We have our small freezer full of devil fruit (nanas) and I am under some persuasive stress (nagging) to do something with them as there is an urgent requirement for more ice cream space. Thankfully a suitably qualified friend in Montreal had the genius idea of prison wine and I’m up for it. Wine making is an art and requires precision and skill. Prison wine requires none of that and it’s success is reliant on a good bucket and lot of luck. I boil up the offending fruit in a little sugar, limes, honey and raisins. It then cools down and ends up in the bucket with I suspect far too much yeast. The true prison method I am told is to add a slice of bread. I cover the brew with a loose lid and cloth and ignore for a few days. I can report that it currently smells bloody awful and tastes absolutely grotesque.
We found lamb in the back of a freezer section in a supermarket on special half price offer because it wasn’t goat. This is rather exciting and we decide to make great efforts to deliver the best jungle Sunday lamb dinner possible. I slow cook the lamb as roast vegetables and Yorkshire puddings are created followed by thick dark gravy. Yorkshire puds in the jungle is one of our finest achievements to date. Now as Yorkshire puddings are a gravy delivery systems we find out that a full lamb dinner is a red wine delivery system. Apparently it was a very memorable and delicious dinner. It ended up with a slightly tipsy (smashed) bunch of well fed folk in the pool. Lamb dinners give you hangovers. Who knew ?
We have had a number of days travelling to and from the delightfully surreal immigration office about an hour away from home in order to extend our temporary Mexican resident immigration status for another 3 years. The amount of fannying about is legendary. The administration for administration’s sake is astonishing. This place must produce forests of paper. Endless signatures. Online forms filled in to be printed a dozen times to allow for all the blue ink stamps to go somewhere. We are photographed and fingerprinted again just in case our faces and fingers have changed since last year. Compulsory waiting time is in days and weeks depending on the mood of the staff. Eventually, after some weeks of this, we arrive to deliver our final dozen signatures and are presented with our cards. Theoretically we don’t have to come back to this place until September 2021. Don’t believe that for a moment.
When in line (waiting in silence as is customary here) we see the effects of poorly communicated and complex administration. An old girl in her 70s with no Spanish has arrived back from seeing grandchildren in USA. She is retired and living here in Mexico. She has lost her temporary immigration card and wants it replaced. Without it she cannot get free medical services or apply for cell phone contracts, bank accounts and other day-to-day administrative things. It really is an essential for long term living here. On her way back from the USA the airline staff told everyone on the plane (no exceptions) to fill in the tourist immigration card and hand it in to officials as they arrived at the airport. Unbeknown to her, by doing this she has cancelled her temporary resident status and she must now go back to a Mexican embassy in the USA and start the torturous and expensive process all over again from the start. No exceptions. She is stunned and understandably distraught. This is not an uncommon story. No one really can understand all the rules and hoops of the immigration process (that change all the time) least of all airline staff. It is common for aircrew to insist on every passenger filling in forms that will cause serious issues down the line. We have a number of friends that have abandoned their immigration process in frustration. Easier for them to leave the country a couple of times a year and forgo any benefits of citizenship. Can’t blame them.
Aside from the immigration office there is another candidate for the honor of third circle of hell. The Telcel office. This is where great masses gather to wait for many hours to deal with their mobile phone issues. The floor is highly polished white tiles which show up every spec of muck. My first visit there directly from the jungle I left an impressive trail of muddy footprints. I stopped walking and found I was being followed closely by the angry cleaning lady with her wide footprint mop. As she was glaring at this particularly mucky gringo mud was dropping off me onto the floor in a pile. The queue behind me stared and tutted to add to my discomfort. We were then faced with desks full of clean cut, homogenous looking, highly made up, suited girls with limited training and teenage attitudes whose sole purpose in life is to make the process of having a mobile phone service unintelligible. You get a ticket and wait in line for maybe an hour or two to see which one of these girls gets to screw with you. If you don’t have a residence card your hours of waiting are for nothing. Even if it’s being renewed in immigration and you have a lovely photo of it on your phone. Even with a residence card the astonishing complexities which are applied to the most simple of processes test patience beyond male human endurance. Thankfully female endurance is sometimes a touch more resilient to bright red patronizing smiles, dark empty eyes and outright stupidity. After what seems like a week we leave with phones that work and a Wi-Fi box that gives us better service in the jungle at much lower cost than we had in UK. Having unlimited speedy quick Wi-Fi to offer guests and abuse ourselves is a great bonus. Almost worth the trauma. Theoretically we don’t have to return to this place until September 2020. I don’t believe it for a minute.
We have a breach in the water system. Despite the rain we have had, we now have two empty Tinacos so we set about refilling them so we can track down the leak. The water does not appear to be flowing from the pump so we measure current and check solar panels and our new check valve and all appears OK. We then decide to pull up the pump to see if there is an issue. The issue soon becomes clear. It’s an easy problem to diagnose. The pump has gone. Some twat has made off with it.
The well is close to our access road and the temptation to pinch an undefended pump was too much. It’s a 24v DC unit, which is absolutely useless to anyone but us so it’s not a good score. We need to re-enforce the well head, get our mate to bring a new pump from UK and get a good chain and lock on the thing. We have been too complacent. Good job we don’t have guests right now. Bloody bandits.
Our newest friends here have bought a beautiful house near by and we have a key to their spare rooms should we need them at any time. We stayed over last week after one too many tequilas and the next morning found a dead scorpion in the bed. It might have been our breath that killed it. Since that night our friend was stung four times in one go. Good immunity, a trip to the hospital and all is well. Another tequila fueled scorpion hunt with our black light and machete is planned. We were suitably sympathetic to his plight until our man calls us. He has been bitten by a vampire bat while sleeping in his house! The wound did not stop bleeding due to the anticoagulants in the bat’s saliva. A messy trip to the hospital later and a series of rabies shots are prescribed. Vampire bats are the primary carriers of rabies in the tropics. It’s a serious thing. Tens of thousands of cattle fall victim every season as well as a worrying number of people. We have made double extra sure our house is secure from bats. There is also a vaccine that we will investigate.
It’s a year to the day since we arrived in Mexico. We feel the need to mark the occasion so head out to a much recommended Thai restaurant about an hour away. There have been dreams of Pad Thai. We combine the trip with a visit to our favorite wood suppliers to price up the wood needed to rebuild the raised deck on the white house. It’s not cheap but achievable within budget if the rentals start coming in November. The Thai place, despite assurances on its website, is closed for the season. We have fasted all day so are not best pleased. Jayne’s disappointment at not taking down an immense Pad Thai is short lived as our favorite French place is open and nearby. We celebrate via the medium of outstanding food and wine.
We leave walking very slowly and contentedly with the memory of lobster tortallini and almond crusted red snapper with the lingering taste of the entire dessert menu. As we drag ourselves into the truck we notice the top of the palm trees bending and the sky darkening quickly. There should be at least an hour of light left so we take a chance and make a quick supermarket stop before heading back. At the check outs the clouds break and it chucks it down. We run to the truck but are already soaked. The slow drive down the bloody highway 200 keeps us wide-awake. The wipers are not quite fast enough and it’s suddenly dark. The high beam lights in our eyes and reflections from the wet road surface blind us. We make it to our road and across the first three arroyos that are all flowing. We are then faced with the front end of a lumber truck that has broken down blocking the road. It’s pitch black and the rain is coming down hard and fast. The lightening is close and bright and shows us the way. We brave it and help tow the truck to a less inconvenient spot. We break a ratchet strap in the process but end up using jumper cables as a tow rope and surprisingly that worked. The driver is grateful and we head for home. Arroyo number four which is fed directly from the mountains has other ideas. It’s a raging torrent and there is no chance of getting a truck across it. We back up and head back to town. We will blag a bed for the night and try again tomorrow. Arroyo number three has other ideas. Since we crossed it 20 minutes previously it has become deep and fast flowing. I’m already soaked so I wade out and all too soon end up in thick mud and water well up my legs with a very strong current trying its best to carry me off. I’m only a few feet from where I started . No chance of getting across that even by foot. We are stuck.
No let up in the rain at all so it’s going to be a long night. The truck is moved to higher ground. We are stupidly unprepared. No torch. No shoes. No real food. No blanket. We are in our “going out” lightest clothes which are soaked and stuck to us. Thankfully the air is still warm. Our stop at the supermarket included a bottle of wine and some rapidly melting ice cream. We sit in the truck cab and contemplate an ice cream and wine after dinner snack and then trying to sleep. We see torch beams coming from up stream. Only when the lights get right up to the window do we recognize our man and his wife. They too are soaked to the skin and like us they are trapped between the two arroyos. They jump in the back and we set off to investigate the situation. We all stand at arroyo four and survey the water lit up by the lightening and easily agree it’s way too dangerous to attempt to cross. We walk upstream and it just gets worse. Our man disappears downstream and we head back to the truck to get out of the rain. Some minutes later we see a torch on the opposite bank. Our slightly insane hero returns and guides us to a spot where the river widens and the water is less aggressive. He has attached a rope between two trees. We collect the essentials (melty ice cream) , abandon the truck and make the crossing one by one. The current is strong but the rope makes it safe enough. We are grateful that by chance we left the Polaris ATV at our man’s place on the bank in order to collect our truck he was borrowing. We load up, bid farewell and head for home. We easily make it across the first stream and then find the river next to our land is flowing strongly and has washed out big sections. The Polaris eats it up and delivers us home. The rain has reduced a little. We are not contorted half asleep in our truck cab. Never have we been happier to walk up those 17 steps, soaking wet, surrounded by fireflies and covered in melted ice cream.