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Five Gringas in the Berry Fields
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A Quick Update

In 2010, we moved back to the small town in Colorado that I never stopped missing while we lived in Mexico. Now I sometimes miss Mexico, but I wouldn't travel as freely as we did when we were there, camping out in remote areas and so forth.

Mexico today is in a period of change, and in many ways it is more dangerous now. That said, I have plenty of American friends who still live there very happily, just taking a few more precautions than they did in the past.

Just to say!


Visit Expedia…

Expedia is my favorite place to book airfare, and they handle hotels, car rentals, cruises, etc. I like the organization of the site for figuring out what flights I want. Click on the suitcase to take a look.

I was very pleased to win an award for this blog! Even better for you: click through for lists of all sorts of award-winning travel blogs.

Tripbase Blog Awards 2009

Tripbase Blog Awards 2009

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Dec. 6, 2006 — Yesterday in the early afternoon my friend Elaine from Colorado took me and three other women friends west along Lake Chapala, through the town of Jocotepec and beyond. It was fun meeting the other women, whom I hadn’t met before. We all live in this region, and we swapped tales of how we got here. The others come from Pennsylvania and Oregon and are also happy to be living in Mexico.

After Jocotepec, you come to a T and we turned left, which took us on the road that goes around the south side of the lake. Within a kilometer or two we started seeing large white open-sided greenhouses. Elaine had been out here for berries before and she explained the procedure: just look for a place where you see people working around a table or truck, and drive in there.

We first went to a place where Elaine had been before. The friendly Mexican woman said she was sorry but they didn’t have any berries for sale right now. The ones for sale are the culls from the ones that have just been picked and are being packed in small plastic boxes, then placed in larger cardboard boxes that say Driscoll on them. The worker kept filling boxes as she talked.

These berries are mainly destined for the United States and maybe Canada, though a few do end up on the shelves of Superlake, a grocery store that caters to gringos in San Antonio Tlayacapan, next to Ajijic. I get to Superlake for tamari, brown rice, cottage cheese, and other such goodies quite often.

A young Mexican man ran over to another field to see if they had some culls left. They didn’t but another guy told us to follow him in his pickup and he would lead us to another place that had at least ten kilograms of moras or frambesas, that is, raspberries. So we followed along various dirt roads and succeeded in filling the containers and ziplock bags we had brought with as many raspberries as we wanted. At 20 pesos a kilo, or about 82 cents US a pound, we wanted a lot! It was often hard to see why they were culls, unless it was that they were too ripe for shipment, which made them just perfect for us.

Next, fresas or strawberries. We went back to the T coming out of Jocotepec and continued straight. (In other words, if you are coming from Joco, turn right at the T.) At a little town that began with Z (Zapotitan?), we turned right pretty much opposite the Pemex on the highway, and went into town. We turned left just after a school and went out into the country. By now it was about 2 pm and the pickers were eating lunch. The first couple of strawberry places we went to said we were too late for today, come back tomorrow. But we found all the strawberries we could carry at another place. To get to it, coming along that dirt road after the left turn past the school, just keep your eyes open on the left side of the road maybe a kilometer or two from town. The friendly young woman, who exuded competence, said they work one day where we found them and the next day a bit further beyond, back and forth.

Here she just eyeballed our full containers and ended up charging us each 20 pesos, for what was also more or less a kilo. I noticed some runners coming off the plants all around us. With visions of organic home grown strawberries in my yard, I asked if I could take any starts. A man said no, it was prohibited. Fair enough, but strawberry plants are now on the shopping list in my kitchen! Neither berry was organically grown here. It appeared that we were going to a variety of different ranchos, but whether they are privately owned or owned by Driscoll, I didn’t find out.

I asked about the season for berries. Both begin in October, strawberries end in April, and raspberries about a month later. We were told that they start picking at 7 AM, and we figured that a good time to go and be able to get both berries would be around 11 AA or so.

But it will be a while till I consider another trip out there. I’ve rinsed and disinfected all my loot, Kelly has already made two batches of jam in our bread machine, and our freezer is full of plastic bags with bright red contents. Yum.

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