UK Surf & Stings - La Colina Project
Jungle Journal

UK Surf & Stings

It’s been five months since we first arrived from Manchester airport and only four months since we bought the land and started this project. All things converge and conspire to humble, surprise and delight us in equal measure pretty much every day. We have had, as expected, a hectic January with many comings and some goings. February is bidding fair to be equally mental.

Jayne’s parents arrived middle of January to join her sister and they have all been dutifully deployed ever since. They drove all the way down from Calgary pulling a tent trailer packed with all the stuff Jayne left at their house before she left on her motorbike 4 years ago. Our house now has posh cups and plates. All the notably jankier bits and pieces have been replaced with things from Jayne’s time in her flat in London. Proper upgrade.

For the past few weeks there has been much cleaning and fixing and creating delivered with great enthusiasm and skill. They head on the long road home again next week in time for us to have a couple of precious essential days of space to ourselves to restore our aching sanity and make plans for our next influx.

We get a sudden instant booking for the jungle cabin. She arrives the very next day. We kick out the current tenant (Jayne’s sister). Much busyness cleaning and making good all the things. Gas is plumbed and sheets are laundered and floors are swept. Cushions are sewn and counter tops are lined and lights are hung. We await the arrival of the girl from Bristol. She doesn’t show up. Much confusion until we check and discover the booking is for next month.  Not the best start at hosting… Anyway the place is in good shape for our next lot of visitors arriving the next day.

   

We acquire a number of outdoor tables and chairs from town. They are much needed but are bright red and coca-cola branded . We de-brand them & deploy cans of Copper and a CP3-0 gold spray paint . Works rather acceptably. They are much used.

Jayne’s brother, who she shared her motorbike adventure with, arrives with his girlfriend and insanely cute one-year-old daughter SnakeJaguar. I will leave the story of how she got such a kick arse cool name to Jayne. I’m sure she will get the time and energy to blog soon.

 

There is a strange legacy that is manifest on our land from an experiment to introduce citrus fruit to this area. In the 70’s the Mexican president who had great affection for San Pancho (and his mistress who lived there) made a deal with a large Japanese company to introduce orange , lime and lemon trees to the area. At the time the local crops were predominantly Mango and Palm Oil. The Japanese built a series of warehouses that still exist (now community centers) and started growing citrus trees. What happened in those warehouses is not fully explained but things got a little mixed up. The result is that we have trees here that bear strange fruit. Oranges that taste and look lemony. Lemons that look like limes. Limes that give lemon juice. There are advantages. A slice of orangey-lemon-lime in a gin and tonic works a treat.

As the Swiss family Davidson contingent here expands further we are also joined by an Aussie couple on the same motorbike journey Jayne took with her brother. Alaska to Argentina via La Colina. Both are engineers. He is a civil engineer and she is clearly an uncivil one. Poor sods park their bikes and are dropped right in the thick of it.

Our solar frame needs concreting in at exactly the right angle of the dangle for the maximum photon catching efficiency. The ground on which it sits is at a different angle in all directions. The frame itself has legs at 3.6M to 2.6M all of which need to be dropped into accurately placed holes of different sizes and secured permanently at an angle of 17 degrees to the sun. All this and leave enough room underneath to hang hammocks in the shade.   They agree to take this on and create sums, drawings, formula and numbers, string lines and marks. We bring in our concrete guy who now has the whole plan translated for him. Chances are this might just maybe work out OK. Perhaps.

 

Our Romanian friend arrives in the night. He lives in Switzerland. We have known him for many years from the Nowhere Festival in Spain. He brings me Slivovitz in a plastic water bottle smuggled from Eastern Europe. This stuff is an extraordinarily efficient plum brandy that has been known to considerably shorten many of my favorite days (in a good way). I’m saving most of it for when there is a smaller more appropriate audience. He delivers Swiss Chocolate to an excited Jayne and pitches his tent. We spend some good days balancing work and sunsets. He and our Aussie bikers are inspired to dig up a mountain of rocks behind the cabin and create an outdoor en-suite toilet area that we designed but hadn’t quite got around to building yet. Looks fab and will make staying there a whole heap easier.

Our concrete guy is still finishing the concrete floor of which we are now unable to speak about without making a bad face. It’s taken a huge amount of time and money and stomach lining to get it this far. It’s level and brownish but we are over it. So very over it. Our man spends 3 days cleaning the thing and sealing it to make the best of what we have. Stairs are reinstalled and we move on.

Photo: John Curley
Photo John Curley.

Concrete man’s wife is very grateful that we have taken her man on. She has a number of his ten or eleven children (he is not sure how many he has) and so any income is greatly appreciated. News is that she has been making cookies and edible Mexican delights for us for days. She arrives with some of the kids and delivers boxes of cream, strawberry, pineapple & chocolate treats. She and the kids stay a few days on the land happily sleeping on the shelves in the battery house (cell). We count 15 people living on our land tonight.

Photo John Curley.

Excitement. We find out that one of my favorite photographers ever has arrived in San Pancho. We have met a few times briefly at Burning Man so I make contact and agree that he and his girlfriend visit us here. He is retired now and looking around for further adventure. We spend a great day inspiring each other and I have a spot of hero worship as he brings out the camera and starts capturing what we see everyday with his unique eye. This blog includes many of his photos. If it’s a good one it’s almost certainly one of his. Going to see a great deal of each other in the future. Good news.

Photo John Curley.

I spoke to my Dad on the phone. Good to talk to him. Afterwards I make a sudden and important decision to take a flight home. The week in the UK was stunning for a number of reasons. The first was the January cold that came as a considerable shock to my now soft and timid constitution. My furriest and warmest of bikinis are no match for January in the UK. My clothes that we put aside to cope with such an eventuality are packed in a hurry and I soon discover they are 50% mould. I do not smell the best.

I am collected from airport in Manchester and after an essential top up of Guinness for breakfast I’m deposited with an especially naughty friend who I have arranged to cut my hair. I have been cutting it myself and I think I’ve done a great job. She does not agree. I am told that I stink and must immediately have a bath and only then will she mend my head. My first bath of the year. Absolute bliss.

I have a few  jet lagged happy days in Darlington. I visit  my house, which is rented out, to prepare for new tenants and collect essentially important things we did not have space for first time around. These things end up being lots of art, some shoes and a hat. I notice that my love and attachment to my old home in Darlington has faded. It holds all the memories and still a load of our stuff but now is just a house.

Really good catching up with so many proper friends in such a short time. I visit my brother, my nieces and my folks and go to my first ever funeral. I stay with my daughter and more proper friends before heading home. I have two new mould free shirts that were hurriedly bought for me while I  was in the pub as the mouldy look apparently just wasn’t cutting it. My poor mother has spent many hours removing every last spore from all my remaining things. I have managed to squeeze in a further two baths and my suitcases are full to burst with my full luggage allowance of art, shoes, a hat, Yorkshire Gold Tea, Marmite, Strong Cheese and HP sauce. I’m sorted.

 

It is somewhat interesting to note that I do not feel that I have been home for a visit. I feel that I left home on a visit. After only 4 months here that is a surprise.

Home again and straight back to it. I am immediately in a Materiales buying lengths of steel to strengthen the solar frame. I arrive back to see Jayne’s brother carrying a lump of metal across a field onto our land. I have gatecrashed a project to raise the water pump solar panel up high on a gate post. One of the bigger jobs on our list. The old solar frames in the neighbouring land have been taken down, dragged away and recycled into something that will work. Task achieved and tested. We have a functioning water pump and we now don’t fall over the solar panel propped up against a rock.

 

Jayne’s brother and clan are leaving for a few days down the coast. Back for one day later this week. While I was away the truck broke again and he thankfully fixed it. We now have a hand brake and the gearshift sort of works. Result. The truck is now officially called “Limonada”. When life gives you a lemon ….

 

Couple of friends arrive from Calgary for a week in the jungle cabin. They are also engineers. They also are dropped right in it as they arrive. The solar panels were concreted in nearly correctly. The nearly bit is costing us a heap of cash in additional leveling bits to fit the panels. The solar panels are now in the battery house (cell) where our concrete guy is no longer. They require a perfectly flat space to land on. Our frame has one leg two inches too high and that is not good enough. Our new engineers and I set about cross bracing what is there and repainting it to look as sexy as we can. We also repurpose some 25 feet lengths of water pipe we found in the jungle and plan to trench through the rocky ground to create conduits linking the frame with the battery house (cell). Solar panels will be launched in just a few days time.

The casitas are coming along really well. The BrickS*House is plumbed in with a shower and sink on it’s way. That whole area is going to be stunning. The casitas are rustico but rather pretty. Their shaggy drying out roof fringes overhang the palm bark walls and large mosquito screen windows. The views are beautiful. A new walkway through the jungle from the BrickS*House area to the front gate has been cut. We will build composting areas here next week. We have met some new friends from Oregon who have just moved down here who get what we do and are keen to help. Not sure they will love us so much after digging rocks out of a composting hole for some hours. There is a phenomenon here that whenever you dig a hole 2 feet deep you get 10 feet of rocks out of it. Magic.

  

Had a surf this morning in Sayulita with Jayne’s brother. So good for my mind and soul and perfectly timed. I’ve been living at such a pace that taking the time waiting for waves and feeling the ocean again was a real gift. We both caught a few good rides. I arrive home irritatingly self satisfied. That did not last long.

We decide to suit up and burn some cow poo and go collect honey from the hives. We go back to the source of the bees to collect more hive parts, pollen traps and other beekeeping useful things. I am, this time,  all in white and armed with cow poo smoke and a real head cage. I approach the hives confidently even after being warned by our man that the bees were feeling “brave” today. Brave indeed they were. Each of the very many tiny black grip-dots on my whitish gloves had a bee on in in full attack mode. I am stung a dozen times on each hand in no time at all. It hurts. I bugger off.

I make it back to the pool and remove my head cage and soak my swelling hands in the water. I take a breath and watch Jayne and her sister both suited up in pro-bee suits walking past me and both covered in bees. The bees are not getting through the suits and decide I am a much easier target and attack. I am instantly surrounded and stung countless times. They are in my hair and my head is getting very sore. I move for the smoke but this just pisses them off and they go for me again. I make it up the hill in a smokey cloud of poo and bees and into the house quickly. Inside I find sanctuary behind the mesh doors. I remove the remaining bees from sleeves and hair. I take an anti-histamine, reach for the Mezcal and declare no further interest in honey. They can keep it.

My son Jake arrives from Dublin with his mighty girlfriend and a grand mate very soon and we are preparing as best we can for that. The diary is getting packed. Our modest little cabin has a number of Airbnb bookings now, and we have a fairly continuous stream of visitors booked through to April. We will be adding three casitas and the apartment onto our Airbnb portfolio very very soon so that will make for extra fun and games juggling friends and paying and non paying guests. This is what we have created so there is no moaning about it that anyone wants to listen to. It’s a touch overwhelming but it will be good moving into the guts of a tourist season to see how we fair. We have a lot to learn .

Photo John Curley

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Beave

10 COMMENTS
  • Liz T
    Reply

    Good read!
    You guys are making great progress. I hope you are using a laundry service in town for all your sheets and towels. I know my own Airbnb business here with just 3 properties just about did me in!
    Keep up the great work.
    Liz and Remy

  • Pat Nicholson
    Reply

    Big luv Beave.!!

    Wonderful story thisfar. Xoxo

  • SHIPPO
    Reply

    love ,peace and happiness

  • Rebecca
    Reply

    Such a lot of work! Hats off to you, your families, friends and guests. I reckon you’re getting there with building your community.

  • Gitta
    Reply

    Dears, I am grinning form ear to ear while following your adventures closely – and your blogs about it even more ;-). It makes me just a little, tiny bit sad that we decided to have our camper-van sabbatical just in Europe this year and do not pass the big lake. But hey, you never know where we’ll end up. Plans can change and we do even more often. I definitely come and visit you some day, even if I cannot be of any help anymore by then. Sending you lots of love, strength, humor and anti-bee-sting-meds and hugs. So proud to know you guys. Cheers! <3

  • Simone
    Reply

    YOU GUYS. Way to make progress. I’m following closely (of course) and am just happy to read that you didn’t majorly injure yourself again in this episode, Beave. What are a few bee stings, right? 😉 So excited for you two though, and hope to make it down next Fall/Winter for a visit. Lots of love. xox

  • Dingo
    Reply

    Love you guys! Keep up the great posts. Wish I could come down and contribute but know I am sending moral support from the North.

  • Ian & sian
    Reply

    HP Sauce its what the kids want..good man! Sorry we missed you, eddy’s fault..
    Next time brother. X

  • Aaron
    Reply

    Been reading your blog avidly since it started up, I love how you guys just roll with it 🙂

  • Jeannie Dettori
    Reply

    Interesting read. I guess the bees just don’t like you Beave . Stuff happens! – We want everyone to love us, but it just ain’t so. – However, onwards and upwards, looks like the project has welcomed a lot of helping hands, it’s looking great! Picturesque. – Fascinating!

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