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Last chance to see the pelicans of Petatán

Even though more and more American White Pelicans (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) are attracted to the western shores of Lake Chapala, the little town of Petatán, Michoacán, at the far eastern end, is still the place to see these beautiful birds in flocks of hundreds and sometimes thousands, as they fly in for their daily dinner, supplied by the folks who fillet fish there for several commercial enterprises.

San Juan Evangelista: a ceramics master who dances on clay and a curious church with the face of Tlaloc

The small towns around Lake Cajititlán are known for their arts and crafts, but locating the artisans is sometimes quite difficult, as they tend to work unobtrusively inside their homes or under a shade tree in the backyard.  In San Juan Evangelista, however, you will actually find a Plaza de los Artesanos, surrounded by workshops where lumps of clay are turned into works of art.

Boys Town shows how education can beat poverty

“This Saturday we’re going to hike up to a lookout with a gorgeous view—hope you can come,” said the email I sent out to people on my list of Caminantes (hikers).

Happy birthday Primavera! Animal release and photo exhibit mark forest anniversary

Representatives of Bosque la Primavera joined together with activists from several animal-rescue organizations to liberate deer, raccoons, a lynx and other wild creatures on Monday, March 5, the day before the 32nd anniversary of a federal decree designating the Primavera Forest a Protected Area. The following day, a photo exhibit on the beauty of the forest and its creatures was launched at the Guadalajara Palacio Municipal and the Bosque’s birthday was crowned by a panel discussion on “The Past, Present and Future of the Primavera Forest” at the Guadalajara City Museum.

Archaeologists launch Teuchitlan walk program


The Guachimontones Interactive Center of Interpretation is buzzing with activity these days as archaeologists, museographers, artists, designers and a new corps of “Dynamic Trail Interpreters” gear up for the museum’s imminent Grand Opening.

It had been expected that the impressive building, designed by architect Francisco Perez Arellano, would open its doors a year ago upon completion of the stunning mural by artist Jorge Monroy which now graces its 30-meter long, curving inner wall. However, expected funds “failed to materialize,” according to administrator Leticia Aguirre.

At the same time, a project to widen the two-lane highway connecting Tala to Teuchitlán was mysteriously halted, meaning some unlucky tourists will still be forced to creep along the 13-kilometer stretch while stuck behind slow moving trucks piled high with sugar cane bound for Tala’s huge ingenio (sugar refinery).

The City and the Woods: Environmental Economics specialist looks at Guadalajara and the Primavera Forest

Jon Lovett is an internationally recognized expert on Natural Resource Management and professor of Sustainable Development at the University of Twente in Holland. Invited to Jalisco by his Ph.D. student, Arturo Balderes Torres, Lovett has spent the last few weeks studying the Primavera Forest and culminated his visit with a talk at the headquarters of the Mexican Association of Forest Professionals in Guadalajara.

The price of nature photography: sleepless nights and years of patience

Every year Guadalajara naturalist Jesús Moreno produces a desktop calendar/agenda featuring first-class photographs of Mexico’s flora and fauna. Curious to learn about this year’s publication, I caught up with him at his home on the northern edge of the Primavera Forest.

‘Reciclon’ Electronic Recycling Project in full swing

It’s normal to see shopping carts filled with electronics rolling away from Wal-Mart towards the waiting cars of happy purchasers, but last weekend the heavily laden carts were being pushed the other way by conscientious consumers anxious to give their worn-out computers, printers and other devices a “decent burial.”

Surrealistic ruins and perilous pits: Mineral de Pozos was once ‘Mexico’s Paris’

The old mining town of Mineral de Pozos, located in the state of Guanajuato, is a five-and-a-half hour drive from Guadalajara but works well as a delightful day trip from nearby, ever-charming, San Miguel de Allende.

The basalt sculptors of San Lucas Evangelista: Hard work, hard rock & mind the flying chips!

San Lucas is one of those sleepy little communities lying along the shore of Lake Cajititlán, just 20 kilometers northwest of Chapala. Well, sleepy it may appear if you walk around the plaza and fail to spot even a stray dog, but don’t be deceived by appearances. There’s plenty of activity going on behind the scenes in almost every backyard, for this little town has been home to makers of metates and molcajetes for at least 600 years and probably a lot more. Metates, of course, are flat slabs of volcanic rock for grinding lime-softened corn, while molcajetes are round mortars traditionally with three legs, used for pulverizing chili peppers, tomatoes and other ingredients used in salsas. Today, as in the past, each of these kitchen tools is hand-made from appropriate native rock which, as you might suspect, can be found in great abundance only minutes from the village.

A week of historic dates: December 7, of course; December 9, the Virgin of of Guadalupe makes her first appearance

Days of commemoration, remembrance, glorification — and questioning.

Skype unites far-flung Mexican family – and makes soup to boot

Many years ago I became a member of a Mexican family when I married Susana, one of the nine children of Francisco and Carmen Ibarra of El Platanal, Michoacán. Most of the Ibarra children grew up on the grounds of a hydroelectric plant located in a remote corner of a veritable Michoacán jungle and run by their father, an electrical engineer. The children had no other playmates but themselves and not even schoolmates, as their mother was the local “school marm” sent by the government to teach at La Planta, as the power-generating facility was called.

Polishing one’s English: The Self-Correction Technique

Most foreigners living in Mexico have been asked the following question by one of the local people: “Do you have a little time to help me practice my English conversation?”

La Pahola Kaolin Mines and the Valley of the Lovers: Hiking from the worst to the best of the Primavera Forest

Here’s a real mixed bag for you: a hiking trail that starts only three kilometers from the controversial Villa Panamericana (Pan Am Games Athletes Village)  just outside Guadalajara and shows you both the best and the worst sides of the Primavera Forest.

Japanese leaf blowers hijacked Mexico’s Spotless Sidewalk Syndrome

Many years ago, I taught English in Querétaro, which was then so small you could easily reach every part of it on foot. The first time I crossed the town early in the morning it was so quiet I expected to see nothing but empty streets. To my surprise, I found neither the streets nor the sidewalks empty. It was, in fact, downright dangerous to walk around at that hour, because, without warning, gallons of water (clean, fortunately) might come sailing out of any doorway at any time. This was my first introduction to a curious and charming Mexican custom which, for lack of a better name, I will call the Spotless Sidewalk Syndrome.

Helping Mexicans improve their English: Wordlists and Word Games

Because you are a native speaker of English, there’s a lot you can do to help interested Mexicans improve their command of your language. In a previous article, we took a look at the most important technique in a good teacher’s basket of tricks: giving feedback in such a way that students can easily discover and self-correct their own mistakes.

Return to the great monoliths of San Esteban: Crowing roosters, ambling cows and deprickled nopalitos

The little town of San Esteban – located only seven kilometers north of Guadalajara – is overshadowed by a steep mountain  bristling with tall, rocky spires as numerous and as pointy as a hedgehog’s quills.

The remarkable petroglyphs of Lake La Luz

“We want to show you some petroglyphs located not far from Arandas. We’ve never seen anything like them before.” This email message immediately grabbed my attention because it had been sent by two archaeologists, Rodrigo and Cyntia Esparza.  If the Esparzas considered this rock art extraordinary, I told myself, it must be extraordinary indeed. So, I made an extra effort to try to set up an expedition to Arandas—no easy task because the site was at the end of “un camino feo” (literally, an ugly road) and only high-clearance vehicles would be suitable for reaching the place.

Could Jalisco open the world’s next geopark?

“Geoparks  are the fastest growing kind of parks in the world,” announced Ross Dowling,  coordinator of the third Global Conference on Geotourism, held in Muscat, Oman last week. Naturally, the Guadalajara Reporter was there to cover the event, thanks to the generous sponsorship of Jalisco’s Casa San Matías, distiller of Pueblo Viejo tequila.

Mitch Ventura died as he lived: generous and fearless

I was a close friend of Mitch Ventura and, in a way, many of the readers of the Guadalajara Reporter also know him because he was a “guest writer” for this column on two occasions.

A geopark in my back yard?

Not long ago, I received an invitation to participate in the Third Global Conference on Geotourism. I wanted to go, but there was a slight hitch: the meeting would be held in Muscat, Oman, 15,000 kilometers from Jalisco. Miraculously, my transportation problem was solved when Casa San Matias, the people who make Pueblo Viejo Tequila, offered to pay for my plane ticket. That left only one small question I still needed to answer: exactly what is Geotourism?

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