Joy of Being

Entry four of four: I would like to introduce you to my husband…

When the rains came the well filled with mud from the torrent of the swollen creek. We hadn’t built a sufficient retaining wall around it. It would have to be cleaned, Felipe would need help and I was it. We pumped as much of the water from the top as we could without filling the pump with mud. There was a meter and a half of sludge in the bottom, Felipe lowered himself in and started the process of removing the sludge, one bucket at a time.

He attached the bucket to a rope and pulley; I heaved it out and filled the wheel barrel. While Felipe refilled I walked the mud over to the shore. It was the worst and most difficult work I have ever done. It took two days, five hours a day. The mud in the well smelled like rotten fish and was black, gritty and slimy. I stood barefoot in the creek for hours; I couldn’t wear shoes because they were immediately sucked of by the mud. The wheel barrel was so heavy I could barely move it, I repeatedly slipped and stepped on sharp rocks, and thorns. I was covered in stinky, slimy mud that the bugs were crazy about, and was stung by wasps that got stuck in my gross coating. If I tried to shoo one from my face I got disgusting filth on my head. I became so waterlogged chunks of skin fell off my feet. Continue reading

Digging the Well Deep

Entry three of four: I would like to introduce you to my husband…

With Don G gone and our money going fast not to mention that Felipe was not employed,  he decided to finish digging the well himself. It was time for me to return to renew my visa, so I was away the month it took him to accomplish this feat, which I consider to be the prime example of what my husband is cable of. He worked six days a week, 8-10 hours a day. I have never known anyone as focused or determined as Felipe. If he tells you that he will do something, and it is physically possible it will be done.

He entered the vertical stone cave every morning to chink away at the rock face. It is cool and quiet in the well. He found the work meditative and the quest for water a sort of grail. The absolute necessity of obtaining it made him even more ardent than he usually is. As he dug the floor of the well filled with the debris and water. At intervals his work varied as he filled buckets, climbed up the rope he used to enter and pulleyed out the excess stone. In and out he climbed removing the surplus one bucket at a time. This is staggering to me, his ability to steadfastly dig a hole, three meters deep, two meters in diameter into solid rock, day after day , with no assistance. He was also doing all of our house and farm work, since I was away. We talked on the phone a few times and he would explain with great excitement a trickle of water or that there had been two inches more to bucket out in the morning before he could begin. I regretted not being there to help and to share the experience. I imagined him striking the mainline and shooting out of the well on a jet of water, cartoon style. It saddened me I would likely miss the moment.

It was not quite that dramatic. Mid-morning, day 30 he began to feel a drip on his neck, wiping it away he didn’t think much of it because he sweated copiously in the humid tube. Then he realized it continued in a rhythmic fashion and he look up to see a spurt of water coming from a cleft in the rock. He started chipping away at it, a stronger pulse came and then a stream. He told me he started screaming. I imagine his barbaric yalps ricocheting of the wells walls rolling down the creek bed with the energy of a breached dam. The next day the well was half full; within a week it was full and has been for the last 5 years. We have water year round, enough for our household; livestock and a small vegetable garden.

Water Rules

Entry two of four: I would like to introduce you to my husband…

They were all impressed with the water they could sense on our land. They started to chip away at the stone Guerillmo had chosen as the portal of our well, and to tell stories. I was sorry I could not understand better, my Spanish was quite rudimentary at the time. I could tell by the inflection and dynamics of their speech they were experts of oral tradition. This is some of the wisdom I gleaned.

Water Rules:

  • The best wells are dug by hand, the tools used are, pica (pick axe), cunjas( metal spikes) and a marro(small sledgehammer)
  • Dynamite should never used because it can disrupt the course of the water and make your well unstable.
  • You should never hoard your water because it will go away.
  • Use it as much as possible and give it away.
  • Water is sensitive to envy.

Don G. was certain that within a meter of digging thru solid rock it would turn to sand, the work would get easier, faster and would be worth their effort. He was right about the water but he was wrong about the rock. After two weeks of digging thru solid stone they gave up on our well. It wasn’t cost effective because they were paid by the meter, and the going was too slow. Don G disappeared, a couple of the men on his crew continued to come until they had dug three meters, where they stopped though had been paid to dig another meter. We had water but it was not enough to make it through the dry season.

I would like to introduce you to my husband; Felipe Pita Cruz

This is the first of four posts intended as an introduction to Felipe and his projects. It is a story I feel provides a glimpse into his remarkable character. It is an exerpt from my work in progress, a memior about our move to Mexico.

Land with water, this is the ultimate possession it seems, though I think of it more as an honor with legal rights. The land we live on is called the Piedra Rahada (split rock), it was suspected there was water here. There were several indicators, there are five Amates, two year-round watering holes above us, and two rainy season creeks that conjoin on our land. We are located in what is known as arid, tropical zone 10. Thus the preoccupation with water.

There was never any question of whether or not we would dig a well. We were advised to contact a man that lived in Los Idolos (the Idols), who had a talent with wells. The ability to find water and dig a successful well is esteemed with similar appreciation as the respect given to the Brujos. Though it is not considered magical, it is regarded as beyond the abilities of the average person. We sought out Don Guerillamo at his home, and as with most cases of acquiring a service, there were many waylays and curiosities in the initial contact. It required perseverance and mezcal for him to consider our project.

Eventually an appointment was made; he arrived at the designated time and immediately informed us,

“There is a lot of water here.” As he crunched his way down the ravine, he stopped and said, “It is everywhere but this is the best place, you may be able to draw from the source of both creeks here.”

What he located was a small divot in a rock face that ran under our creek, it was full of leaves but when you pulled them back there was moisture. It was April, deep into the dry season. We were satisfied with the performance and hired him that day.

Don G arrived with his crew mid-morning the following Monday, there were five of them, they exited the truck, walked toward the house and the image was eerily that of the opening scene to Reservoir Dogs. Really. I have had a few slow- mo moments in my life and I am never quite sure of what brings them on, but in this case it was it pure charisma, they had presence. They were dressed as natty laborers, all wearing different styles, cowboy, hipster, valiente, one gentleman was wearing corrective wayfarers. The dust blew up around them like a movie effect, and I thought, damn this is gonna be good.

For full appreciation, watch the Reservoir Dogs – opening scene.