Monday, 6 June 2011

And Then.....tales of great bravery and steadfastness of the Old Gringo

     Not only suffering the other tribulations of the moment, the evening of the day after the Night of the Coralillo, an auto pulled up to our main almost precisely mid-night.   Since there had not been any vehicular traffic during the previous 30 hours, the sound of crunching gravel was conspicuous because of its rarity.   A session of listening to ghost stories and tales of flying saucers on overnight radio was just beginning.     Is George Bush secretly running the show in the White House still, and directing the press to project  controversy into the American conciousness so as to divert their attention from the fact that the Rothchilds and Bildenbergers keep moving ahead to gain control of a Planet over which, apparently, they already have total control.
      But none of this radio-addiction would be in the offing.   There was a visitor at the gate.     It turned out to be "La Maestra", a woman  who also built a house a few hundred yards from the Quinta....a much more elaborate house....and who has been a generous friend and associate.    She was the XO for the uncle of our neighbour of the Hacienda de La Vega.   That uncle died about four years ago, and had served for over 20 years in the State's office for wildlife protection and rural development.
       In any regard, this was not a social call.    As I made myself decent enough for presentation, figured out who the visitor was, and fumbled around for the right key and a flashlight, my mind clunked around thinking about why on Earth would any visit be so urgent as to need to take place at this hour.  La Maestra waited at the gate, accompanied by her two employees.   All three seemed agitated.
      "Buenas noches.....or dias, depende el caso" began the Old Gringo....making a feeble bit of a joke about the fact that we were now in the "madrugada" , or the "morning of the next day" phase of the calendar.
       "Hola' don David, disculpe la molestia....." she responds, leaving the conversational door open to a more rapid entry into the real business at hand.
        "En que los puedo servir?",  enquires the Old Gringo, cutting to the chase. (What can I do for you?)
         "You have seen the fire coming towards us?" she answers.    Her staff members nod and seem very impatient to do something....or anything.    These fellows are kind of a combination of two skinny Mutts and Jeffs folded into the scenes of Mayberry RFD, haplessly pleasant.   We are exchanging handshakes at this point.
       I can smell the smokiness, my throat has been paying that price for the past week because of more distant fires in the mountains.    But truly, this is something different.   As my senses adjusted to being outside, it is apparent that there is considerable smoke in the air and the smoke smells hot and fresh.
But, in reality, there is not tell-tale glow, near or far, to indicate immenency of a blaze.   So the question, "Donde esta' el incendio?"
        "It's right there on the other side of the main house of the Hacienda de La Vega!" all three respond.   I do not see it still, as we walk out to the area of the road that leads to both our place and the La Vega.     Knowing that we have to intervene, no matter what the nature of this issue truly is, I began to formulate that plan of attack.
        "Let's go down and tell Ciro.    Do you think he knows?    Have you called him?"     by this time I am walking back to the house to strap on some better shoes and to pick up a walking stick.    The two staff members of La Maestra are carrying long, well-honed machetes.   La Maestra responds that the cell phone signal is not working or Ciro's phone is off or his card ran out.    By this time I am openning up the gate of the Hacienda de La Vega and we are filing through a narrow, thorny uneven fence-crossing, full of all kinds of possibilities, most of them not too good.
        Then the dos of La Vega come.   Huge dogs, loping along, barking and growling.    It dawns on me that one of the characters from Mayberry is new to me.   "Have you been to the Hacienda de La Vega before?" I ask.
           "No",  responds Goober.
           "Get behind me, then!" I order.    He obeys and avoids a close encounter of the first kind with two 100 pound dogs....dogs who trust those whom I trust. Arriving at the Old Manor House of the the La Vega, where Ciro sleeps at night (and at times in the daytime) we begin calling out "Ciro....Ciro!!"   It seems appropriate because that is his name.    The smoke is heavier and finally I can see a bit of a fire line a few hundred yards further on to the west of the  Manor House.    La Maestra was certain that it would be advancing within minutes to the cemetery, her fancy new place, and several other humbler but still significant homes.
            Ciro comes out and we all go through the necessary civilities again, except with two more Mexican Mayberry characters added to the mix.   Ciro opines that the fire is simply the grass furrow that he formed while clearing part of the old orange grove.    He had set it afire at the end of daylight and watched over it until it became clear that it was ready to burn itself out.   This is a line about 300 feet long, 4 feet wide, and about 3 feet high.   Much of the grass and weed material was still a bit greenish, hence the smoke.   He said he would drive over with his helper and check it out, everyone could come.
           So, once Ciro has his necessry paraphanalia and his assistant, they all head off to the fire.    I return to the Quinta, in the dark, with my flashlight because Ciro wanted me to call the owner of the Hacienda de La Vega.    That is something that was quickly reconsidered upon arrival back inside my safe little 'fraidy-hole' because in reality there was nothing, as of yet, to report.    About twenty minutes later, Ciro delivered La Maestra and her staff back to the Quinta and informed me that a couple of the old, dead trunks of some damaged trees actually had ignited from the heat caused by the burning grass, and due to the angle of view from La Maestra's house, it looked as if there was a long line of flames approaching her.    For his part he was going to return with several buckets of water and finish all of the short, no problems.
            All of this helped me justify my decision not to call the owner of La Vega. La Maestra's concern had not been misplaced.   The fires have been uncommonly menacing throughout the States of Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon as well as Texas this late Spring and now early Summer.     It has been a constant fight, especially in the mountains and in areas where there are huge extensions of sorghum and/or corn plantings.     Lightning, stupidity, broken glass, and any number of other things can start these fires but we have had to play the Devil to control and extinguish each blaze.    Army, American Helicopter crazymen, and squads of tough "civil defense" volunteeers have laboured throughout this dry spell in an honorably and largely successful effort....but the trials of Job continue....lessening though, thankfully.

More Later.   Thanks for learning about my simple form of heroism....known as "getting out of the way and letting the people who do the work take the credit".
El Gringo Viejo