Botanical and Cultural Adventures

Botanical and Cultural Adventures

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Eco-Tourism in Mexico

At first I found it surprising how some very remote areas were being developed and promoted as eco-tourism destinations in Mexico.  As much as I loathe admitting it, as an American tourist I was surprised about the amazing locations and facilities and the fact that I had never heard of them.  But back in reality there are a very large number of domestic tourists who are learning there are many natural wonders hidden throughout their country.  In the hot summers people love two kinds of vacations, down on the beach (while the gringo tourists are home for their own summer) or up in the mountains.

It is fantastic to stumble upon areas like these.  Sometimes there are gates on the road where you need to pay an entrance fee (usually quite cheap), you can see lots of workers maintaining the roads, and/or find some interesting amenities geared purely for the tourist. 

At this cascade I was unfortunately running out of daylight as a hotel still needed to be secured for the night and the bridge wasn't seen until on the way out.  Next time I will make sure I take the time to do my duty as an eco-tourist and enjoy the view of the cascade.

I always enjoy the surprises that Mexico holds!

Monday, January 28, 2013

A Surprise..But a New Species?

One of the great things about exploring for plants in habitat is that every hillside and every ravine might hold the next surprise. That surprise can be anything from simply a beautifully grown plant in just the right spot, a plant growing well out of its known range, or my favoritea new species! It is hard to ignore the draw of this romantic notion.  Just like as a kid dreaming of being an archaeologist and discovering new dinosaurs or being Indiana Jones exploring a long lost temple, exploring the wilds for new plants is a huge adrenaline rush.  But just like archaeology, it involves a lot of long, much less romantic work and doesn't always allow for a clear cut 'Eureka!' moment.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Zócalo in the Evening

The charm and character of the Zócalo in the city of Oaxaca is incredible. This picture is typical of any given night of the week. Usually a gentle hum, sometimes a little more rowdy, there is always vibrant life in and around the Zócalo. With many cafes and restaurants to choose from you can enjoy coffee (or the great hot cocoa) in the morning, a beer during the day, or a cocktail at night...all along with food ranging from local to a surprisingly wide international selection.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Where the Desert Meets the Clouds

Deserts and cloud forests are both specialized and unique ecosystems.  Rarely a desert is a cloud forest, but slightly more common is where a desert can meet a cloud forest.  The border of these two ecosystems makes for an interesting area as the plants of the two systems have a chance to overlap and intermix.  The two big differences between the desert and the cloud forest are the temperature and the presences of fog/clouds (which influences temperature, sun intensity, and humidity).

Typical epiphytic Tillandsias and lichen common in cloud forests (Tillandsia ionantha and  Tillandsia achyroschachys)

Tillandsia achyrostachys, a plant typically found at higher altitude growing on a cactus.

At the edge of the clouds.  Just below the clouds where the cactus of the deserts mix with the shrubs and trees of the cloud forest.

Tillandsia atroviridipetala growing with a Mammalaria on an oak tree.  There are also orchids growing with these plants  on the lichen covered oak trees.