For me, the rainy season brings both rewards and challenges, some of which I shall recount here… You be the Judge and decide which is which.
Let’s begin with the glorious greening of the surrounding countryside, the cooling off effect of the rains (as temporary as that is), and the re-emergence of a number of unusual critters.
Speaking of critters, I found an interesting bug this morning which resembled some kind of prehistoric beetle who could steal the starring role in the next Jurassic Park feature. When I attempted to pick him up via my usual bug gathering strategy, which involves sweeping the bug up oh so gently with a miniature broom into an equally miniature dust pan, he actually hopped out of the pan and into my hair. Yes, you bet, I hollered! And yes, I caught him and threw him over the roof into the jungle. He blew his one and only chance as a supermodel!
I can hear the music from the celebrations of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the ceremony for the new town church to be built in Los Ayala emanating from the town plaza. I can hear this at my house located seven blocks away. It sounds like quite the celebration! Romy Mora, Regidor of Jaltemba Bay; Miguel Sillas, Juez of Los Ayala; and several local folks told me that everyone in Los Ayala enjoyed the celebration which included free food and drink. Si, the good life in Mexico!
Actually, every day this week Los Ayala has been celebrating something as evidenced by the thunderous booms of fire bombs going off hourly throughout the day and night. These “bombas” as they are called in Spanish don’t make any spectacular fireworks; they just scare the bejeezus out of everyone and create immense smoke clouds. What is the point?
When I first heard the fire bombs going off, I thought that they were perhaps gunshots and I was worried that someone was hunting my Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, who have been flying in flocks all over Los Ayala for the past couple of months. It turns out that what I thought might be gunshots were just the fire bombs!
Speaking of fire, we are treated to a magnificent bonfire almost every single night in Los Ayala. I suspect that the fires are lit only at night because of the existing bylaw against burning in Jaltemba Bay. It looks like when the cops are sleeping, anything goes! That is another thing I wonder about. Everything is so dry before the rainy season hits, yet the almost nightly bonfires are always contained. I’m sure if I set a match to the tree next door, which currently serves as the primary residence for Los Ayala’s entire bat populace, it would go up in flames instantly, likely taking my Palapa along with it!
Los Ayala’s disco “Green Please” which is open about five days a year, if that, seems to have new owners and is newly renovated and expanded. It is now called the “Queen Lizard Beach Bar & More”… It’s three times the size, and the flyer posted on the front door boasts of a swimming pool and upcoming foam parties, and it is still hardly ever open for business. Go figure!
Speaking of lizards, a rather spectacular and exotic-looking young green iguana has taken to visiting me at my house. He typically visits on a weekly basis and he is definitely supermodel material! Also in for the casting call is a rather plain black iguana who has taken to sunbathing on the roof of my garage. I want to send him packing because he does his business all over the roof, an eccentricity I could forgive if he was photogenic, but quite frankly he isn’t.
You wouldn’t know it from their ferocious appearance, but iguanas are herbivores. Their diet is plant based, and consists primarily of flowers, leaves, stems and fruit. Who knew that these fierce looking creatures, are in fact gentle vegetarians? I wonder if I could lure a few more green iguanas to hang about my house by using a vegetarian pizza spiced with a few leaves as bait?
Speaking of pizza, the pizza joint which opened in Los Ayala during Semana Santa is still open for business! Sadly, “Tony Tequila’s” is closed until the winter season, which means I have to head all the way to Restaurant Charly in Guayabitos for a shrimp burger. I have to be pretty famished to gather enough motivation to hop on the colectivo in this heat! A ride this time of year is akin to being stuffed into a small sauna on wheels with at least ten other people.
Speaking of Guayabitos, I am secretly delighted that a Subway has opened on the main Avenida. Never mind that I have only dined at Subway in Canada a total of two times during my lifetime, if that. I simply love the fact that I can get a gringo food fix in town! Yes, of course I love tortas and Mexican cuisine, but until you live here year-round you can’t truly appreciate the pleasure in being able to satisfy those expat cravings. And I bet the Mexican expats in Canada and the USA are just as thrilled when a Taco restaurant opens up in their neighborhood! Plus, the word in town is that it is air-conditioned! If this is true you may find me hanging out at Subway quite a bit this summer! And before you judge me too quickly, know this, a friend who lives in La Penita heard a rumor that a Subway will be opening there too, and she is eagerly looking forward to it.
Recently, there were a few days when the Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, were few and far between in Los Ayala and I suspect that it was because of all fire bomb activity that mimicked gunfire! I suppose that is a good thing because I have not accomplished much since the ducks arrived in town. One morning I ran out of my house in my pjs because I had spotted the ducks in a tree by my house, only to discover upon arrival, that my camera battery was dead. I sprinted (yes, sprinting was excruciating in this heat) back into the house to get a charged battery and ran all the way back, excitedly, thinking that, finally, for sure this will be my winning National Geographic photo only to have the ducks fly away as soon as I arrived. By that time I needed another dunk in the pool.
I actually strained a muscle in my neck from carrying around my camera with the long lens which weighs in at over a kilo. I bought the camera and long lens from Ken and Bea Rauch, Jaltemba Bay’s renowned bird photographers. Thank you, Ken and Bea. Although I have yet to do justice to these birds with your lens, I will eventually! Every single morning, for three weeks now, I carry the camera loaded with the longs lens with me while I tidy the house, dust, and water the plants. This takes about two hours because I run outside on the terraces and up to the rooftop looking for these extremely photogenic ducks every five or ten minutes. Exactly what is the result of my bird photography efforts? I have one good shot of the flying ducks and a very annoying kink in my neck, that’s it.
Green Parrotlets are everywhere in Los Ayala these days however they are flying solo or in pairs, instead of their usual flocks, which means they are even more impossible to photograph, even with a long lens. They are joined by equally small, swallows flying all about town.
I am awakened every morning at precisely 4am by the sweet chirps of the swallows that no doubt are enjoying dining on the assortment of beetles so prevalent in Jaltemba Bay at the beginning of the rainy season. Butterflies, moths and dragonflies are also seen fluttering all over town during the day, and at night fireflies light up the sky!
Two beautiful Black-throated Magpie Jays are back in our neighborhood, and the Mexican Chachalacas have moved in permanently, no doubt thinking Los Ayala is their “Garden of Eden” while they feast on yucca fruit, mangoes, papayas and bananas found on the trees throughout town.
At night, the town bats proliferate in numbers and I’m not sure I am so fond of these big guys because they drop the pods from the neighborhood trees all over my house. The rain bugs holler every night and every morning, otherwise it’s pretty quiet in Los Ayala!
I no longer need to look at Jaltemba Bay Life’s weather report because after living here for a while I know all the signs that the first heavy rains are just around the corner, and they are all here. Yesterday, in the early morning hours I could hear the croaks of the multitudes of frogs who claim the easterly flatlands at the bottom of Villas del Tropico as their habitat. I also hear the incessant drone of insects that I can’t identify. At night, if I turn on the lights on my rooftop palapa I am bombarded by countless flying beetles and moths so prevalent during this time of the year, so I avoid turning on the lights even if it means I may trip over a beetle. I do need to check the forum for hurricane updates because my Mom, who lives in Vancouver, calls me about every single hurricane in Mexico even if it is not on the Pacific Coast. Every morning, I find termite wings floating in our swimming pool and stuck in our window screens, which can only mean that the arrival of the big-bottomed ants which signify the beginning of the rainy season is not far off! A word to the wise… Close your windows when you first see the first termites because they can squeeze through the tiny holes in the screen!
That said, It is not really hot here until the day the big-bottomed flying ants arrive in Jaltemba Bay, and they will soon, by the thousands! On arrival day, these critters are found lining all the streets and beaches of Jaltemba Bay, and on the patios and terraces of homes which is why it is a good idea to have screens on your windows! The flying ants mate on this special day and as is frequently seen in nature, the male ants die shortly after the copulation is complete. The females lose their wings and lay eggs to start a new ant colony. No wonder we have so many ants here!
This annual natural phenomena is commonly associated with the true start of the “hot” season and it occurs more or less in unison with the “rain bird” phenomena which starts sometime in early June, when each evening one hears the unique crooning melody of critters that are sometimes referred to as rain birds. The sounds are actually produced by insects called “chicharras” which lasts until the day the flying ants arrive.
Jaltemba Bay is at its most beautiful during the rainy season, and the storms are truly magnificent. The rolling thunder and lightning shows and the monsoon rains that accompany the storms are something that should be experienced by everyone, before folks in town start charging a rainy season supplement!
Oh yes, I forgot to say that another wonderful and beneficial effect of the rainy season is the fact that I can loll around the pool all day long and no one will think the worse of me. After all, pool lolling is the best preventative measure for heat stroke. A gal has got to do everything necessary to survive!
Yes, it is hot and buggy, but Jaltemba Bay is a photographer’s paradise during the rainy season!
P.S. If I can’t get that photo of those beautiful Black-bellied Whistling Ducks. I can always revert to taking photos of Martin’s herd of goats, seen on their twice daily jogs to and from Villas del Tropico via Calle Pez Vela. They stay low to the ground and I can keep up with these guys!
P.P.S. Just in case you are not familiar with Martin, he is known by everyone in Los Ayala as the guy who could win 1st Place in the TV show Survivor, with ease.
by Christina Stobbs
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