April 19, 2010

Mariano's Ranchito in San Luciano

Esperando told me on Saturday, “Francisco wants to take us to see his father’s ranch tomorrow, to see where the soil for our flower beds came from.” I was right in the middle of something that seemed important on Sunday when Francisco showed up to take us over there. I was annoyed that I had to stop doing whatever it was that seemed so important and go on another jaunt on some cobbly road.

Francisco is one of our employee’s at the guesthouse who is alternately a vigilante and a gardener, and a helper here for us at Casa Abeja. Before that he was Esperando’s main dude in helping him rebuild Casa Abeja. He cares for our garden. He is a kind man.

The road we took was another one of those bumpy tumbled rock affairs that Hurricane Jimena left behind in all the arroyos. She did a number to his ranchito, wiping out a lot of stuff and reorganizing the entrance to his place—there isn’t one now. We reached a high point and Francisco said we would have to walk from there as the road was gone. Not much of a walk though he said. To me it looked miles away and since I didn’t expect to walk, I had on reasonable shoes but not ones that were good for walking, sort of a flat mule-type shoe. By the time we got the ranchito I had stopped to empty the sand out of my shoes several times.

"See, it's not far, just a little walk," said Francisco.

Mariano at his ranchito

Francisco’s father is named Mariano and he is 84 years old. His ranchito is located in San Luciano, just down arroyo under the big bridge south of Santa Rosalia. You can’t really see it from the highway as it is tucked under some high cliffs. He has a big orchard full of fig, mango, and citrus trees. He grows chard, chiles, onions, cilantro and all kinds of plants. He has pots full of different cactuses, and a pen with geese, a duck and four peacocks. His ranchito is watered from 60-foot well that was hand dug and blasted by him, Francisco and another brother. When I asked Francisco how his father knew where to find water, he said he just knows these things and he used a water diviner. He has owned the ranchito for 20 years, before that he was a miner in the old mine in Santa Rosalia. But he came here from Todos Santos near Cabo.

We had a nice tour. It was quite a spread with large lovely trees that kept it cool. We probably spent an hour wandering around looking at stuff. There was a big swimming pool, but I don’t know that it was ever swam in, it was full of leaves and debris. Still it looked refreshing. There were several rusted antique cars, one from 1929 that the two men referred to as ‘the Pancho Villa’s car’ for its age, and a newer 50s truck that had seen better days.

Fig trees bearing fruit

We came home with a handful of green chiles picked by Francisco, which neither of us could identify on the internet. All I found out was that Mexico grows over 100 varieties of chile peppers. Esperando made a killer salsa from them, they had a hot bite to it which diminished rapidly. New Cook called them Bolitos, Francisco said they were kind of a Serrano, but they are a mystery chile to us.

Esperando’s Killer Salsa Recipe

Mystery chile, maybe a Bolito, about the size of a quarter.

4 Bolito chiles (substitute 2 Serranos)
1 medium tomato
½ white onion
4 cloves garlic
1 meaty roasted Anaheim chile roasted, peeled, veins and seeds removed
½ c water
Salt to taste

Boil all together in water until soft. Puree in blender.

Did I learn my lesson about being ready to go on unanticipated drives across the country? I hope so.

With regular watering it grows rusty.

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