By Bernardo Moreno
Contact with the natural world is very important for us human beings. We need the fresh air and time away from the stress of everyday life. When I feel that need, I get up early in the morning, put on comfortable clothes and shoes, and go for a long walk through El Charco del Ingenio Botanical Garden.
First, I stop at the Ignacio Ramírez market and buy some freshly squeezed juice for the day ahead. A large green juice is just right. I like the mixture of pineapple, celery, parsley, cucumber, and spinach. From the market I walk up the hill along Cuesta de San José. When I see the sign announcing the Botanical Garden, I turn onto Calle Paloma and eventually arrive at the entrance. I like arriving early in the morning, because by the afternoon, the sun is hot and there is not much shade on the trails. They open at nine in the morning, so this is easy to do.
El Charco del Ingenio is a nature reserve and botanical garden with a wide variety of arid and semi-arid plants. Many of them are endangered, and some are threatened with extinction. But they flourish in this sanctuary designed for flora and fauna. El Charco has many trails that wind their way among the dams and ravines on the grounds. Walking around, you will discover historical ruins, a plant conservatory, solar observatory, and many other things of interest.
At the entrance you pay a small fee and are given a map with the paths you can take that shows the points of interest. It takes about three hours to see most of what El Charco has to offer. If you put in the effort, you will end up in the early afternoon, marveling at the vistas you have seen, and all you’ve discovered. You will feel well exercised, oxygenated, and with a calm mind. The green juice from the morning will have kept you hydrated, and you will probably be ready for a nutritious meal. The café at El Charco has service in an outdoor setting starting with a great breakfast. I usually ask for an American coffee, some Mexican eggs, and a plate of fruit. It will fill your belly and give you that comfortable, contented feeling that you love so much.
Before you leave, you should spend some time and visit the El Charco museum. There you can learn about the nature of the area and about Mexico in general. I recommend you visit El Charco del Ingenio during each season of the year. This way you can observe the changes as time passes. Each season has its own visual delights—different animals and overall feeling. It is very important to have the whole El Charco experience!