Exploring Sierra Gorda, Mexico – WIP Traveler’s version

Welcome to the World’s Inspiring Places. At a time when travelers are rushing to see places before they vanish or change forever Ian and I wanted to check out a place that people have been working to protect Sierra Gorda in central, Mexico. In fact, much of this natural beauty in a reserve bigger than Yosemite National Park might not be here if it weren’t for a small organization called Grupo Ecológico, the Sierra Gorda Ecological Group. Sierra Gorda was severely threatened by logging, erosion, cattle grazing and the kind of poverty that contributes to such problems. One of their basic ideas is to help rural women develop livelihoods around ecotourism. These businesses depend on scenic natural surroundings so local people value nature more. The new income also reduces pressure to clear forests for grazing or crops. You won’t find chain restaurants or 300 room hotels here. These small businesses cater to travelers who want to protect Sierra Gorda’s culture and natural beauty. We got to cook and eat traditional food along Grupo Ecológico’s Flavor Trail, a series of restaurants owned by local women. Not to gloat, but these two are mine, and the sad one in the corner is Liza’s, so… That is amazing. That is very spicy. We found we were not accustomed to the local level of heat. And, we got to stay at rustic ecolodges built and run by villagers. This ecolodge with an incredible view near Cuatro Palos was built entirely by the local women. They make mud for the walls with earth from the hillside and mix it with their feet. And it dries it out so you can actually put it on the wall and it will stay there. It’s really a cool process. It’s surprisingly difficult. And, as in all great adventures, we had a lot of fun. What we have here is the butterwort carnivorous plant. I feel like Crocodile Dundee. They’ve integrated carbon offsets into their eco tour trips that protect and restore old-growth forests by paying landowners to not cut down trees. Roberto just gave us the go-ahead to drink some of this water straight from the Sierra Gorda mountains, and we’re really excited about it. It tastes phenomenal. We’re ready to go. Our last stop was Peña de Bernal at the gateway to the Sierra Gorda. We wanted to get the top of one of the tallest monoliths in the world! Fun or what? We just climbed the monolith and you can see the massive shadow we got going on back here. In a remote part of the world where nature, adventure, history, local food, and touching charm flourish, we came to explore and left changed.

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