Joey el potrillo

Beauty and Joey

Beauty and Joey

The last few weeks, my husband has been calculating and recalculating Beauty’s due date and examining her girth for clues as to the gender of the expected foal. He calculated that since Shadow was born August 28 last year and he echó el caballo (brought the horse for stud service) 3 times the week after, the last day being September 9, to take advantage of the “foal heat”, the new potrillo (foal) should be born July 7 since horse gestation is 11 months. And he also took the odds that since the last 2 foals were girls, certainly this time it should be a boy.

However, this weekend, Beauty seemed quite ready to give birth, dates or no dates. We decided to place a friendly family wager on the birth date. I picked Tuesday. My husband picked Sunday the 6th, since he had done his calculations, by golly. And my son went with the middle ground by choosing Friday.

Much to my husband’s astonishment, had Beauty waited just 3 hours more, I would have won the bet. Just as we were finishing up dinner on Monday, Chokis started barking and barking. We thought he and Chivo Pestoso (Stinky Goat) were having yet another manly contest. Chivo hits the door and Chokis barks him down, which angers Chivo and he hits the door again, which…well you get the idea. But then we heard Beauty chuff and we were out the door running.

My husband went out the front door and my son and I out the back. I coaxed Chokis into the back yard and closed the door to keep him from more agitated barking and upsetting Beauty during delivery. My husband was yelling for the flashlight, which I had in my hand. I arrived seconds later to perform my vital role of lamppost.

My son’s job was to distract an agitated Shadow in the next stall. He threw some paca (alfalfa bale) in her dish with a mix of corn pieces and tied her next to her trough. She didn’t even lift her head from her meal until the corn ran out.

My husband had planned to modify Beauty’s stall for delivery but thought he had a few more days. Beauty is a big horse and although her stall is a good size, a laboring horse needs room to lie down and get up as she needs. By the time we arrived, she had already lain down to deliver and there was no moving her into the open.

The foal’s head and forefeet had already presented, but as Beauty took up so much space, the baby was squashed against the wall and unable to get the placenta off its nose. My husband dove in and tore the sac off its face, trying to convince Beauty to move just a little bit so the baby could come free.

His pleas must have worked because suddenly Beauty stood up and as my husband had ahold of the front legs, out popped this incredibly long legged foal. He shouted for a knife to cut the cord, but it had already detached when the foal fell out.

My husband immediately slid the baby out from under Beauty’s hooves and checked the gender. ALL RIGHTY! It was a boy. He checked again just to make sure and did a little happy dance.

Joey at 12 hours old

Joey at 12 hours old

This was the first birth we were present at with Beauty (See Beauty’s Babies) and it wasn’t anything compared to goat births. The placenta was so thick it seemed like a white plastic bag, and there was so much of it. My son said he felt a little woozy, although there was very little blood. But he manfully sucked it up and wouldn’t leave the area for any little stomach flutters. I reassured my son saying that his dad was woozy at his birth too, so it was ok.

We were concerned that the foal seemed weak. We stayed with mother and baby while she cleaned and bonded with her new son and watched his first attempts to stand. Again, the cramped quarters were a problem. The foal’s legs were so long (so much longer than Spirit or Shadow’s had been) that he didn’t seem to have the room or coordination to untangle them in order to get up. We waited about 40 minutes, but he wasn’t able to stand.

We thought perhaps we should give him some more time and went inside to finish dinner. My husband went out again and stayed with the pair until after midnight, making sure the foal did get up to nurse before he came back in.

We were all out at the crack of dawn to get a good look at our new addition and debate a name. Two of his hooves were white, one was black and one was half and half like painted fingernails much like Shadow has. Spirit had 3 white “socks” instead. He had a star on his head about the size of mark Spirit has and bigger than Shadow’s mark. My husband was puzzled at these coloring anomalies because the father had none of these marks. I suspect these are genetic markings from Beauty since all 3 babies had them. The foal’s fur was a dark brown, but the edges of his tail and around his mouth he was almost yellow. We think that eventually his fur will be more yellow than brown, since the father was a mustard color. None of these physical characteristics helped us decide on a name though.

Curious about the world around him.

Curious about the world around him.

So we tried looking for signs of his character. Spirit was incorrigible from the get go and we had no trouble naming her. The foal still seemed weak and wobbly in the morning. He wasn’t much into whinnying either. He stayed very close to Beauty, although he was curious about his surroundings, especially when we brought the pair out of the corral to pasture. He liked being outdoors so much that he refused to come back in, much to Beauty’s consternation. We finally decided that his name would be Joey, from the movie War Horse.

We kept an eye on both Beauty and Joey. Beauty seemed exhausted and would lay down and get up like she couldn’t get comfortable. Joey was definitely eating, but still seemed so thin. My husband was positive that the thinness was because he was more than a week early according to his calculations. I countered that with the size of him, especially his incredibly long legs, there just wasn’t room in the womb for him to wait another week, dates or no dates.

Curious fellows

Curious fellows

In the late afternoon, we took them out again, along with Shadow and the goats. Chivo Pestoso was very curious as to the nature of Joey, but decided he wasn’t a threat and went to eat. Shadow wanted to be right next to her mother just like Joey, but Beauty wasn’t having any of that. She chased Shadow away and we had to finally tie Shadow so that none of the horses would be accidentally hurt.

Shadow, Beauty and Joey

Shadow, Beauty and Joey

The scene reminded me of the day Spirit, who doesn’t live with us, but does live near us, escaped from her enclosure and came for a visit. Beauty recognized Spirit as she didn’t kick up a fuss when Spirit came right to the gate. The mother and daughter touched noses. Then Beauty turned her head to look at Shadow, then back at Spirit. She turned completely around and kicked the gate, basically telling Spirit to move on, which she did.

posing with Joey

Joey being a boy will eventually be an issue for us. We are already cramped for space. Shadow has her own stall and Beauty is sharing with Joey for now, but poor Fiona the donkey doesn’t have a place to call her own and is more often than not tied under the mesquite tree for the night. With 2 female horses and 1 female donkey all capable of going into heat, Joey will have to have a stall apart. It would have been just the thing had we been able to purchase that lot next door to adequately house our larger animals. (See Buying a piece of Heaven) Sigh! Well, we just will see what happens down the road.

Leave a comment

Filed under Animal Husbandry

Las Cuevas en Cerano (The Caves in Cerano)

After we failed at our attempt for buckets of capulines (See Picking Capulines) we decided it was too beautiful a day to waste and continued down the other side of the mountain in Myrtle.

the other side of the mountain

“Let us try to recognize the precious nature of each day.” His Holiness The Dalai Lama

We stopped at a little town for some water and snacks and took it slow, as a good Sunday drive should be.

tienda

My husband mentioned that when he was a boy, he took of Chava Herrera’s herd of goats near our current location and left them to overnight in some caves. There was nothing to be done but go and see the caves.

trail down

We parked Myrtle in the shade off the side of the road and headed down the path to the base of the mountain. This road was a little more difficult than the capulí trek, at least for me in sandals. There were hundreds of little picky rocks and larger potential ankle breaking rocks and mesquite thorns. Therefore, I took my time. My husband and son, with their work boots we call mata viboras (snake killing boots) had no such problem and soon outdistanced me. My son called back that I should hurry up. I responded with “slow and steady wins the race.” My son said that he and dad were steady and I was just slow.

caves

caves

A little graffiti at the base of the caves.

A little graffiti at the base of the caves. It says “Cristo Rey ” Christ Jesus and “Adoremos la Santa Cruz” We adore or worship the Holy Cross.

Before too long, we came upon the caves. More than 20 years have passed since my husband used these caves to shelter the goats in his care and according to him quite a bit of the caves have collapsed, so there weren’t as impressive as in his mind’s eye. My son and I, however, were impressed enough.

 caves 2another cave

We headed back up the trail and took Myrtle down to Cerano. We stopped to get gas, just in case (See Driving Hazards–Gas and Illumination) and were passed by 2 policia estatal (state police) vehicles. Three more vehicles joined the caravan in La Calera. We jokingly said we needed to get to La Yacata before they set up their “checkpoint” but lost them at the crossroads between Yuriria and El Moral. We stopped at the store for some goodies but didn’t see any sign of the police.

Here they are, parked at the entrance of La Yacata!

Here they are, parked at the entrance of La Yacata!

 

However, turning into La Yacata, we nearly ran head on into 3 of the same state police vehicles parked and picnicking. Guess they wanted lunch before starting the fishing. (See Driving Hazards–Mordidas).  Ni modo (whatever), we were done for the day and wouldn’t be venturing across their net to risk getting caught for something or other any more that afternoon.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under El Alma de México, Native fauna and flora

Goat Genetics

Tweedledee and Harry. No horns, no campinatas, white, big ears.

One of the most interesting features for us in raising goats is learning about genetics without hours in the classroom studying the theory. As goat gestation is 5 months, we have at least one, probably 2, chances to see the results of genetic matings each year.

We aren’t looking for thoroughbreds or rare breeds, but we are interested in healthy, productive goats, maybe with a few extra colors or characteristics thrown in to give each goat distinction.

The majority of the goats in our area are white with long ears. While there is nothing wrong with white, it is a little boring. We have been hard pressed to find a little natural variation with which to infuse our stock.

Vaca the goat, pinta, horned but no campanitas

A few months ago we came across a little black and white pinta (black and white) that we paid a little more for and subsequently named Vaca (Cow). Much to our surprise, she was pregnant, however we weren’t sure if the father was Chivo Pestoso (Stinky Goat) our macho or the macho from the herd she had been with, that seriously resembled Mr. Snuffleufagus, huge, shaggy and brown. We tried counting the months, but without knowing the exact time she became pregnant, we couldn’t say for sure.

Large, hairy, pinto, no campanitas, no horns, big ears.

Nothing to be done but wait. So we did. And out popped Firolais one shiny morning. He didn’t look like Chivo Pestoso. He didn’t look like Mr. Snuffleufagus. He didn’t even look like Vaca. He looked exactly like our puppy Hershey! Talk about genetic anomalies! We determined that he had to be Mr. Snuffleugagus’ son based on his ears. His ears were not like Vaca’s or Chivo Pestoso’s ears. He also has longer than average hair and seems to be developing into quite a big guy, while his mother is rather on the small side.

One male goat is enough manliness for our small herd. Males have a strong odor emanating from the base of their horns, that they add fresh pee cologne to when a lady goat is in heat through the interesting feat of urinating on their own faces. So believe me, one macho is quite enough. We had been using a rent-a-stud service, but the arranging, transporting and servicing fees made it more practical to keep one of our own machos as the herd stud muffin. Last year, Queenie gave us twin boys from which to choose.

Stinky Chivo, little ears, horns, campanitas, not white and a twin son from a mother who was herself a twin and a father who was one of 4!

Stinky Chivo, little ears, horns, campanitas, not white and a twin son from a mother who was herself a twin and a father who was one of 4!

My husband kept Chivo Pestoso instead of his twin brother, based on the size of his ears. Chivo Pestoso has itty bitty ears, even smaller than his mother’s ears. The twin had ears that were the same size as Queenie’s. All our adult female goats are currently expecting and the now teen-age Chivo Pestoso is the father. It will be interesting to see if little ears is a dominant or recessive trait. Personally, I think it is an unattractive characteristic. Furthermore, it has become evident that Chivo Pestoso has some hearing issues. All the goats come running when we shake corn in a tin can. All but Chivo Pestoso that is. He continues munching away, oblivious to the stampede for corn and often gets left behind. Finding himself alone, he panics and begins his high pitched bleating. But, as he doesn’t hear so well he can’t hear the rest of the goats when they answer and he wanders about lost until we go and fetch him in.

Little ears and campanitas!

Little ears and campanitas!

Chivo Pestoso, Queenie, Tinkerbell and Caramela have campanitas, small balls of hanging skin on the neck resembling “bells” hence the name, which is another trait my husband prefers. This particular trait is cosmetic, nothing more. It doesn’t appear to be tied to twinning, fertility or milk production, which are traits I am more interested in.

Caramela, big ears, campanitas, not white and horns

Caramela, big ears, campanitas, not white and horns

Horns, however, are not just for looks. In goat reproduction, it’s important that the macho has horns. A macho without horns has a 50 percent chance of his daughters being sterile. So any male kid without horns is sold. Males that grow horns are watched to see if they are a potential replacement for Chivo Pestoso. My husband can usually tell if the kid will have horns or not shortly after birth, but it takes me a few days to determine whether the hair swirls will remain swirls or grow horns. As not all of our nanny goats have horns, it is important that the male does to avoid that chance of infertility.

Frank and Jesse, little ears, campanitas, pintos, twins sons of Duchess, a twin, and Stinky Chivo, a twin, and looks like both will have horns

Frank and Jesse, little ears, campanitas, pintos, twin sons of Duchess, a twin, and Stinky Chivo, a twin, and looks like both will have horns

Twinning is another genetic factor we consider when buying, keeping or selling our goats. Queenie has produced two sets of twins in 2 years and was herself a twin. She’s a keeper. Tweedledee has produced twins 2 out of 3 births, we don’t know if she was a twin or not. Duchess was a twin, but her last 2 births were single offspring. However, yesterday, she presented us with twin boy kids (pinto with little ears and horns). Vaca had a single birth, but as her offspring is not related to any of our goats, the jury is still out on whether he will stay or go. We try to avoid too much inbreeding. Tinkerbell, Cookie (otherwise known as Shortie), Diabla and Caramela are new purchases and have yet to have babies. Venada (Deer), the daughter of Queene, is the current favorite, being a lovely brown color, having horns and campanitas and being a twin. She just turned 7 months old, so not ready for baby making yet, but we can’t wait to see what she produces.

Caramela, Diabla and Cookie

Caramela, Diabla and Cookie

Milk production is another big factor when culling the herd. Tweedledee, though not always a twin producer, always has more than enough milk for our evening hot chocolate. Queenie, being small and the mother of twins, doesn’t produce much extra milk, but has sufficient for her offspring. Duchess and Vaca have barely enough milk for their offspring and are on the watch list. To be fair, Vaca’s baby is enormous and Duchess is an excellent mother, so no action has been taken as of yet, but when the time comes, they are near the top of the list.

My husband, as the main milker, has a preference in udders. Some teats are long and hang low. This type of udder is harder to milk, seems subject to more infections and often gets tangled or cut when out foraging. Other teats are shorter and found under a rounder udder and the goat booby preference around here. My husband insists that this trait is determined through the male. I can’t say whether I completely believe that or not. His theory, and one I’ve heard from several other locals, is the hang and shape of the testicles has a bearing on the type of udder any daughter born will have.

Long ear, twin, campanitas, not white and unique personality

Venada–Long ears, twin, campanitas, not white and unique personality

Personality also plays a role in whether a goat is kept or not. It may be more of nature vs. nurture though rather than true genetics. For instance, Queenie lets us know the minute food supplies are dwindling, even if she is still has a bite in her mouth. Her daughter Venada is just as assiduous in keeping us informed. Tweedledee, although a good breeder and milk producer, doesn’t have the “spark” that Queenie and her offspring have. Her twin boys, although both having keepable (i.e. good color, campanitas and horns) characteristics, were not considered as potential macho replacements because they too lacked the “intelligence” we were looking for. The verdict is still out on Duchess’ little boys. A week or so watching them play a rousing game of bump heads or king of the rock will tell.

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Animal Husbandry

Picking Capulines

capulin

The rainy season hadn’t begun yet, but my husband insisted that the capulines were ready. He said he saw some sellers by the Bodega, their buckets brim full and was impatient for some of his own.

So on Sunday, we went in search of the elusive capulín, otherwise known as the bitter-berry or chokecherry or capolcuahuitl in Nahuatl. According to my little guidebook Antiguo Recetario Medicinal Azteca, the capulín is useful for treatment of dysentery, spasms, nervousness and pain caused by abscesses and tumors with the application of a leaf poultice.

Excess should be avoided and care should be taken in the ingestion of the capulín leaf because it seems that wilted leaves become toxic due to the release of cyanide in the wilting process. Ingesting 10-20 lbs of foliage can be fatal. The tablespoon every 2 hours of a tea made from 4 fresh leaves per liter for nervousness should be safe enough.

up the hill

We had gone once before with my husband’s mother. The trip was longish and our then 4 year old son fell asleep, so I stayed in the car with him. Boy, was I glad that I did! Not 20 minutes after they left, there was such a hail storm that it dented the roof of the truck. Eventually, my husband and his mother, and the passle of local kids that had come along to show them the way, came back into sight, drenched to the skin. My mother-in-law had her bucket on her head and was hollering Bloody Murder. There were no capulines to enjoy on that trip.

red feathery wildflower

This time, we drove Myrtle up past la basurera (dump) through La Barranca and Santa Gertrudis to Los Amoles, at the very peak of the mountain. We had to leave Myrtle behind when the trail got too rough and hoofed it the rest of the way.  The path was well-traveled, no espinas (mesquite thorns) like there is in La Yacata, and as we were already so far up, it wasn’t as difficult an uphill trek as I thought it might be.

neat rockcool rock

The earth in the area was a deep rust color and the wildflowers were spectacular. My son, who has recently developed a keen interest in rocks, was in seventh heaven with all the new samples he slid into Dad’s backpack.

 

 

 

 

conversationWe encountered an older man on his horse coming down the mountain and my husband stopped to chat. It turns out that he knew this man from when he was a boy in Cerano. They talked about trading donkeys and horses, although I don’t think anything will come of it. My husband is pretty pleased with Fiona, our current burra (donkey) and Beauty is due to foal any day now. As my son and I had a shady place to wait, we didn’t mind the rest period.

a little bit sour

That one was a little bit tart!

a few berries

Just a few capulines!

We did finally come across some capulín tress, however most of the berries were still green. We managed to get a handful to enjoy though. They taste like mini-cherries and were well worth the hike.

 

 

 

 

 

 

sceneryview

The way back was just as pleasant a hike as the way up. At the risk of repeating myself, how amazing it is to live where the earth’s abundance is so readily found.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Native fauna and flora, Natural Healing

Getting Legal—License plates

Myrtle

Placando Mytle

As much as I love my moto, I have to admit it is not as much fun to use during rainy season. With that in mind, this year we found a 1993 VW bug, known here as a Vocho, in our price range, owned by someone whose family we know and could feel reasonably confident buying from and voila, Myrtle joined the family.

With the policía del estado (State police) camping out at the crossroads that is the main entrance to La Yacata, (See Driving Hazards–mordidas) we decided to waste no time in getting license plates and tarjeta de circular (permission to circulate) for Myrtle.

oficina de recaudadora

My husband went down to the Oficina de Recaudadora to see about that particular transaction. He took his driver’s license, his IFE (voter registration card) and the electric bill from his sister’s tortilleria (tortilla shop). However the guy at the desk said that one or the other of his identifications must have the address that the electric bill had listed.

Oh, but wait! My newly minted moto license has that address on it! (See Getting Legal—Motorcycle license) Problem solved. So we went back and showed my documentation. I brought my residency card, my driver’s license, my passport, just in case, and Myrtle’s papers. We checked with the guy at the desk and everything seems a go. We took a number and waited.

At the counter, the girl asked for the original factura (factory receipt), the baja (the receipt from when the previous owner turned in the old license plates), the CFE receipt (the electric bill), and my driver’s license. My husband also insisted I show her my residency card. I explained that my last name is not E. but F. and that I don’t have a second last name and that E. is my middle name. My husband signed over the car to me on the back of the original factura with 6 other transfers of ownership. He wrote Cedo a los derechos a (I cede the rights to this receipt to) my name, then signed his name and dated it. The counter girl asked for copies of all these. She told us to get a number from the guy at the desk when we came back.

So we trouped down to the first floor to a costume store that makes copies, $1 peso per side. That was a little steep, but it was the closest copy place. We went back up to the third floor and the desk guy said we could go over to the counter. But as girl said we needed a number, we asked again. He hollered over at the girl and she said we could come on over. There wasn’t a line or anything.

So she took the copies and entered stuff into the computer. She asked how much we paid for the vehicle. My husband said $12,000 pesos although we really paid $17,000 but I guess the price of the plates is partially determined by the value of the vehicle or something. We asked if she could determine if the car had ever been a taxi since we discovered chips of green paint under the white. She said that there wasn’t anything in the system that said that it was, however since it had been originally purchased in D.F. (Mexico City) there was a good chance that it had been.

She told us that the plates would cost between $1200 and $1300 pesos but she couldn’t be sure since it was the end of the month and the price goes up at the beginning of the new month. My husband asked why we couldn’t pick them up today since it would be cheaper than waiting. She said that there was a 3 to 10 day waiting period in order for the State Police to check if the documentation we presented was fake or not. No worries! She gave us a recibo de documentación para tramites vehículares (a receipt stating she had received our documentation) and an appointment for Wednesday at 1:20 pm to come back for the alta (plates and permit and literally the opposite of the baja).

So Wednesday came around and we arrived 5 minutes before our appointment. I handed the recibo (receipt) letter that we had been given to the desk guy. He took it over to the window and gave it to the same girl we spoke with before behind the glass partition. Then we sat down. The waiting area was more crowded but the TV was on, so we watched a telenovela (soap opera) while we waited. It seemed the girl was finishing another transaction and she had to go hither and yon into different areas for paperwork, so the wait was about 10 minutes.

She then called my name and we went to the window. She apologized for the wait and said that she had indeed been working a troublesome transaction and thus the delay. She gave me the plates and read off the number on the tarjeta (card) to make sure they were the same. She asked the original factura (factory receipt) and $1123 pesos, which was much lower than we had been anticipating. I signed two or three documents. She rubber stamped and signed the original and the copy of the factura and she handed me the card. We were done.

How refreshing for an official transaction to be so simple and straightforward! We took Myrtle out for doughnuts that very afternoon, cruising right past the policía without a care in the world.

Leave a comment

Filed under Driving Hazards, Getting Legal

Driving Hazards–Mordidas

Bribery is called mordida (bite) as in a bite of an apple.

A bribe called mordida (bite) as in a bite of an apple.

So for the past 2 months, the GTO State Police have set themselves up at the crossroads that is the main entryway, not only to La Yacata, but also La Ordeña, Las Peñas, Caricheo, and Pamaceo. These communities are very small, very poor and very targeted by the police for mordidas (bribes). The police’s constant presence prompted me to get my motorcycle driver’s license, however it isn’t an option for everyone. Many campesinos (country folk) are poor readers or illiterate so don’t even attempt to take the computerized exam. Others might not have an electric or water receipt to prove their residence because they lack these services in their homes. Furthermore, many of the IFE (voter’s registration cards) that I have seen from these little communities have nothing more than domicilio conocido (known address) listed since their home has no street name or number. So what’s a body to do?

So on to the story….

Sunday, my husband went to town for huaraches (large cheese and meat filled tortillas) as a special treat. He took my motorcycle rather than his own because I had just filled my tank and he was low on gas. Right after he left, my son and I went for a walk towards the crossroads so I could take a picture of some yellow wildflowers by the side of the road that I had spotted earlier. Just as we came out of La Yacata, my husband’s brother J passed us on his bike. He spent the day in La Yacata reportedly preparing an area to plant maize (corn) but mostly drinking.

We snapped the picture and headed back to La Yacata to wait for my husband. He was gone an unconsciously long time. We tried to call him, but he had left his phone at the house. My son got impatient and decided to head to the store on his bike for some munchies.

My husband arrived 15 minutes later with the huaraches, having been gone nearly 2 hours. Here’s what happened.

At the crossroads, the police stopped my husband on the moto and asked for his license, which he just renewed (See Getting Legal—Motorcycle license), and the tarjeta de circular (vehicle permit card) which he had taken with him, usually it’s in my purse. My moto has placas (license plate) and all the miscellaneous and sundry impuestos (taxes) paid. But that didn’t satisfy the police. They said that the card wasn’t valid, but it was. They said that the moto was stolen, which is wasn’t. They even lifted the the plastic to see the VIN and check it against the card. Even though it was all good, they said that they would have to call it in. My husband wasn’t going to pay the mordida (bribe) they were fishing for, so he told them to go ahead and he’d wait. The officer got up in his face and wanted to know if my husband had a problem with him. He didn’t, but intimidation is part of this whole macho-mordida thing.

While they had him wait, he said that they stopped a car heading to Las Peñas. The car didn’t have any placas (license plates) but everything else was in order. The police told the driver that the new law is that you have 9 days to get placas (license plates) from the date of purchase or the vehicle will be impounded. Hmm, as we just purchased a new vehicle, this is good to know. (See Getting Legal—License plates) Many vehicles in the area are chocolates, which is the name for a car brought into Mexico from the United States that has overstayed its permit and not been legalized. (See Getting Legal—Legalizing a vehicle). This isn’t true in our case however.

By this time, my husband’s brother J rode past the policía on his bike. There is no law requiring license plates, nor license, nor helmet for a bike, although I believe there is a law that says you have to register your bike to prove it wasn’t stolen, but nobody does that. So J just assumed the police wouldn’t stop him. However, my detained and “uncooperative” husband waved to him as he passed. The officer turned to my husband and said that he knew that was his brother, then told my husband he was free to go.

The officers jumped into their official police vehicle and drove towards town. Since that was the direction my husband was going anyway, he followed. He arrived just in time to see them take J into custody. His crime? A suspicious backpack. Inside were 3 empty cahuamas (liter size beer bottles) and 1 full one. He also carried an ax and hoe—deadly but not concealed weapons. My husband followed them to the jail and signed for custody of J, promising to deliver him safely to his house, which he did. He took him and his suspicious backpack and deadly weapons all the way to Uriangato and left him at the door with his heavily pregnant wife. Then he headed back to town and picked up the huaraches and headed home.

While my husband was retelling this story to me, my son arrived home from the store. He said he had just seen J by the store on the back of a gray moto with some heavy set man he didn’t recognize. It seems that having 3 empty cahuama bottles is a crime against nature and therefore he must have left his house minutes after my husband had dropped him off in search of the not-so-elusive cold one. So much for seeing him safely home.

Anyway, police presence also curtailed our driving practice that afternoon. Technically, the State Police only have jurisdiction on the main road. The road that goes to La Yacata and all the other little communities I mentioned is overseen by the transito muncipal (local traffice police) but they hardly ever come out to check on anything. We wanted to take Myrtle, our new VW bug, out for a spin on the local road, but since we didn’t have placas (license plates) yet and the State police were following bicycle riders to town, we thought better of it. So no practicing until the plates are on.

Leave a comment

Filed under Driving Hazards, Getting Legal, Safety and Security

Cultural Challenge—How to tell if you’ve been just been called an idiot

dunce

It’s not as easy as you might think to determine if you have just been insulted by a Mexican Spanish speaker. Sure words like idiota or estúpido can be easily understood by an English speaker, but there are expressions that on the surface might mean something completely different. Just so you know, all of the following expressions are meant to cause offense, so best not use them unless you want your butt kicked.

aloe vera

¡Ponte sabila! This isn’t a reference to the sábila (aloe vera) plant (See Natural Healing with sábila) but to the word saber (knowledge). It loosely translates as Wise Up! After all, a wise person would use sábila in healing. You’ve just been told you are acting like an idiot.

trout

¡Ponte trucho(a)! The word trucho literally refers to a male trout. However it’s actual use is more in line with fraud or fake. Although, in this expression it means rascally or shrewd. So here the expression is for you to Sharpen up like a male trout! You’ve just been told you are acting like an idiot.

¡Ponte chingón(a)! The word chingón comes from the verb chingar which has a whole slew of meanings in México. It could mean to f*** with, to f****, to take advantage of or to work diligently, among others. This expression advises you to take control of the situation or manipulate it for your benefit. You’ve just been told you are acting like an idiot.

empty head

¡No seas cabeza hueca! The word hueca means hollow or empty. So here the idea implied is that there is nothing inside the hollow of your head. You’ve just been told you are acting like an idiot.

¡No seas pendejo(a)! The word pendejo refers literally to pubis hair. No joke! Therefore the use of this word is a bit stronger and more offensive than some. It means you are acting in a adolescent, unwise manner. A related expression is¡No digas pendejadas! This expression advices you forcefully to leave off saying whatever it is you are saying because you are speaking like an idiot.

¡No seas mamón! This expression uses the verb mamar which means to suckle and is extremely offensive. They literally refer to the idea that you are not capable of an intelligent action or thought because you are still being breast-fed. You’ve just been told you are acting like an idiot.

¡No mames! This also uses the verb mamar but has a slightly different meaning. It is typically used when you just can’t believe something. In English you might say You’ve got to be kidding! Obviously you have just done or said something stupid.

manches

¡No manches! This expression is sort of the juvenile version of ¡No mames! Sort of like Jeez in place of Jesus Christ as an expletive. The verb manchar means to stain or leave a mark. The expression is typically used when one is frustrated with the actions or comments of another person. When my students use this expression in class, me being the wise-ass that I am, calmly inform them that No estamos manchando! (we aren’t staining anything at the moment) and they laugh and try for a more polite response.

table

¡No seas menso(a)! The word mensa once upon a time was a reference to a table. So calling someone a table would indicate that they are of inferior intelligence. In México, this expression means you are of inferior intelligence or in other words you’ve just been told you are acting like an idiot.

burro

¡Burro(a) or Asno(a)! Both words refer to the donkey and imply that you have so little intelligence that you are fit for nothing but working in the fields. (See On Being a Burro). You’ve just been told you are acting like an idiot.

Cada quien su guey

¡Güey! This word is an altered version of the word buey which is an ox. Again we have reference to the limited mental prowess of an animal. You’ve just been told you are acting like an idiot.

tonto

¡Tonto(a)! or ¡Deja de decir tonterías! Yes, the Long Ranger’s sidekick’s name was Stupid. The second expression indicates that you are saying foolish things and should leave off saying them immediately because you are an idiot.

¡Tarado(a)! This expression isn’t as common where I live, but I heard it on a Spanish language dubbed movie. My husband wouldn’t tell me what it meant so I had to look it up. It implies that you are deficient in the intelligence department and you’ve just been told you are acting like an idiot.

blockhead

¡Tarugo(a)! Literally the word means a thick piece of wood. Wood, like tables and suckling babes, are low on the intelligence totem pole, and you have just been told you are an idiot, blockhead.

¡Idiota! This word actually comes from the the Greek word for layman, someone untrained or not involved in public affairs. It is easily understood by English speakers as an insult to your higher reasoning powers.

¡Estúpido(a)! Again, this word is easily recognized by English speakers. However, I will warn you that it seems a stronger insult in Mexican Spanish and is seldom used. One day, I was reading The Emperor’s New Clothes to first graders and the version I was reading used the word stupid. Oh my goodness! You would have thought I had insulted their mothers the way the kids carried on. I certainly didn’t want them running home and saying the English teacher used the word estúpido in class, so I tried to explain that it didn’t mean the same in English and that regardless, we weren’t going to use it in class.

computer guy

Contra Indios. This racial expression can be translated literally against Indians. It is used when something you are trying to use isn’t working correctly. For instance, if you can’t open the trunk of your car it’s because the lock is contra Indios. This implies that the object is too technically advanced for a backwoods Indian and you are a backwoods Indian. You have just been told you are an idiot.

This list is not conclusive. I am sure that there are many other ways you might be told you are sub-intelligent that I have yet to hear. But I hope it helps with any inter-cultural communication situations you might find yourself in.

knight

If you want to respond to any of the previously mentioned, you might try ¡Te pasaste! or ¡No te pasas de lanza! Pasar means to go over or past and lanza is a weapon (lance). These phrases let the insulting speaker know that he or she has gone over the limit with the idiot comment and you don’t appreciate it. After all, them’s fighting words!

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Cultural Challenges