Saturday, November 21, 2015

A Walk in the Park

I am sitting here listening to firecrackers, firecrackers that sound like small blasts going off a few houses over. I guess they are still celebrating the 1910 War of Independence as I can also hear music and celebrations. There were lots of these explosions going off last night - so it just may be they have some left over. Fireworks, the loud kind, are a part of life here. They set them off for festivals, birthdays, weddings - seemingly any reason at all. They are homemade and really more for the noise than anything else, I think, given that I hear them day and night, at least several times a day. I wonder how many people end up in hospitals with their homemade mini bomb blowing up in their face?

Anyway, I must get on with today's blog as I am meeting folks at Hecho at noon! This is a bit of a catch up for the week past as yesterday I covered Friday's parade.

Tuesday night I again went to the Women's Club happy hour and enjoyed some company and chit chat before wandering home. Wednesday was writing and the walking and was followed by dinner at Francesco's, an Italian restaurant where there was 2 for 1 pasta. We were joined by another friend of Marc and Sue's who lives here year round and hails from New Jersey.

On Thursday, I got up and headed straight out to walk the 40 minutes uphill through the Balcones neighbourhood to the El Charco Del Ingenio Jardín Botánico y Reserva Natural in order to arrive by 10 am for a guided tour of the park. The El Charco is a nature preserve of some 500 acres including and surrounding a large canyon and a small lake formed by a man made dam. There are also small pools down below the dam which are fed by fresh spring water. The Jardin is maintained by a private non profit foundation with the mission to preserve and maintain the garden and park trails and to plant and encourage local plant species. They have also a large area transplanted with "rescue plants", taken from sites endangered by construction of local dams.

Map from the Brochure

There are two tours a week, on Spanish and one English (80 pesos). The revenue from tours plus park admission (40 pesos) and a small cafe are used to raise money to support the Jardin. Our guide was a volunteer at the Jardin, a Seattle native and geologist by profession, who with his wife and then 8 year old son had sold all and gone off travelling through Asia and the Pacific several years ago. They ended up in San Miguel last year, not quite ready to go home, and they have set down roots here, at least temporarily while they figure out what is next. I have met many wandering sorts here...San Miguel has a lot to offer those who can get away from the rat race.

Looking down on the dam from the lookout point at Plaza of the Four Winds

I was joined on the tour by 2 women who were from, guess where? - Toronto, Canada. As I say that I realize that the majority of gringos I have met here are Canadians. I have been told that the number of Americans coming here reduced a lot after the 2008 downturn and maybe that is the reason, but in any case, I have not found a majority of Americans here, as I was expecting. Equally surprising, is that the majority of tourists seem to be Mexicans, mainly here on the weekends. I had not expected that either.

A greenhouse conservatory of Mexican plants, some of which are local to lower altitudes and in need of night time protection against cold.
The greenhouse - a conservatory of Mexican plants which are native
Plaza of the Four Winds

This is a ceremonial place which overlooks the canyon. The aboriginal Mexican beliefs are intertwined with the Caltholic symbols here.

Sorry, the morning was cloudy and the pics are not so good, will try to go back and retake these, if I can before I leave.
The suchil is replaced each year with a new one made by local aboriginals.
This structure is used as a solar observatory.

This display is to remember the 43 men who were kidnapped in 2014. It reminds that Mexico is still a dangerous place, although SMA seems to be almost a Garden of Eden within its borders.

You can walk across the cement dam to access the trails on the other side, as well as the "Ruinas de la Haciendas" which is sometimes used as a sweat lodge.
The watermill ruins
Below the dam is an area which used to be an area of mill works from long ago.
The watermill ruins

There is an annual concert in this area at spring equinox time, taking advantage of the natural amphitheater .

Looking down into the the natural spring pool, "El Charco del Ingenios, after which the Park is named.
The big pipe called "tubo", which originally brought water down to the textile mills at Fabrica Aurora.
Golden Barrel Cactus in the plant rescue area

I have posted far more pictures than I had intended to and I have so many more of the plants I saw in the park, but enough is enough! Later that day, I went down to spend some time at the Art Walk at the Fabrica Aurora, but that will need to keep for another day.

I hope you are enjoying my little travelogue and for those staying with me at a distance, I will post again on Monday.



  1. Not only an attractive town, but beautiful, natural countryside surrounding it. Between the two, there seems to be plenty of places to walk, which should delight you, Peggy.

    I think there are a number of reasons tourist numbers are down in respect to arrivals from the U.S., and the economy certainly is among them. The debate about the border situation and the drug trafficking aspect no doubt affect the situation, too. And, I think many people in the U.S. have come to believe they are not always welcome in every country.

    See you upon your return with another post ....

  2. Yes, I would agree Fram, a very beautiful place and I have been getting in lots of walks - the streets are a delight, each house different and beautiful in its own right,