Toluca Botanical Garden

I have to be honest with you.  I didn’t get very excited when I heard we were going to be visiting a botanical garden with stained glass windows, but I was blown away by dozens of floor to high ceiling creations that told a story. What a delightful quick stop on the journey back to Mexico City from Zitacuaro.  We even did a quickie at the market there;  so interesting, so inexpensive.    On arriving in Mexico, we dined at a traditional mexican restaurant, complete with musicians.  This was followed by what some participants said was the best walking tour they had ever experienced.  Each person was outfitted with a head seat, which allowed them to hear the new tour guide perfectly without ever stopping to ‘gather round’.  And while most had seen the inside of dozens and dozens of churches, this one was particularly stunning and different.

Pine need art.  
Spray paint & garbage art

A few opted to do their own thing.  Audrey and I decided to visit the huge market right outside our Hilton Hotel downtown!  I only wish I had been hungry for the wide variety of innovative street food.  Once again, we saw brand new crafts, including pine needle art.  I believe we paid about $12 for this work, composed of more than 500 pieces of died needles, which we watched this woman break onto the sticky, beeswax backing.

You may have seen artists working with spray paint, bottle caps, and scraps of cardboard.  Usually they wear masks.  We liked this man’s work, and asked him his price:  35 pesos.  I asked him to repeat that;  surely I misunderstood.  Nope.  35 pesos.  $2.32 Canadian.  I watched his creation explode, and just had to confirm his price, which I am a bit embarrassed to say I paid him.  Next year, I’ll add a tip.  We preferred a slight adjustment to the painting you see;  I asked him to take out three cacti, and add a dead tree which I saw in another painting.   Then presto, it was done, exactly the way we wanted it!

I studied Spanish in high school, then in university, just for fun, then didn’t use it for more than 30 years.  Before the trip, I brushed up, with CD’s in the car.  I used my Spanish all day every day.  I felt like a hero translating for others, and I loved solving my own problems, like telling the guy at the restaurant that we didn’t need to eat on the patio, and would eat absolutely anywhere as long as there were 3 seats together.  We had the best time at a counter, eating with the locals, and ordering by pointing to what they were eating!

Thanks again to Save Our Monarchs for sponsoring this trip, and to Craftours for running it.  Next year’s trip will be even better, well, because we learned a few things. 🙂


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