Eric, our guide from NatHab, told us about a project that he is passionate about: Ecobrick Alliance. They use the concept “ayew” which is a Philipino word pronouced “Aye You”. It means nothing is wasted. Everything that is introduced is reintroduced. Bascially, anything that can’t be recycled like pill bubble packs, cigarette butts, etc. are put into a plastic water bottle. When these bottles are full, they are then used to build something like bathrooms, walls, planters, etc. Eric was eager to fill up his bottle with anthing that we had found. We were active at some of hte butterfly sanctuaries and picking up small bits of trash. Nothing should go into a landfill.
Renzo, our other NatHab guide, commneted that he had been with a researcher that was convinced that we could feed the world by consuming insects. They are not endangered and consuming them would not adversely affect habitat, and they are plentiful. There are 60 different crickets, ants, wasps, and caterpillars that could be consumed for the protein. Hmm. That is a way to reduce the use of pesticides. WE could become human pesticides…killers of insects!!
Renzo is an expert birder and have taken many groups on bird watching. We learned that you never point at a bird. I DID NOT KNOW THAT. But he said that it scares the birds away. You are to keep you hands near your heart and point in that way. Even after we learned that, we were still pointing with full arms…and the birds flew away. Old habits die hard.
We learned that the qualification for an area to have the distinction of being a rain forest is getting seven feet of rain in a year. That’s a lot of water. I wonder how the flooding that many parts of the world figure in to that!!! I guess that the water has to absorb for it to count!!
An epiphyte is basically a cactus without thorns. It grows on another plant but is not parasitic. They take their nutrients from the air, rain, and debris. Epiphyte examples are orchids, bromelids, and Spanish moss. Orchids bloom in the rainy season. Pineapple is a terrestrial bromelid.
A tank bromeliad collects water. A whole ecosystem can start in the center of the plant called a tank. Once water has collected, then the insects arrive, then tadpoles, and up the food chain.
There is a movement to dismantle dams which seems contrary as we look at renewable resources. However, they are finding that the dams are doing more damage than the benefit that we get from energy production. A recommended film illustrating these uninteneded consequences is Damnation. I read recently balsa wood is being overharvested in the Amazon forests of Ecuador and Peru. This light weight wood is used in the many windmills that are being erected throughout the world to harness wind for energy. Are we robbing Peter to pay Paul? We MUST try to foresee unintended consequences.
Tonight we are staying in a hotel known to attract the wealthiest in Mexico. Renzo referred to Valle de Bravo like The Hamptons. There are a lot of golfers here. In the past, the Festival de Avándaro took place in this area in 1971. It was billed as the Mexican Woodstock. They were expecting 25,000 people and 250,000 showed up. Rob and I took a quick dip in the swimming pool. We passed by a trampoline on the way to dinner!!
Toluca is the capitol of the state of Mexico. We went to a building called the Cosmovitral. It was built in 1910 as a street market. It was closed in 1975. By 1980, a painter/sculpter named Leopoldo Flores revived the building into something special, a stained glass mural with a botanical garden in the floorspace. His Man and His Relationship to the Universe took 10 years to finish.
He used 45 tons of stained glass and 75 tons of steel to decorate the building, Inside is a beautiful, extensive botanical garden of 500 different species from around the world.
We headed back to the Camino Real Polanco México in Mexico City. It was built for the Summer Olympics held in 1968. It is a very modern hotel in a great location. We stayed there when we arrived and then again when we returned. The staff was very happy to see us again as we tried to speak Spanish with them at every opportunity.
But on the way back, it was advised to have dinner in the ‘burbs to avoid the evening traffic. We stopped on the outskirts of Mexico City in an area called Santa Fe. There is an international building in this city that has a helioport since traffic is so bad in Mexico City.
We had a late dinner at a very fancy restaurant. It was so funny when they came to ask what we wanted to dessert. The first offering was a Corn Muffin. That isn’t a dessert. We all turned up our noses at the thought of that. But I decided that I would try it since it must be something special. It was DELICIOUS!!
Renzo gave us small momentos by an Oxacan artist, Pedro Linares, who is famous for his imaginary animals called alebrijes.
To end the evening, I sang a butterfly song to my companions (and now to my readers) and it goes like this:
Bonnie the Beautiful Butterfly would fly around all day
Only when the sun went down, she’d fold her wings away.
Spiders would crawl through the forest at night; lightning bugs blink off and on,
But Bonnie the Beautiful Butterfly would keep her wings folded til dawn.
And when the sun rose in the morning, Bonnie would wake up and yawn.
She’d fold her wings out and flutter about and suddenly, she would be gone.
So long, my friends…and plant milkweed!!!