Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Some coffee land on the edge of town

The house in Coatepec covers most of the small property it is built on. The tiny front and rear courtyards have been the context of a brave struggle by various small trees and shrubs, as well as a few not so small, to survive over the past few years. We always wanted more land to build a proper garden and to hang out on -- but getting the house more or less finished was the first priority.

One day in January, coming back on the Las Trancas bus from dropping Midnight off to get a new radiator, we saw a real estate office previously unknown to us. On a whim we asked about a small bit of land for a garden. As it happened the owner of the office was subdividing several acres of coffee land and wanted a buyer for the middle of three plots. The price was OK, but the land itself was superb. On the edge of Coatepec, fringed by a goat farm, other coffee land and some grazing land, the plot sold itself immediately.

Agreeing to buy was the easy part. Arranging the payment, the receipt and signing of documents, between Mexico, the US, Australia and Canada, was less straight forward. However, PDF file transfers and email and electronic banking made it possible.

Earlier today, 20 June, we picked up the deeds - signed, sealed and delivered. A few days ago, upon first arriving in Coatepec for this trip, we took over a few self sown coffee plants from the two bushes at the house, along with a small lime tree, a present from Roberto. Tomorrow, Pastor, a local gardener who maintains superb grounds at a local (private) school, will come and take out the struggling fruit trees from the house for transplanting on the coffee land. In time we'll build a garage/workshop and a simple dwelling on the land. For the meantime, however, it will be daytrip and picnic land -- to hang out on, build a garden, and generally enjoy the chance to spend time in genuine campo land just 10 minutes from the house.

Here are some low res pix taken with the old Mavica, the only digital camera in the house at the time. We'll post some more and better quality ones in the weeks ahead.

The goat farm is on the front border of the land. Posted by Picasa

Some of the goats Posted by Picasa

Goats feeding Posted by Picasa

Feed store for the goats Posted by Picasa

Looking down the right hand side border of the land Posted by Picasa

Sky through the trees Posted by Picasa

Trees in the middle of the land Posted by Picasa

Coffee and other vegetation along the rear border Posted by Picasa

Some of the coffee Posted by Picasa

Neighbour across the stream Posted by Picasa

The stream -- year round water for the coffee Posted by Picasa

The stream Posted by Picasa

The stream borders the land at the far end from the goat farm Posted by Picasa

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Big Spill

There is no mistaking the fact that this was one long and hard semester. It began with a fall (and 2 fractured vertebrae) in Coatepec immediately before flying to Cairns for a James Cook University stint, and finished with falls of an altogether different kind. The rest was mere meat in the sandwich. But it was a LOT of meat. Writing the new edition of our New Literacies book with Michele, working on the ARC project, continuing work on the Handbook of New Literacies Research and on two other books, writing papers out of the ARC project, editing a couple of issues of our E-Learning online journal, and then the AERA conference in San Francisco, after a few days of bill paying and land deeds signing in Mexico, and finally -- almost -- a 2 month stint working at McGill. Immediately after finishing at McGill we had a workshop to do in Mississauga -- our second drive in 10 days from Montreal to Toronto, with a workshopping trip to Prince Edward Island in between. But the Mississauga workshop marked the end of the semester so far as we were concerned. After checking out of the Mississauga Delta hotel it was a drive back to New Jersey (for a day prior to flying down to Mexico) via the Niagara Falls.

It was a lovely early summer day, and the car was travelling well. Around the side of Lake Ontario, through Hamilton, where I saw Joan Jett in November 1991, and onto the falls.

The Falls themselves were on excellent behaviour -- if anything they were a little TOO eager, since the water volume generated a mist that clouded out a fair bit of the action. The pix tell the story.

Niagara Blues. From Canada, with the US immediately beneath the clouds. Posted by Picasa

A weir near the original power station above the Horseshoe Falls. Looking up the Niagara River. Posted by Picasa

Top of the Horseshoe Falls looking to Goat Island. Posted by Picasa

On the tourist side of the Falls. Posted by Picasa

Falls spray from the car park. Posted by Picasa

Niagara River above the Horseshoe Falls. Posted by Picasa

Looking up the Niagara River, just above the Horseshoe Falls. Posted by Picasa

Near the top of the Horshoe Falls Posted by Picasa

Maid of the Mist at the topmost reach of its run, by the whirlpool near where the dramatic rescue of Rodney Woodward occurred more than 40 years ago. The 7 year old survived going over the Falls in just a life jacket. Hi 17 year old sister was plucked from the water metres for the falls by two tourists on the Goat Island viewing platform. Posted by Picasa

Looking to the American Falls from the viewing platform on the Tunnel Trip. Posted by Picasa

From the viewing platform on the Tunnel Trip Posted by Picasa

Near the edge from the viewing platform on the Tunnel Trip. Posted by Picasa