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Tarantulas and cats: El Cafetal

Sunday, April 30, 2006 | 0 comments

A few days ago José asked me on MSN Messenger if we were interested to visit his grandmother's rancho with him and his wife Ara. We know each other for quite some time via the Internet, and some time ago José even brought me a male Brachypelma vagans, Mexican red rump, a tarantula species, in a cake box, but we had never had a real get together.

So this morning, around ten like planned, José and his wife arrived at our place. I took our stuff down, since Esme was paying the ATM a visit, and told José and Ara that Esme was coming soon. And I was right, since she was just coming back.

We took a taxi to Plaza Crystal, since nearby one can take a colectivo: a taxi service that let people share the fare between them. And when we arrived we a taxi was already waiting, so we continued our trip shortly after.

When we arrived at El Cafetal we walked to the rancho. Esme and I got introduced to José's grandparents and other family members, and shortly after we had lunch in the kitchen (empanadas with cheese or chicken).

A tarantula
A tarantula

After lunch we walked to the house of an aunt of José. A family member of José joined us. We walked on a small dirt road with to the left and the right young sugar cane growing. Everybody knew that I was into scorpions, so when a hill to our right showed up with a lot of huge boulders, I was urged to look for scorpions. So I went up, and José came along. The surroundings looked a lot like a good place for Centruroides gracilis, but despite the many stones I looked under, no scorpions.

A tarantula
A tarantula

When we returned Esme told me that they had found a tarantula. The girl that came with us had moved a stone with her foot and under it was a small (2 inch, guessed) tarantula hiding. I didn't recognize the species, moreover I wasn't even sure if I had seen this species before.

Juvenile Brachypelma vagans
Juvenile Brachypelma vagans

We continued our walk, and close to a fence I found a juvenile Brachypelma vagans hiding under a stone. Esme looked under another stone a bit further down the road, and spotted another Brachypelma vagans. But by the time I arrived to take a picture, it had already withdrawn in a hole in the ground.

Hiding place of a Brachypelma vagans
Hiding place of a Brachypelma vagans

The juvenile Mexican red-rump was well hidden, I could hardly see it. So I decided to leave it, and move the boulder back into its place, restoring things as they were before.

Uncovered habitat of Brachypelma vagans
Uncovered habitat of Brachypelma vagans

We followed a small path and the surroundings got more and more green. It was quite a hot day despite the short rain showers now and then. I kept looking under stones, helped by Esme, but no scorpions. I did find some other very interesting animal under one stone though: a vinegaroon.

A vinegaroon
A vinegaroon

Esme and I had seen those animals before in La Barranca de Matlacóbatl, a canyon near Teocelo. But I hadn't expected to find one here. I was just able to take one picture before the animal ran away, and hid itself quite well.

The path we followed
The path we followed

It started to rain again but before we got really wet we arrived at the house of José's aunt. Esme and I got introduced, but we both had more eyes for the very small cat. Esme wanted to take it, but it hid behind a stack of bamboo and other stuff close to the door. I noticed another one trying to hide behind a pot with an orchid, and managed to capture that one.

A very little cat
A very little cat

Esme tried to hold the cat on her lap, but the little one didn't want to be caressed. In the mean time I tried to take a few pictures of its sibbling.

Esme holding one of the little cats.
Esme holding one of the little cats.

After some time, both little cats went outside, to play hide and seek into a pile of firewood. I followed them, and again tried to make a few pictures.

Kitten in front of a pile of firewood.
Kitten in front of a pile of firewood.

Nearby was another cat, an adult, resting on a bag filled with corn ears. From the looks of the cat, it might have been very well the father of the two little ones.

Kitten playing hide-and-seek
Kitten playing hide-and-seek

The others were involved in a tour around the house, since there was plenty to see. I decided to join them.

Orchids with flowers
Orchids with flowers

I noticed some orchids with beautiful flowers so I had to take a picture. After that I joined the group. We looked at some pools near the house, formed by water coming out of the ground. Nearby was a hill covered with coffee plants. Esme and I decided to have a look, and the girl that had found the first tarantula joined us. We looked under many stones, but no scorpions.

Exuviae of a cicada
Exuviae of a cicada

Esme noticed the cast-off skin (exuviae) of a cicada. After I had taken a picture we joined José and his wife Ara again, and returned to the house.

Kitten on stone stairs
Kitten on stone stairs

One of the young cats was sitting on the stone stairs near the entry to the house, so I took a picture while the others were putting chairs outside and getting drinks.

Kitten sitting on stack of firewood
Kitten sitting on stack of firewood

The kittens shortly after started a new game of hide-and-seek in the stack of firewood so I tried to make a few good pictures of those lovely animals.

Kitten looking for his sibling
Kitten looking for his sibling

The game moved to a corner with olotes to the left of the stairs. The olotes were now and then mistaken for a sibling, and became a part of the game the two little cats were playing.

Kittens playing between olotes
Kittens playing between olotes

In the mean time, the others were enjoying a cold drink and sitting outside, talking. I got quite thirsty, but decided to take a few pictures more.

Kittens playing between olotes
Kittens playing between olotes

The cats were so involved in their game that they were not aware of me taking pictures. Their playfight got a bit more serious, and moved to a room to their left.

Kittens playing between olotes
Kittens playing between olotes

Since the room contained a chair, the chair soon became part in their game as well. And like with the elotes, now and then it was mistaken for the opponent.

Kittens playing
Kittens playing

The game moved more to the back of the room, and since I was getting more and more thirsty I decided to join the others.

Kittens playing
Kittens playing

To be continued...

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