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Entries in Acateyahualco (18)


Maguey Counters

Taking a break from counting maguey plants in Acateyahualco (see Measuring Maguey, Waiting for Team 2, Mescal Re-Visited, Meeting in Acateyahualco, and several other posts about this cool project). Couple of things to notice in the image. First, the large flower spike, or calehual, on the Agave cupreata plant growing behind the man (kneeling) on the left. Second, the enormous machete and wooden scabbard carried by the man on right. Third, the really great sombrero that each of them are wearing. 


Miguel Talks Mescal

My dear friend, Dr. Miguel Alexiades, discusses the results from the impact monitoring with one of the mescaleros from Acateyahualco (see Mescal Re-Visited). So much I like about this photo, e.g. the reams of data shown on the charts, the histogram showing (look closely) that the density of adult Agave plants has stayed more or less constant after 5 years of commercial exploitation, the expression on the face of the señora in the foreground. [NOTE: I have worked with Miguel for several years in Mexico, have collaborated with him as a part of the Steering Committee of People and Plants International for almost a decade, and have known him since he was a graduate student at NYBG. He wrote this while working on his dissertation. A real joy to be in the field with him (thx for the towel, Miguel)]. 


Acateyahualco Landscape

This is what the landscape looks like around Acateyahualco, Guerrero in the late afternoon when you come out of a community meeting with a plastic cup of mescal in your hand (which you try not to spill, but studiously avoid drinking). Great to work in a place where the locals ride burros. [NOTE: I'm off to Guerrero again early next week. Back to Santa Cruz, El Rincon (see What I Do)].


Waiting for Team 2

During my last trip to Acateyahualco (see Mescal Re-Visited and Huarache), we divided into teams and went out to the forest so that the villagers could show us how they do their monitoring transects for Agave cupreata. It was super hot, and dry, and dusty. All but one of the teams had finished, and we were sitting in a tiny bit of shade along the side of the road. Everybody was ready to go back to the village for a cold drink and the main topic of conversation was "What is taking Team 2 so long?".

And then they finally came trudging up the road. They had been given the transects that were the hardest to get to, i.e. they were on the other side of the mountain shown in the background of the image. Luck of the draw, everyone agreed. 


When the Assembly Is Over

This is what it looks like in the meeting room at Acateyahualco, Guerrero after all of the inventory data for Agave cupreata has been presented, all the comments have been discussed, and all the cokes and cookies and mescal have been consumed (see Meeting in Acateyahualco). Don't know who left their hat.

Am off to the Delaware Water Gap tomorrow for a family vacation. No internet. But lakes, and rivers, and waterfalls, and great hiking. Back in a week.



Not sure what motivated me to take a picture of this mescalero's huarache during the community meeting at Acateyahualco earlier this year (see Mescal Re-Visited). Such noble footwear. And I reflect on the miles and miles that this sandal has walked through the dry forests of Guerrero, and the barrels of mescal that it has been involved with, and the daily hardships (and pleasures) that it endures. The huarache says it all. 


Measuring Maguey

This is what you need to inventory Agave cupreata in the dry forests of Guerrero, Mexico. A handy GPS/walkie-talkie (see GPS+Two-Way Radio), a transect rope with knots tied at measured intervals to correct for slope, a Silva Ranger compass with clinometer, a little bit of flagging, and a tally sheet for recording the data (see Field Equipment). [NOTE: The five crews can do a 10% inventory of the entire mescal production area in one day. Used to take them a week. These guys are good].  


Other Side of the Camera

Here I am talking to the mescal group in Acateyahualco, Guerrero (see Mescal Re-Visited and Meeting in Acateyahualco) about the inventory data that they have been collecting over the past five years. I know it's really important to document these interactions, and that video can be more engaging than still photos in some cases - but I really hate to be on the other side of the camera. Especially with my crummy Spanish. 


GPS+Two-Way Radio

A group of mescaleros from the village of Acateyahualco in Guerrero, Mexico (see Meeting in Acateyahualco) getting their equipment ready to start the annaul agave inventories. They got new GSP receivers, and the new devices have a 22 channel two-way radio built in. Will be a great help in the field once everyone figures out how they work. [NOTE: Love the collection of sombreros].  



Murciélagos, or bats, are the main pollinators of the Agave species used to make mescal. In addition to the graphs and data tables that were on the walls of the meeting room where the mescaleros presented their work (see Mescal Re-Visited), the monitoring teams had also drawn several posters about the importance of bats. Wonderfully whimisical and informative. Three of my favorites are shown below with approximate translations of the text:

Pollinators of Agaves: The Maguey Bat. Through pollination, the maguey bats insure the genetic diversity of the agaves and reduce their vulnerability to pests and disease. The fruit bat eats fruits. Take care of all of them.

We have to take care of bats because they benefit magueys through pollination and also in the production of fertilizer (guano) and the control of pests. There are also bats the suck the blood from livestock and transmit disease. We should be very careful with them because they are dangerous.

Take care of bats and other pollinators. With posters in public places in schools, clinics, and stores. Or talking with friends and your children about how you shouldn't bother bats. Don't put insecticide on fruit trees.

[NOTE: Those are my black Converses shown in the lower right of image 1 and 3. The wind was blowing the posters away before I could photograph them].