I'm good for about a half a day of lying around on a beach; then I have to get out and do something. One day during our mini-vacation in Yelapa, we hiked into the country behind the beach community, where a pair of trails border either side of the river that snakes back into the mountains.
Quite a few people live back here. Most seem to be subsistence farmers. They live in palapa huts, raise a few crops, keep horses and mules.
They grow corn in small fields, just enough for family use. Scattered fruit trees provide varied diets: mangoes, bananas, and that exotic Indian import, jackfruit. The fruits hanging on this tree are as big as watermelons.
Until a few years ago, the people of the Yelapa back country lived like their forebears a hundred years ago. Then, no infrastructure existed to provide water, electricity or telecommunications. Today the back country is being wired for electrical power. Some homes became connected for the first time just this year.
Absence of roads means everything has to be done using primitive methods. Here a CFE (Comisión Federal de Electricidad) worker floats a power vault across the river on a rubber raft.
Much of the wiring is being installed underground; hence, the vault. I'd like to think CFE's motivation for burying power lines is due to aesthetic or environmental concerns, but I suspect their decision has more to do with protection from Pacific storms.
For people living back in the jungle, electrification means the arrival of technology. There are no phones yet and no television broadcasts or cable. But this tumbledown palapa sports a satellite TV dish.
I once drove through a tiny Mayan village in the southern Yucatán. The community had no electricity, but I spotted a small solar array perched on a pole outside a traditional Mayan hut. Banda music blared out though the doorway. You don't need light, but you gotta have your tunes.
Along the trail there was plenty for nature lovers to see: a vulture sitting in a blooming tree...
...a curious green tree shedding thin orange bark...
...an iguana basking in the sun. This fellow is more than two feet long.
Here as in other Mexican rural localities, people still wash laundry in rivers.
A farmer draws river water to irrigate his crops. He employs found materials: a plastic chair serves as a mount for the pump.
The riverside trails are too narrow and rough to accommodate automobiles or trucks. Transportation is by horse or burro. Tack hangs in shacks along the trail.
High up on the trail we encountered a string of burros dragging fresh-cut lumber travois style. These boards were cut from logs using a chain saw mill—wasteful and inefficient, but requiring little capital investment. Note how the saw cuts terminate before reaching the end of the log, keeping the boards connected in order to simplify transportation.
Small homesteads trigger romantic notions of country living. Far away from technology, wars, and politics, I imagine life would be peaceful and serene in a place like this.
But I'm wedded to technology. I took the photos for this post with a digital camera; I'm writing it on an internet-connected computer. I dragged this gear into the jungle, unable to live without it.
Besides, I'm too old to work as hard as the people who make their homes in this beautiful river valley.