Monday, September 30, 2013

Higuerilla or Castor plant

Ever wonder what that large leaved, purple tinted and attractive weed is that grows along highways and waterways on many flatter areas in Mexico. Well, I didn't either until I ran into a video about the poisonous Castor plant growing wild near Puerto Vallarta.  We have lots growing around Melaque.

Roadside Higuerilla

While eating raw parts of the plant is dangerous and possible fatal to humans and range animals ... the processing of Castor or Higuerilla puts it in the almost miracle plant category. After all, where does Castor Oil come from.

In traditional Mexican medicine, the leaves are used in poultices placed on the chest for congestion, cough, or fever, or on the abdomen to treat an acute intestinal distress known as "empacho". The leaves are used on anything that "hurts", that is, swollen joints, bruises, boils, neuralgia, abscesses, as well as for colds and fever. The oil of the bean has been used medicinally and for lubrication for possibly 1000's of years. The stalks are used for paper making.

The latest in Mexico is the interest in Castor oil and the production of Bio-Fuels and Biodiesel. The video explains the characteristics of the castor, their advantages and yields for the production of biodiesel in Mexico, thanks to research conducted by INIFAP.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Internet Withdrawals

Been a long time since I've had them and this was both a good and bad experience.    Good to get away and bad dealing with the frustration of trying to solve the problem.   My large external drive died a few months ago and I don't have a USB stick large enough to copy half my computer to.  Couldn't find a large USB stick in Melaque so I had to rely on some local computer techs.

Without the computer I didn't have the number of the local preferred tech so went to one that I'd gone to years ago thinking they could figure it out quickly.    First they said a virus and then a hard disk error.  Could have been a combination of both.   So for 5 days it was manana after manana with little progress.   5 days to do what I could have done in one.   I just had no way to back up files. It did require a reformat and install but that's not a real big deal.   Lost a few programs but can get most back .... and lost all this years photos.   These guys are in the Internet Cafe at the end of taco row and I suggest you stay away even if the other techs are harder to find.

So I'm back with hopefully no more problems, thinking of backup solutions and up to our necks in water.   Been a very wet summer.

I forgot to add that thanks to Google Chome as a browser ... all my lost "Favorites" and passwords were recovered.   Favorites are super simple to copy and these techs didn't bother.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Evening pool party

It's starting to get noticeably dark earlier with the sun on the horizon around 7PM. Have to remember to wash the windshield before picking up Euriel at school in the evening to avoid the glare of the sun. School lets out at 7:05.

So after school and a little shopping, we were planning a pozole party for today and a water park trip on Sunday for Lorena's birthday and found ourselves in the dark. Kids were in the pool and I had to join them. First time I noticed the house in the dark with lights on and wanted to try a picture. Nahima wanted to be in one too but wasn't quite sure where the lens was. Turned on a few more lights to see her. Pretty cool anyway ;)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Yellow Breasted Chat

I don't often get good bird photos but this one is half-way decent. There has been a small flock of them hanging around our neighborhood and when I came home they were in my Neem tree. By the time I got out with the camera this guy was on the other side of the lot next door and none close by. The reason I like these guys is they are the most colorful around and sing lots of different songs (Not all in the video). I'm not working in this rain so why not wait for a photo.  I think this guy is all puffed up because it's cool and raining.

The Internet says they are in the warbler family but only a distant cousin. Said to range from southern Canada to Central Mexico ... but winter here. Definitely they are not wintering here. Because they like dense vegetation you often hear them but don't see them. The video has some of it's sounds buy the Audubon collection of sounds is by far the best.

Yellow Breasted Chat 

Audubon Site on the Yellow Breasted Chat with sounds

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Storms, Birthdays and CFE

.... and Ants. I started my day with ants who had made a nest in my coffee maker. I use this coffee maker every day so how they had time to get the queen in there and lay all those eggs I don't have a clue. I took it outside, sprayed it with bug kill and then turned the hose on it. Down to the store for a jar of Nescafe since I need my coffee and will give the machine a thorough cleaning later.

Night before last a large branch fell on the power lines to the house next to Lorena's. That left the neighbors with no power, a live wire in the street and Lorena's pole bend over at about a 45 degree angle. The owner of the rental who owns the only real store in town said it's the renters responsibility. After complaining to neighbors about the owner, trying a few local CFE numbers, Lorena finally asked me if I had an emergency number. I had the National number and after about 20 minutes of explaining and telling them where we lived, she said a crew was coming. Sure enough, as it was getting dark they showed up and even tied up the bent pole. Hugo is going to case it in cement another meter higher.

So yesterday was Nahima's third birthday with a cake from Bodega and homemade tamales. About 15 of us with kids in the pool and plenty of beer. I had told Lorena I was going to cut down my bananas and plant something else so they asked if we could cut a few leaves for wrapping the tamales. They had a limited amount of corn husks and wanted to make a lot.

Nahima's cake

Banana and corn wrapped tamales

My neighbor across the street is a fisherman and knows I get weather info from the Internet. The skies were looking real ominous last night and he was going out so he asked me about storms in the area. I told him about Manuel but that it won't be here until tonight or Sunday. It did rain last night but not much. So Manuel keeps moving north and it looks like lots of rain and maybe wind Sunday and Monday.

Manuel aiming right for us

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Win one - loose one

I probably wouldn't have noticed that this "Friday the 13th" is a holiday celebrating the Niños Héroes who died fighting the Americans in the Mexcan - American war.   I did notice because Jania has a school project and was working on it here yesterday afternoon.  Funny that they didn't know what the war was about or with whom.   Although the war resulted in greatly rearranging the US - Mexican boundaries I hardly consider consider it a victory.   True, Mexico owed the US some money but his could also have been the first major expansion and control move that the US became famous for in years to come.  A victory but not a valiant one.
The Niños Héroes (in English: Boy Heroes), also known as the Heroic Cadets or Boy Soldiers, were six Mexican teenage military cadets. These cadets died defending Mexico at Mexico City's Chapultepec Castle (then serving as the Mexican Army's military academy) from invading U.S. forces in the 13 September 1847 Battle of Chapultepec, during the Mexican–American War. One of the cadets, Juan Escutia, wrapped himself with the Mexican flag and jumped from the roof of the castle to keep it from falling into enemy hands. The Niños Héroes are commemorated by a national holiday on September 13.

And then last night we watched the US beat Mexico 2 to 0 in the World Cup finals.   That means the US won a playoff seat and Mexico has to win remaining games plus other teams with better records loosing.   Interesting to sit with a bunch of Mexicans who's team is loosing and me from the US and winning.   No hard feeling that I felt.

So we have a holiday Friday (maybe only school) and Independence Day on Monday the 16th.   We'll have to see if this is a 3 or 4 day weekend.   Neighbors say there will be a castillo on the Plaza after the Grito Monday so be prepared.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Six and a half inches in 12 hours

One real rain gauge reported 6.5 inches, some bucket gauges reported considerably more.  Sinks and pools over flowed.   I got another sink hole below my main roof drain probably requiring me to uncover my french drain and build a better one.   No leaks in the roof at least. All this and nothing on the weather radar but a bunch of clouds.

The main road into Pinal became a river bed again with the upper part requiring a 4WD or large pickup to get in and out.   The lower part (second foto) actually gets better because water washed sand fills all the potholes.   Water from here all heads for Melaque and the lagoon and this morning the lagoon was opened to prevent it from backing up into town.  Video is from a few years ago

Upper road - not many people this far out

Lower road a couple hours after the rain had stopped

A short one of the Marabasco River in Cihuatlan

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Tropical Storm Lorena

My neighbor's name is Lorena and she and her husband got a big kick out of the possibility of this latest low pressure becoming a storm in her name. Won't become a hurricane probably but sure dumped a lot of rain last night. I don't think it's over yet even though it's a bit Northwest of us.

My poor Almond tree

Leaf cutter ants don´t often bother almond (almendra) trees but last night they did. I thought rain sends them in hiding but it rained all night and it didn't slow them down a bit. In the dry season the homes of these ants are pretty easy to find but now the weeds (sacate) are high. I wondered why they went to the top of the tree but then realized that is where all the tender new growth is. Gonna have to get out there with a flashlight tonight but if it's raining the normal powder won't work.

Maybe I'll have to resort to using them as protein.
Atta species are a popular ingredient in Mexican cuisine, particularly in the southern states such as Chiapas, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Puebla and Veracruz. It is considered a delicacy, as well as a food of high protein content, therefore it is often served as a main dish, not as garnish, despite its small portions. They may be eaten as the sole filling in tacos. The Atta (a leaf cutter ant species), the type of ant most eaten in Mexico, has a nutty flavor.

Almond tree from my roof

What to look for in the dry season

On a lighter note
Two of the three Neem trees I've planted on the Plaza

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Eduardo Pimienta - Mentira Promo

Melaque's Eduardo Pimienta Woo singing Mentira.  Eduardo is the most favored dentist in our small town but also performs in clubs and does benefits for the needy. His dental specialty is implants but is also a great general practice dentist.   Enjoy

Monday, September 02, 2013

Migration office to open in San Patricio, Melaque

There will be an opening of a module of the National Migration Institute (INM) which manages Cihuatlán municipality and was confirmed by the President Jesús Huerta Aguilar. 

He explained that he recently held a meeting with staff from the federal delegation of Colima State Migration , agreed to open a module in San Patricio-Melaque, in order to cater to foreigners, residents and tourists who come to this point of the South Coast of Jalisco. 

According to the Mayor of Cihuatlan, the module will start work on 9 September, in the municipal delegation of San Patricio-Melaque. "We can provide general guidance regarding paperwork requirements ... preventing them from coming to Colima." 

Miguel Salazar, federal officer of the INM, confirmed the module opening in the municipality of Cihuatlán, and will receive cases of tourists and residents of foreign origin, in relation to their immigration status and stay in this country. 

For decades Cihuatlán township has become a second home to hundreds of people from Canada, the United States and Central America, including European and Asian.

The construction of the house finished in April 2011 and I'm pretty much settled in. As of March 2014 I'm in preparation for rain mode for this coming summer. That includes sealing and painting things and dealing with drainage issues from last year.

Sparks Mexico Web
Manzanillo Information
House building in Pinal Villa

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