Figure and Ground
On one of my last days in Guanajuato, I visit the botanical garden and nature reserve, El Charco Ingenio, outside San Miguel de Allende. Driving from Ciudad Guanajuato, I climb up from the city (2,000 meters), through the mountains, rising up into the woodlands of pine and live oak (2,500 meters). This is likely the route Sessé and Mociño followed as they searched these mountains for plants they had not yet collected. The scent of pines is strong and sweet, the road narrow and twisting. I catch glimpses of the rocky soils of eroding lava cores until, once through the high pass, the terrain slowly morphs into savanna plains starting back around 2,000 meters. My colleague, geographer Karl Butzer, described this terrain as “Rough hill country and uplands, normally formed by ignimbrites tuffs with duricrusts, or lavas, appears to have had a medley of vegetation types, with scattered woodlands of mesquite or acacia, probably open” (1997, 162). Along the way, the car radio crackles with ...
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