The farm in San Felipe del Agua where we are living grows several types of maguey cacti used in the production of mezcal. The guy who owns the place has a factory on the other end of town where he distills mezcal as well as whisky made from local heirloom black, red and white corn. During our tenure on the farm we have learned all about the process of making liquor and sampled some as well. Good stuff. In my rough estimation, the farm looks to be about ten acres and has a few camp sites and couple small houses dotting the property. There are some dogs, including one missing part of its hind leg named La Maquina because her owner thought that when she walked, she looked like a train. She is a little camera shy and a bit ornery, so I don’t have photo of her. I wouldn’t want you to get the wrong impression. There are also some super nice French Canadian folks who have travelled all over Latin America in their camper van, another couple from Oregon who regularly drive a Volkswagen Westfalia camper van down to Mexico. This has inspired me to start angling for a camper van as a second vehicle, but I’ll settle for a second-hand camper shell for the back of our pickup truck.
We continue to receive conflicting accounts about when the rainy season will begin again in southern Mexico. In the present, all of the jacaranda blooms have faded and fallen to the ground where they wait to be carved up and carried off by leagues of leaf cutter ants. Paths where people and dogs regularly walk wind their way through the dry brown grass across the farm’s acreage. While ambling around the property, I noticed that the lack of rain has produced a largely analogous color scheme of brown, yellow, green and blue. A cloudless sky allows the sun to heat up the landscape during the day, while the temperatures hover around the low 40s at night.
Our place is a two-room converted horse stable with a tin roof. At night, the wind rushes under the two-inch gap between the doors and the threshold. I jammed some cardboard under the doors in a futile attempt to keep the wind and spiders outside. Yesterday we scored a wool blanket from our landlord and don’t have to sleep in our jeans and jackets anymore. We have semi-reliable Internet access if you go outside. Since both of our laptops are hindered by bum batteries, we usually drag and extension cord into the yard and are able glean a signal from the router situated a few acres away. We also have a concrete sink with a washboard molded into the bottom of it on the side of the house. Doing laundry by hand not only saves a ton of pesos, but it gives me something to do other than plow through free Kindle books like Moby Dick and Crime and Punishment.
Last week, I tried to get some photos of the colorful birds that live here by sticking corn flakes to cactus thorns and silently waiting behind some shrubbery with a long lens. It didn’t work. The only birds I saw were a few vultures circling overhead. I wondered if they were under the impression that I was dead since I hadn’t moved for quite some time. Today, I’m warming myself in the sun wearing my stiff and crunchy line-dried clothes and dreading the hike up to the store to tote back 20-liter jugs of drinking water. Today might be the day I have to make good on that promise of winging a rock at the street dogs who regularly accost us and other pedestrians. I’m making this sound a lot more rustic than it actually is in an effort to boost my Mexico travel cred. It’s actually the greatest rental we’ve ever lived in Mexico and Rad has gotten a ton of research and writing done. I’m living it up on the paltry spousal allowance that is part of his research grant. I’ll keep everyone posted on the bird photos. I’m thinking of trying Ritz crackers instead of corn flakes on top of the cacti. I hope you enjoy the photos I have so far. They took two hours to upload.