Thursday, 27 May 2010

Another day, Another peso

      Made it back yesterday.   One Army checkpoint (2 minutes) and another checkpoint, this one Naval Infantry up on the north side of San Fernando (2 minutes).    The Army checkpoint has been around for a while.   At first it was fairly informal, although a serious, military style operation.  Over the years it has become much more heavily fortified, staffed, and professionalized.
    The Naval Infantry stop was more extemporaneous, with old tyres stacked high marking machine gun emplacements.   The stacks were covered with camouflage ribbons and manned with very serious and well-trained personnel.    The location is a vital intersection  where the by-pass of San Fernando adjuncts with the "business route" into the middle of the city, which lies about 3 miles further down the road.
     As is usual, I received correct and professional treatment.  

     The drive up was also accompanied by rain...some moderate and some very heavy....the  Brownsville NWS cumulative radar total showed that my route had received from 2 to 6 inches during the time I was driving it.    It is that time of year.    The sorghum crop throughout Tamaulipas State is almost incomprehensible....I would never had dreamed 25 years ago that the land where the production now takes place would have ever served for anything more than herding bony cattle.   I do not believe that this rain will serve to hurt the harvest.    Almost all the crop is headed, however, and it would probably be best for the heavy rains to hold off until after harvest.

     In a bit, I shall return to offer a few more observations and comments.  Right now, however, it is necessary to prepare for tomorrow's run up to Central Texas.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Preparing for Return to the Quinta

     The time is returning for the time to be returning.    After a good visit with important people in my life....compere, son-in-law, son, daughter, granddaughters, et. al. and driving up and back to Central Texas for a three-day, two-night whirlwind trip.....the time has come to buy a few goodies and head back down briefly.
      It will be necessary to balance several issues....possible federal jury duty, a return in about 8 days to Central Texas to take our son to the airport in Austin for his trip to Barcelona, Spain for the summer....and, of course, to celebrate our daughter's birthday.    Then,  we have clients coming down for a fairly lengthy stay in a few days.   This visit by clients will require that all be perfect, because once again, I shall not be there for the entire period of their stay.
     When this is stated, it is hoped that my readers can see how much Alvaro is valued by us.   The clients who have been with us before, especially on several stays, regard Alvaro as their something more than just a mayordomo who "has the keys".    They are aware that I am not casting them off to their fate or fortune.   These, as most of our clients, are people who are very accustomed to travel abroad....especially Mexico....and they are largely self-sufficient and self-entertaining.     They genuinely arrive looking for bird-picture and butterfly-picture opportunities,  and a chance to do some other types of nature photography....and to drink beer and relax.

     So, that said, my job is to receive the folks, stay with them for a few days, and make sure that Alvaro has everything necessary and that the larder is laden.    All that will be done, and I say with a bit of humility, it will be done well. 

More later,
The Old Gringo

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Butterflies and Other Matters

     Among our small successes during this period of emergence from a really bad freeze last December is the coming out of the "Blue Mist" plant.   This is a low growing weedy, viney, and tangling plant that produces a small, pin-cushion like blue flower which is irresistible to Monarch Butterflies.    Just off the south end of the corridor we have a patch....about 30 square feet..... of very dense Blue Mist in full bloom at this time.    Although impressive and rewarding, I was somewhat grumpy about the fact that the Monarchs had not seen fit to advantage themselves of our efforts to accommodate them.
      Finally, about a week ago, three Monarchs came at around 10:00 am to check out the patch.   Then the next day there were six or seven and so forth, until finally, on the morning before my return to Texas we had a pretty fair convention going on....perhaps as many as 500 of the migratory insects.    These particular ones are probably the first generation  returning batch coming up from Michoacan where their parents spent the Winter.
     For a while I was thinking that there would be few, if any, because Angangeo, Michoacan and all the area around was hit by huge rains and floods this past Winter and the fear was, as always, that weather issues would somehow have disastrous effect upon the Monarchs.   About five years ago the problem was a series of heavy snows in Michoacan.   Each time there is any such event, the Envirotrons swagger out to say that George Bush has finally gotten his wish to destroy all living things, especially (...enter species of animal or plant....) and we shall no longer have any more Monarch Butterflies due to American Greed and Consumption which causes  (...enter one or more of the following as appropriate....Global Warming....New Ice Age...China Syndrome....Ozone Hole Destruction....Nuclear Winter....Planet Exhaustion....Spring Creep.....Oceanic Coastal Inundation....or, of course, my favourite..... All of the Above).

     The birds are doing well and there have been a few that could not be identified as of yet....probably accidental or itinerant invaders.   I shall do a bit of research to figure out who they are and report such information later.

     We have had those joyous 50 degree mornings followed by 90 degree afternoons followed by pleasantly cool evenings that make our location so bracing.    Our clients were astounded at the fact that, with the temperature changes and the adobe construction,  that they really didn't have to use the air-conditioner in their room.  

More later,
The Old Gringo

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Hello Again, My Friend

     Came in best and quickest time perhaps ever.   Four hours and eight minutes from the Quinta Tesoro de la Sierra Madre up to the door of our place in Mission.   Very windy and very warm.   There were no lines at the usual places....the main military checkpoint mid-way between Cd. Victoria and Reynosa....which has become a mainly permanent fixture during the last 15 years or so...had no line and there was essentially no line at the Pharr - Reynosa Bridge.   The new bypass connecting the incoming southern highway to Reynosa directly to the Pharr - Reynosa Bridge is un-officially open, so it took me a grand total of 12 minutes to make it to the bridge, although the bypass takes 0ff about 5 miles south of Reynosa.... it's a real time saver... no 'topes'....even a special lane for "light vehicles" once arriving at the federal installations at the bridge.

     I am still a bit bear with me.   We have had people at the Quinta and during the episode Alvaro was away in his stomping grounds down south in Xicotencatl.    My task is to go up to the Austin area and be present at my granddaugther's debut as a now Alvaro will take care of the folks who are at the Quinta.   They extended their stay and are pretty much self-reliant, but I really need to have either Alvaro or me present on-site.    My recurrent fear is that the clients will have a tank-filling problem with the toilet and thereby exhaust all the water in the cistern....and then that there will be a two or three day breakdown in water delivery.   If Alvaro and/or I are there, we can discern by "sounds" like pump-whirring, or toilet-gurgling that something has been going on too long.      We can even arrange to have potable water in quantity delivered, should such a thing be absolutely required.     Anyway, it is things like wavering between useless optimism and the abject misery of pessimism that seems to sap some of my interest and energy.
     In any regard, it is windy (25 - 40 mph and higher gusts) and very warm (nothing record setting, just very warm and muggy), and I am attending to "Texas-side" chores.   More later.

The Old Gringo