Live & Retire

Thorns & Ants

by Dobie

Lorena's Note: Dobie and Sergio are homesteading in a former coconut plantation on Mexico's Pacific Coast. From their latest update:

Sergio and I and our friend Martin headed out early one morning to begin clearing. We were armed with machetes, my trusty bow saw and Martin's chain saw. We decided to start with the east side, which was by far the most overgrown, and according to Martin would be the most difficult because of the huitzacotle trees (I think that's what they're called) - easily the most obnoxious tree I've ever encountered.

The tree itself, and all of its branches are covered with huge thorns, that look like black seed pods (shaped like miniature bulls horns), with needle sharp points (which laugh at gloves) on each "horn" tip. But the real surprise is that the thorns (of which there are a gazillion on each tree) are home to a species of ants called mordullos (or maybe it's murdullos). These are very special ants; they fall on you, cling like crabs, and bite, sting and burn. It's impossible to brush them off, you have to pick them off, first tearing off your gloves as quickly as possible because they're too small to grab between gloved fingers.

Even with a wide brimmed hat, they managed to find their way down my shirt, sticking to my sweaty back and neck. They seem to fall in groups, large groups, so that all of a sudden my torso felt like it was on fire. I flung off my gloves, threw up my shirt, and while jumping around (it's hard to stand still when you feel like lit matches are burning your flesh) began plucking them off, as fast as possible. I looked around to find Sergio and Martin also engaged in the dance of the murdullos, which in reality looked pretty ridiculous. In the morning (when it's cool) most of the ants are sleeping, or at least they're less active. But as the sun gets higher and the day starts warming up -look out!

Day after day we hacked away, until after a couple of weeks, we finally got to the corner. By comparison, the rest of the clearing was a piece of cake, in spite of the fact that almost every tree, bush or shrub we had to cut had thorns. All kinds of thorns from long, skinny ones to short, hairyones; but they all had one thing in common - they were sharp and hurt!

Our daily reward came after about 4 hours of work when we'd make a small fire and heat up the taquitos that Rosa (Martin's wife) made for us each day. What a treat - tortillas stuffed with frijoles, potatoes or eggs, cheese and hot salsa; washed down with a fruity agua fresca. Sitting around the fire, munching on crispy, smoky flavored tacos, relieved from the burning and stinging of the ants, looking over at what we had accomplished that morning, I felt muy "satisfecha".

Continued in Tarzan Cuts Our Cocos

Women In Mexico
The Best Of Mexico
Live & Retire in Mexico
©1972-2000 by Carl Franz & Lorena Havens
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