Visit to Charco del Ingenio
A visit to [i]El Charco del Ingenio (pond with an ingenious devise i.e. a waterwheel)
For months Gail has been planning a visit to El Charco del Ingenio, a botanical garden and nature preserve (170 acres) at the edge of San Miguel. http://www.elcharco.org.mx/Ingles/index.html. It is devoted to the preservation of the area and its biodiversity, has an impressive botanical collection of cacti and other succulent Mexican plants.
Armed with the directions from a guidebook we headed off down the street and up the hill to find the garden. Yes, the hill was steep and the road went from cobblestone to dirt and the confidence in the guidebook became shaky but after 40 minutes we found ourselves at the garden. After a good cup of coffee we joined a tour given by Norman, a lawyer who had retired here 7 years ago from Seattle and had a striking resemblance to Dustin Hoffman (Fred thought with a touch of Bob Dylan). Off we went on a walk through the nature preserve. Love this…in 2004 El Charco was proclaimed a Peace Zone by the Dalai Lama during his visit to the garden; a places free of violence and arms, dedicated to the conservation of nature and community development. His theory is that if all the world’s peace zones joined together there would be world peace. Still working on it.
Norman was an excellent guide, pointing out the various succulents and other plants in the garden as well birds and a bit about the history of the property. After 2 ½ hours he brought us back to the tiny reception center & restaurant where we enjoyed a quick bite before heading off on our own.
For the first time in San Miguel we were hot. Down the middle of the preserve is a stream that had been dammed over 100 years ago to provide waterpower to run a fabric mill. When electricity came to the area 10 years later the mill changed over and the dam was no longer used. Today it creates a seasonal lake that has brought waterfowl to the area. We walked through to the end of the preserve and then back along the edge of the canyon that has been created eventually reaching the derelict hacienda that had overseen this area before the revolution when the land was divided up. Back along the lake, stepping around large anthills and back to the reception area.
After all the planning for this visit, Gail was worried that it might not meet her expectations. It turned out to be a wonderful place, different than expected, but beautiful in it’s own way. After a stop in the shade we headed off down the hill (whether up hill or down is harder is debateable) and back home for a cold cerveza.