Trip Start Mar 23, 2007
3Trip End Ongoing
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Within days upon arrival we were settled in with our host family parents, Leticia and Jesus, feeding us fantastic soups, empanadas, pozole, eggs with chipotles, corn tortillas and fresh squeezed orange juice every morning. One son, Gerardo, still lives at home. He is our age and has an adorable 1 year old named April, who loves to chase Goofy, the tiny tortilla-eating poodle around the house. Gerardo`s two brothers and one sister stop by nearly every day to visit, and we feel very welcome and at home.
Our daily walk to Spanish class winds along narrow streets lined with colorful facades textured with a century of weathered paint, underneath bougainvilleas spilling off balconies and rooftops lined with potted agaves and geraniums. By dawn the crews of sweepers clad in orange are at work, keeping the city impeccably tidy, and many vendors have already set up their stands with food, jewelry and clothing on the streets to sell their wares for the day. Walking the narrow streets one must remain vigilant for trucks climbing the sidewalks to squeeze through. Some sidewalks themselves are so narrow, we have to walk single file like ducklings
Peace Corps training is a busy time, with 8 or 9 hours daily of Spanish lessons and various talks on Mexican culture, history, politics and natural history, interspersed with endless regulations on how to be overseas as part of the US government. Our group is only 13 people, aged 26 to 63, and we get on well despite the long days together. In addition to lectures and lessons, we have gotten out several times into the countryside, to learn about the natural history and rural issues that make conservation such an urgent undertaking here. Mexico is actually the country with the 5th richest biodiversity worldwide, and has the greatest number of cacti and reptiles, and among the most flowering plants of any country. One of the greatest conservation challenges is soil erosion, caused by both rain and wind and accelerated by farming and logging on steep slopes. Erosion has severely limited the productivity of the land in many areas. Much of the world, of course, faces this same challenge. As a group during our training we are drafting a management plan for a local watershed, attempting to address not only erosion and environmental degradation but to identify sustainable income generation activities for local communities as well. We won`t get too far with this, but subsequent groups will build on what we started, and eventually the effort will move to other areas.
This three weeks already feels like a long time, and we miss you all. Hope some of you will consider visiting. Stay tuned for news about our future home, Jalpan de Serra, in the Sierra Gorda of northeastern Querétaro state.