Friday, September 17, 2010

Week 4 - Travel to Jalpan and the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve

Part of the Peace Corps training experience is visiting other current volunteers at their work site. I visited Avram - also a former Buffalonian, strangely enough - at his site in Jalpan, in the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve in the state of Queretaro. Jalpan is one of five Franciscan Mission towns in the reserve, each over 200 years old.
Mission Church outside of Jalpan

Jalpan is in a forested valley (a tropical dry forest - the trees lose their leaves during the dry season), surrounded by tall pine and oak covered mountains, bisected by a river flooded with recent rain.
The flooded river

Jalpan Valley
Avram works at the Grupo Ecologico, a non-profit that manages the biosphere reserve and many environmental education, conservation, and community development programs. The reserve, and the Grupo Ecologico, were founded in the late 1980's by the community that wanted to protect its natural resources. This community-driven style of conservation differs from the mostly government-driven conservation in other places that I have visited in Mexico.

Among the work I helped with, which included loading 3,000 native trees into a truck at a vivero, or green-house, for reforestation projects in the reserve, we also ate some local food like cecina asado (thinly sliced, lime marinated, grilled to a crisp steak - very good!), and visited some of the tourist sites like the mirrador overlooking media luna (the mountain). I will be sure to come back to the reserve again!

Media Luna

p.s. An ongoing problem I will have in this blog is writing words with spanish accent marks. For example, Jalpan has an accent mark over the first A, so it is pronounced by stressing that syllable. Where are the damn accent marks on my keyboard?


  1. Would be incredibly easy if you had a mac, but I suppose you don't :)

    Ryan Jensen said he changed his keyboard to 'International English' or something and said it's a lot easier that way.

  2. This sounds like a really neat place, and the photos as usual are great. the jalpan valley photo is somewhat obscuring text. I fight with my blog software all the time.