We return to our property just over half a year since we last saw and impulsively bought this stretch of finest Mexican sun drenched soil. It feels a lot larger than what we remember - and steeper. Hiking up the overgrown hillside we can now proudly call our own leaves us feeling overwhelmed and excited by all the work that lies ahead. So, where do we begin? Like all wildest new beginnings in Mexico: with a machete. (Against all odds, we will soon discover that a tub of VapoRub and a litre of milk are actually considered far more effective weapons of self defense against scorpions and the likes than sharp, pointy tools. What do you know?)

We purchase some basic tools in nearby Puerto Vallarta and get started. Three trees have come down from the neighbouring property above ours and have conveniently fallen into the grove carved out by the yearly rainfall. So we decide to confine ourselves to just one side of the property for the time being.

The first few weeks are spent clearing the land, planning and envisioning the layout of our project and collecting any materials we can get our hands on to make something out of nothing. We also make acquaintance with our animal neighbours, including a premature midnight encounter with a red, black and yellow striped coral snake on our very first night (according to Google, it's harmless). Our choice to start anew with nothing, in a material sense, only begins to feel viscerally real as I reluctantly trade in my morning coffee for a splash of cold water in the face. The sun, our friend and superior, now dictates our daily schedule, granting us up to 12 hours' sleep as we rest from the our first short but very labour intensive days.