Sept 2, 2022 – A fountain and small hacienda is part of the expansive hotel property. With an elevation of 2,605 meters above sea level, and an annual temperature range from 15 to 20 °C, Amealco gets more rain than most of the state of Queretaro as reflected in the more lush, green vegetation.
Sept 10, 2022 – So many beautiful Catholic churchs and cathedrals… The Queretaro Cathedral, erected between 1786 and 1804, One of the last works built during the colonial period, which is a sign of the transition between two styles: from Baroque to Neoclassical.
Sept 10, 2022 – What soon became my favorite watering hole in Queretaro, this microbrewery offered an excellent array of quality German-style microbrews with a Mexican flair and the food was excellent! The original location in Hercules, QRO shown here is on the site of an old linen mill, reminding me of many such ruins dotting the New England landscape. http://www.almacenhercules.mx/
Sept 12, 2022 – A truly amazing Latin American culinary experience! The walk through this local market, open 7 days a week, was always an incredible encounter for the eyes, nose and mouth. Located just a few blocks away from the Peace Corps office in QRO, this market served as our go-to for lunch every day – a multitude of options for freshly-made tacos, gorditas, tortas, quesedillas, and sopas.
Sept 29, 2022 – Jake Engelken and I toured a unique high school that trains it’s graduates in all facets of agronomy and animal husbandry. Very impressive detailed instruction with a multitude of domestic animals from breeding, castration, milk and egg production, seed germination, composting…
Sept 29, 2022 – Much of my work here will be in the small community of El Carrizal where there are 2 protected areas totaling over 5000 acres where ecotourism and managed hunting have increased need for accurate flora and fauna conservation management. I took one look at this view and decided that I needed a bicycle!
Sept 30, 2022 – Our last day during our brief initial visit to our future worksites ended with a feast with Salvador ‘Chava’ Hernandez and family adjacent a maiz field under the pecan trees. I can’t wait to return after ~6 more weeks of training in the city of Queretaro!
One of the consistent responses during our WWF surveying was the plague of grasshoppers and crickets devastating local maiz and honey production. So Jake and I, as the biodiversity impact team, developed a bat house construction kit for the community complete with Ikea-style instructions! Bats consume as many as 1000 insects in 1 hour of feeding, or ~8000 in one evening.
The final product was complete with colored bat decor courtesy of the local Charape children. In Mexico, you cannot simply buy these houses off the shelf at Home Depot, so we designed it from scratch using plywood, paint, screws, and glue. The local geology is a soft volcanic tuff (soil erosion is a major problem here due to lithologic characteristics and historic deforestation) without traditional cave bat habitat.
Nov 1, 2022 – Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a huge tradition in Mexico with alters constructed around town, in offices and homes to honor those that have passed. For more information on the activities in Queretaro for 2022, see https://municipiodequeretaro.gob.mx/festival-dia-de-muertos/
Nov 10, 2022 – 15 new Peace Corps Volunteers were officially sworn in today by Stephanie Syptak-Ramnath the Deputy Chief of Mission for the US Consulate in Mexico. This group (#PCM22) will teach English as a foreign language and serve as climate-change awareness Volunteers. Counterparts, host families, fellow Volunteers, RPCVs, staff, and others were on hand to witness the ceremony.
Nov 11, 2022 – My first day at site celebrated with a picture of the most famous building in Colón. Colón is a small, conservative pueblo with approximately 7,590 inhabitants, a semiarid climate and an average elevation ~1,900 meters above sea level making the climate mild year round… More information about the Basilica can be found here:
Nov 11, 2022 – Fresh squeezed juices, yogurts, and sandwiches are just a small portion of the menu at the Loncheria. We are still working on improving the Loncheria web presence, but if you find yourself in the area, you can find us here: https://goo.gl/maps/iNxqwYUru9vPH2Qn8
Nov 17, 2022 – Working with PCV Jake Engelken, one of our first tasks is to estimate the size and health of the deer, puma and armadillo populations in over 5,000 acres of this desert high-country terrain. That said it is difficult to take your eyes off of the impressive Neogene volcanics in the area!
Nov 17, 2022 – One of the primary goals of these SEMARNAT UMA protected areas in El Carrizal is to promote conservation through ecotourism development. Here in UMA Las Adjuntas, rental cabins are available for weekends with family or friends.
Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) has prioritized conserving vulnerable natural areas and nearby rural communities with an ecosystem-based approach, while promoting socioeconomic development. SEMARNAT – akin to the US EPA – is responsible for the protection of over 1,700 UMAs in the country of Mexico, representing ~19% of the total territory. On June 13th, 2006, Peace Corps (PC) México signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the SEMARNAT which founded the PC Mexico Environmental Program.
One of my favorite dishes here – street tacos with bistek, res, pollo, etc. There is no wrong answer served with onions and plenty of seasoning. Noe (Noah in Spanish), my host father here is assisting his favorite vendor in preparation of some 40 tacos for our family during the Christmas holidays.
My horseback riding experience has been a great advantage in serving in Colon and El Carrizal, Queretaro. These communities are very similar in many ways to small town west Texas life, very conservative, country and western. On the left, my host brother Omar and his son Adriel.
Flor de Alfalfa (https://www.flordealfalfa.com/) is a cheese and yogurt factory in Colon, QRO with approximately 400 head of jersey-mix cattle. Despite the semi-arid climate, they keep the field green with plenty of well water. The yogurt is excellent as my host mother serves it in her Loncheria restaurant. The cheese in the Queretaro region of Mexico is generally not aged.
My host mother loves hot springs and most here contend that the natural sulfur is therapeutic. So late one evening in winter we all piled into our family pickup and trekked out to the El Geiser hot springs (https://www.elgeiser.mx/) for an overnight at the hotel onsite (apparently the hot springs are open 24/7 and far less crowded at 2-3am).