Posts Tagged ‘botanical garden’

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Expats Create a Sense of ‘Home’ in Puebla

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

Art Open House at Galeria Bayro and INNI Innovo InstituteBeing an “expat”—or at least living outside your native culture and functioning in another language—isn’t always easy. Feeling frustrated, lonely, and homesick from time to time is inevitable, especially in a city like Puebla, where the locals have a reputation for being exceedingly kind to strangers yet glacially slow to add anyone new to their social circles. Thus, it can be helpful to connect with other foreign residents to form friendships, share resources, support one another, and build community.

Outdoor symphony concert—the first of its kind at the BUAP—to celebrate the Botanical Garden's 25th anniversary.It took me a while to figure out how to do that, because unlike Mexico City, Puebla doesn’t have a Newcomers Club or a U.S. Embassy or any other organization that coordinates events for Americans, Canadians, or folks from elsewhere in the world who speak English and aren’t affiliated with a specific employer, church, or school. (I say “English” because not everyone’s Spanish is perfect or even passable, especially when they first arrive in Mexico.) So, with the help of a few others, I started an “expat” group in September 2009, about six months before launching this website. Through word of mouth, our initial group of five has grown to some 160 people from a dozen different countries.
Fireworks over the pond at the BUAP Botanical Garden

Although “home” is wherever my husband and cat happen to be, having a supportive social network is important, too.

It seems like it took forever, but as a result of the friends and connections I’ve made through the group, this week I finally felt like I was home in Puebla — an insider instead of an outsider. By “insider,” I simply mean my social calendar was filled with events, from a Thanksgiving potluck to a SoHo-worthy art open house and a gala anniversary party to a gourmet dinner at the most contemporary restaurant in town. All four private affairs were hosted by foreign residents and Poblanos (including the dinner, which was organized by All About Puebla). Could it be that we’ve achieved some sort of critical mass, in terms of people, energy, and diversity? A girl can dream, can’t she? In any case, what a privilege it was to be in the presence of such stimulating company, having conversations in English and Spanish!

All About Puebla holiday dinner at Intro RestaurantAll About Puebla holiday dinner at Intro RestaurantThank you, everyone, for your efforts, your invitations, and your contributions to the group. If anyone out there would like to join us in the future, drop me a line and I’ll add you to our emailing list. Happy holidays!

—Rebecca Smith Hurd

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Botanical Garden Fosters Native Plants of Puebla

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

The garden is divided into ten sections, including a quercetum (oak plantation) near the main building.Few nations on the planet boast greater biodiversity than Mexico, which ranks fifth worldwide in total number of species and first in cacti and pines. The state of Puebla alone is home to an impressive array of flora, both wild and cultivated, according to a new book in Spanish co-authored by the experts who run the BUAP Botanical Garden.

Plants of Economic Importance in the State of Puebla describes more than 850 edible, medicinal, and ornamental species, providing their common and scientific names, where to find them, and how they’re typically used. The book is designed, like the botanical garden, to provide an accessible means of appreciating and learning more about some of Puebla’s most valuable natural resources.

Agriculture is so economically and historically vital to Puebla that the state’s coat of arms includes a hand holding a plant with farmland in the background. The industry today accounts for 8 percent of the state economy. Indeed, one cannot help but notice the abundance of cornfields flanking the rural stretches of highway that lead visitors from both the Puebla and Mexico City airports to the center of Angelopolis. However, due to rapid growth in and around the capital over the past two decades, urban green space is increasingly hard to find. The botancial garden, which occupies 25 acres of land on the BUAP’s University City campus in the San Manuel neighborhood, doubles as one of the largest public parks in the city.

Did you know that tomatillos (Physalis philadelphica) can be used not only to make delicious salsas, but also to treat tonsillitis, cough, and bladder infections?

A large lake at the BUAP Botanical Garden attracts various species of birds.Founded in 1987, the botanical garden features hundreds of species — trees, grasses, succulents, wildflowers, and more — from areas around the state. Its overall mission includes the study, conservation, and promotion of native and new varieties of plants that have horticultural and economic-development potential. To this end, the garden is divided into ten distinct sections, from a semi-arid zone to a seasonal wetland, each based on the geography, ecology, taxonomy, and use of the species growing therein. The site also features a small butterfly garden and a sizable lake, which attracts some 90 species of birds throughout the year.

All visitors are welcome to take a leisurely self-guided tour by following the paths that wind through the garden. Groups of 10 to 40 people can book docent-led tours (in English or Spanish), during which they’ll learn about the site, the scientific and common names of myriad flowers, plants, and trees, and their significance as food, medicine and potions, crafts and dyes, and religious symbols.

The Jardín Botánico Universario is open Monday through Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is free. Tours and workshops offered to groups for a fee. The garden is located on the BUAP’s CU campus in Colonia San Manuel near the 24 Sur entrance. For more information, call (222) 229-5500, ext. 7032 or 7030.

Copies of the book Plantas de importancia económica en el estado de Puebla, by Maricela Rodríguez Acosta, Allen Coombes, and Alberto Jiménez Merino, are available for purchase (350 pesos each) at the garden and Gandhi bookstores in limited quantities. All proceeds support continued work in the field.

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