Wednesday, March 26, 2008

where Pacific winds mingle with Gulf de Mexico winds




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I think I mentioned that I was going up to the Sierra Norte a few days ago, to spend the night in the cabanas and go on a long hike up to the cloud forest. In this place called Ixtlan de Juarez (to distinguish it from thousands of other Ixtlans in Mexico, because Ixtlan is a very common place name in Mexico, I believe it means land of...)
Anyway, this community owns in common many acres of mountain forest, most of which is of very high biodiversity and unique in many ways. The community land is managed with an emphasis on conservation, there is some cutting and selling of the timber, but I saw no evidence of anything remotely like clear cutting, and little evidence of timber harvest at all. In some parts of Mexico, Michoacan state for example, local indigenous people have actually been murdered while trying to protect their forests from ´¨ timber pirates¨, who come and steal the timber. I asked my guide if this was a problem here and he said no. I then asked why other parts of the country had more problems, and he said that in Michoacan he knew that the land in danger was edijo land, which means that was given to indigenous families after the Mexican revolution to partly compensate for the land that was taken from them after the Spanish conquest. This sounds good but in practice this often means that as the land gets handed down from family to the many children the land portion for each family gets samller and poorer. Edijo land generally cannot be sold except under special conditions. My guide said that since the community owned the land where I was in common, every member of the community was vigilant and united in defending it, instead of a single person defending his small plot.
This part of the sierra norte has one of the highest points that enables the cloud mist from the Pacific to meet and mingle with the cloud mist from the Gulf of Mexico. This means that walking from one side of the ridge to another you experience miro climates, the Pacific air is much cooler than the Gulf of Mexico side, for example. All this mist also creates moss that sways in the wind and hangs high from huge and very old trees.
A comment on the picture of me that my guide took.... I think I look like the witch waiting for Hansel and Gretel.

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