While growing up, my son was obsessed with animals and Pokémon, in that order. By default, I become somewhat of an expert on both. I still hear the words “ask me another trivia question” in my head before a car ride or bedtime. Fortunately, the Pokémon craze passed. (Although we were both still interested enough to check on Pokémon Go availability in Mexico.) We were left with a lasting curiosity and love of animals. We were hopeful that our move to Mexico would generate sightings of “never before seen to us in their natural environment” experiences.
We have seen roadrunners, desert hares, coyotes, tortoises, wild pigs (cochi), sea lions, and dolphins in the wild. Well, the sounder of cochi came up from the beach and strolled through our neighborhood- -that is outside, so technically, wild may apply.
Caleb was stung by a jellyfish twice within a two week period. Fish and other underwater animals are definitely more interesting when observed through a dive mask, as opposed to reading about them in a library book with a copyright date of 1953. I have learned that starfish are not white; they are orange and purple and red. Stingrays will ignore you, if you ignore them. That skinny, green thing close to shore is not seaweed, rather, it is a sea cucumber. I’ll be darned, crabs really do live in shells. Many varieties of shells, I might add.
Iguanas show up where you least expect them: a parking lot at the Delfinario, a drainage wall, a window screen. There is absolutely nothing cooler than watching a pelican dive bomb into the water for its dinner, over and over again. It can be rather unnerving walking past a volt of turkey vultures, especially on the way back from a long walk on the beach- -when I look “dead” tired. A squirrel sighting is rare. A raccoon sighting is not.
But the animals we see most frequently are not the animals we thought we would see! I’m talking about cows on the beach. Cows eating grass in the middle of the neighborhood. Cows walking in both lanes against traffic. Horses drinking from a mop bucket full of fresh water on a hot day at the neighborhood Oxxo or lounging under the shade tree in the center of the roundabout. Horses taking a break from the hot sun in someone’s garage. In fact, there have been more traffic jams caused by cows and horses in San Carlos than cars. “Cow crossing” signs are posted along the main thoroughfare. I never imagined myself saying “watch out for the cows on your way home” or turning on my hazard lights to alert other drivers to the presence of a newborn foal. Or making my husband drive loops around said roundabout to take yet another picture. But I do!
The most common explanation given for their appearance (everywhere but on the actual ranch) is free range. Free range meaning that cows and horses can go wherever they want, and you are powerless to stop it. This is debated frequently, particularly after a horse has knocked over someone’s garbage cans (again) or the cows have eaten newly planted grass on the town’s golf course (again). There are gates and fences. Where there is a will, there is a way. I have seen cow sized gaps in stands of barbed wire. I have watched horses open closed gates. I guess even animals fall under “the grass is always greener” spell.
So while I bide my time in my search for the elusive mountain lion, I will not discount the joy I receive from my farm animal sightings. It never gets old shouting “Look! Cow!” And you just never know when the inspiration for a new trivia question will strike.