July 11, 2014
by Mary Carey, Ryan Betz, Myriam Landry, Ernest Tellez
The final field trip of ICRPS 2014 surpassed all expectations – we visited a volcano, met some indigenous people, played soccer with local school children and visited a large Spanish estate. An interesting journey through the forest brought us to Palo Seco on the southern edge of Nevado de Toluca. In Palo Seco, the primary school kids were practising for their graduation ceremony the next day. Their native dance and passionate rendition of the Mexican state anthem was truly impressive.
We eventually left the parish hall to meet the Ejido, the Mexican system of communal land, administrative leaders of the community. The local Ejido, and the forestry consultant, brought us on an extensive tour of the surrounding forest. The Palo Seco community manage the surrounding forest and encourage natural regeneration of the area following logging. The forestry has provided a steady stream of income for the community. They have invested the funds into building public infrastructure such as roads, schools, a community hall and housing. After a light lunch, a “competitive” game of soccer took place. Ultimately, the light t-shirts won the match 3-0 despite a gallant effort from the dark t-shirts. The Palo Seco community were incredibly welcoming and the experience may well be the highlight of the summer institute for many.
At the end of the day, we had the chance to visit the luxurious Haceinda de Tejalpa, a private property located in the city of Zinacantepec near Toluca. This beautiful place was built by a religious congregation and is surrounded by well-kept gardens and 15 acres of agricultural land. Hacienda de Tejalpa has a long history, including hosting soldiers during the Mexican Revolution (1910-1917). The congregation has been in the same family with 300 years. In fact, the tour guide was dating the youngest son. We also had the dinner and wine at the Hacienda. It seems that everybody really enjoyed it (mostly the wine!). With a heavy heart we left the Hacienda and returned to Hotel Don Simon to work on the group projects!