Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

I’m still a romantic and I’m still searching for a harmonious life. I find myself in Querétaro – a city changing rapidly. The city is unscrupulously erasing history and giving in to the urban sprawl and shopping malls. Amongst all this change, I’m hanging on to the past, to the traditions, and to a time when people interacted with the natural world.

I am dedicated to ethnobotany, the study of people’s interaction with plants. Returning to the communities that revealed Mexico’s soul to me, I continue the endless quest for traditional knowledge and once again, a harmonious life.

I look forward to being in touch again, and beginning this new adventure together.

Love always,

the twigster

LlantenMedicinal plant bouquet

Read Full Post »

The twigster has accompanied me through many life chapters, and I am happy to reopen the twigster after a recess to chronicle my newest adventure. The twigster has branched out. Today marks a week of the opening of Raíces (Roots), a home and garden store in Querétaro, Mexico. The store is in line with the same mission I started out with upon graduating college – bridging the gap between the human and natural worlds.

Raíces aspires to offer clients options to include some greenery and natural living into their homes, gardens, and lifestyles. We offer the obvious – plants, pots, terrariums – to achieve that goal, while also offering the less obvious – jewelry made from natural stones, solar dehydrators, all natural personal care items, and fair trade artesanal products. We pride ourselves on one of a kind pieces as  the majority of our products are made in Mexico, by local artisans and friends. Expect lots of traveling as I seek to find interesting artists and products for Raíces. More to come soon.

the twigster,

Josephine

PS: With the city of Querétaro growing at this rate, Queretanos must maintain their bond to the natural world.

madera,florerodevidrio

Handblown glass vase, wood kitchenware

atrapasuenos

Dreamcatcher

macetadeconcretoflor

Concrete flower pot

 

Read Full Post »

A little glimpse into my life in Mexico these days.

the twigster,

Josephine

PS: Try to make a story by connecting the pictures.

Here’s mine: I’m a dog and I like to run around in the corn. Oh! and I loveeee flowers. Flowers. Flowers. Blue flowers! There’s my master at work. She’s always in the store. She should come play in the mud!

IMG_7586_2 CIASPE: In Bloom IMG_7520 IMG_7331

 

IMG_7306

Read Full Post »

            CIASPE  is a nonprofit organization dedicated to sustainable agricultural practices and research. It is a fairly young organization, only three years old, and the majority of its funding has come from its sponsor organization, GMI. As CIASPE is growing older, the organization is working towards covering a larger percentage of its operational costs and becoming more financially independent from its sponsor. Seeing CIASPE’s desire for self-sufficiency, the CIASPE team began to conjure up the vision of opening a gift shop to generate a supplemental income for the non-profit.

            CIASPE receives visitors from universities, other non-profit organizations, and groups of people interested in the sustainable food movement. The traffic and the demand for the products already existed. We met this basic rule of business. Next step: a suitable space for the store. Once we found and transformed a perfect nook in CIASPE’s teaching center, I drew on my contacts in Huimilpan and began to slowly fill the store with inventory. I called Lourdes from Capula, and ordered 30 bottles of nopal capsules. Next I spoke with Gustavo to develop jewelry made from seeds, and so on. As excitement began to build about the store, CIASPE team members began passing me more and more information about potential products.

            Today in the store we are selling organic seeds from CIASPE, portable solar lamps, crocheted key chains and baby toys, nopal products, succulent plants, and manuals about the biointensive method of gardening. The store continues to grow as Equipo CIASPE seeks budding products and continues to build relationships with community members through our gardening courses. For example, we are teaching women in Amealco to crochet baby blankets so that they may sell their work in the store as well and gain a small income. The store, therefore, is not only generating income for CIASPE, but also for community members with whom CIASPE works.

            As the store grows, we will continue to seek potential markets. There is talk of starting an online store using etsy, but we are not quite there yet. We are also developing salsas and natural beauty products using plants and veggies that come right from CIASPE’s garden. It will be a truly beautiful thing to not only promote sustainable farming practices, but sustainable consumerism through CIASPE’s small “organic boutique”.  We are generating an income for the non-profit, for community members, all while supporting our mission of promoting sustainable lifestyle choices.

the twigster,

Josephine

PS: We still need a name for the store. Any ideas?

Lourdes from Capula with her xoconostle jam & nopal pills

Lourdes from Capula with her xoconostle jam & nopal pills

Nopal in Bloom

Read Full Post »

I recently moved to CIASPE, an experimental agricultural center just outside the city of Querétaro.  I am working for a non-profit organization that is dedicated to promoting and teaching sustainable agriculture practices. I am doing exactly what I love.

the twigster,

Josephine

PS: More to come soon…

Bio-intensive Garden Beds

Pup at Work

Read Full Post »

It was a rainy and chilly day in Huimilpan. The sky was overcast and that seemingly omnipresent sun was nowhere to be found. I was working from home that day, an excuse to stay in sweatpants and a flannel shirt. Hunger, boredom or procrastination led me to the kitchen in search of something edible. Moving around boxes of pasta and bags of uncooked beans, I knew I was down to the dregs of my kitchen supply. I had to leave the house. The horror.

I made it to the market without any run-ins. As much as I rock it,  grunge still hasn’t been accepted as a look here in Huimilpan. I was more than halfway back to my house with a full canvas bag of veggies on my shoulder when I spotted a small black fluff ball peaking up at me from under a truck. Naturally, I stopped. I’m cold, so she must be cold, I sympathized. I  got down on the stone sidewalk, and started calling to the little fluff. She came, I scooped.

Oh, I was just so excited. I had a new little friend. I rushed home while Fluff made herself cozy on my arm. I pulled out the remaining dog food from Canela’s stay and anticipated the chow down. Fluff casually walked over to the bowl, sniffed the croquettes, and came back to sit on my lap. Weird. We moved on to the bath. I took out the flea soap and the comb and got to work. Only one flea. Weird.

The little Fluff was so cold, so I decided to blow-dry her. She sat on my lap content as could be as I styled her curly black hair. She let me brush her paws. She let me hold her paws and look at her nails – her short, clipped nails. In that moment I realized exactly what I had done. I stole a dog. I finished her ‘do and did the only thing I could do. I took her right back to where I found her, dropped her off, and hoped her owners wouldn’t be confused by their dog’s spa day. Goodbye Fluff.

the twigster,

Josephine

PS: I am going home for Christmas this year and I get to play with MY dog!

A Disguise

Street Dogs?

Read Full Post »

This Mexican culture that mocks death and celebrates it at the same has inspired me to write the following calavera. Calaveras are full of subtle or not so subtle wisecracks that criticize the living.  With that said,  please don’t take my poem too seriously…

In dedication to the dedicated Peace Corps Volunteer

Here lies a good Peace Corps Volunteer,
Who died of grief
From being stood up at community meetings,
Left alone at each meeting;
She has died of a defeat
Received a blow too big
And such was her foolishness
That she was already in the tomb,
Turned into skull and bones
And waiting for community members
to join for the meeting
of the dead.

the twigster,

Josephine

PS: Today was the last bio-intensive garden lesson in the communities. People are growing veggies!

Death by Diabetes: Dedicated To Those Who Loved Their Sugar

From Death to Compost

From Death to Compost: Dedicated to Those Who Have Fought For the Natural World

Diamond Encrusted: Dedicated to Those Who Die in Vain

Diamond Encrusted: Dedicated to Those Who Have Died in Vain

Hand in Hand: Dedicated to Those Who Have Died of a Broken Heart

Hand in Hand: Dedicated to Those Who Have Died of a Broken Heart

Cempasúchil: Dedicated to Those Who Have Not Given Up on Life and Her Beauty

Cempasúchil: Dedicated to Those Who Have Not Given Up on Life and Her Beauty

Read Full Post »

The cornfields are thirsty.  They are waiting for rain. The people are desperate. They need a break from the barren, dry land. They turn towards the heavens. They turn towards Tlaloc – he who makes things sprout. They plead for greenery; they plead for their Earth.

The rain begins to fall.
Falling falling falling.

The people now look down.
No more waiting waiting waiting

The soil soaks up the pellets
And drinks up the water
No more waiting waiting waiting

The brown turns to green
The seeds turn to flowers
The fields turn to corn
And the people turn to
Earth.

the twigster and her sister,

Josephine & Francesca

PS: Rainy season began in late May and is now coming to a close, which means that corn harvesting season is right around the corner. ¡Elotes!

Capula: Rain Capsules

Mirasol: Look at the Sun

El Sauz: Watercolors and a threatening sky

Read Full Post »

Today I paid close attention while Yolanda made salsa. You see, a few years back my friends and I decided to throw a party. A Tulane party. It might be my italian background, or just my love for food, but every time there is talk of a party, my mind jumps to the food planning. As a college student, my budget wasn’t large by any means so I planned on contributing salsa. Chips and dip. Party classic. I chopped at least 20 tomatoes, sprinkled in a bit of cilantro and red onion, and called it a masterpiece. I lovingly set out this large quantity of salsa, and awaited the praise.

My roommates hassled me about the salsa. I assured them that yes, everyone was going to eat it. And no, 5 bowls of salsa wasn’t overkill. The party ended. The salsa didn’t. Needless to say, whenever another party plan came up, I was always mockingly asked if I would be making the famous Josephine salsa. As I said earlier, I paid very close attention to Yolanda today as she was making authentic, Mexican salsa. Today I have reached my one year mark working in the Peace Corps, México.  After a full year, I can tell you this much. My salsa will never be ridiculed again.

Here are the secrets..

– Put the tomatoes and a jalapeño(s) on the stovetop until the skin is a little charred

– Add the tomatoes,  jalapeño(s) half a clove of garlic, salt, and cilantro to the blender

DONE.

the twigster,

Josephine

PS: New Orleans, you are in my heart today and every day. 504.

PPS: Check out another volunteer’s reflection on her one year mark here in Mexico.

PhotoBooth helped me to capture some important moments over the year…

Adventure Beginning

Red Lips, Always.

My own place! … after living with two host families.

Hospital Visit: Food Poisoning. Early In-Service Training.

Hospital Visit: Food Poisoning. Early In-Service Training.

One of the friends I have met along the way.

One of the friends I have met along the way.

Read Full Post »

Within the first hour of your journey from Puebla through the hills of the Sierra Norte the environment has transitioned from stained graffiti buildings to endless emerald green valleys. The views and vibrant jewel tones are enough to discount the four hour journey, and keep your gaze fixed on the foggy bus window. As you wind and weave through the hills, you pass small town after small town. You see steam in the air from wood-burning stoves. You catch sight of women dressed in traditional, embroidered clothing tending to the stoves, and adding to a stack of warm tortillas. Handwritten signs posted on the casitas entice you to buy locally grown coffee, and allude to the hot cup of dark coffee that awaits you in town. As you continue, your stress evaporates into the clouds you seem to be joining.

The bus pulls into another pueblo. You have arrived. As you step onto the rain-weathered cobble streets, you soak in the romance of the quiet town, and the humidity of Cuetzalan warmly embraces you. You walk into town passing restaurants boasting regional dishes of pipián and mole poblano, and you fall deeper and deeper into a trance. You forget the day, the month, even the year. Following the winding roads of the town, you have indeed joined the clouds. You wonder if you will find your way out again. You are enchanted.

the twigster,

Josephine

PS: Cuetzalan is known for beautiful waterfalls. I went in the middle of a tropical storm, and was unable to make it out there, but I hear they are absolutely breath-taking.

Image

Image

Image

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: