Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Weather Damage Report from the Quinta

     Our mayordomo, Alvaro, just called to say that the bouganvillas are already showing new growth, at the tips of their branches, which is a good sign.     It means that the damage brought on by temperatures that plunged into the mid and low twenties last week did not deal a mortal blow to the twenty six bouganvillas we have perimeterizing upper and middle zones of our property. 
     Add to that the fact that the avocado is acting as if it had known no cold, as well as the powder-puff plant, the halaconia, the guayaba, and even the mango in the land "down under", that is closer to the Rio Corona's banks.

      Alvaro is a bit grumpy, because I have been dithering and dallying up here too long.   He is a complex man who wears many hats.   Among other things he has control of about 55  acres of sugar cane near a growing area adjacent to a town named Xicotencatl (hee koe TEHN kaet), about 70 miles on further south from our Quinta.   His mother lives in the town of about 20,000 people which is anchored by heavy agriculture, sugar cane, and the sugar cane processing plant, which is marked by its towering industrial chimney, visible for miles in the area. 
      Xicotencatl is situated on the first flat areas away from the Sierra Madre Oriental and directly east of, and  on latitude with,  the Biosphere of El Cielo, the environmental preserve noted for being the northernmost tropical cloud forest in the Americas.   It is a mystical and charming place....perhaps now over-studied, over-visited, and over-developed in many ways.....but it remains an interesting place with many nooks, crannies, and wondrous natural blessings.

     In any regard, Alvaro is one of four brothers and five sisters, all of whom survived birth and childhood.    They are all industrious and capacitated people with a work ethic that borders upon severe neurosis.   Alvaro,  for instance is a competent or even  master plumber, painter, concrete worker, cook, electrician, gardener, public relations specialist, carpenter, agriculturist, public water-system administrator (with license), among various other things.   He is also painfully honest, and cares for my cash better than I, myself.
     He is a short and slight man, primarily caucasian...Portuguese in appearance, with a square face, very pale skin and hazel eyes, and cheeks that turn ruddy after prolonged contact with the sun.   When not working, he can be seen strutting about in full cowboy regalia....nice, relatively expensive boots, hat, belt & buckle, dress shirt, and trousers or Levi's.

     Our neighbour, the owner of the Hacienda de la Vega next door and adjacent to the Quinta Tesoro de la Sierra Madre, points out that Alvaro is the best overseer in the Valley of the Rio Corona.   Also, he notes, that Alvaro is so jealous of anything moving around the Quinta the he sometimes becomes jealous of his own shadow.   I should note, quickly, that the Hacendado of the Hacienda de la Vega might be a bit jealous himself of the fact the Alvaro is associated with us and not with him.     This said, Alvaro imposes upon his counterpart Ciro (the mayordomo of the Hacienda de la Vega) for favours and renders favours readily when asked or needed by Ciro or the owners of the Hacienda de la Vega.
      The Quinta, and more especially the Hacienda de la Vega rather much anchor the "upper case" for the Ejido Francisco I. Madero.   And they form part of the "upper case" in the entire area of the zone around the Hacienda de Santa Engracia....about a mile to the east of our places.     Near the Hacienda de Santa Engracia there is another cluster of "upper case" people, including a couple of descendents from the last days of grandeur of said Hacienda.

     Mexico obsesses about "equality" and "democracy" in much of its official and public discourse.   But, in many ways it is, and I think always will be, more or less British in the notion that some people are born to one social position and others are born to another.   Like the girl from San Pedro de Garza Garcia, the ultra-wealthy city adjacent to Monterrey, said one time,"If it were not for me, 'they' would have no one to wait on"....
      Even as I make that old, stilted observation of part of the Mexican sociological construct, it should be pointed out that people on the lower end of the totem pole do have considerable recourse in administrative law and that the system of justice has gradually and grudgingly become more resistent to impunity in legal matters as it relates to the upper class .
     Oddities about this sociological situation is that people cannot come to your door if you are a member of what is passively, but rigidly, determined by the general populace to be of the "upper  case".     Such people are not really referred to as "blue bloods", "upper-class", Hacendados (hacienda owners, which can be a perjorative if said a certain way), or Privilejiados (privileged).     It is just known that there are certain places where one must knock or announce oneself at the gate, or the entrance to the property,  and  never the front door to the house.
      This is pointed out here, because Alvaro, much more so than I, is rigid in his enforcement of this unwritten cultural rule of the area.    In rural areas, this is still the rule through most of Northern Mexico to this day.

           In any regard, Alvaro....whom I always address as "Sargento Mayor"(Sergeant Major)...   has given us a report that, barring another serious cold outbreak, might mean that we can look forward to a healthy recovery from the shock of the first two weeks of January.     He is also hinting that he thinks we might need to "extend" the concrete post and wire-mesh fence that he began last summer along our eastern boundary with the adjoining landowner.   This would mean a couple of months of mixing cement and essentially hand-building nice concrete posts.    The above picture gives the viewer an idea of what a semi-dynamic duo looks like.   I am the "semi"  and Alvaro is the "dynamic".      Below, the reader will find Alvaro at work on the concrete posts during the summer of 2010.

       Here one can appreciate Alvaro's handiwork, making concrete posts up from scratch.    This was done during the Summer of 2009, pretty much singlehandedly.    This speaks to the point that any home situation for a Gringo in Mexico really should have a confidable, capacitated local individual who essentially adopts the well-being of the Gringo and his people as though they are his own.