Non-stop party time in Playa Zapote. Not.

        It’s been raining on and off since the norte quit a few days ago. As I left the house this evening small boys were fishing for the little black-and-red tiddlers that live in the ditch at the end of the driveway. Sometimes they live in  the driveway. A lot of small fish equal one large fish when it comes to dinnertime. They tell me that these freshwater fish are muy saboroso.

       If ever I was tired of a thing, that thing is the rain on the Gulf Coast of Mexico. Escaping England eight years ago I hoped I had left it’s weather behind too, but sometimes wherever I am there are long overcast periods of gloom that affect my whole outlook if they go on for too long. Someone once described England as ”A land without shadows, like living in tupperware”. Mexico is supposed to be hot and sunny, you need a sombrero to survive, right? But for the last four months pretty much all the fresh water in the world has pounded down around here, flooding the fields and roads, penetrating my hovel via the windows (there is no glass) under the doors, up through the floor and most annoying, all the way through the concrete walls. No matter where I move my canvas sailcloth, it mildews. My clothes are falling apart, weakened by rot. My feet are wet much of the time, which is unpleasant. I have never seen such rain, and I lived in Wales for twelve years. Leave a bucket outside and it will be full by morning. Oddly most of the rain falls at night, something I have never seen anywhere else, but it seems like a good policy.



Collecting drinking water from the dripline of the roof with the help of a piece of conduit found in a bin. Note the creeping green mold on the wall outside.

When you have a heron working your road you know you have a drainage problem. Motorcycling is a tricky business sometimes involving complete submersion of the entire exhaust; if you bog down in the mud you then fall over and it’s wet feet and shoes for another few days.  The mud on the roads is the only inorganic stuff for miles that is not sand, and much of that is sand, too. The shelter which I threw together under which to build the boat, a crude, narrow 10-metre long affair made from rotten pieces of wood towed back from the beach behind the bike along with bamboo, string and plastic tarp, is slowly sinking into the sand under the deluge; now I have to stoop to enter. I call this structure ”Paddington Station”.

Paddington Station

Paddington Station

     So named because it is long and thin, good for sheltering trains. The posts, rotten logs to start with, are buried deep in the wet sand. I must finish the boat, here seen in it’s beginning stages on top of a strongback, before the logs rot all the way through and the whole thing collapses along with my ego.

    Now on our eleventh consecutive day without seeing the sun. Funny thing, when the weather is at it’s gloomiest, such as now, the locals say ”Isn’t the weather lovely?” and they mean it too; as long as it is not actually pouring down, they prefer anything over the tormenting heat and humidity which is the other face of climate here. But we’ll get to that, oh yes.


     I think that we are past the worst of it now. I hope. I’m really looking forward to the puddles – lake-sized some of them – drying up to reduce breeding opportunities for the mosquitoes. I have to run past the aforementioned ditch at the head of the driveway when scantily-clad on the way to the beach, or I wouldn’t make it alive. I usually light small smoky fires around my work area to discourage the little swine; kinda works but one is never really relaxed. Mosquitoes adore me, but the feeling is not mutual.  Then there are the peolinos,  known as no-see-ums in the States, tiny biting gnats. And the chiquistas, no, not a small group of underfunded but dedicated guerillas battling to free their obscure Central American country from the grip of a brutal military junta, but nasty little biting fly thingies which are hated by everyone here in their season which is, er, all the time, or so it seems. And the sandflies, one of which gave me leishmaniasis which is every bit as nasty as it sounds.  Oh, and the fleas in my bed, which I have philoshopically suffered for most of my time here, not knowing how to get rid of them without ghastly poisons which have no place in my bed. Finally about two weeks ago I cracked and sprayed the mattress with the dog’s mange treatment, a seriously ghastly organophosphate called Ivermectin, and since then bedtime has been oh so good. Last night my nightly pre-bed mosquito death patrol bagged at least sixty of them, in the house. It is with savage glee that I whap them against the wall with my Japanese pull saw, a superb instrument for this purpose as well as for woodworking. It also makes a very satisfying boing noise when slapped flat against the forehead, which children find amusing. OK, so do I. I don’t get out much.

      I chose this area for two or three reasons. Originally, starting about twelve years ago, I wanted to embark on this scheme in Brazil. But my Portuguese is nonexistent whereas my Spanish is merely appalling. Plus Mexico is close to the USA in case I needed anything I could not find in South America. Mexico allows foreigners to stay all year round provided they renew their visas every six months, Brazil I believe only allows foreigners to stay for half of every year. It had to be the Atlantic side of the continent because I fear the huge rollers on the Pacific side…I consider surf landings the most probable of many possible eventual demises of my vessel.  Finally, I intended to build the boat primarily from bamboo, and a search online revealed the valuable information that a very suitable Amazonian species of monster bamboo, guadua angustifolia, is grown commercially in the state of Veracruz. I thought it wood be easy to get a load of the stuff delivered. Little did I know…

            Had I been aware that this was the wettest area in all Mexico I would not have come here. However I am glad that I did; it is a fine place and most suitable for my needs.


   Playa Zapote and Mata de Uva are fishing villages, these lads are already experienced seamen. There’s an  anchor in the bow, made from rebar. It is for holding the end of a net down, so they are not just playing.

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