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El Charco Del Ingenio Botanical Garden Newsletter

August, 2009 - Volume IV, No. 8

OUR MISSION: To protect and preserve our natural heritage and help build an environmental culture while developing a Botanical Garden dedicated to Mexican flora and providing an oasis of peace and tranquility for all.

Please tell your friends and prospective members/supporters how to access the newsletter and help broaden the base of support for the Botanical Garden.

Inauguration of the Benefactors Garden - Saturday August 1

Cello Concert - Saturday August 1

Garden Lecture Series: Mexican Herbs: Medicinal and Culinary Uses - Friday, August 28

TEMASCAL - Friday, August 7 and Sunday August 9

Full Moon Ceremony - Thursday, August 6

Yoga at El Charco - Mondays and Wednesdays

Bird Walks - First and Third Wednesday of the month

Guided Tours - Tuesdays and Thursdays

Giving Honor Where Due
Inauguration of the BENEFACTOR’S GARDEN:
Saturday, August 1st at 10:30am

Since its inception in 1991, the conservation project of El Charco Del Ingenio, has depended to a large extent on the local community which has contributed in so many ways through every stage of El Charco’s development.

We have always appreciated this support and now we would like to demonstrate our gratitude in a public and permanent way. We have created a beautiful space, a few steps from the entrance of the Garden, where the names and category of support of our most important donors are engraved on flagstones. (Some prefer to remain anonymous and, although their names do not appear, they will always have our gratitude).


jardin de benefactores


For the inauguration of this new Donor’s Garden, we would like to invite our donors, members, and friends to join us, and just after the inauguration, a musical treat in Nature ...  We hope to see you there.


CELLO CONCERT – Jimena Giménez Cacho
Bach Program – Boveda at the Botanical Garden

jimena gimenez cacho  

Saturday August 1 at 11 am
100 pesos for members, 150 non-members

Jimena is a well known Mexican cellist and, to our good fortune, has been a resident of San Miguel for one year now. She studied in Mexico and later in France, Germany and Spain, attending the Scola Cantorum in Paris, the Volkswang Hochschule in Essen as well as the Staatliche Hochschule in Freiburg and graduated from the Real Conservatorio in Madrid. She has performed with European orchestras as well as those in Mexico and has become renowned for her study and publication of musical repertoire related to the cello and for her discovery and dissemination of lesser-known composers. In Mexico alone she has premiered the works of over twenty artists. Her concerts always follow a thematic unity, in either a historical or geographical sense. To Jimena Giménez Cacho, the cello represents one of the profoundest voices found among the sounds of this earth; it is a voice she is able to employ in order to express the sentiments and sensations stemming from her most inner self.

General Admission 150 pesos, members 100 pesos. Limited seating. Advance sales of tickets starting July 20 in the Visitor's Center of the Botanical Garden and Border Crossing (Reloj & Mesones).



After five years of intense and fruitful activity, Mario Mendoza leaves this month as Director of El Charco, to pursue his own personal projects.  During his time as Director, working with an excellent staff, he consolidated the conservation project and successfully met fundamental objectives in many diverse areas:  ecosystem conservation, development of the botanical collection, environmental education, scientific investigation, public relations, links with the community and other gardens, general maintenance of the Garden, and – very importantly – increased funds for the operation and development of the Botanical Garden.  But we are not saying goodbye to Mario since he will continue as to be involved in our organization as an active member of the Board of Directors and as associate curator of the collection of Mexican plants.

Direction of the Garden will now be in the hands of Mario Hernandez, a San Miguel native who has been close to El Charco for many years.  Mario has an undergraduate degree in sociology and has studied about underground water at UNAM. He is currently pursuing a Masters degree in watershed management at the University in Queretaro.  Mario has held several positions at the Director’s level in civil organizations in San Miguel such as FAI Save the Children (2000-2005) and with Audubon (2005).  In his latest position he was a community organizer for the Government of Guanajuato.  We welcome Mario Hernandez to El Charco!


Mario Hernández!


Thank you
Mario Mendoza!



Mario Hernandez



Garden Lecture Series
Mexican Herbs: Medicinal and Culinary Uses
Friday, August 28th, 10:00a.m.


Alison Bastien and Victoria Challancin, two close friends who have spent years studying herbs, plants, and life together, are teaming up to do a joint presentation on herbs at the Charco del Ingenio on Friday, August 28th, at 10 o’clock.  Each one has a different area of expertise:  Alison will talk about the properties and medicinal uses of the plants; Victoria will present the history and culinary uses.  They will pepper their talk with folklore, recipe suggestions, herbal remedies and more as they offer a comprehensive picture of some of the most common herbs available to us in Mexico.

Victoria Challancin, owner of Flavors of the Sun International Cooking School of San Miguel, has had a lifetime affair with history, culture, travel, and food which have provided her with a broad base of knowledge which naturally spills over into both her classes and her talks.  In addition to providing solid practical information and recipes, Victoria sprinkles her lively lectures with food anthropology, ethnobotany, a bit of phytochemistry, and Mexican herbal lore.  Her cooking classes have been featured on TV and in magazines and newspapers. Be sure to check out her food blog as well at .

Alison Bastien is the co-owner with her husband, Helio Bastien, of La Victoriana , a natural products shop in San Miguel.  There, she oversees the production of over 300 herbal products for health and beauty. She teaches  private classes and workshops on herbal healing, wellness and midwifery as well as being an instructor at the local C.A.S.A. midwifery school.  She has a degree in anthropology, and is a certified childbirth educator and midwife. She has lived in Mexico with her family for over 35 years.

Reservations for this presentation may be made at Cost is 70 pesos for members of El Charco and 100 pesos for non-members. Please arrive by 9:20 at the reception area of the botanical garden.


Bird Walks Every First and Third Wednesday of the Month
at 9:00 a.m.

Starting this month, Signe Hammer will be leading bird walks in El Charco on the first and third Wednesdays of each month. Signe began birding in NYC's Central Park in 1996, when she began following the famous Red-tailed Hawk Pale Male and his offspring. That led to a fascination with the resident songbirds and the many migrants that pass through the city's parks, including Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.

This month the walks will take place on August 5th and 19th.  The walks are for birders of all levels. They begin at 9:00 a.m. and will last about 2 1/2 hours. No reservations needed, and feel free to leave the walk at any time.  Please bring binoculars, wear comfortable walking shoes and a hat, and bring water. There will be instruction on the proper use of binoculars and other tips on good birding techniques. Signe will meet you after you pass through the Reception area of the Botanical Garden. Cost: 60 pesos for members of either El Charco or Audubon, 100 pesos for non-members of either organization (includes El Charco entrance fee).


Signe Hammer

Signe has been birding in San Miguel since 1995.



This month concludes the yearly summer camp in which many boys and girls from San Miguel participated.  Hermes Arroyo and Jesus Bautista led the sessions which mostly had an artistic and recreational focus and included a variety of activities and workshops: working with plants in the nursery, recycled paper, temascal, rock-climbing, rappelling, trekking, making mojigangas, horseback riding and more. 

summer camp

summer camp


Some Images from the
Fiesta de la Santa Cruz del Charco, July 12

fiesta de la santa cruz

fiesta de la santa cruz

Fotos: N. Besman


Gift Shop

This month we are featuring BAGS – lots of different types.  And a hard to find item in San Miguel – hummingbird feeders, 100 pesos each.  Come and see what else is new in the tienda. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.


hummingbird feeders





Yoga “Desde el corazón” (from the Heart)
in el  Charco del Ingenio

Starting June 1st - call
Cost 100 pesos per class, Mon & Wed 10-11:15

Monthly package (8 classes)  680 pesos
For more information or to reserve a space, please contact Juan Manuel:
Tel 154-4715.
Need to bring yoga mat and blanket
Boveda at the Botanical Garden

Enjoy a wonderful yoga experience in a perfect setting.  Those who are familiar with this ecological site know that the experience starts at the entrance, its beauty immediately filling our senses.  The harmony, silence, peace, clean air, plants and animals make this place a fountain of inspiration in which to practice yoga in San Miguel.  El Charco del Ingenio offers a perfect mix that invites our senses to open up to the natural beauty around us and within us.

Ximena Velasco has practised yoga for 11 years and for the last 10 years has shared her passion for this philosphy-discipline through her classes.  She has studied in various countries such as France; Italy, India, Nepal, Australia, Mexico and the US among others.  She has explored various yoga techniques such as Iyengar, Ashtanga, Anusara, y Vinyasa.  Her passion to understand the human body has led her to investigate other techniques of movement, meditation and alternative medicine to bring the necessary tools that her students need. Ximena teaches in several places in San Miguel.

Yoga, as other ancient philosophy-disciplines in the world, is inspired by nature, learning to observe, hear, feel and imitate.  This work allows us to observe, hear and feel ourselves, connecting us to our inner nature. If you are a lover of nature and yoga, this is a worthwhile experience whether you are a resident or visitor.



Guided Tours in English

Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10a.m.-12:30p.m.
A hat, water and good walking shoes are recommended. 50 pesos for members and 80 pesos for non-members. Private tours are also available for 150 pesos per person (minimum 5 persons). Reservations are not necessary.  Try using the shuttle service to arrive and return.

Friday August 7, at 9 p.m.
Sunday August 9, at 10 a.m.

This relaxing steam bath is a ritual of healing and purification and is available every month for both men and women. Bring bathing suits and towels. It takes place in the ruins of an old hacienda, under the moonlight, across the dam from El Charco’s reception area.

The mixture of heat, humidity and scented plants and herbs is a purifying experience for mind and spirit. Its benefits are many: it activates blood circulation, increases natural body defenses, eliminates odors, relaxes muscles, helps keep the nervous system in good shape, stimulates breathing and is excellent for weight loss.

250 pesos, space is limited so please call for reservations or information 154 88 38, 154 4715, cell 01 443 10 3 3019 or in El Charco’s main office.


temazcal exterior



Thursday, August 6th at sunset  

luna llena


We invite everyone to this open celebration that has been taking place for many years during the full moon cycle at the Four Winds Plaza in the Botanical Garden.

We celebrate the Full Moon Ceremony to come back into balance with nature on earth. Come and enthusiastically participate and dedicate your intention and energies at the Plaza of the Four Winds.  Bonfire, incense, chanting, drumming included.  Bring flutes, cymbals, a drum or any other instrument if you want.  

It’s worth arriving a little early to admire the setting of the sun and the appearance of the moon over the mountains. You may want to bring a coat for cool evenings.  Admission is 30 pesos, free for members. Children welcome. Any questions, call Alicia Mayo at 152 -0376.


by Walter L. Meagher

Wayne and Susan saw the barn owl at twilight in El Charco. On another evening, the night watchmen saw a barn owl near the canyon, more than once since then. Not only is it beautiful – all owls are beautiful – but, like the barn swallow, the barn owl lives in alliance with human settlements. There are no barns in our neighborhood, or near El Charco; it would take some sleuthing to find where they nest.

Click here to read the rest of the story ...

  barn owl


Shuttle Service to El Charco

It is with great regret that we inform and apologize to our members and visitors that the shuttle company is not able at this time to supply the service.  We hope to make other arrangements and will let you know when this is in place.


You can make a difference

And you can make a difference with your contribution - volunteer or donate. We appreciate your support!! Please contact Naomi at

E-mail any comments or questions to the Editor at


“Botanical Gardens are not just places for conserving and displaying plants.  At the dawn of the new millennium, they are main actors in the defense and protection of the planet’s biodiversity, with a growing focus on the regional – thinking globally and acting locally.  And they are also builders of a new environmental culture for the societies that inhabit the Earth.” 




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