Category Archives: 2022

Editor’s Letter

By Jane Bauer

Migration is as natural as breathing, as eating, as sleeping. It is part of life, part of nature. So we have to find a way of establishing a proper kind of scenario for modern migration to exist. And when I say ‘we,’ I mean the world. We need to find ways of making that migration not forced.

Gael Garcia Bernal

I am always taken aback when I hear someone come down on immigration; after all, go back far enough and most of us are a long way from where our ancestors started. Things are always changing and people are always on the move. Whether it is a temporary hiatus for rest and relaxation or seasonal higher wages or a permanent move seeking a different kind of life – perhaps one with more safety or one where our money will get us more. How are we different?

Many would argue that long-term vacationing or owning a second home in a foreign country helps the economy and therefore isn’t the same as when outsiders come into their country looking for asylum and ‘taking’ their jobs. However, I would argue that they aren’t really that different.

While the kind of migration that has its roots firmly planted in ‘expat’ experiences can temporarily help an economy, in the long run it causes prices to rise, initiates gentrification and adds to a class system. I actually cringe when I hear the word ‘expat’ for its colonial connotations and I encourage you to read further on this if you find yourself using it.

On the other hand, the kind of migration that has its roots firmly planted in ‘refugee’ experiences can temporarily put a strain on an economy, in the long run, it is an important part of the economic growth of any country.

We are first and foremost people and it is hubristic to believe that any one of us is more deserving and entitled to movement or humane quality of life. Find your place in the world, make it your own, and let everyone else do the same.

This month our writers explore the waves of migration that have made Mexico the wonderful and diverse country that it is.

Thank you to everyone who submitted essays to our My Mexico Moment contest. I look forward to reading about your favorite places in Mexico for our July issue.

See you in July,

Jane

My Mexico Moment Essay Contest Winner

A Road Trip

By Nancy Westfall de Gurrola

After a year of college in my native Iowa, my parents decided that I needed to see more of the world. Having studied French in high school I assumed it would be Paris or the French Riviera. But no—the plan was for my mother and me to drive to Mexico City for a summer course. Obviously, I protested that I didn’t intend to spend the summer with my mother or riding on a burro or sitting under a cactus wearing a funny hat! I sulked about the trip, sure we would never survive the drive through the long hot desert and, as many friends in Iowa had told me, the “bandidos” might get us.

Despite my resistance, we left for Mexico City in June 1961 for what was to be a 2-day trek through the northern desert of Mexico. Somewhere between Matehuala and San Luis Potosí the car suddenly stopped. Mom lifted the hood of the car but had no clue what was wrong. Trailer trucks and cars whizzed by, but finally a man in a pickup stopped and offered to help the two non-Spanish-speaking “gringas.”

He began to take out one piece of the engine, put it on the ground, then another and another. My mother leaned into the window of the car where I remained sitting sullenly, cursing my fate in the sizzling heat, and said worriedly, “He’s going to dismantle the car, not know how to fix it and just leave us here!”

My mom, who spoke no Spanish, and our “good Samaritan,” who spoke no English, engaged in animated sign language. Suddenly looking very nervous, she said to me, “I think what he has asked for are my underpants! What should I do?” Still angry at being dragged on this trip, I replied that she should just give them to him.

She got in the car, slipped off the underpants and gave them to him through the window. After more sign language she said, “He wants yours too! Maybe then he’ll go away!” I complied.

But no, he didn’t go away but proceeded to tear the underpants into strips and tie them together. Observing this, my mother cried, “God help us! He’s going to strangle us with our own underpants!” Now I was frightened too!

Just as we were about to run down the road trying to escape, he began tinkering under the hood, replacing the parts of the engine that were strewn around. He signaled mom to try the ignition. The engine started! What had been a very scary moment suddenly turned into a humorous incident. He had fashioned a fan belt out of our underwear! We then followed him to a mechanic’s shop in San Luis Potosí to get proper repairs.

Why hadn’t our “good Samaritan” asked for a blouse or a handkerchief? He had needed something that would stretch! (We heard later that besides ladies’ underwear, pantyhose could be used as a fan belt but pantyhose had not been readily available until the mid-1960s and who would have worn nylons in the desert anyway?!)

Moral of the story? My stereotypes of Mexico disappeared forever! The exceptional helpfulness and ingenuity of our clever “guardian angel” inspired me to want to know more about Mexico and its people.

And I fell in love with Mexico and a Mexican. So, I remained, continued my studies, married, raised a family, became a university professor and have lived a wonderful life in Mexico. Before he passed away last year, my husband and I had celebrated 55 years of marriage.

Nancy Westfall de Gurrola
Mexico City

Pickleball – Silly Name, Awesome Game!

By Leslie Trotter

What do you get when you combine ping-pong with tennis and throw in a wiffle ball? Pickleball, of course – the fastest growing sport in the United States and Canada, and soon to be in Huatulco as well!

While usually perceived as a “game for older people,” it really lends itself perfectly for all ages, genders and athletic abilities.

Pickleball is easy to learn. Becoming really competent is another story but almost anyone can successfully hit the ball back and forth over the net their first day. Because the court is less than half the size of a tennis court and the paddle is short and light, it doesn’t require a high level of fitness. Pickleball does, however, work hand-eye coordination, balance, agility, reflexes and at higher levels, mental preparedness. There is definitely a strategy to pickleball once one reaches the intermediate+ level.

Another great thing about pickleball is that it’s inexpensive. A starter paddle is about $40 and from a Parks and Recreation perspective, pre-existing tennis courts work well for pickleball. Many a neglected tennis court has been revived for pickleball purposes!

The one thing that continues to astound me about playing pickleball is how often you hear peals of laughter coming from the courts. While competitive players take the game very seriously, the vast majority of people simply appreciate the exercise amongst friends, where inevitably crazy shots are a thing to cheer about. Pickleball is a very social game!

So now that I’ve got you intrigued to the point of wanting to experience this for yourself, what is a Huatulqueño to do about playing pickleball? Here are the current Huatulco options:

Snowbird Pickleball
This is a well-organized group that had a humble beginning with a net and 2 sticks as posts in 2018! Fortunately, they’ve advanced since then and have introductory classes for those who want to try pickleball.
Levels: beginners to intermediate
Location: Escuela Secundaria Técnica 144, 3 covered courts; Unidad Deportiva, 4 covered courts
Season: November to March
Membership: 90
Protocol: online booking
Fee: 50 pesos per day
Contact: Colleen Gagnon – cgbike33@gmail.com

Bahias De Huatulco Pickleball
This is a drop-in group without a lot of rules other than come and play.
Levels: beginner to intermediate
Location: Unidad Deportiva, 4-6 courts
Season: year-round, typically Mon, Wed, Fri: 8-11 am
Membership: varies, ±24 in high season
Fee: 50 pesos per day
Contact: Norm Ferguson – normferg1955@icloud.com; also on FaceBook

Marina Park Pickleball
This group formed as a way for more seasoned players to hone their game. These are uncovered courts and the play can be intense but in the end, everyone clicks paddles to acknowledge the sportsmanship of pickleball.
Level: intermediate to advanced
Location: Guelaguetza Park, next to Marina Park Plaza, 2 courts
Season: year-round, typically 7-9 am daily in high season
Membership: 15 main founding members with play-priority in high season
Protocol: drop-in when numbers allow
Fee: 50 pesos per day for drop-ins
Contact: Group is basically full – you’ll probably run across “someone who knows” if you play in the places listed above.

There are other places to play pickleball, such as Las Brisas Resort and some of the newer condominium developments. These aren’t listed since they are private clubs with membership fees, although I understand that during the high season, there is a very active group at Las Brisas. Omar is the contact to find out about monthly fees and the pickleball schedule – concierge.hux@brisas.com.mx.

So take heart, pickleball fanatics and interested others! There are great options from beginner to intermediate to make your time in Huatulco full of healthy, fun pickleball games.

Spanish Lesson

By Julie Etra

This month we look at pegar, a verb with many uses, and suerte, the word for “luck,” which, surprisingly enough, can come in quite handy!

Pegar

Pegar is, as noted, a very versatile verb, but rather than being verbose, I will keep it to a few fun phrases and definitions! Its primary use is “to stick” or “to glue,” but it can be used as a synonym for golpear, “to hit,” and it can be used to describe plants, to mean “well rooted” or “established.”

Examples

  1. Por favor, me gustaría pegar los carteles a la pared. Please, I would like to put up these posters on the wall.
  2. Hace tanto calor que se me pega el pelo a mi frente.
    It is so hot that my hair is stuck to my forehead.
  3. El campocorto pegó la pelota de béisbol al campo derecho.
    The shortstop hit the baseball to right field.
  4. Esa bugambilia tiene por lo menos tres años; está muy bien pegada en la jardinera.
    That bougainvillea is at least three years old; it is very well rooted in the planter.

Pegar derivatives (nouns, adjectives, adverbs):

Pegamento: glue
Pegajoso: sticky

Suerte

The word suerte means “luck.” If someone wants to wish you “Good Luck,” they will say “¡Buena suerte!” or just “¡Suerte!” Useful at the Chedraui checkout counter when they offer you lottery tickets: No, gracias, ¡nunca tengo suerte!

You can have buena suerte or mala suerte. Should you wish to practice your Spanish reading skills, try Rosa Montero’s 2020 novel, La buena suerte, in which good luck turns out to be bad luck, and vice versa – or maybe it’s hard to tell!

Here are some other phrases associated with luck:

  1. Mere circunstancia. Mere chance.
  2. Chiripada, chiripa. Lucky.
  3. Pura cajeta. Literally, “pure dulce de leche,” or pure caramel sauce; used to mean serendipitously lucky, as in a lucky shot in tennis.

Immigration to Mexico – Emigration from Where?

By Deborah Van Hoewyk

According to the 2020 decennial Mexican census, the population of Mexico was 129,932,753 people, of whom 1,212,252, or less than 1%, were officially counted as immigrants. In the United States, which has the highest number of immigrants in the world (nearly 50 million), they comprise about 15% of the population; in Canada, it’s 21.5%. The vast majority of immigrants arrive in Mexico from the United States, mostly in the form of retirees and snowbirds who hold temporary or permanent residency; the next largest groups come from Central and South America.

Although the numbers of immigrants to Mexico may be very small – every year, more Mexicans leave the country than foreigners arrive – immigrants have exerted a fair amount of impact on Mexican life and culture. Immigration to Mexico started, of course, with the conquest; during the colonial period, the Spanish rulers were not eager to have immigration from any place besides Spain. After independence (1821), however, Mexico sought to attract other foreigners, who brought their purchasing power and businesses with them. The General Colonization Law of 1824 allowed foreigners to buy land in Mexico, as long as it was farther than the border than 20 “leagues” (60 miles), and farther from the sea than 10 leagues (30 miles) – the General Colonization Law is the ancestor of the trust system, painfully familiar to home-owning residents from abroad.

The law, with a hostile hiatus for the U.S. Mexican War (1846-48), which finally defined Mexico’s northern border, gave impetus to immigration to Mexico, particularly in the 20th century. People came, and continue to come, for religious freedom, to escape unfavorable political conditions, to improve their economic situation.

German immigrants started coming in the 19th century, and were quick to start mercantile/manufacturing and agricultural businesses, in particular coffee and henequen and sisal plantations. Cubans boosted the performing arts, including film production, in the mid-nineteenth century. Tacos árabes and Carlos Slim Helú? Lebanon. Look elsewhere in this issue for short profiles of immigrant contributions to Mexico.

Cubans in Mexico: How and Why They Got Here

By Deborah Van Hoewyk

In the beginning – that is, when Spain set out to conquer Mexico – the Spaniards used Cuba as a staging base. Seemed logical, as they had already colonized Cuba by 1511; one Hernan Cortés served as clerk to the Spanish treasurer of Cuba, then moved up to be mayor of Santiago de Cuba. Clearly, Cortés needed more fame and fortune, and set off for Mexico with 11 ships and more than 500 sailors and soldiers, a few of them Cubans.

During Spanish rule in Mexico (1521-1821), and through the 19th century, a small but steady flow of Cubans emigrated to Mexico in search of better opportunities in the much larger country. A much bigger wave of Cubans arrived in the 20th century, escaping the results of Castro’s Cuban Revolution; Cubans who do not want to live under Communism have continued to leave Cuba for Mexico.

In the 21st century, younger Cubans have traveled in large numbers to Mexico in an effort to cross the southern U.S. border – up until 2017, if they made it to U.S. dry land, Cubans had a one-year path to legal residency. This is no longer the case, but Cubans keep coming. In five months last fall/winter (October 2021 through February 2022), 47,000 Cubans fleeing crackdowns on dissent, rising prices, shortages of essential supplies, and a general lack of opportunity, ended up trapped on the Mexican side of the U.S. border.

Obviously, those Cubans are not aiming to immigrate to Mexico, although they may well do so; according to the 2020 Mexican census, there were 25,976 immigrants of Cuban origin living in Mexico, a 644% increase over the 4,033 counted in 2010. A quarter of Cuban immigrants live in the state of Quintana Roo in the Yucatán.

Of the 52 notable Cuban immigrants listed in Wikipedia, more than half were or are performing artists: stage and screen actors, dancers, and musicians. Their list includes eight athletes, three noted writers, three director/producers, two each of politicians and fine artists, and 1 architect, 1 chess grand master, 1 archeologist, 1 cardiologist, and 1 chef.

Perhaps the most interesting Cuban contribution to Mexican culture came during the “Golden Age of Mexican Cinema” (c. 1935-55). The rumberas, or dance films based on Afro-Caribbean rhythms – that would be the rumba, and most succeeding Latin dances – were imagined, created, and performed by Cuban émigrés. With roots in both film noir and Hollywood musicals, a typical rumberas film stars a woman who has, though bad choices or fate, fallen into the underworld, where her dancing and singing skills make her into a flawed and on-her-way-to-a-bad-end femme fatale. The rumberas films may sound melodramatic today, but at the time they were thought to provide a realistic social portrait of a significant sector of Mexican urban life.

Immigrants: Alcatraz, Agapanthus, and Sugarcane

By Julie Etra

Did you know that the calla lilies and agapanthus, common flowers found in many Mexican markets (and a mainstay at our own Mercado Orgánico Huatulco [aka MOH]) are originally from South Africa? Well, neither did I. In Mexico, they grow in the Sierra Madre del Sur and other temperate climates. Sugarcane, also commonly cultivated in multiple regions of Mexico, is also an immigrant, but with a much longer and more complex history.

The Calla Lily

Calla and arum lilies are both scientifically identified as Zantedeschia aethiopica – arum lilies are larger, calla lilies boast multiple colors. In Nahuatl, they are called huacalxochitl, while the Spanish name is alcatraz, a word derived from the Arabic Spanish used in southern Spain (the Moors ruled Spain in progressively smaller areas, ending up with only the southern part known as Al-Andalus, now Andalusia, from 711 to 1492).

How the word alcatraz came to name the calla lily is debatable; apparently when an 18th-century Spanish explorer sailing up the Pacific to what is now California reached San Francisco Bay, he found callas growing on one of the islands in the bay – and the bay was full of pelicans (alcatraz also means “pelican”). Through a series of cartographic mishaps, the originally unnamed island came to be named La isla de los alcatraces, which transferred to the calla lilies. Callas can be spread by bird-dropped seeds, which is most likely how they got to both San Francisco and Mexico. On the other hand, explorers who had reached South Africa had brought them back to Europe a couple of centuries earlier, so they could have been introduced to Mexico by the Spanish. The trail went cold as I tried to figure out the route of the alcatraz through Europe, and ultimately Spain, for its eventual export to Mexico. Who was responsible for its spread? Was it the Portuguese? The Dutch? Other European traders? Was it ever cultivated in Spain, and if so, where?

In Mexico it grows prolifically in temperate climates on the periphery of oak pine woodlands. In Oaxaca it is commonly cultivated around San José del Pacifico. The white, trumpet-shaped “petal” of the flower is actually a “spathe,” or bract (modified leaf); the flower is the central yellow “spadix,” or phallic-appearing spike covered with tiny flowers.

Diego Rivera, the famous Mexican muralist, had a particular fascination with white calla and arum lilies. He included them in both paintings and murals as a symbol of both purity and sensuality. Some critics believe he used callas to represent the “abundance of life and death” in indigenous life. However, the calla also appears in pre-Hispanic art. Given that it is not native to Mexico, how do we explain that? There are 700+ members of the Araceae family, all displaying the same spathe-and-spadix form; Mexico has 41 species, 26 of them native. Most probably the “flowers” portrayed in ceramics, sculptures, and other works of early art are the calla’s native relatives.

Agapanthus

Agapanthus, called agapando in Spanish, is derived from the Greek – agape meaning “love,” and anthos meaning “flower.” The purple flowers are clustered in an umbel-like form at the end of the stem, accompanied with fleshy leaves.

Like the alcatraz, it most likely followed a similar route from Africa to Europe, first arriving there at the end of the 17th century, possibly returning with Dutch traders. Europeans – in this case the Portuguese – first happened on the Capetown area in 1488, while searching for a sea route to the Orient in lieu of the dangerous and costly overland Silk Road. The Dutch, renowned flower breeders, settled Capetown in 1652, but numerous European traders followed. By 1679, the agapando had reached Europe by a returning trading ship; it loves to grow around the Mediterranean Sea (some countries have declared it an invasive species), so it made its way to Spain and thence to Mexico.

The cut flower trade is a multibillion-dollar industry; Mexican “ornamental plants and flowers” – also the name of Mexico’s overall trade association – were valued at $1.8 billion USD in 2021. The majority of production is located in the states of México, Puebla, Morelos, and Veracruz. There are about 25,500 producers of ornamental plants and flowers, providing 188,000 permanent and about 50,000 permanent jobs. More than a million jobs are indirectly related to the ornamental sector of Mexico’s economy.

Mexico is unique in that it produces cut flowers under natural conditions in open fields, as well as under controlled – usually in greenhouses – conditions. Both agapanthus and calla lilies are field-grown, which may be why they are not in the top 10 flowers produced for export (in 2007, they were about 13th and 14th on the list).
The Ornamental Plants and Flowers association will be hosting its international exposition, La Feria Especializada en Horti-Floricultura, Viverismo, Paisajismo, y Diseño Floral, September 13-15, 2022, in Mexico City at the Centro Citibanamex.

Sugarcane

Sugarcane (Saccharum officinarum) is in the grass family. It arrived in Veracruz, Mexico, in 1522, brought from Cuba by Hernán Cortés. By 1524, there were already sugarcane plantations along the shores of the Tepengo River in Santiago Tuxtla, Veracruz. Although the origins remain unclear, it most likely is a native of New Guinea. It arrived in Persia (Iran) around 500 CE, spread throughout North Asia, traveled to Egypt and North Africa, and from there on to southern Europe. In around 755 CE, it arrived in southern Spain and the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa. From Spain (or the Canary Islands) it migrated to Cuba in 1493. Its cultivation continued expanding into Central and South America. In Mexico, Veracruz was the ideal environment for sugarcane cultivation, given its soils, hydrology, and climate. Sugarcane spread rapidly throughout Mexico from 1550 to 1600, particularly in the states of Michoacán and Jalisco, around Puebla, and Cuernavaca and Cuautla in the state of México.

It rapidly became an important export, along with gold, silver, chocolate, and cochineal (the red dye created from insects that cluster on cactus), almost entirely to the Iberian peninsula (Spain and Portugal). Early production was very labor intensive using basically slave labor, indentured servitude known as the encomienda system (explicit slavery was outlawed by the Catholic church). Production evolved into haciendas or large plantations, and production surpassed that of cotton, a Mexican native. By the 18th century over 300 sugarcane farms were supplying the sugar mills and factories.

According to the Secretaría de Agricultura y Desarrollo Rural (Secretariat of Agriculture and Rural Development), as of August 31, 2021, there were 49 sugarcane processing facilities in Mexico, producing over 5.7 million tons of refined sugar, an increase of over 8% percent from previous years. Approximately 738,146 tons were exported to the United States in 2021.

The state of Veracruz leads national production at 35% of the total, followed by 14% in Jalisco and 8% in San Luis Potosí. More than 826,000 hectares are under cultivation. Refined sugar is produced by crushing the sugarcane stems, heating the juice, filtering and crystalizing the juices, and finally centrifuging the liquid to further the purification process.

In addition to refined sugar, Mexico produces a type of unrefined sugar called piloncillo, which is also found elsewhere in Latin America under different names including panela, panocha, chancaca, and rapadura. Cone shaped, piloncillo is a solid form of sucrose derived from boiling and evaporating sugarcane juice. It is available in virtually every Mexican food market. Moscabado or mascobo is a type of Mexican sugar that resembles the brown sugar sold in the U.S. and Canada. It is a partially refined sugar with a strong molasses content and flavor, and dark brown in color. It used to be hard to find in Huatulco, but is consistently stocked at the Colorín market located on the south side of Calle Colorín between Rosa Laurel on the west and Chacah on the east.

The Lebanese in Mexico:How and Why They Got Here

By Deborah Van Hoewyk

The Lebanese began arriving in Mexico even before Lebanon existed as its own country. Its official geographic identity started in the late 1400s, as the Emirate of Mount Lebanon, part of the Ottoman Empire. Mount Lebanon was home to multiple religious groups; leaders of the emirate came from different groups over time, but no one seemed to like each other, much less the Ottoman (Turkish) governors, so there were several uprisings. France first (1860) became an interested party in the area when they came to the rescue of Maronite Christians being attacked by Druse Isamites. (Lebanon would become a French protectorate when the West divided up the Ottoman Empire after World War I; it would win its independence in 1943.)

In 1869, the Suez Canal opened, connecting Europe with the Far East and causing the Lebanese silk industry to collapse. Thus it was, in 1892, that the first Lebanese immigrants arrived on a French ship sailing from Beirut. Over 100,000 Arabic speakers – mostly Lebanese – arrived between then and the 1930s; they settled mostly in the Yucatán and along the Gulf of Mexico, with some moving out across northern Mexico. Although the Lebanese made up only 5% of immigration in the 1930s, they were responsible for about 50% of immigrant contributions to Mexico’s economy. If you go to the harbor in Veracruz, you will find the Plaza of the Lebanese immigrant, which contains a statue dressed in 19th-century Lebanese garb. There are copies of this statue elsewhere in Mexico and around the world, but the one in Veracruz is matched by one in Beirut – the starting and ending points of the Lebanese diaspora in Mexico.

Perhaps the most noted Lebanese citizen of Mexico is Carlos Slim Helú, born on January 28, 1940. Multi-billionaire business magnate Slim made his money mostly in telecommunications. In 1989 President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, Mexico’s first economist president, embarked on a program of economic modernization that included privatizing telecommunications. In 1990, Carlos Slim put together a partnership that bought a controlling interest in TelMex. Nowadays, building on his fortune – he was the world’s richest person in the early 2010s – Slim is more known for his philanthropy, if not for the Soumaya Museum in Plaza Corso in Mexico City (there is an earlier one [1994] in Plaza Loreto). Slim built it in 2011 in memory of his wife Soumaya Doumit, who died in 1999.

As Maronite Christians, the Lebanese brought with them a favorite religious figure, the “miracle monk of Lebanon,” Charbel Maklouf (1828-98). Maklouf, a hermit thought to be responsible for miracles of healing; although he was not beatified until 1965 or canonized until 1977, he arrived in Mexico with Lebanese immigrants in the early 1900s. Saint Charbel is fairly popular; people adorn his statues with listones, long ribbons with requests for miracles or intercessions written on them, accompanied by a drawing of a cedar tree. Lebanese Muslims built the first dedicated mosque in Mexico in 1989; the Suraya Mosque is located in the city of Torreón in Coahuila.

Perhaps the most delectable Lebanese contributions to Mexican culture are culinary. While the meat on the spit is more likely to be pork or goat, not lamb, don’t we all crave tacos al pastor (shepherd tacos) or tacos árabes (Arab tacos)? Lebanese culinary influences are probably strongest in the Yucatán, where the Lebanese first arrived. Eggplant and potatoes, legumes such as chickpeas and lentils, lamb, yogurt, onions, and olive oil, not to mention mint, oregano, cinnamon, and cumin, are all used in Mexican adaptations of Lebanese cuisine.

An Eye on the Women of The Eye

By Marcia Chaiken and Jan Chaiken

Julie Etra has drawn on her professional background in environmental sciences to write many articles about Mexican plants and animals, ever since the second issue of The Eye was published. Julie was born, raised and educated in New Rochelle, New York. When she was still in junior high, the New Rochelle high school building completely burned down, so her high school classes were held in temporary barracks. She then studied in real classrooms at the University of Colorado in Boulder, earning a BA degree in Environmental Biology, followed by completing an MS degree in Soil and Crop Science at the Colorado State University in Fort Collins.

Continuing her westward trek, Julie worked for the U.S. Forest Service in South Lake Tahoe, California, for three years and then decided to start her own business, Tahoe Native Plants. One of her USFS projects involved restoration of land at a community college, and it was there in 1985 that she met her future husband who was also working on the project as a general engineering contractor. In 1990, Julie and Larry decided to buy land in Washoe County, Nevada (near Reno), and build their own home. Living in a 14′ travel trailer that was freezing in the winter and boiling in the summer until their construction was completed, they finally moved into their home, where they still live when not in Mexico. Once settled in Nevada, Julie moved her office to Reno and changed the name of her company to Western Botanical Services, Inc. She has continuously provided botanical surveys and soil analysis as a contractor to private engineering and landscape architecture companies and public entities overseeing implementation of erosion control and land restoration projects. Her business was incorporated in 1994.

Julie is avid about music, plays the piano, and listens to “almost everything.” She also enjoys playing tennis, swimming, gardening and, like the other writers for The Eye, constantly reads books, magazines, and newspapers. Julie first visited Mexico in 1977, where in Cozumel she was certified for scuba diving. In 1988, she and Larry began spending 3 months each year in Baja Sur. They visited Huatulco in 2007 and in 2008, decided to spend the winter here and built a home in Conejos. They also are extensive travelers and, with the exception of Antarctica, have visited every continent; Julie’s favorite is (subSaharan) Africa. Julie has two step-kids from Larry’s previous marriage and two grandkids with whom they stay in close contact.

The first articles Julie published in the Eye focused on corn – three articles on corn – until our editor suggested she might explore other topics and something less technical. The Eye article she enjoyed writing most described her travels with Larry and their puppy during COVID – “It was fun!”