Before the rains started in earnests last spring, a Canadian showed up on one of the paths along the stream at the bottom of the main road past our colonia. A macho Canadian from Winnipeg or Manitoba, one of those big western provinces. He was lean and fit and probably in his sixties. He strode around with a bottle of what I imagine was tequila, taking healthy slugs of it from time to time. He had bought a lovely, wildish, piece of land on a hillside along the stream and brought in CATs and men to rip into it and turn it into a resort centered on, of all things, hemorrhoid treatment some magical cure he'd picked up somewhere, one requiring lazy hours spent sitting in sitz baths located in a lovely setting. The woods echoed with the roar of the machinery as trees and plants fell in its path. And earth, too. Near the bottom of the hill, one area was flattened and a wall and the shells of buildings sprang up. A huge red-brown scar climbed straight up one side of the property, a road wide enough for a highway; on top, another large, flat area was gouged out leaving ragged perpendicular sides. He planned to build a bridge across the little river, to have a terrace for dining over the tumbling water. He planned gardens and walkways, and to pave the road in from the main one for his customers. No matter that he said it would be really an attractive place, it made me sad to think about it.
So we didn't walk back there for a very long time even though we used the road often. Then maybe a couple of months ago we thought we'd wander there to see what was going on. Clearly he'd never done anything with the dirt track from the main road. In fact, grass was growing over the track. It's still a lovely, slightly wild walk.
Looking back to our car and the bridge from the track (Go to askerisk * below for an explanation of where we are and our route.):
Here is a small old dam over the river:
A little bit further, the first sign that things have fallen apart: the wall at the base of the development.
All had been cleared behind the walls and the beginnings of rooms and buildings put up. It is hard to imagine that this clamor of green has overcome it all in less than a year. You'll notice in the photo below, he left a tree in the center of a small room. I don't know why, but I'm glad he did. There are wall-length sinks still attached in the neighboring rooms.
A year ago, he had shaved this place bare:
A couple of times recently when we walked here, we ran into a man collecting perfect banana leaves for tamales. He would carefully cut them down with his machete and pile them one on top of the other. We asked him if he knew what had happened to the man and his project. He said the dueño, the owner, had not understood the area, had not understood how nature worked here. When the rains came, he said, they tore down the hillside as rivers of mud, smashing into his walls, destroying his work. The man said he'd heard the owner might be in Xalapa, but he didn't know. He was pretty sure the man had given up on his project, though.
One of the many grievous errors the dueño made was to make his wide road straight up the hillside. It was as wide as the area from the edgeof the bananas at the left to the fence at the right:
I took this picture about half way up it. It is steeper than the photo makes it appear. You can see the vegetation crawling happily across it. You can also see the steep valleys the water dug as it coursed down.
This next photo shows a small section at the top of the road. You can see how the land has eroded from the walls, leaving the posts of the adjoining landowner's fence dangling.
The whole area is filled with interesting bugs and caterpillars and plants. I am trying to become more observant with Jim's guidance. The pictures below are mine...Jim's are much better. I took them when he was away in St. Louis.
The orange fungus on this piece of wood has lost some of its luster, but is still striking:
One of many mushrooms scattered through the moldering leaves.
A fuzzy photo of a fuzzy caterpillar.
Yellow polka dot caterpillar:
A beige caterpillar.
When we return to the paved road, first we run up it, then we run down. Here are some things going on on this main road.
We are getting new electric poles and cable. Perhaps it will help prevent the fairly frequent outages, especially in bad weather. Below, the crew around their truck:
Here one of the men is running wire:
Just off the bridge, there is an old beneficiary, or coffee processing plant, that is being converted, apparently into some sort of restaurant. Unlike the Canadian who wrestled with the wilderness and lost, these developers are using existing buildings and working with what already had been done. They've been at it for quite a long time now. Along one side of the property, adjoining the road, there is an old irrigation ditch. They've broadened a small part of it and put in a little dam for a duck pond. The old main building is starting to look kind of interesting:
The orange building on the right, smaller than it looks in the photo, is the only new one, I think. It is some kind of guard house standing at the entrance.
Going up the hill, I get a glimpse of Cofre de Perote:
* When we first started running, we'd go through our colonia to the main road and then run down hill to the bridge, and then we'd turn around and go back up. Here's the bridge at the bottom of the road (the same bridge you see above, looking back from the track towards our car, but from the main road going downhill. You can see our car if you look).
Then we'd turn around and run back up hill and go back through the colonia. BUT it was really difficult with our four dogs. They'd get into stand-offs with other dogs, and it wasn't a lot of fun. One day, Giaco, who can be unpredictable when he feels threatened, went after a little kid. The kid was fine, but we'd had enough of struggles going through the colonia with them. so now we drive down to the bridge (about a mile), walk out towards the ruins (a left turn after the bridge) and back, run up and down hill and drive home. Actually, before we head back home, we now go down a road on the near side of the bridge and the dogs get a bit of a swim.