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  • Maira Hernández

Into the Wild- Life in the Rancho

I knew coming in that living in the rancho was going to be a challenge. Ever since I could remember the mosquitos have always feasted on my skin. But what was the most concerning were the stories I’ve heard as a kid and was hearing again this time around about the snake encounters. Most of them would happen out in the fields, or hiking up a cerro. If you ask anyone in the rancho, they all have a story of the infamous Alicante. Those stories are too close for comfort. One in particular was when my abuela was going to use the restroom out back. She said that as soon as she lifted the lid off the seat a snake popped out and she screamed out in horror. She went off to get a boiling pot of water and flushed it down the toilet and then flushed a bottle of bleach for good measure to try to kill the snake. Ever since then I make sure to look in the toilet seat and make sure the coast is clear, those kind of stories are traumatizing to a kid. I check the toilet even in the states, but especially in Mexico.


Which is why I was so freaked out when one night I was sitting on the toilet and through the bottom crack of the bathroom door, crawling right in front of me, I saw two creepy little eyes. Thankfully not a snake, but a tiny frog, which I found just as frightening. The though of it jumping on my toes gave me the creeps! Later that night the frog was gone, only to find out the day after that it had just found a place to rest in the drain of the bathroom sink. But that was not my last encounter. One morning as I was washing the dishes another frog jumped out, this time from the kitchen sink. I screeched and my abuela said very casually “Si, abecés salen ranas de allí”, like it wasn’t a big deal. This time I had to think quick because it was crawling up the wall too close to the pot of beans that if it jumped off it would land in it. So I grabbed a plastic cup that was laying around, trapped him, named him Wilbert, and released him into the wild- my abuela’s patio.

There’s so many different animal encounters in the rancho that keep testing my comfort. One day, I was outside washing in the pila, where we wash clothes. Only to realize that Charlotte and her web were just above my head about to get tangled in my hair. Not to mention that Cinderella’s mice sometimes pop out from under the couch. I’m literally living in the wild!

But that’s not the end of it, I find myself in the bathroom again where another frog pops out of the bathroom sink! This time I trapped him and released him into the patio so he could go find his cousin and stop bugging me. Great intentions, but that’s not the way nature always works. A few nights later I see another frog pop out of the bathroom sink, again!! This time it’s late at night so I just put a plastic cup over him and figured I’d release him in the morning. Only to wake up and realize that the frog had pulled a Nemo on me and pushed the cup just enough over the edge to give him room to escape. I looked around the bathroom and didn’t see a thing, I figured he had managed to hide in the sink again. Not to be overly cautious but I made sure to inspect the toilet before I sat down and used it. I lifted the lid, and the seat and the coast was clear, or so I thought. As soon as I flushed the toilet he jumps out from the swirl of the water onto the toilet seat nearly giving me a heart attack. I can’t make this stuff up!


In that moment I was just grateful that he didn’t jump and cling onto my butt cheek while I was still sitting on the toilet. Imagine- I would have gone crazy and probably pulled a Ms. Trunchbull from Matilda when she tried to shake the newt off of her. I trapped him again with the cup, but this little fella was trying to outsmart me jumping all crazy knowing that the force of his jump would knock the cup over if only I didn’t have my hand on it.This time I took him outside to a different side of the patio to hopefully avoid another visit in the bathroom. Lesson learned, don’t leave for tomorrow what you can do today. Which is why the next 20 other times I found frogs in the shower, my room, the living room, in the mop, by the window, I made sure I trapped and released them immediately. Maybe I should have kissed one of them to see if it was my prince, but I wasn’t down to find out!


All in all, it hasn’t been all bad encounters. As I was standing outside helping my abuela sit out in the sun I saw a hummingbird drinking the nectar of my favorite flowers. I wasn’t fast enough to take a picture but the moment was just as precious. Or even watching my grandpa's little piggies play with each other as little brothers and sisters. There’s also those moments after a rainy day where you see the most perfect rainbow and a butterfly fluttering in the tree. I found myself chasing butterflies to get a picture. When was the last time you chased a butterfly? Did I mention that just the other day I also saw a chicken crossing the road, just to get to the other side. That’s life in the rancho...




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