults stayed with us for two nights who couldn’t bring themselves to use the facilities even once. Empty buckets! We have been advised that due to our excellent feedback since March we are “superhosts” with AirBnB and we want to keep that up. It’s great for business and we don’t want to spoil it by attracting the wrong people for our place. We know it’s extraordinary & unique to stay here and almost everyone who stays here agrees so we have added a few extra pictures of poo buckets on our AirBnB site to scare off some of the potentially squeamish sorts.
Some of our newest arrivals have been attracted by the overgrowth. A donkey, a mule and a horse go into a jungle bar and decide to stay. The three free range souls arrived with us a week ago and seem to like it here. They don’t appear to be missed by anyone and they are keeping the greenery slightly less overwhelming. And overwhelming it is. Despite much machete work the green stuff, beautiful as it is, keeps coming. We can’t see our house now from the road. Anything left out and within range has vines and branches quickly reaching out to embrace it.
The past few nights we have had some encouraging and spectacular storms. More rain fell in the past few days than in the past few weeks. For a tantalizingly short time we had two out of five rivers flowing. The one past our house and the big one from the mountains. Its been enough to wash out the river beds . I have spent days moving rocks and filling in roads and maintaining our water diversion trenches. Despite all efforts access to us is now by 4×4 only.
By November the rains & humidity will be on their way out. Surf will be amazing, the bars and restaurants will reopen (pretty much everything is closed now) and life will return to San Pancho. We will then reappear, ragged from our damp, hot jungle slightly stir crazy to lower the tone somewhat.