Sunday, 25 April 2010

Back Down Again

     Tomorrow is one of those days.....up early and heading south.   Nowadays, I just put the old Dynasty in drive and go back to sleep, because it knows where we are going.  Actually my grandfather had a pair of plow mules who would return on their own after being unhitched from almost anywhere on or off of the farm.   Their names were Ulysses and named because he wanted to restore those good names by thus naming two noble animals, to make up for the mis-use of the names by two Union generals of note.
     This morning I went through the routine of pre-qualifying the auto for what is called in Mexican legalese "temporary importation"....One needs to present a valid driver's license, a valid title and/or registration, a valid passport,  a valid immigration permit from the Secretaria de Gobernaci'on, and a credit card to pay for the permit.   Beforehand, I had to cancel my Mexican Passport, and the previous "importacio'n temporal", whose time was coming to an end to-day.
      It being Sunday morning...the slowest time in the week....the whole process took about 9 minutes.    Everyone was very efficient, very courteous.    "We thought you were leaving Mexico because you were turning in your Mexican Passport"....
      "No...I am a coward, but I am not going to let a bunch of cockroaches determine whether I turn left or right in life", I respond and then question,"Are you having a lot of people turn in their permits ahead of schedule?"
       "Three or four weeks ago, but things are more or less normal now.    As many coming in as going out and the ones turning in their Mexican visas are turning them in at the end of their term and most are re-newing like you."
        There were two young men processing their personal and vehicular documents for their trip to Oaxaca.....about three days drive to the south....who followed me in the procedure.    They were pleased to learn that Sunday morning is always the time to do any final and/or necessary paperwork at the Mexican side of the bridge...when possible.

       In any regard, the whole process, leaving Mission, going to the Reynosa - McAllen Bridge, turning in the old and taking out the new documentation, driving back into Texas and returning home to Mission took an hour and five minutes.    Perhaps a record for the past 20 years.   Much of this is because of the very advanced and funcional computer processing that is done now.   Interestingly, they have a record now of all my paperwork for the past 12 years, including each of my entries and exits from the country.    A little spooky....but I am sure the Americans have the same.

      These next couple of weeks will be devoted to a couple of minor repair jobs for the house and a full scale assault on the growies on the property.   We have people arriving during the second week of May and they have asked if they could extend their stay another four or five days.....Luckily, the other folks who had expressed an interest in coming down around the same time have decided to everything has worked out well.

     Tonight will be time to make a last trip to the HEB and to load up on goodies for the dogs and well as a few goodies for the Old Gringo.   I'll try to do a bit of a summary before departure tomorrow.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Just a Peek at the Rio Corona on Steroids

     A client sent me the picture I was too lazy to take.   We had gone down to the Rio Corona to see how it changes its personality after a prolonged period of heavy rains.     This is running what I would estimate at around 9,000 cfs while the normal flow would be around 600 cfs.   You can compare this picture with the others we have posted in the blog entry before last.

     It is necessary for me to confess that I become a bit accustomed to my surroundings and do not properly  invest my time to photograph and detail things that might be of interest to previous and future visitors.    These clients were fascinated with all this rushing mountain stream's roaring and rushing down to Lake Vicente Guerrero.    They were even interested in setting up a kayaking trip for the fall rainy season.    Because of the nature of submerged limbs and huge boulders, along with somewhat tricky rapids,  I always urge that people try a stretch during a bit less challenging times, and then come back during the full-flow moments.    These high water periods can last from 3 weeks to 2 months during the two annual rainy season.

More later
The Old Gringo  

Monday, 19 April 2010

Rain and Reconciliation

     For the past week or so, we have had what must be typified as "early on-set of the May-June-July rainy season".      Measured at the Quinta Tesoro de la Sierra Madre, I have recorded slightly more than 10 inches of rain during the past six days.    Areas to the West of us, along the face of the mountains, have picked up as much as 25 inches during heavy late afternoon and overnight thunderstorms.   The Rio Corona, pictured in the previous blogpost, has gone on about a five or six foot rise....all is suddenly exploding in a green and florid frenzy.

      That is the "Rain" part of the blog title today.   "Reconciliation" is the part that we finally have had to pull the trigger on pruning the damage caused by last December's hard freeze.    That meant taking off all the deadwood from the Royal Poncianas (6),   and much of the lower bouganvillas that were permanently damaged.    The literal mountains of limbs could easily fill a 2.5 ton truck twice.   We shall salvage a bit of the larger Royal Ponciana (Flamboyan) limbs for firewood, and burn the twigs and smaller limbs.

     The good news is that all of the bouganvillas, even the most damaged, are coming back....most are either fully recovered or well on the way to recovery.   The avocado tree at the corner of the house is flourishing, as are our guayaba and the other avacado down a ways from the house.

      We have been inundated, as well, with birds of every predictable description.     There are a few that have not been here least in terms of coming into my view.     We have a bunch of summer tanagers and a large number of tropical robins who have recently arrived.     What I believe to be the white-cheeked yellow warbler has shown up in considerable number.    I am coming to the opinion that this specie is polygamous, because it seems as if there is a brightly coloured male who constantly peeps "wheee...wheee...wheee," always three times.    There will be a delay of about thirty seconds between peeps, and as they move through there are three dowdy looking, probably females of the specie who generally accompany this male.   They do not say much, but rather collect small insects in the end branches of the mesquite, ebony, and other trees.
     Our mulberry is under almost continuous assault by everything from green jays to jackdaws and everything in between....especially in terms of medium-sized perching & songbirds.

     One of our most accomplished followers  e-mailed me several days ago to advise me that my grumbling about the owls whooping like a bunch of one note pan-flutes during the pre-dawn hours would probably stop after "territorial issues are resolved".   He was right.   I think there are a least seven new owl homes on and around the Quinta.

     Of a particularly somber note, the father of the owner of the Hacienda de la Vega, (situated adjacent to the Quinta),  died a little more than a week ago.  He had been dealing with Parkinson's for several years....and did well until about four months ago.   He was brought to the cemetery of the Ejido Francisco I. Madero which is about a quarter mile from the Quinta and the Hacienda de la Vega.   He and his three children were all born at the Hacienda and, of course, are quite a fixture in the sociology of the locale.
     The cemetery is quite rustic and disordered, as are most rural cemeteries in Northern Mexico.   But in the disorder there is a certain order, and records are actually quite good.   The Salazar crypt is, of course, one of the more elaborate and the graveside services, which followed the church funeral in Ciudad Victoria, were reserved and elegant.....literally a ton of "coronas" which are very elaborate round floral arrangements, some as much as six feet in diameter.    Rafael the son moderated a very short service and his son and nephew read and extemporized relatively short eulogies to their grandfather.    Very classy, reserved, and appropriate.     About 300 people attended, of whom about 250 were from the locale.   The church in Victoria had about 1,500 people for the funeral, I am given to understand, both by personal word and by pictures in the newspaper concerning the issue.
      Many people were invited to a tent-covered buffet reception in the front yard of the Hacienda de la Vega, and it was very pleasant.....sad, happy, and pleasant.   Rafael's mother, the widow, was visited by about 50 people there and she seemed tired but relieved.     Thankfully there was no useless wailing nor consumption of scores or hundreds of brandy and tequila and beer bottles while people cried, sang, or blubbered about a person whose personality changed immediately upon death from devil to saint.     That day is probably gone in Mexico, for the most part, thankfully.
      And in truth, Mr. Salazar the deceased was very certainly a kind and reserved gentleman.   He had a true Samaritan impulse and always treated me with something akin to reverence....I have no idea why.     One of his gifts to me early on in the life of the Quinta was an eight page, single spaced synopsis of the early times of the Hacienda de la Vega which explained its past and arrival to the terms of development, agricultural adaptations, and genealogy.   It was a very classy gift which I  continue to refer to as the days go by.

      Flowering of interest??    The wild olive (ananaquita) has covered much of northeastern Mexico with its intense white some places to thickly that it would seem from a near distance that one is seeing patches of 20 acres of snowpack.  The huisache is still coming out, but is somewhat past its prime.   Things are generally very presentable....really nice.

More later.
The Old Gringo

Friday, 2 April 2010

Some Recent Moments and Places


    Diana is a better photographer than I, and in all these years we have never really done the kind of photo-studies of the Quinta and immediately surrounding places that even our guests have done.   My problem is that I am too lazy, and Diana is not there frequently and long enough to invest the time necessary.    But we have a pretty good sample of the Quinta coming out of the very severe, prolonged Winter episode along with some better shots of the majesty of the surroundings.    The picture to the left shows the view to the West on a clear day.    The  ridge of the last horizon is about 10 miles away and the closest ridges are about 4 miles away. 

     Diana wanted me to take a picture of a basic poached eggs, bacon, and pancake breakfast, which could be part of an overall brunch or a simple early morning standard breakfast.....of course served with orange juice, coffee (or tea)....and other goodies.
      This was something I whipped up for Diana and it doesn't do a lot for trying to impress the guests.    Our visitors have a bit more falderah and formality, but nothing that would make anyone feel ill-at-ease.   By the way, the flower arrangement is Italian parsley, climbing pink roses, blood-red roses, Marilyn Monroe roses, orange blossoms, and common Mexican rosemary, all from within 35 feet of our front door.

To the left are the very rare blue shrimp plants during their first bloom since arriving in Mexico.  Already some of the local ladies from the ejido are making designs on asking me to make  an "apodo" (a plant cutting designed for repotting or planting).   We have scores of the more common yellows and reds, plus a few of the rare golden shrimp plants.

     And now, to the right is a shot of the Cypress lined banks of the Rio Corona - Santa Engracia immediately after coming out from a Winter's dormancy.   The Rio Corona is spring fed and has never been known in recorded history to have run dry.   This picture is taken about 200 yards from our famous "West-facing corridor". 
     The left shot shows the nature of these mighty, ancient trees, called Montezuma Cypress, or Bald Cypress because of the nature of the gnarled, extensive root system.    "Gnarly, dude !"
The river contains good numbers of perch, bass, and catfish....and, we must occasional crocodile.   It is also a place where a quiet observer can encounter three different sub-species of kingfisher, including the giant ring-necked, among the hundreds of species who call the Rio Corona their temporary or permanent home.

      Part of the economic activity of the area is certainly the citrus industry, and this picture shows the second (afternoon) crew organizing for departure to harvest various of the orchards in the nearby area between Barretal and Santa Engracia.    There are probably 100,000 acres of good to excellent quality citrus fruit produced here, and the employment rendered by these operations probably represents 30% of the income of working-class locals.
       These are a few of the scenes around the Quinta during these days of recovery from the Winter.   We shall probably be posting a few more such pictures and explanations in the next few days.
Once again, thanks for you time and attention.
The Old Gringo