Arriving back home even after just a few days away is a wonderful thing. Back to tranquility of the familiar jungle noises. We only have a few days before Jake, Rosy and Pablo leave so after very little discussion it is decided upon that this is the best excuse to have a jungle party. We set a date and start preparations.
We also discover to our glee that for the first time our newly beloved Lucha Libre wrestlers are performing in our town square. This is very exciting news. We are now fully blooded Lucha Libre fans and have masks which we are not afraid to use. This may in retrospect have been a miscalculation. We arrive in time to learn that the first fight was delayed an hour so we all file in to our local beer purveyor. Drinking with a wrestling mask on is not recommended by the way. We are fully lubricated for the first match and are ready for the action. So are about a hundred feral kids that are running about in wild packs screaming for blood. The fights are somewhat less realistic than the Mexico City pros but non the less entertaining. The kids become braver and take the event very seriously. Pablo and I are wearing our masks and Pablo certainly is looking very authentic. This somehow encourages a number of the smallest kids to take it upon themselves to attack. They launch into us with kicks and punches. We spot their parents who reluctantly remove them by the scruff of their necks and thank us. Apparently the whole event has over excited them to an uncontrollable frenzy and at least giving us a going over has calmed them down a bit. Happy we can help.
Huge hairy blokes are now leaping out the ring onto other large lumps of lycra and hitting the floor loudly. At this point gangs of slightly larger but non the less frenzied kids jump onto them putting the boot in. Parents have given up any hope of restoring order and look the other way while slugging tequila. The announcers are deeply stressed and quite sensibly predict there will soon be a squashed flat child to deal with. They loudly beg and plead with parents to intervene. Miserable drunken fathers are ushered by equally drunken mothers to shout at their unhearing and entirely delirious little thugs. It’s very amusing. The show goes on till it’s almost too dark to see the vast glittery costumes flying around. Pablo is slightly put off by the child violence but we retire back to the pub to seriously consider his career path.
Jake and Rosy and Pablo’s farewell party is well attended and a lot of fun. It’s tough as always to say goodbye to this lot as they head back to a Dublin bar, a London theatre and a muddy field somewhere that needs power. At some point in the evening the girls decided to introduce pink hair dye to selected gentleman. I was one of the lucky ones and ended up with a pink braid in the back of my hair for some days afterwards. Others were not so lucky., The large blob of pink randomly splodged somewhere on your head look takes some getting used to.
The construction of the highway has taken a break. There are still a few machines working now and again but the initial tear in the jungle is made and awaits the giants arriving at some point in the future to construct the bridges and make the space for the actual tarmac. Not looking forward to that. Wild life has been seriously disrupted. The birds have returned after doing a vanishing act when the machines moved in. The jaguar sanctuary has been placing night cameras around us to monitor activity as the road has already cut through their territory. After just a week they have identified ten separate jaguars. They have advised caution as they are recently displaced so probably not in the best of moods. They are indisputably top of the food chain around here and at least one of them is over 100kg. We have an early warning system as the local dogs are trained to protect the cattle and go wildly insane in the middle of the night when they smell one close enough.
Mausetrappe can’t exactly protect our land on her own so we decide to take on another jungle cat. Our friends have just rescued one from the jaws of a German Shepherd and are looking for a home for him. He is a particularly ugly black and white 6 weeks old feral kitten. We call him Gargoyle because his face would not look out of place on the corner of a church. He is very tiny at the moment and daft as a brush but we bring him home (via the pub) to see how long he can survive. Mausetrappe has initial reservations but the thing proves fearless and/or dumb as a rock and so after a few days of them literally running up the walls in order to noisily knock lumps out of each other they have settled down to a sustainable level of co-existence. Mausetrappe helpfully brought a large rat/mouse into the tree house for Gargoyle to play with. After two days of torturing the poor bugger I caught what was left and chucked it into the jungle. It’s a daily mix of irritation and entertainment.
My own most recent self-imposed task has been to replace a load of timber that is disintegrating on the tree house. I have had the wood to do this since our yoga deck project but the right amount of time and enthusiasm haven’t coincided since we became busy with guests and life. I take on replacing or mending all the many esthetic and structural bits on our stairs and front deck that had been nibbled away by bugs or the climate. This is a rare opportunity to do something by myself in my own way. I very much appreciate these moments. I pace myself while listening to BBC podcasts and slowly make satisfying progress. There will be many more of these projects ahead and I’m happy about that. Less laundry more carpentry.
We have been persuaded to meet up with a bunch of mates to introduce ourselves the very popular San Pancho sporting phenomenon that is pickle ball. There are a few pickle ball courts in the almost abandoned local Hacienda. The San Pancho Hacienda is a fairly fancy series of buildings that house some outstanding art pieces in a prime location near the beach. For reasons not quite disclosed there are no people. It’s residential buildings remain mostly unoccupied and the rooms full of sculptures and artwork are locked. It’s becoming tatty and run down which is a real shame. So in this rather odd but potentially beautiful location we smash a plastic ball over a net with bats. It certainly has the potential to be fun. It does not require the knee strength of tennis and there is not so much moving around as badminton so it’s a great leveler for those of all ages. An hour or so later I consider myself a natural, have mastered the game and can now take on the town’s finest pros for many hours of high stakes pickle ball. Not sure everyone is in agreement but what do they know.
Our jungle bar area has become an occasional venue for a gaggle of “us locals’ to meet up. We know a growing number of folks from a bunch of places that are making San Pancho their home. Some are buying land and others well into the process of building their own houses. Some committed to growing businesses here and others securing rental properties for their six months winter breaks and working out ways to make it longer. The girls are becoming very good at making plans that get us out of our day to day stuff and bring us all together. Apart from the occasional compulsory birthday drinking we have indulged in games nights, a murder mystery night, pool parties and some quite spectacular feeds. All great excuses to practice the art of tequila drinking while staying awake. I thought by now we would be better at that but alas my tolerance to the agave is as low as it ever was. I will bravely persevere.
We have met a slightly mad English chef who has been in Mexico for 18 years riding horses, cooking and being married to a Mexican wife. He runs a pop up restaurant nearby and his food is widely regarded as excellent. Pretty much every good chef I know is slightly or entirely mad so he meets the profile. He is inspired to create a unique menu inspired by ancient travellers in Mexico and serve it in the jungle, cooked over fire and with no plates. We are inspired by the lack of washing up required so we are in! We are sold out within a few days and make preparations. What I did not immediately grasp was the amount of work “no plates” involves. I spend countless hours digging clay to encase potatoes, cutting and polishing bamboo into serving dishes, cutting palm fronds and knock up another two large parota tables to construct a “pass”. By the time the night arrives I am knackered and hungry. Keeping the fires burning for eight exquisitely presented courses for twenty people proves a challenge so the night was a late one but on the whole went down rather well. Certainly lots of time to practice the art of drinking tequila and staying awake.
We are now in a post Semana Santa (Easter) end of season run down. Still have a fair amount of guests and friends visiting but bookings are tailing off and most of the wintering Canadians and Americans have used up their 6 month tourist visas and won’t return until well after the rains have gone. We are taking time to do things we want to do in our own time and space. That is a luxury we have missed. This brings a real sense of relief. A lot of what we want to do involves very little and an overdue peace has descended on our jungle home. We are spending entire days not going into town for water or laundry or supplies. There have even been the rare days when we have hardly left the tree house. Probably first time since we got here. We get to appreciate the space we have created and chose to reset and take a breath and just be.
Easter was best part of a month later than last year and came and went with much less drama than anticipated. We were all dreading another two solid weeks of annual madness. The beach was covered in tents but the crowds were considerably less. The mob arrived late in the week and left early. One of the local corner shops always stocks up with the popular Mexican beer choice Corona Light. It is fairly impossible to move around the shop as the stacks of tins is up to ceiling and covers most of the space not taken up with biscuits and nachos. Usually within the first week of Easter it’s all sold out. This year it is still impossible to move around the shop a week later. There will be a super sale on a truck load of Corona light cans and nachos very soon we predict.
We have Django the van back. Last seen on the side of the road with a half dead Englishman in it. We are slowly getting it ready to make a trip to the USA later in the year where we can clear out all the very useful stuff we have in The Growler (which has been our Burning man home for many years) and potentially sell it. There could be one last jaunt to Burning Man on the cards but we will see how that goes. Django is now significantly quieter as an entirely new exhaust system now replaces the rusted one we had which was full of holes. Who knew? The transmission system is new new and the engine purrs. Have some shocks on order and think we should be good to go. It’s only done 485 000 km so far and we have to try and break the half million.
So life has taken a turn here. It will be a number of months before we can expect to make any money out of rentals or dinners. Ironically, after 18 months of trying , we have finally managed to get our immigration cards that allow us to earn money here and pay tax. We really want to do things properly but the systems here make it near impossible without a degree in patience and knowledge of the very many beyond ridiculous and strangely secretive administration hurdles. Thankfully Jayne has both.
We expect our motivation to do more things will return in a few weeks. Our prime mission over the coming months is to get our place ready to host retreats. If we complete our kitchen project and make a few simple upgrades then we can promote yoga, bird watching, cooking, silent meditation or maybe even Lucha Libre retreats. This will certainly keep me busy till the rains stop. It is already getting hotter but I think we have a month or so left before it’s unbearable to push your body around.
There is an exciting new arrival in our not so distant future. We somehow persuaded/inspired a highly skilled metal work artist to create us a sculpture that will cover our well head. He has always wanted to create a turtle sculpture and we readily agreed. It will be hinged so we have access to the well but also lockable so others do not. The well is one of the first things you see as you enter through our gates so this will be a feature piece for us. We were called a few days ago to inspect progress so far. All that is required is a funky paint job and we are good to go! Can’t wait for our yet to be named new turtle mate to appear.