The People's Guide To Mexico

Live & Retire in Mexico

El Ratoncito Valiente

(The Courageous Mouse)

by Dobie

Lorena's Note: Dobie and Sergio are homesteading in a former coconut plantation on Mexico's Pacific Coast. From their latest update:

When I got back home to San Martin, after spending the weekend in Tlaltenango with the family, I realized that I had had a visitor, and not a two legged one, but, I suspected (from what it left behind) that it was of the four-footed, pink-tailed variety. I hoped that since I was home again, it would leave, but when did you ever know a mouse to leave voluntarily? Sure enough the next morning, the end of a tomato had been nibbled on. I asked politely but firmly - "Please go away and don’t come back." The next morning, the nibble was bigger. Time to do something, because I know that if you have one mouse, the next thing you know you have half a dozen.

I went to all the stores asking for a mousetrap, but no one had any. Doña Imelda told me that sometimes on Fridays a man comes to San Martin selling mousetraps. But I didn’t want to wait. I kept asking around, and finally was able to borrow one from Juana - the "have-a-heart" variety that traps the mouse alive. Juana told me to have a bucket of water ready, and when I hear the door of the trap slam shut, I just put the trap (mouse and all) in the bucket of water and the mouse drowns. No muss, no fuss.

I remember the year I was camping at the end of the beach, by Los Colorados. the year Joyce was shot. While I was spending some nights with her in the hospital in Manzanillo, a mouse (or several) had invaded my camp, munching right through the yogurt containers to the goodies inside (raisins, granola, etc.). I talked about how I was going to trap it/them and Churpa (about 8 then) looked at me with those big brown eyes and said, "You’re not going to kill them, are you?"

"Of course not," I replied, acting surprised that she would even consider that I might kill them; remembering the drawing she gave me of a mouse family. So every morning I was committed to going for a hike over the hills, mousetrap with mouse in hand, until I was far enough away so it wouldn’t come back (or so I thought). Almost every night I was home, I caught a mouse. And the next morning I would go for my morning hike, and set it free. I never really knew if I was catching the same mouse over and over, but the thought certainly crossed my mind.

For some reason, this time I decided I would drown it. What the heck. Mice are dirty and shit all over and eat a little bit of everything and they’re carriers of the hanta virus, which can kill humans. After all, I kill mosquitoes and flies and those big beetles that crunch when I step on them, even when I wrap them in toilet paper first, (so they don’t squirt brown hard-to-clean juice all over). But there’s something about a warm, furry mammal that’s different. Anyway, I leave the bucket of water outside the door, bait the trap with a piece of the tomato that it had been eating, and put the trap in the basket with the rest of the tomatoes.

In the middle of the night, bam, I hear the trap door slam shut; then I hear some noises in the cage. I get up, turn on the light, and there it is trying desperately to get out of the cage - a very fat mouse. I walk outside, grit my teeth, take a deep breath, and plunge the cage into the bucket of water. When I get back into bed I realize I feel awful, a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. What did I do, drowning this poor little mouse? I think about the Buddhists, and how they don’t kill any living thing. I thought about all the fish that I’ve killed in my life, although most of those were eaten. I try to relax, focus on my breathing, and eventually I fall asleep.

When I wake up in the morning, I go outside to do the dirty deed of disposing of the drowned mouse. As I approach the bucket I think I hear the cage rattle. I look in, and sure enough, there’s the mouse, scrunched up in the top corner of the cage, totally underwater, except for its head, which was millimeters above the water line. Kind of like Jack, in the movie "Titanic".

Drat, didn’t I put enough water in the bucket. I pull the cage out of the water, and the fat, little mouse starts running back and forth in the cage, looking decidedly like a revived almost drowned mouse. How could I kill it after that? So into the box on the back of the bike go the cage and the mouse, and I take a ride to the dump. There I set the wet but very healthy looking courageous mouse free, to carouse with its friends and relations where it can tell of its near death experience!

When I return the trap, Juana tells me I should hold onto it. There might be more than one. I tell her the story of the ratoncito valiente and she starts laughing and tells me I have to put a brick on cage, to hold it down in the water, because the bottom is wood and it floats. I thought I had put enough water in that bucket!

The next night, the tomato bait captures another mouse. And the next night a rat so big that it looked like someone crammed him in the cage. I confess, by then I had taken to drowning them. How do the Buddhists deal with mice anyway?

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