Yesterday afternoon I was on my way to the Manzanillo airport to pick up my house guest -- Cailin Maccionnath, Josh's mother. One of my favorite parts of the drive is when I crest a hill and a large expanse of coconut palms planted on an alluvial flood plain stretches to the horizon. For good reason it is called el mar de cocos (the sea of coconut palms), because that is exactly what it looks like.
But there was a disturbing site yesterday. The Manzanillo airport is built at the edge of the plantations. When I glanced over that way, there was a large cloud of smoke billowing into the sky.
Fires are common this time of year around here. Just before the rains come, farmers and other property owners burn off the dried grass and bushes on their property.
The practice is ancient and has its roots in early farming practices around the world. The theory is that the burning will sterilize the soil for new crops or, at least, give crop seedlings a fighting chance.
Most of the fires are purposely set. And, because the vegetation here is intermixed with green plants, the fires almost always meet a natural firebreak. But, often, they don't, and another property owner's fields are burned, as well.
That should have been my first thought. It wasn't. I started fumbling with my telephone to check on the status of the Alaska flight I was to meet. It was still listed as arriving in another half-hour. Thoughts of what I would tell Josh danced through my head.
It turns out the fire was not from an airplane that had met an untimely end. It was just another grass fire. The wetlands bordering the airport were in full flame -- on both sides of the road. There was certainly no apparent agricultural reason for the fire, but I do not know if it was accidental. Perhaps, it was set by the airport.
The photograph at the top of this essay was taken on the highway as I approached the fire. The cloud almost made me feel like an Exodus-mode Israelite fleeing Egypt.
So, I picked up my guest and brought her to the house with no name.
I recommend entertaining people who have not been to Mexico before -- or not to the part of Mexico where you live. It is refreshing to see what has become commonplace to me through the eyes of someone who is open to enjoying new experiences.
On the drive from the airport, Cailin was like a cop in a doughnut shop. "Look at that." "Did you see that building?" "That little girl is darling."
During the next ten days, I hope she will enjoy this part of Mexico I have chosen to call home. I may even learn something myself along the way.
|From the airport parking lot|