So the effect of no 4×4 truck is to persuade Django (our lovely 2×4 van) to take us further than it wants to go. We compromise and park her at our mans ranch which is a little more than half way home. From there we walk.
The plan is to buy only easy to carry things and arrive home before dark. We are not good at this and arrive at the ranch , in the dark with , amongst many other things , a queen size mattress and 80 litres of paint .
Puerta Vallarta ( PV) is in a separate time zone to us. Or should be. Mexico decided that this was inconvenient as large amounts of hungover Gringos did not factor this in and missed their flights. This was solved in a flurry of official stamps and signatures . San Pancho and Sayalita were declared on the same time zone at Puerta Vallarta by the Mexican government. 30 mins up the road the other way the time changes as per traditional International “guidelines” and geography.
We forgot about the clocks changing and arrived home an hour late in the dark. No excuse for the shopping.
We decide to blag a lift with all our stuff the next day and set off home in the dark being fully aware of snakes . There has been sightings of two large snakes on the road between the ranch and our house. It’s OK as we have protective open toe sandals and the light of our one good iPhone. Snakes are our number one thought for nearly a whole minute. As we leave the light and follow the path fire flies are lighting our way. Not just the odd one or two but thousands of them. By the time we reach the creek+ that borders our land there are swirls and waves of them. It’s dizzying and overwhelming. We sit down and try and take it all in. This is one of the most stunning sights I have ever witnessed.
Did not know how many kids were in San Pancho till today. Halloween brings them all on the streets to impress with their dressing up efforts and fill themselves with sugar. Hundreds of sugar crazed spider-bat-witch-frog-zombies. The town itself is almost fully alive now. Renovations in final stages and new old places opening daily. So much more choice to spend your peso. The tourists are coming.
Day of The Dead is a family affair in San Pancho. The locals spend a few days in the graveyard partying with their departed. If grandad loved cards then there is a poker game. If granny was a dancer then there is dancing. There is a somber candle lit procession of girls all immaculately made up as the iconic Katrina character . It’s a spiritual affair. Almost but not entirely unlike the opening scene of a certain bond movie. We have missed our good friends 50th Birthday in Manchester which was Dia De Los Muertos themed. Photos look epic. Skype failed us or she would have had a Mariachi Band play happy birthday from the beach. It’s the thought that counts right ?
Jobs at home are appearing fast. After moving our house tenaco to the other side ( of the hill ) we use the water from the creek+ to fill it & hose down the shower block and bodega. The effect of this is to reveal what will be a rather funky jungle apartment …. Eventually. Previously an aged artist chap who lives even further out somewhere painted on the entire apartment exterior. It is a 360 degree mural depicting night and day in the jungle with plants and trees and butterflies and birds. Now I am all about the art but this never quite made the good list for me. It took a lot of work I can see that but does look like a stage set of the Jungle Book made for a junior school production. The water had removed sections of bird and plant. Time for a change.
We drive too far and spend far too long buying exactly the right shade and hue of paint . We chose a subtle semi-matt terracotta bloom for our entire exterior and get a ton of boring white for the inside. It’s an early morning start to avoid the sun and I take to the bodega armed with brush and intension.
Jayne would like to help but has been stung many times in many places by flying hornet terrorists. She is not in a good way with crawlingly itchy inflammed wounds and being pretty effectively poisoned. We have anti-scorpion bite strength anti-hystamines and Mezcal. If she makes it through the day she has agreed to see a doctor.
Some more rustic locals use scorpion bites as medicine. When the flu is setting in they deliberately get themselves stung to liven the immune system. Hornet stings are good for arthritis we are informed. Jayne is unconvinced but large areas of her neck and arms do appear arthritis free.
There is now a substantial chunk of semi-matt terracotta bloom on the shower block . A lesser chuck on the bodega apartment. I rehydrate by sitting in the creek+ and review the situation. The shower block looks orange. The bodega apartment has a wall with very distinctive birds and plants covered in a non-opaque orange wash. I decide to cover all depictions of beasts and plants with a white undercoat before deploying the orange… semi-matt terracotta bloom . After too much sun and not enough cold beer I have it all covered. I sit in the reviewing position and accept a delivery of just the right amount of cold beer from my poisoned invalid who is slightly conscious. . We both look at the very orange shower block and the now beautifully clean white Bodega apartment. White it is then…… We now have a disturbingly large supply of orange paint.
+We have had a river that became a stream but it is now certainly a creek. Soon it will be a creek bed.
There is a growing dark patch of what looks like fungus on the trunk of the tree outside the bodega. I am warned away from it so have to go and look. The patch on ill advised close inspection is hundreds of caterpillars that excrete noxious stuff and must be avoided. You can’t tell till you are too close.
“Mackino” is coming . It has been foretold since we arrived but now it is coming. The wise ones have declaerd the rainy season over and our road needs to be fixed. Our van wants to come home. It’s a real beast of a Mackino. It tears up tonnes of earth and shifts rocks from road and river bed and arrives out side our place. It rips us a new road right in front of our eyes. It then drives onto the land making a driveway as it goes. A very large area of brush and sharp things are removed and a brand new area of our land appears. Somehow it has danced around the new lime tree that is uncovered. We now have lime, avocado , papaya, lychee, mango and passion fruit trees all waiting for us to water them enough to fruit . No pressure. Mackino is to return and forge us a roadway & parking for van and truck next to our house. We love Mackino !
The new road is really awful, quite terrible in fact . For us , however, it is a delight. All those lovely janky rocks are in different places and it has taken a good minute off our transit time to town. Better than this is the fact the Django can get to our house. For the first time ! I no longer have to carry too much stuff from the ranch in the dark ( yes that has become a regular thing ).
Truck lives. It has taken a while. Jesus the mechanic performed his miracle despite much faffing about and we now have two vehicles out here. There is more to be fixed and we have arranged a constant supply of parts from USA through a new friend who flys there and back regularly to his restaurant in Colorado with extra luggage space. He’s our new best friend probably. Over time we can get a whole Toyota shipped down in 50 Ib lumps.
Coco-nuts are not what they seem. Coco de Agua is how they call the Bounty Bar ones we all know and have an opinion on. What was new to me was the popularity of Coco Nuts. We have an endless supply out here. They are small and tough and after much work reveal a thin layer of soft orange flesh that tastes unsurprisingly like coconut but with an added exotic flavour I can not yet best describe. Kids love em.
Now there have been some incidents that have been sent to test our resolve. One of which I am still bemused by. Our kitchen space with beautifully fitted new sink just needed a coat of polyurethane to seal the wood surfaces. All kicheny things were temporarily balanced on chairs and tables and a new varnish coat was applied . Now we realise that a humid tree house is not the best environment to dry anything. We really do understand that to be true.. however. It’s been over a week now of sharing our space with kitchen stuff. The surfaces in our kitchen are distinctly sticky. Just sticky enough to glue anything we leave on them in place. We have decide to find it amusing rather than stickily frustrating. We are convinced that if we give the stated 4 hour drying time another week or two all will be well. We will have a worktop with the history of the past few weeks glued to it and we will one day get our chairs and table back.
Good news today is that we will not run out of water. Quite a major thing. There was an issue. The old guy who owned the land above us where the waterfalls are died last year. The current caretaker decided last week to fence off the waterfalls, remove everyones water lines and refuse to provide water or access to the falls unless she is paid. She is the wife of another older guy who died due to a fall at the waterfalls recently. It’s all very strange and a bit of a worry. The waterfalls are gorgeous , a local attraction and are right next to us. They also provide year around water to all of us around here which is especially important during very dry months. Much land in Mexico is actually owned by the Ejido tribe which keeps the land in trust for the people of Mexico. One of the many reasons you need so much legal advice when you buy land here. Lots of folk think they own land here. Thankfully this is such a case. The Ejido tribe have ruled the waterfalls belong to the people and can’t be owned or commercialised. Relief.
Now the most magic sought after wood around here is Parota. Our house is pretty much made of it. It resists all that nature throws at it , brushes off termites and mould and rot. When something is made of Parota it lasts and costs. During the storm a huge old Parota fell in the river closest to town. A local company bought it immediately from the ranchers who owned the land and set about it with chain saws. All the offcuts mysteriously disappear every night. A few mysterious offcuts have appeared in my house this morning with the full family crew. I help carry massively heavy lumps of Parota up all the steps avoiding our new seedling plantation usefully located on them. Add a chainsaw , a hammer and a handful of industrial nails and we have a new four poster Parota bed to house our new mattress. Let it dry out for a month or two and we will stain it to match the house. We promised that we would not compromise on a decent bed. We have achieved no compromise at very little cost. Not one item from Home Depot ++ either. Great result .
++ We have boycotted Home Depot and Walmart in PV who both offer overpriced everything in exchange for “a gringo friendly environment.” We have found them not only expensive but fairly useless and so our mission to support local business is not only a much more human, practical and friendly experience but saves us a load of cash too.
It’s full moon and 3 am and the jungle is lit with a moony glow and my laptop. Insects are singing more softly tonight. Maustrappe is on my shoulder purring like a well fuelled generator. Moonlight picks out the climbing vanilla next to the balcony and a patch of dormant orchids . It’s a peaceful place. I am relaxed and motivated . Good job. I’ve six windows to build today.