Thursday, May 31, 2007

taking the high road

the sierra gorda

the semi desert , ocotillo and cactus

The bus ride from Xilitla to Jalpan and then on to Queretaro was amazing and exciting. Exciting and a little scary because of the mountainous, curvy road. I am sure that the ride was not as dangerous as it seemed at times to be. After all, buses go up and down this road many times daily and I did not see any evidence of buses lying at the bottoms of the canyons. A little old lady got on the bus with me in Xilitla, she seemed to like sitting next to me because she was obviously scared of the curves and the views. By little old lady, I mean little, very literally. At few inches more than 5 feet I am short by US standards, but I tower over the older ladies; they are so tiny, but far from delicate. The current young adult generation of Mexicans are so much taller then the grandmothers and grandfathers, and sad to say, the incidence of obesity, is dramatically up. I can tell a difference in even the past few years. I guess I am going to have to stop making unkind remarks about fat Americans, wherever there is fast food, snack food, and soft drinks, obesity seems to be inevitable.
Sorry, I digress, back to the bus ride. I decided that I was on the bus, and there was I was nothing to do but to enjoy the ride, in this case being fatalistic was the only option.
Leaving Xilitla, you pass through very tropical, shade grown coffee country, reminds me of
Veracruz, indeed we not very far from the border of Veracurz. Steep jungle covered mountains and lush vegetation. However as soon as we passed El Lobo, on the Queretaro side of the mountain range, we were in the Sierra Gorda, the change in vegetation was so sudden it was a curtain closing on one act and rising for another, very different act. The vegetation was now pine and many different kinds of oak, with broader valleys. The oak and pine were intensely green and everything looked well watered and in full flush of late spring. However all is not as healthy as it seems from the bus.(more info. at end of post)Arriving in Jalpan, the surrounding mountains of the Sierra Gorda, were brilliant against the clear blue sky. I had been to Jalpan a few years ago, and I was impressed by the changes I saw there. When I was there a few years ago, Jalpan seemed a little scruffy, untidy and not particularly well cared for. Now it seemed as though every building near the center has been freshly painted, the Zocolo has been spruced up with new plantings and the city in general seemed to be proud of itself. I talked briefly to a tourist development guy, and he confirmed that Jalpan has been working very hard on making the city more attractive to tourists, in particular marketing the city as a center for ecotourism for the Sierra Gorda Reserva.
Then on to
Queretaro, passing through more of the beautiful Sierra Gorda, until the next scene change, just as dramatic, we reached the semi desert where the bones of the dry hills are exposed and I could see lots ocotillo(not a cactus Ocotillo can grow to a height of 30 feet and may live up to two centuries) cholla cacti and many other different kinds of cactus.

Quote from CNN article Mexico probably will surpass the United States in obesity rates for the first time next year as the nation adopts the fast food and sedentary lifestyles of its neighbor to the north.
"Obese and overweight adults went from nowhere in 1990 to 62 percent in 2000," said Barry Popkin, an economist and nutrition professor at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, citing a Mexican government study. "You are talking about an astronomical increase coming at a very fast rate and it's continuing."
Quote from CNN article

External links: Interesting account of nature walk through the semi desert of Queretaro

All is not well in the Sierra Gorda read more here

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