A “Thanks” from the Palm Ranch

In 2016, I asked for some mic time at several Amigos de Bucerias breakfast meetings in order to recruit gardening volunteers to help spiffy up Mexico’s largest palm collection, a botanic treasure on 70+ acres of private land at San Vicente (just north of Mezcales) in time for the visit of the Board of Directors of the International Palm Society’s visit in April 2017.

By far the biggest response in the Bahia community came from Amigos de Bucerias members and over a few months, people gave up some of their precious vacation time, involved friends and visitors, to come once or several times during mornings in the shade of the majestic palm forest to rake, saw, cut, trim, clip, weed, uproot, transplant, prune, heap spent palm fronds, toss fallen coconuts out from under the trees (we called it the ranch’s first ever “Bowl-A-Thon”), create jungle nurseries under the canopy of the palm forest, navigate among the litter of enthusiastic puppies dumped onto the property a few months prior and just generally beautify the private garden in time for the visitors’ arrival.

The volunteers were treated to Adelien Montes’ delicious cuisine – meso-American, Mexican, South African/Dutch recipes. As they say here: “Se comen los dedos” (“they are eating their fingers” – “finger-lickin’ good”). And when we weren’t too tired (or stuffed!) afterward, Dr. Felix Montes gave mini-tours of part of the 72-acre organic property to show off the collection of trees and plants that you just won’t find in any of the commercial garden centres.

On April 5, 2017, the Board of Directors of the International Palm Society and their spouses (including the littlest 4-month-old Californian member of the group who arrived after her parents signed up for this trip last year) piled out of the bus at the ranch for lunch under the canopy of the huge parota tree. The ranch’s employees and yet more friends and volunteers set up tables with white tablecloths and colorful Mexican table runners, the garage was unrecognizable without the cars and now beautifully filled with plant decorations – palms (what else!?). A hot-and-cold buffet table was set up with an unmistakable Mexican theme. The menu included carne con Chile, Chicharron en salsa verde, picadillo de semillas, picadillo de puerco, frijoles fritos, potato and chicken taquitos, hot and cold salsas, chile rellenos with cheese, corn and peas, and four kinds of homemade dessert : carrot cake, vanilla fruit layer cake, chocolate cake and a flan. The very happy bus driver admitted that he didn’t often get food this good during one of his jobs!

Dr. Felix Montes gave the IPS members a three-hour tour of his private palm collection and even managed a surprise for them – most of them had never seen one of the varieties in his collection. All in all, a very satisfying day for the group, which praised the work of the Montes family, their gardeners and the volunteers during the past year.

So again – THANK YOU to Amigos de Bucerias for the mic time, and to the many volunteers from the group who came out to the ranch to help. You made a noticeable difference and did us proud. Enjoy the photos of the event!

Carla Piringer

Volunteer coordinator