Have your cake and wear it too

Location: Santa Elena, Yucatan, Mexico

I am not sure of the origin of the birthday cake, but here in the Yucatan it is an important element of children’s birthday parties.

They have extra thick frosting on top, and the goal is to have the children plunge their face into it before eating it.

Not that this does not occur in the USA, but here it is part of a ritual

Jaguar Update

Location: Santa Elena, Yucatan, Mexico

Updates on the Jaguar:

The jaguar is still in the forests around our farm Finca orgánica San Agustín

She alarms the chickens at night and they have found several (non-chicken) bird kills.

Some think that she is not a jaguar but a jaguarundi, but these are even rarer than jaguars in these parts.

In my opinion (and you know what that is worth) it is a small jaguar, but until I get an actual sighting, I will not know for sure.

It’s a jungle out there

Location: Santa Elena, Yucatan, Mexico

There is excitement at our ranch.

They have been hearing the roars and snuffling of a jaguar.
I have seen the paw prints. And last evening the people on our ranch saw a large black cat moving through the night.

There are hunters out looking for him. I hope he survives.

We humans need to be reminded that there is still wildness out there.

Paperwork, Paperwork, Paperwork

Location: Henderson, Nevada

Nevada is still the corporate headquarters for our US enterprises and operations.

We have been handling the major things through phones, faxes, texts, and e-mails, but it is indeed astounding how much paperwork and small maintenance decisions build up when I have been gone for a couple of months.

Finishing up my four state tour and will be heading back to Santa Elena tomorrow

The Oregon Trail

Location: Medford, Oregon

Visiting my daughter-in-law’s cattle ranch in Oregon.

We have no idea why the previous owners of the ranch bred the cattle so that the calves would be born in the middle of winter.

For me, it makes each morning a bit like an Easter Egg hunt, as we get up in the morning to see if there are any more calves than yesterday.

There are two more this morning.

They are quite wooly and wonderful.

There’s Always a Rainbow in Hawaii

Location: Lahaina, Hawaii

I am in Maui now to do some maintenance, logistics, and to simply unwind.

Maui has always been a recharging place for me.

There were some high winds when I first arrived. These were dry winds, but the rattling of the palm leaves makes it sound like you are in a downpour.

Then the next morning you see the windfall coconuts beneath the palms.

I left my Loft in San Francisco

Location: San Francisco, California

In San Francisco for two days to meet with lawyers, financial people, accountants, museum staff, and realtor. I also heard Janet Yellen speak at the Commonwealth Club.

I saw my loft in San Francisco for perhaps the last time.

I built this place twenty years ago.
It has been my student loft, my primary residence, a place to stay when visiting the San Francisco Bay Area, and a crash space for friends and family when they visit San Francisco.

But now it is time to let go and move on to other adventures.

The Flaming Bull

Location: Santa Elena, Yucatan

The religious celebrations continue as they set off fireworks to honor Jesus Amor by setting off fireworks and having a man in a bull outfit running around chasing the kids.

On the back of the bull are fireworks that shoot wildly into the plaza.

The Hetzmek

Location: Santa Elena, Yucatan

The longer I spend in this village in Mexico, the more I feel a part of it.

Today, I became the godfather of a Maya child in a Maya Hetzmek ceremony.

My wife was the godmother, and she was also the godmother of the mother of the child, twenty years ago.

The ceremonial dress that she wore for the first ceremony still fit her and she wore it again for this occasion.

The ceremony was held in the house of Don Hernan, who practices the old Maya religion. A candle was lit for the old gods and particularly the alux to watch over and protect the child.

The Fiestas in Honor of Santo Cristo del Amor

Location: Santa Elena, Yucatan

This is the beginning of the of a two week religious celebration in Santa Elena.

At five in the morning people gathered in the church with the occasional rocket going off outside the massive church doors.
The cavernous church echoes the sound of the blast.

Santiago says that when he was a child the church was full, now there are only several dozen people here. He fears that in a few years this part of the ceremony may die out completely.

We decide to go up to the top of the roof by means of an ancient spiral staircase. In the old days they used candles.

We light our way with our cell phones.

The wedge shaped steps are four inches thick and embedded in the stone walls. We stop to explore the balcony in the back and the upper side chambers along the side, then we head up onto the roof.

The steps are sturdy, except the second step from the top is missing, and it is a long way down.

I have come this far, a simple scary missing step is not going to stop me.

I ease myself up to the roof and look out over the city. There is not much to see in the darken city, but it is wonderful to be here just the same.
During the wars, this is where they placed their lookouts. There are some big iron bells up here. In the old days they would ring them for celebrations such as this one. I am right next to them.

This morning I am glad they are silent.

We head back down the stairs to the processions.

At the bottom the ladies are offering a drink of finely ground corn, sweet potato, and water. I think it is an acquired taste, but the tamales they give us are excellent.

Then we head over to one of the village houses where there is a statue of a saint that the ladies are singing to. Other ladies offer the celebrants more tamales and a hot coffee and cinnamon drink.

I much prefer this over the liquid corn and sweet potatoes.

Then they add some slats to the statue of the saint and start a procession with the celebrants and a small band of drums and trumpets. They take this saint to another house with another saint and sing outside with the musicians playing.

Again cinnamon and coffee drinks are offered along with tamales.

Then both saints are taken in a procession the the church, with the musicians and the occasional rocket being fired.

In another house in the village they now start the slaughter of the pigs.

The pig is on a rope harness and tied to a tree. The pig-sticker deftly stabs it with a knife. In a minute or two the pig dies from blood loss.

These are not smooth pink city pigs. These have a heavy coat of hair.
They then proceed to remove the hair from the pig. This is an involved process. They pour water over the pig then use knives and a blowtorch for the hair removal.

They killed four pigs this morning. The killing and hair removal are done with the curious addition of the musicians playing in the background.

The pig stabbing and dead pigs was not an easy thing to watch.
But I had some bacon that morning, and felt if I was going to be a meat eater, I should be able to watch the process as to how a living animal becomes food.

I vow to pay homage before each meal to creatures that provide me sustenance.

At the end of the hair removal process, I returned home for a short rest.
My camera battery was dead and did did not get much sleep the night before. I took a bit of a nap and returned.

I missed the hog butchering, but was able to see butchered pigs hung up in a Maya hut, and watch them make sausages and fried pork rinds.

I now see why they spent so much effort on removing the hair.

Pork rinds have always been one of my favorite foods, and it gave me a strange sense of satisfaction to munch on them while remembering the live pig I saw earlier in the morning.

There were about three times as many people for the feasting as there had been been for the procession. And they were playing salsa music on a boom box rather than the drum and trumpet live band.

The next day there were going to provide a feast for the poor of the village.