The Weekend before Hunting Season
We have vineyards in my little valley and the doctors who own them(it would be doctors) have brought in Mexican workers. They live in a bunkhouse next to one of the wineries from where they can walk to town. We see them on the road or sitting in front of the store and wave or say, "Buenas dias" on passing by.
When Rena was visiting this summer, we stopped them on the road and asked if they could work for me. Rena's first language is Spanish. She told us this lovely story of growing up protected from the racism in Arizona by living in a family compound. Grandparents house with aunts and uncles on each side of a huge yard where all the cousins played together. I am speak babytalk Spanish buy have a hard time understanding responses so we got Sundays set up for them to work 4 hours. I pick them up in my pickup and take them back.
It works very well. They are young men, all from Guerrerro state, farm boys, Rena says, who are friendly and cheerful and sometimes sing while they chop brush or split wood. Quite a different scene from hiring locals half of whom show up hungover or drunk or not at all.
I have a tremendous amount of work at my place because the fire has left dead wood around my place which is a fire hazard and brush is growing up now which is the same. So I am happy and feel lucky to have the help. It is work which way beyond my capacity to complete myself.
So last Sunday I was driving them back to their bunkhouse, and a cop car passes us and does a 180 degree turn and I say, "Oh, shit," and quickly put my seatbelt on as does Javier who sits in the front with me. There are 7 count them 7 Mexican young men in the back of the pick up.
The cop yells, "The driver needs to come over here and talk to me". My heart was pounding;the Mexicans glance at me to try to read my face, but keep theirs passive and unreadable. As I get close I realize it is not a cop, buy the game warden. He asked what I was doing and I quickly explained they were workers from DR MERLO'S vineyard, helping me out. (el doctor is muy importante. el tiene dinero tambien) so I emphasize the DOCTOR. I am looking like my peasant self, in dirty workpants and sweats. So he asks if we are hunting which I deny. He then launches into the obligatory lecture about the personal liability I am incurring, what is one of them should fall out, ect ect. Then he tells me to stand where I am and he walks over to the truck and says " habla englise" and they all in unison shake their heads "no". This strikes me as very funny but I stand soberly.
He asks if they have pistoles. "No. No" More head shaking. He makes Javier, who has his seat belt on, hold up his hands to see if he had weapon. They of course, know the policia very well, keep a relaxed and cooperative demeanor, look at my face for clues.
Satisfied he does not have his big bust of illegal aliens hunting illegally, he then pulls me off to oneside. He tells me hunting season begins next Saturday and he will be out here patroling. I tell him I am glad because in fact hunters come by the droves on the opening weekend making our quiet life miserable. Some come from nearby who know what they are doing, but most from cities who, finding themselves in the deep woods, albeit on a road, go into some y chromosome crazed state. They carry their loaded rifles and stand in the back of pickups drinking beer and dying to shoot something. The loaded gun, the beer drinking, the standing armed, in fact road hunting is illegal. Real hunters actually get out of their cars(unbelievable) and walk into brush where deer might be hiding, but these guys never use their legs, or their brains for that matter. They get aggressive and ugly if you tell them your place is private property. One guy this year during bow season, threatened Richard, when he was told he was on private property, with calling the NRA. Go figure. Charleton Heston his hero would let him hunt from the road while drinking beer.
Then the game warden gives me his card and says if I have trouble with hunters, give him a call. I tell him again how happy I am that he will be patrolling on opening day of hunting season and hope he won't be back out on Sunday when I am hauling the Mexicans around again
I just am laughing to myself all the rest of the way in telling Javier about venado and bang bang bang and barrachos with guns and muy peligroso as they get out I say adios and gracias and no problema with policia. And I hear Javier beginning to explain, "Venado..."