A muddy mess, and the riddle of the flies solved

The next day brought a new surprise, Mexican mud.  I had learned by this time that Mexican technology is way ahead on The United States in two areas, mud and flies.

The mud around the orphanage seems to have been deposited in two different ways, river flooding and perhaps tidal surge from hurricanes.  The later is a little doubtful because of the long distance inland of the location.  But I just can’t figure out any other explanation.  The mud was extremely difficult to traverse.  After a few step, several pounds would be clinging to the bottom of your shoes.  It didn’t take very long to make walking difficult or almost impossible.  Fortunately, the sun came out and dried the ground out by noonish.

Work continued on through the week of December 3rd.  Then, it was time for a break.  On the 5th, Myriam could get away from her son for a little while (the severely broken nose from a soccer match).   I met her and the German exchange volunteers to shop for much needed clothing and school supplies.

The two young ladies in gray were the volunteers, Myriam, and a sales girl.  We spent 2 hours at Woolworths and another department store rifling through stacks and sorting through hangers to find the right items.  The girls were along as they were spending the most time with the children and were aware of the most acute shortages.  The main items we bought were underwear and socks, with some shirts or blouses for school.  Some of the boys were down to one pair of pants, so we loaded up on those.  The girls were short on school uniforms, which were purchased somewhere else.  They had to be made by hand, so I never saw them.  Most of the money goes to materials, labor was inexpensive.  It seems there are a lot of places that will help out for low labor costs. 

Every time I’ve been to the orphanage there have been new German volunteers.  They stay for a year and then go on to college.  I’m particularly impressed with their language skills.  Obviously they know German, but they are also fluent in Spanish and English.  I employed a young man named Alvin several times as an interpreter.  He was quick and easy to understand, I wondered if he was heading into diplomatic service.

No much to report for the rest of the week.  Hanging stucco wire.  An example…Before

and after…

A closet in the director’s suite.  This is boring work and there isn’t really much way to make it interesting.  Afterward it gets plastered, like this…

These guys are experts.  Sherwin paid them well, half again more than the going rate for the area.  They cheerfully worked all day long.  I brought cookies for them and it was a lunchtime ritual,  Galletas por favor?

By the 9th ,washing clothes was becoming an issue, so Sherwin assigned me to get the washroom going.  I spent the day cleaning and working on the washroom and bathrooms readying drains and faucets, and also putting up the clothes line.  Shirley was ecstatic and was trying to hang clothes before the line was even stretched off the ground.  Well, I might be stretching the truth, but we all were glad to get this up and running.  Then trouble again.  Water all over the floor.  The water pump in the washer had been fractured during shipping.  I knew at a glance it was toast and volunteered to try to find one in Navajoa.  It was surprisingly easy, I found one in less than an hour and had it back in the machine that afternoon.   

The morning of the 10th.  I’ll never forget it.  I woke up to an almost surreal scene.  The rain had pounded down all night and I peeked out of my trailer to this…

It was horrible.  One false step and that super Mexican mud tried to suck you to China.  Even walking on the gravel road was messy and disgusting.  Work on the building ground pretty much to a halt on this day.  It was impossible to work the cement mixer, so no mortar for the walls.  I backed out from my trailer to go to town and wandered slightly off the gravel approach to my trailer.  Bad news.  Lucky for me I have 4 wheel drive and three wheels were still on the gravel.  Otherwise I would have been stuck.  It took some hard scrubbing to get my truck clean.

By this time Pat had become discouraged with working.  Her health was shaky, room was uncomfortable, and food situation marginal.  No hot water for a shower and nothing to do in the evening.  She had decided it was time to go back to Phoenix.  I agreed to take her to the bus station the next morning.  The price was more than reasonable in my opinion.  $65 one way from Navajoa to Phoenix.  Not even a change of buses.  I dropped her off the next morning and returned to work and found, yep, another victim of the gooey muck.


It took two tractors, a fork lift, a lot of digging, and men pushing to get this truck out of its prison.  What a mess.

By this time I’d had enough of the flies.  The rain, then sunny weather had them on the attack.  I’d been watching and had discovered how they were getting in.  1.  I’d open the door and lunchtime or in the afternoon and the big swoop was on.  It only took seconds for the opportunistic little jerks.  2.  They would sneak around the door seal as the sun set in the evening.  and 3.  If I didn’t close my window screens carefully, there was a little gap on the lower sill. (The summertime mosquitoes in Idaho couldn’t find the final two ways in). I thought this was not a real problem, I  had a can of Raid in the storage box.  Wrong.  The flies were almost totally resistant to American Raid.  You had to actually soak ’em down to kill ’em.  The mist would cause them to fly a few feet and shake their wings a bit.  Then back at watching for me to let my guard down.  And, zip, into my trailer.  So, off I went to the store and bought a can of Mexican bug spray, the best I could find.  At last, a little peace.  I would carefully spray the outside wall on my trailer EVERY time I opened my door, then jump quickly through while holding my breath.  A few flies would still leak in, but not the dozens I’d been dealing with.

I actually had one cornered in my little bathroom.  I’d hit it so hard with my hand it would audibly bounce off the walls or floor.  Unbelievably, it would shake itself off and come back for more.  Three times.  I finally had to splatter that fly on the wall (ugh, gross) before I could finally get what was left of it into the toilet.

It’s a good thing that Mexican flies are not as big as say…a cat or horse.   Mexico would have to be condemned, and then abandoned. 

There you have it.  The Mexicans have us totally outclassed in flies and mud.  Even the Philippines lag in this area.  This flies in the Philippines do not land on walls, only the floors.  Any fly stupid enough to land on a wall or ceiling will be quickly scarfed by a gecko.  They are well trained, but quite wimpy compared to a Mexican fly.

Tip–So you got sick, now what.

The first and foremost thing to do is REST.   I know, I know, you’re on vacation and don’t want to waste a moment.  Well, now you are going to waste that moment.  To do otherwise will turn a bad situation into a disaster.  And NO alcohol.

Case in point…I had booked a New Year’s Eve fiesta at the La Iguana in Puerto Vallarta.  It was $35 and non refundable.  I was going to go in spite of having gotten sick at the "large American chain" restaurant.  So I ate the spicy food and drank lots of tequila and sat on the pot frequently.  Huge mistake.  Late that evening and for the following two days I was a wreck.  Terrible cramps and trips to the bathroom every 20 minutes.  I was sick for over a week. 

I now budget a few spare days into my trip just in case.  I’m adventurous and tend to push the envelope.

There are a few things that will help but rest is the best.  First, Pepto Bismal.  The pink slime does more good than anything other than drugs that are prescribed by a doctor.  Change to a diet that is easy on your stomach.  I have a final line of defense, but I’m not qualified to recommend it.  I had to resort to this in Puerto Vallarta, but I try to avoid it.  You can ask your doctor before you leave (I do that) and purchase it in the states or purchase it in Mexico for about 1/4 price.  And yes, you should let your doctor know where you are going and ask what to do if you get a bad case of traveler’s diarrhea. 

Be very careful with indiscriminate use of drugs without doctor supervision.  I ran into a guy in Playa Azul, Michoacan that had thought he had Montezuma’s Revenge.  Incorrect use of over-the-counter antibiotics had delayed his going to a physician.  The delay subsequently strengthened his case of typhoid fever to the point it nearly killed him.  One year later his liver was finally strong enough to tolerate a few beers.  I could tell he was quite humbled by his experience.

Don’t be afraid to contact a doctor in Mexico.  Medical service is excellent in the big cities and many of the doctors train in the US.  I’ve seen a couple of doctors and I have nothing but praise for the treatments I’ve received.


About Ken

I am a federal employee that loves to travel. I don't get any time off during the busy salmon tagging season, March through November. So, I save my leave and explore the warmer parts of the world during the winter.
This entry was posted in 2007 RV trip to Navajoa, Sonora, Mexico. Bookmark the permalink.

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