You can read all previous parts of No Mercy for Dogs here.
If Cerralvo had not been exactly what I had expected, neither was the Ramos compound.
In place of the gleaming gaudiness on display at some of the other narco-castles we had passed on our drive, a cold functionality ruled behind the Hammer’s walls. A neat gravel parking area encompassed the section immediately past the gate. I saw about a dozen vehicles, all clean and in good shape but none of which that would have impressed the casual onlooker. The main house was beyond that, a simple one-story box of perhaps 2500 square feet. Aside from the elaborate solar array that covered every square inch of rooftop space, this could have been any house in town. About a hundred feet from this was an open pavilion under which sat seven washing machines. Large oak trees were trimmed so that an incredible array of clotheslines could be strung around this point.
Enough garments to clothe an army were hanging on these, my first clue as to just how many people depended upon the Hammer for their well-being. The south wall of the perimeter was made up of businesses which opened up on the main thoroughfare to the rest of town, and included a tortilleria, a carpenter’s shop, an electrician’s shop and parts supply warehouse, an auto repair shop, and on the corner, yet another of the ubiquitous depositos. The various portions of the family that operated each store lived in homes built on top of each showroom, each of which was draped in its own extensive solar array. A much larger tractor-trailer repair shop occupied the entire northern wall, though I could not see this from where we had parked. All told, the perimeter wall enclosed a rectangular space of perhaps 500 by 700 meters.
Most of that interior was parkland, which was fed by a system of hoses leading to yet another windmill/well array, only this one was supplemented by an automatic pump for days when the wind was playing hookie. The Ramos clan kept geese, ducks, dogs, cats, and a cantankerous potbellied pig poignantly named Vicente Fox Quesada in a barn on the east side of the complex. The geese were particularly mean bastards, I was soon to learn, and we would all have our revenge for nipped-at-ankles when we ate them at Christmas time.