Saturday, October 14, 2006

...more on Tucson

I'm a fan of Tucson so far! seems like a pretty cool city with funky bars and restaurants and galleries all around. the older section of town is incredible with it's adobe houses and small farms that have now swallowed up by the city's sprawl but grandfathered into the planning. Saguaro cacti are everywhere (some more 150+ years old).

Yesterday evening after the desert museum we went to the home of this incredible couple... Also chiltepin enthusiasts, they had brought Kraig a few samples from their farm. They own a working ranch in Sonora, Mexico with a few hundred head of cattle and they buy chiltepin from locals there to sell to Native Seed Exchange here in the US (at fairly tradeed priced but not certified "fair trade"). These two gentle and adventure-loving souls are contributing to community and ag development in the area where their ranch is - following thier guts and their hearts in terms of their involvement. Amongst other things, this means working on expanding the market access for the chiltepin up here while trying to maintain the balance of gringo-introduced ideas to the area there... it will be interesting to watch how the projects they've been heling to support there work out.

Their house here in Tucson is really a 5 acre compound of 100+ year old adobe buildings with all kinds of add-ons, a huge sprawling garden with all local and native plants (including mostly edible and medicinal plants, cacti, etc.), a pig, laying hens, beas, fish (in a pond fed by recycled grey water), and millions of treasures collected from their travels to mexico and beyond over their many years. Quite amazing people who welcomed us yesterday as if we'd known them for years ... we feel very lucky to have crossed paths with them, and i'm sure we'll keep up and perhaps visit their ranch in Sonora during their round-up in Novemeber.

Right, enough for now. We're off to a harvest festival in Patagonia (!), AZ tomorrow to see more chiltepin uses and check out the local ag/food markets here. Then, on to Mexico on Monday am, crossing at Naco instead of the more hectic Nogales border town (nogales=walnut in span).

Tucson and the Desert Museum

We made it into Tucson early in the am (from Phoenix) and met with a former chiltepin importer who gave us great info and contacts in the Sonora region. He also drew us a map - with "rio" and "cerro" and "la casa de Luis" carefully situated so that we just might be able to find Senor Luis outside of the Moctezuma area next week!

We'll keep you posted on how this turns out... (click on the image to enlarge it)

We then went off in search of our first chiltepines, grown in the Sonora Desert Museum collection. Several have been planted in their "Mountain Highland Habitat" exhibit and others have sprouted up outside of admin buildings, like this one here... (I'm collecting sample "1"!).

Also in the Mountain Highland exhibit (closely resembling where we'll be hunting for chiles in N. Mexico) were mule deer, mountain lions (tail at left), mexican grey wolves and black bears, and of course, plenty of tarantulas and snakes - we'll be keeping our eyes open for them on the chilequest for sure!

The museum itself was spectacular - really well done - with exhibits outside for the most part. Tons of animals and plants from all over the Southwest desert regions. We only had a few hours there, but it's certainly worth another visit! Highly recommend it.

We're off...

We've been making our way to Mexico... via Vegas (heather's family reunion), Albuquerque (visiting kraig's family), Phoenix and Tuscon (meeting up with several other Chiltepin enthusiasts/researchers).

In Albuquerque we had the chance to check out the International Balloon Fiesta...It was a chilly morning and we made it there before sunrise to see the "glowing" dawn patrol (several balloons that launch earlier than the mass ascention to give other ballooners an idea of the wind, etc.). This particular day of the week long festival was the "ascent of nations" where most ballons fly a flag of a different country. Israel and Brasil were first up after the US!