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On the trail of spikey plants


A few days ago, high petrol price notwithstanding, I took a little road trip to Sierra Vista Growers - a wholesale and retail plant nursery about 2 hours south, within spitting distance of Mexico and Texas.

This plant nursery specializes in plants adapted to the arid growing conditions of the region.

While not all their plants are native, they do have a higher proportion of southwestern native plants than most plant nurseries which I have easy access to.

It is early in the plant retail season in this part of the world. In some areas the tantalizing rows of spikey plants were not (yet) labeled.

There is a big “We are hiring” sign at the front entrance, which is attractively landscaped, demonstrating inspiring use of their wares.

It helps to have a derelict piece of old farm equipment.

I like their tagline.

Staff were friendly, yet respectful and professional. They know their stock and speak Spanish and English interchangeably as naturally as if bilingualism is a normal, everyday thing to be. After so much time in monolingual communities in North America, who react with such infuriating (to me) predictability to my accent, to my “difference,” this comfort with language switching is such a pleasure to experience.


Note: Sierra Vista Growers offer senior discount. But only if you ask before they ring up the transaction. I found out the hard way. Yes I do invoke my senior discount wherever possible. I was well schooled by the Ancient Polynesian in my first years on this continent, way before I qualified for the discount.


After the historic town of Mesilla, where I had an amazingly generous lunch of vegetarian enchiladas and authentic horchata, I took highway 28, the Juan de Oñate Trail* which winds through pecan orchards, bright green with new leaf, and tiny, sleepy villages dating from before, before….then. Before Intervención estadounidense en México (the Mexican American War of the 1840s) when the area was Mexico Antigua.

Sometimes one doesn’t have to go far to be in another country, place and time.

*About Juan de Oñate whose footsteps I followed for a bit of this adventure: this particular Spanish conquistador explorer colonialist is a somewhat controversial dude, largely for his treatment of indigenous peoples in his explorations various. I’m guessing he was a bit of a Cecil John Rhodes but with Spanish swashbuckling flair rather than British stiff upper lipped bluster. By all accounts, however, and unlike Cecil John where there is some debate, the Spaniard preferred women. He married Isabel de Tolosa Cortés de Moctezuma, granddaughter of Hernán Cortés, the conqueror of the Triple Alliance, and great granddaughter of the Aztec Emperor Moctezuma Xocoyotzin.









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