Arriving in the late afternoon at El Charco del Ingenio Botanical Gardens, in San Miguel de Allende, it’s the warmest day of the whole trip. This will be my first Mexican botanical garden to visit of many.
Inside is an amazing collection of cactus, yucca, agave, and other desert plants. The property is immense, and it’s set up as a bio-reserve on the edge of encroaching urban development.
After spending a few hours enjoying the place, including a wonderful hike along a canyon, a sensory garden, and a very cool water recirculation set up, I’m introduced to Mario, the director of the gardens.
Surprisingly, his English is impeccable, and we hit it off immediately as we’re environmentally and ecologically minded horticultural people. He explains the history of the garden, the projects, and the impact with the local community.
Nearing the end of the day I ask if it would be possible to camp in the parking lot of the gardens (which are located at the end of a very quite cobblestone road). He is reluctant, but offers to contact a friend who owns a B&B just down the road. When she doesn’t answer, he offers the unbelievable. He doesn’t want me to camp out in the open where I can be seen, but instead, I can camp INSIDE the gardens, behind his office. He even offers to run an extension cord out to the tent so I can recharge my electronics, and he’ll leave the Wifi on for the night so I can get online!
With my camp set up for the night I decide to head into town for supper. That’s when it happens. The bike won’t start. It’s too late to deal with it now, and Roy, the gardens’ security guard offers to drive me to the gas station nearby to grab some food and drinks for the night.
Other than worrying about what’s wrong with the bike, I have the most amazing night under a huge desert sky, with stars, and the sounds of coyotes around the canyon. What a spectacular place, amazing garden, and incredibly friendly people. I’m loving Mexico!