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Let me tell you about “Monte”.
We had some papers taken out of our car one night and the next day a guy brought them back and said he found them in the “monte”. Monte is the stuff that grows on open land where nobody is living. You know the stuff on the side of the road or on the hills that you see when you drive by. I would ask somebody “Where do you go hunting?” and the guy would say “in the monte”.
In the rainy season, my little piece of land becomes overgrown with weeds and stuff. It’s the kind of stuff that grows very fast in the tropics. It’s the kind of stuff that you can watch grow. It’s the reason you see so many guys walking around with machetes during the day and why there are guys cutting the stuff growing in the neighborhood lots with their machetes.
So I was talking to the guy who helps me in the yard. His name is Guillermo. “Yea, the monte is getting pretty high” Guillermo says. So now the monte is weeds and stuff growing in my yard. Ok. I have tried to swing the machete for a while and I can tell you that it is very hard work. Oh, it’s not so bad for a little while but I can’t believe these guys that swing this thing all day long. It is nothing less than amazing. If I do it for an hour I am completely soaked in sweat and my muscles are twitching and I am about ready to throw up. These guys keep going and going and don’t even break a sweat. I decided to get out the Weed-Whacker (now the Monte-Whacker) because I have tried the machete thing and I can not do it. I’m the kind of guy who sweats just by breathing down here because it is hot and humid.
While talking to Guillermo I was dripping sweat because I was not only breathing, I was talking. I also can not wear long pants here because of the heat. I have a pair of nice pants and Levis that I keep here in case there is an occasion to wear them but in 3-4 years I have never put them on. So I monte-whack in shorts. I do wear eye protection because past experience has shown me that pulling twigs and glass and rocks and grass out of my eyes is painful and time consuming to say nothing about the permanent damage to my eyesight. Well, I monte-whack for about an hour and get about as much done as theses guys with machetes get done in a day. But I pay the price. My legs look like a Chia Pet. They are about an inch thick with “debris”. They are bleeding from all the stones and sticks and thorns and bug bites that were hammering away at my legs while I was monte-whacking.
What a mess. It is nothing that a few Band Aids will not take care of. At least my eyes where ok, except that there was so much stuff on the goggles that I could not see very well. I think I cut some little papaya plants and some flowers and maybe some banana and palm trees. At least I think there were some of those things down there that are not there now. It’s ok though because I have some seedlings that Guillermo has helped me plant (read: Guillermo planted for me) that are growing nicely but have some little weeds starting to grow in the bags. I asked Guillermo to pull the weeds out of the Bags and he says “Oh, You mean the monte?” “Yea Guillermo, pull out the monte” I tell him. The monte still grows and I continue to whack away but I tried something new with the way I go about it.
There are these horsefly things down here or at least I think they are horseflies but having never been introduced to a real, for sure horse fly, being from the coast of California and all, I am not sure if they are real horseflies. There are not many of these things, I mean it’s not like a fog of mosquitoes in a cheap hotel room or anything. Anyway they are these huge fly type things that look like F111 fighter jets that land on you and start consuming your flesh. They might continue all the way to the bone but I don’t know because I have managed to pry them off before they get that far. These guys are intense. I would be down watering the fruit trees and thinking about how fast the papayas are growing or wondering if the oranges would ever get orange or why they call limes lemons and call lemons limes down in Puerto and all of a sudden I will feel this thing on my calf and this F111 type bug would be attached and is chewing away. If you try to swat it away you might as well be trying to have your kid scrub the shower.
It’s not going to happen. You have to hammer away and beat your leg with a stick to get rid of the suckers. I have learned to carry a screwdriver with me when I water so that I can pry them off when they attach and then beat it into the ground to kill it. So they now attack when I monte whack. By the time I feel them they have really burrowed in and it is kind of late for the screwdriver because when I am monte whacking I am pretty focused because if my mind wanders I could wipe out a couple of new trees in a second, so by the time I feel the thing I end up monte whacking my leg to get rid of it. Because of this and the beating my legs have been taking from the debris and shrapnel that have just torn my legs to pieces and because my Band Aid budget is limited I have bought a pair of long pants. I guess you could say that I gave in to the monte. The pants are the type you see people selling on the beach. White (Or they used to be white. Now they are a kind of a green brown color.), cotton, light, baggy with a draw string and comfy.
You know what I mean. Something you buy down in Mexico and when you get them home you never wear them because you would look as silly as the Pope in ski clothes. These pants work pretty well and my legs heel up to the point where people do not look at me like I have some kind of new tropical disease and it might be contagious and kind of stay a step or two further away than normal. Like it is when somebody has not taken a shower for a few days. They just wonder if it was a killer bee attack or if somebody used my legs for some kind of mosquito test or something. Except where I had to whack the F111 bug. That still looks like I lost control of a Skill Saw or something. It was getting better every day though. Also I am having Guillermo use a shovel to try to get the monte at the roots so that I will not have to whack so often. This is also helping with the heeling process. Monte is the stuff that grows even when you didn’t plant anything. In the rainy season it is everywhere. You can’t get rid of it. You can only attempt to control it.