I Am Ten

This blog has been knocking around a few years now. The last five years it’s been maintained more out of habit that anything else. And it’s a habit that is becoming less frequent with time. But it’s been going more than ten years. So the title is not about the blog. If you were loitering in this part of the world wide web back in my Mexico days, you might remember that this blog focused on three main subjects. Documentation of my adventures in Mexico. Dubious sponsored posts for dodgy Rolex watches and vaginal rejuvenation surgery. My turtles, and their adventures. Well….as far as turtles living in an inflatable pool in a back yard can have adventures.

It’s tricky to write on those three subjects with any regularity these days. I no longer live in Mexico for one. And the sponsored post market has dried up. Perhaps all the vaginas have now been rejuvenated. And the turtles have gone on to new homes. But perhaps, just perhaps, you are wondering whatever became of them. I keep in touch once every so often with the chap who took on Bob, Baby, Itchy and Scratchy. You might remember that Bob was the first of the turtles. The daddy of the pond. My favourite. I think he quite liked me too. Maybe.

Bob is now ten years old. There we are, the title of the post makes sense now, huh? In human years, he’s about 20ish. About time he got a job instead of lounging about in the sun all day. He won’t of course, but he’s doing very well, as are the other three. I believe they still get their favourite treat of barbacoa every now and again. But anyway, he’s got plenty more years in him if all goes well. In captivity, the little critters can live for 35 to 40 years. So if you’re thinking of a new pet, but are tired of the heartbreak of having to bury them every decade or so, well a turtle is for you. Look after it, and it’ll be an heirloom that you pass on. They’re quite good diggers actually, so they could even help bury you.

I just thought you might like to know….

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Three Turtles Less

I’ve just passed the ten month mark since my departure from Mexico. I’m hoping, even with a worst case scenario, that I’m beyond the half way point. There’s less time to go till my return to Mexico since my leaving the place. The UK has had its ups and downs for us. But truth be told, we both rather wish we’d stayed out. I’ve even started buying lottery tickets for the Saturday draw. The jackpot would be nice, but I’m not greedy. Just £5,000 would do fine. Even as little as £3,000 would do. And we’d be on a plane in a jiffy.

If my mood seems sombre, there’s a reason for it. When I said goodbye to Mexico, I also had to say goodbye to my turtles. All ten of them. There are those who think my (our…Paola is just as besotted) passion for turtles a little strange. But like most things, once you get familiar, get to know your subject and spend time appreciating the subtle little intricacies that would be missed at first glance….well, you know what I mean. Maybe. But I spent the best part of six years with them. You grow attached. Form bonds. That sort of thing.

The turtles were divided into two groups. Six of them went to a new home in the south of the city, to a family who needed a pet or two to spoil. We’ve just recently found out, to our distress, that three of them died in September, of reasons unknown. Homer, Mr Patel and little Florecita. All gone to turtle heaven. The last photos I took of them are below, from my set on Flickr called, aptly, Turtles Final Photo Shoot. Or you can just enlarge the image below. From left to right, Florecita, Homer and below them Mr Patel.

They all had their own unique characters. If you took the time to observe them. Homer, along with Bob, was the first turtle we bought. We’d always thought Homer the loveable simpleton of the group. Just like his cartoon namesake.  Mr Patel spent most of his existence living in a perpetual state of unnecessary terror. Until, perhaps, the end, when it may have been necessary. And then there’s Florecita. Dear Florecita. Rescued when she was no bigger than a two peso coin, and in a terrible shape. Her legs were so thin you could see her bones, her shell was sponge soft and falling to pieces and she was too weak to even eat. I spent a month hand feeding her with tuna, and shelled out $100 in vets bills when she had to spend a few nights in turtle hospital to recover from a respiratory infection. But she got better, and turned into one of the friendliest and most boisterous of the bunch. Poor Florecita. She even starred in my last turtle video, the Pond of Eternal Stench – she’s the one posing for the camera at the very end.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Alas, turtles are sensitive creatures, and easily succumb to infections and predators. I never had a turtle die on me, not one. And I’m proud of that. But I was also lucky. Bob nearly died of a respiratory infection when he was a babe, because we mistook his pained wheezing for an ability to speak. Then there was the time I got a shock when I put a finger in their water – the electric heater had broke and was streaming a light current through the water. Mr Patel had more than a couple of close scrapes, including being accidentally thrown out with the dirty water once. That was Mrs P’s pops, not me. I always do a headcount. You can never be too sure. But anyway. We found Mr Patel buried in the flower bed when we got home the next day.  They all managed to survive whilst in my custody. And Angus, Rosita and Angel are still alive and kicking. One hopes.

The other four, Bob, Baby, Itchy and Scratchy all went to one of my friends, a chap who’s experienced in keeping turtles. More experienced even that I. One day, in the not too distant future, we shall return to DF and bring them back home. Along with Angus. One day soon we’ll be able to come home and see them outstretched, posing superman-style, on their basking rock in the yard. One day soon. Till then he’s one more photo of Homer. When he was but a few days old. He’s the one on the top. To finish on a positive note, Homer did make it to a grand age of six.  Which was well short of his 30 to 40 year potential. But a whole lot better than the miserable, short and often painful existence of most poor turtles sold in pet shops in Mexico City. Adios for now, my little green amigos.

Cover Me

The Gang

Had you thought you’d seen the last of them here on my little virtual corner of the world? Well, there’s more to come. My ten turtles all found new homes. Angus, Rosita, Mr Patel, Angel, Homer and Florecita were all adopted by one of Paola’s friends. They’re having a fine time, apparently.

Bob, Baby, Itchy and Scratchy were adopted by one of my friends, in the north of the city. I get regular photo updates from that bunch. They seem to be as happy as they ever were. Generally speaking, providing they have water to swim in, sun to bathe in and food to indulge in, they are happy.

The Favourite

Do I have a favourite turtle, of the ten living in my yard? It’s tough to choose. Bob has always had the most character. Florecita took an awful lot of TLC and cash to save her from an early grave when we rescued her. Paola’s favourite is Angus. And then there is Baby, the turtle with the least imaginative name.

Of all the turtles, I am her favourite. The others respond to me in a variety of ways. Terror being common, should I try and pick one up. Most though will tolerate my presence without running for dear life. Bob will tolerate a little petting. But Baby is downright curious. She’ll not run. She’ll hold out her paw. She’ll stretch her neck for a massage. She’s definitely the most human friendly turt.

Watchya!

Shelled Giant

Angus could still grow a bit bigger. But he’s already a bit of a giant for a five year old turtle. He’s the biggest of the bunch, although Bob isn’t far behind. Offers of adoption won’t be accepted for the big ‘uns. They really need the space of a lake now. Fortunately, I’ve found a suitable lake for them here in DF. They’re going to love it…

Leg It

The Wilderness Awaits

Thirty five full days left and counting. It’s not just me who will be departing from Chez Denness, although the others will travel a lesser distance. The ten terror-pins are also to be cast into the wilderness, abandoned to their fate. Four of the little ones are to be adopted and will continue to be waited on hand and foot. The giants have a destination more suited to their proportions.

They will have more space, more sun, new friends and just as much food, although the occasional treats of ham, tuna and barbacoa they have become used to will be more scarce. Still, they will miss ‘home’. Maybe. Is that a tear I see in Bob’s eye? Probably not. He has a steely, confident gaze, does Bob.

Owned

Angus

The turtles are still with us. Bearing the wintry weather. Which fortunately isn’t very wintry at the moment. But not as sunny as they’d like either. Turtles make good pets. It’s a pain to clean their ponds out. They do sometimes fight each other for food. One got so excited last week when I held out some tuna fish for her, she bit my finger. And wouldn’t let go for about 15 seconds. It was surprisingly painful.

But otherwise they’re relaxed. They take it easy. No chewing slippers up. No pooping on new carpet. And when you pass by, they are a little reminder that you should chill out a bit every now and again. They set an exemplary example. This, by the by, is Angus. The biggest of the brood. At nearly 8″ from tip to tail of her shell, and pretty powerful legs, she is getting  a handful to hold if she isn’t in the mood to be picked up. She could grow to about 12 inches. Too big for a pond in my yard. But a large lake awaits her early in the New Year.

Most of the others will join her there. The lake is in a nice park, well maintained, tidy and predator free. There is also a turtle population there, so I know there is food and the water is clean. I wouldn’t put them anywhere there wasn’t a turtle presence. Not only because I want to be assured the conditions are right for my preciosas. But also because turtles released into watery environments have a tendency to eat and breed voraciously, to the detriment of the native flora and fauna.

But some of my turts, the smaller ones, may have an adopter. A lady with a large sun filled garden. Sounds promising. I’m thinking Mr Patel, Angel, Itchy and Scratchy would fit right in. She wants more info though, naturally. Some photos and videos. I have plenty of those. One of their voracious appetite for meat. One of the cleaning process –  it wouldn’t be right to send off the turtles without any forewarning regards how stinky they can be and how much effort is required to clean them. It will be easier for her though with just three or four smaller turts.

Angusita

The Pond Of Eternal Stench

Another part of Mexican life I won’t miss. Not the turtles themselves….just the cleaning routine. Turtles produce the most vile smelling poop you could imagine. And there’s ten of them contributing. In two pools. It used to be a larger single pool, but when that burst once too many times, I replaced it with a pair of pools – Angus and Bob needed separating. They fight. The video is a bit pointless. I really wanted to experiment with the video editing software, and make a video that is speeded up 10x. Here it is.

You Gotta Fight

For your right. To sunbathe. So says Bob. Or should I call him Beatie Boy Bob. I know I go on a lot about my turtles, all ten of them. And especially Bob. They’re such excellent pets. They just sit out there on the patio, minding their own business, perfectly happy so long as they’re fed regularly. I suspect their brains are pretty small, and their intelligence probably equivalent to their brain size. But when I’m out there in the yard smoking a cigarette, they give me a look. A look that suggests that in the hundreds of millions of years that turtle species have been on planet Earth, they’ve picked up a nugget or two of good info. A look that tells me they’ve decided I’m ‘ok’. Most human intrusions into the yard results in multiple splashes, as they pretty much simultaneously dive off their rock and seek cover underneath it.

It’s going to be hard parting company with them next year. They can’t come with me – UK law prohibits it. Most of them will have had their fifth birthday by then. That makes them old as far as the lifespan of the average pet turtle is concerned, but that’s because pet turtles are not taken care of properly. Most die within a few weeks.  If given a good home, these little fellows can see their 30th birthday. Maybe even make it to 40. If Bob gets his full term, I’ll be 72 by the time he pops his clogs. In fact, he could well outlast me. That’s problem number one in finding him a new home – an owner prepared to keep the food coming in his direction over the long term.

But otherwise they are easy to please. Change their water once a week to ten days. Throw in the occasional calcium brick. Give them an occasional meat treat. And share looks over a cigarette. In the morning, they’ll climb, one by one onto the rock to sunbathe. Bob first, usually. They’ll jostle for the best sunbathing position. They love the sun, being reptiles and all. In the evening, once they’re certain the sun has gone for good and isn’t just hiding behind a cloud, they’ll slide back into the water. They’ll flirt a little with each other. And they’ll swim up to me when I appear at about 6pm. They know when food time is. The sight of a green bag packet being shaken tells them for sure, and they’ll start splashing around in excitement. They’ve picked up a nugget or two of info, for sure.

Marvellous Mexico City

Ten reasons why life in Mexico City is just grand at the moment. Which makes me wonder, why on earth am I moving back to London?!?!

  • Although I did register my Telcel phone with the government, to help their crazy anti crime policy, and although all those details are now somehow on sale at the ‘Thieves Market’ in Tepito, I have nothing to worry about. I didn’t give my details. My wife, on the other hand, has reason to be doubly worried!
  • It’s hot and sunny! It’s been hot and sunny for weeks! The Jacaranda blooms may have gone for the last time, and it is a bit dusty as rainy season has yet to start, but it is hot and sunny! How’s things in England?
  • The turtles have a new pool! Not a new pool to replace the old pool. A new pool to go with the old pool. So the yard has two pools. Paola isn’t so happy about this, but I am. Cleaning is needed less frequently, and I don’t have to break up Bob and Angus from fighting anymore. Nor do I have to watch out for Itchy violating Bob.
  • The World Cup is less than one month away from starting! I have bought two tops – a  Mexico polo top for when I go see Mexico play Chile this Sunday. An England top for when I go to see England v Mexico at a cantina in 10 days time.
  • I nearly bought a sticker for my Panini World Cup album from the mercado. It’s the final sticker in the book, and the lady wanted 100 pesos for it. I ummed and arred. But decided that I couldn’t afford it. I got it in a packet this morning, having paid just five and a half pesos for that and five other stickers. Take that you thieving extortionist mercado lady…..in your face!
  • I’ve done so much blog advertising lately, that I can take a bit of time out from saving up for the return to the UK, and plan instead on my next camera purchase. I checked my various accounts this morning, and (including the sale of my near new Panasonic FZ35) I can just about afford the Fuji HS10 I have been lusting after for a few months!
  • I had decided to plant some vegetable seeds in the little strip of mud that runs alongside my home next to an alley. But when I got to Wal Mart, I realised I hadn’t brought enough money with me and could afford only three packets. Not the five I had planned to buy. As I was giving the seeds shelf a morose look, a sales agent came up to me, handed me a promotional leaflet for some seed company or other, and two packets of seeds for free. Result!
  • Our water supply has not gone off for more than an hour for months. This might seem like a small deal to you First Worlders. But when you’ve used to (in a sarcastic way – you never really get used to it) having your tap water going off for sometimes days at a time, this is good news indeed!
  • The electricity bill arrived this morning. I checked the ‘Pay Before’ date. You have to pay at a bank before the Pay Before date, otherwise you’re screwed. Then you can’t pay at the bank, and since they closed the old electricity company down, there’s nowhere I know of to go and pay it. And the last bill was delivered after the Pay Before date. I know. Dumb. But it happens. More often than I’d like. Today’s bill? The Pay Before date is next week sometime. Woohoo!
  • Did I mention that the World Cup begins in less than a month? To say I’m excited is something of an understatement!

Turtle Heaven

In the substantial grounds of the Basilica de Guadalupe, lies a waterfall and three ponds. They are deep, enclosed and flushed with a constant flow of fresh water. The perfect home for a few turtles. Yet it is empty…what a waste. My turtles would be in heaven there. Well, maybe not heaven, but the next best thing. Now, how to convince the archbishop, or whomever, that the ponds should be put to good use? I have an idea…..a letter.

Dear Mr Archbishop,

Last night I had a dream, in which a mysterious lady appeared. I noticed her immediately, as she had a large piece of board stuck to her back, decorated with fairy lights and tinsel. She was also most insistent that she has never, ever had sex (insert your own innuendo here, but keep it to yourself – it’s a most sensitive subject with Mexicans!) and that she wants me to bring my ten turtles to the Basilica….you can see where I’m going with this by now, I’m sure.

The place is a holy place. Surely if I just dumped the little ones in there, they’d feel a Christian obligation to feed them!

Summer Breeze

Winters in Mexico City are much like summers in the UK. Blink, and you miss it. Which is just how I like it, when I’m living in Mexico anyway. This year has been the exception though. After an unusually dry and mild rainy season, we’ve had an unusually cold, wet and grey period in the dry season. High winds a couple of days ago were the latest test of Mexico City’s patience. Huge billboards didn’t fair well.

But today was bright, blue, warm and cheery. Normality has returned. Our three week winter is over. I hope. None are more pleased than my cold blooded turtle friends who live in the pool in the yard. It’s been a miserable, bitter time for them. They thrive on sun. It was so nice to see them all on their basking rock today, lapping up a couple of hours of direct sunlight to get the blood pumping through their shell encased bodies once again.  They, and I, sincerely hope for plenty more days like this as we head into Jacaranda season.

One Hung Tortuga

I had a bit of a surprise this morning. Not as big a surprise as Bob though. Poor, innocent, angelic Bob. I found him being violated by Itchy, the one male turtle in my pond. Well and truly, full on, no mistaking, properly inserted, violation of the highest order. I know Itchy is a bit flirty, but from everything I’ve read, these turtles don’t reach reproductive maturity till they’re about five. Bob is nearly there, but Itchy has three years to go! According to the book. But the book appears to be wrong. I’m just shocked. Shocked!

The most gruesome part was the moment Itchy decided he’d done his deed and withdrew. What he withdrew was not what I expected. No tiny little pecker there. A huge, black sack like penis that must have been a quarter the size of his shell. Or more. Took him ten minutes to pack it back inside his tail. Itchy is now in a separate aquarium, awaiting adoption by someone else! Anyone want a randy turtle as a pet? More to the point, am I going to have a dozen babies needing new homes in a few weeks??  He is cute. In a mischievous way. The photo below is Bob and Itchy half way through their’ act of love’.  It’s grainy, yes. But they don’t pose well at the best of times.

Mating