Category Archives: Herbal Traditions of Mexico

2016 SHA Module, Session 14: Field Study: Sonoran Coastal Thornscrub & Wild Food and Medicine of the Seri (Mexico)

Tiburon islandOctober 21-25, 2016

Estero Santa Rosa, Sonora, Mexico

Trip Fee: $450  (includes instruction, translation, and handout materials)

Instructor: John Slattery

This module features 4 nights camping on the beach at the Sea of Cortéz in Sonora, Mexico

As the nights grow longer and the days cooler the varied habitat at the edge of the Sea of Cortéz in northern Sonora is very pleasant. Just north of the small fishing village of Bahia de Kino (and the retirement/vacation community, Kino Nuevo) is the beautiful natural area known as Estero Santa Rosa (Santa Rosa Estuary). We’ll make our camp at the edge of the beach amongst coastal thornscrub vegetation adjacent to mangrove estuarine environment. Directly to the west of our camp sits the tall peaks of Isla Tiburón (“Shark Island”), the largest island in Mexico and the cherished homeland of the Seri, or Comcáac, people. Before us is a small bay with calm waters, and behind us to the east is the rugged terrain of the Sierra Seri where the desert bighorn sheep still roam.

DSC_0109

We will be exploring the uniquely beautiful vegetation of this area during our 5 days of beach camping. Our studies will be within the context of a bioregional approach to herbalism including explorations into foraging for wild plant foods in the area. This being the homeland of the Seri, we will be discussing many of their traditional uses and applications of these plants. During at least 1 or 2 days of this trip we will be visited by a local family of herbalists who I’ve been working with for several years now. They have offered to share with us how they use these plants for healing. They also employ a variety of marine algae, crustaceans, and other creatures from the sea for medicine (as well as food, abundantly).

Although this is some of the driest desert (in terms of annual rainfall) in North America the moisture brought in from the sea this time of year can keep vegetation verdant and flowering despite long-term drought. Various cacti, desert shrubs, plants of the mangrove, salty beach plants, and annual flowering plants comprise our list of plants to study including, sahueso, pitaya, desert lavender, brittlebush, red mangrove, cosahui, uvaibena, ironwood, desert hibiscus, ocotillo, coastal sand verbena, elephant tree, torote, palo blanco, malva de los cerros, balloonvine, puncture vine, pitaya ágria, and so much more!

Maria Luisa with desert lavender

Each day will be comprised of walkabouts through the desert, in arroyos, along the coastline, and along the margins of the estuary. Here we will stop frequently to look at plants, identify them, discuss their virtues, and, on occasion, gather some for medicine making or, when available, as food. We will be visited at our camp by the local Seri herbalists (Molino Martinez family) and they’ll be taking us on walks as well.

Any supplies needed for medicine making, camping, or in general will be listed in the information sent once registration is complete.  All participants need a passport, or passport card. We will be bringing all our supplies for the 4 days with us to camp. The nearest town is about 30 minutes away.

Transportation: Transportation is each participant’s responsibility. Ridesharing can be organized upon registration. There are no permits required for where we are going (high tourism corridor), but Mexican law calls for purchasing auto insurance for Mexico. There are simple online services to purchase Mexico auto insurance; details will be given upon registration.

Questions, email: john@johnjslattery.com

$65 Discount if you register by August 21, 2016  Use Coupon code: ESTERO

 

Price: $450.00

Cerro de Aconchi

Sonoran River Valley Ethnobotany

October 27-29     *2 nights camping

Trip Fee: $350

*Use Promotion Code DAMIANA to register for $300 by Winter Solstice December 22, 2015

Instructor: John Slattery

This field study trip follows our Sonoran Coastal Thornscrub & Wild Food and Medicine of the Seri (Mexico) up through the picturesque Sonoran River valley. The Río Sonora is believed to have once been inhabited by the Ópata people. Here, their mestizo descendants continue the traditions of farming and gathering wild plant foods such as bellotas, chiltepines, and agave, or mescál, for the distillation of bacanora. The beauty and tranquility of the Sonoran river valley touches the heart of many who pass through it. 

Our home for these 2 nights will be an encampment at the aguas termales, or hot springs, beneath El Cerro de Aconchi, a Sky Island ringed by organ pipe cactus, tree ocotillo, and riparian mesquite forests. We will have access to numerous bathing tubs, outhouses, tables, and the nearest town, Aconchi, is a 20 minute drive.  

Our days will be spent hiking and exploring the valley and talking with local people about their relationship with wild plants, whenever possible. We will visit and discuss the medicine of damiana, tree ocotillo, elephant tree, organ pipe cactus, pochote, cacahuiste, chicura, and many other curious plants of the Sonoran river valley. There will be a guided tincture making class in the field or at our campsite. And for a very special treat we will clamor up into the hills in search of the ripened wild chiltepines (Capsicum annuum var. glabriusculum). Following, we’ll have a go at creating a variety of traditional chiltepín preparations with what we’ve gathered – pickled unripe fruits, chiltepín-quince salsa, chiltepín-garlic salsa, and more!

DSC_0788For those not present on the Sonoran Coastal Thornscrub field study (10/19-23), we will be meeting on highway 15 just north of Hermosillo before caravanning as a complete group up highway 14 along the Río Sonora. Complete directions will be given upon registration.

Trip Participation Requirements:

  • Complete Registration
  • Valid Passport
  • Reliable transportation -or- Rideshare within our group
  • Basic Camping Equipment

More specific trip details will be sent upon registration.

Register: 

Price: $350.00

Herbal Traditions of Mexico: Herbal Medicine of the Seri

Herbal Traditions of Mexico

Herbal Medicine of the Seri

DSC_0599Coastal Thornscrub region at the Sea of Cortéz

Punta Chueca, Sonora, Mexico

October 21-24, 2015

Workshop fee – $395

The Sea of Cortéz and Tiburón Island is our back drop for this 3 days of immersion in the healing plants of the Sonoran desert. Our Seri hosts will share with us their knowledge of healing with the local wild plants passed down over generations. The utilization of plants as medicine takes on many forms and presentations amongst the indigenous peoples all over the world. The Seri, or Comcáac, share similar beliefs in that their relationship to the land in which they live holds a great variety of powerful medicines suitable for any and all ills which befall the people. They are excited to share their knowledge with all who come.

This trip will include walks through the desert identifying and discussing the medicinal plants we encounter. Daily classes at our camp will include discussion of their favorite medicinal plants with samples to view and taste, and medicine making presentations on a variety of possible subjects (medicinal soap, salves, teas, eye drops, etc.). Sonoran herbalist, John Slattery, has been working with the Molino Martinez family since 2010 leading excursions in his Herbal Traditions of Mexico Program, and providing support to help them continue their way of life. John provides all translation from Spanish to English and helps put it all into context for the trip participants.    

The trip includes 10 meals provided by our endearing hosts, and 3 nights camping as guests of our hosts in a picturesque estuary overlooking the Sierra Comcáac on Isla Tiburón. Transportation is each participants responsibility. Translation provided by John Slattery, the head tour guide and trip facilitator. And, yes, it is perfectly safe to travel in Mexico – particularly this area.

To Register:

 

Price: $200.00

John Slattery, Sonoran Herbalist

Tucson, AZ

© 2015

www.SonoranHerbalist.com

Herbal Traditions of Mexico: Pitaya Harvest

Pitaya Harvest

Coastal Thornscrub region at the Sea of Cortéz

led by herbalist, John Slattery

July 15 – July 18, 2015

Workshop fee – $425

A tremendously unique opportunity to forage for the highly treasured Pitaya cactus fruit (ool imám) with the People of the Land & Sea, the Comcáac, or Seri tribe of northwest Sonora, Mexico. This journey into the hot summer desert should prove rewarding for the ripe, sweet Pitaya fruits which await us. At a traditional summer Pitaya harvesting encampment we will forage for and prepare Pitaya fruit along with Mesquite pods to prepare unique traditional delicacies. You will learn the traditional methods for acquiring this fruit, traditional methods of processing and preparation into various foods. We will be making a preparation called mermelada, or jam, at our encampment.

The Pitaya cactus has a longer fruiting season than other local columnar cacti species and provides a tremendous amount of food for both animals and humans. Given our exceptionally dry winter it bodes well for an excellent Pitaya fruit harvest this year. For several centuries (if not millennia) the Comcáac have been utilizing and celebrating this native food of the Sonoran desert. The Comcáac mark the beginning of their calendar year by the fruiting of this cactus. Numerous parts of the cactus have been integrated into their daily lives for various purposes over many hundreds of years.

The fruit of Pitaya is said to be the tastiest cactus fruit in all the Americas. Although this fruit is

Sahueso (Pachycereus pringlei) fruit

Sahueso (Pachycereus pringlei) fruit

nearly impossible to find in the US this unique journey will bring you into the heartland of the Seri people for a traditional pitaya (Stenocereus thurberi) harvesting camp. Join us for a celebration of the Seri new year as the pitaya fruit ripen across the desert. Come listen to the songs of the desert as the Seri people have learned them, living in union with this beautiful desert at the sea for millennia. In addition, we’ll have the opportunity to taste saguaro, sahueso, and senita fruits straight from the cactus. These fruits have nourished many peoples across the deserts of Mexico over millennia. 

Accommodations

Our 3 nights stay at indoor accommodations (with a/c) in nearby Kino Nuevo, Sonora at the Prescott College Center is immediately adjacent to the gorgeous white sand beach. Step out our front door for a swim in the beautiful, refreshing bath water of the late afternoon. Accommodations offer shared rooms with individual beds or cots. Showers, wifi, telephone service, secure parking, full kitchen, and laundry facilities are all available.

Meals

The trip includes 6 meals provided by our endearing hosts including a stopover at Doña Olga’s home in Imuris, Sonora upon arrival and on our return. Remaining meals will be eaten in local restaurants or made at our group kitchen. Please indicate any dietary needs upon registration. Vegetarian, and gluten and dairy-free options will be available.

Because it is nearly mesquite season as well, we may be processing local Western honey mesquite pods for flour. Last year we prepared pitaya empanadas with hand-ground mesquite which we roasted on the grill over hot coals.

Hortensia hand grinding toasted mesquite pods

Hortensia hand grinding toasted mesquite pods

Travel in Mexico

Transportation is each participants responsibility. No special permits or visas are necessary to drive to our destination. Only vehicle insurance and a valid passport are necessary. Driving to our harvest camp includes off-road driving on poorly maintained roads. Although low clearance vehicles can easily pass, beware that obstacles exist and minor damage to one’s vehicle is possible. Travel throughout this region of Mexico is perfectly safe. John has been running these trips with groups since 2007 and has received nothing but a warm welcome from the people of Sonora. This route is commonly travelled by tourists of both Mexico and the USA.

Translation provided by John Slattery, the head tour guide and trip facilitator, as well as other native Spanish speakers within the group.

A full list of What to Bring and an Outline of the trip’s Itinerary will be sent out upon registration.

For more information email: mexicotrips@SonoranHerbalist.com

Space is Limited

 

Trip Deposit $200

John Slattery, Sonoran Herbalist   © 2015

Tucson, AZ

Herbal Traditions of Mexico – El Pinacate to Estero Santa Rosa

January 28-31, 2015
Led by Sonoran Herbalist John Slattery 
with the Molina Martinez family 
DSC_0599Sonoran herbalist, educator, forager, clinician, and experienced liáson to this family of herbalists John Slattery will be your guide on this trip. John’s goal is to help facilitate the most meaningful experience for you on this trip while informing you in whatever way he can (logistics, botany, traditional knowledge, etc.). John will be translating the content of the discussions and lessons presented by our hosts in Spanish. Normally, there are also native Spanish speakers in the group who can assist.

Seri game

This trip journeys through some of the most remote and driest desert in North America. However, the timing of our trip may allow us to see the desert erupt in a tremendous rainbow of floral display (weather permitting). From the volcanic lava fields of El Pinacate Biosphere Reserve in northwestern Sonora, through the shifting sand dunes of the coastal thornscrub vegetation, down into the Santa Rosa estuary at the mouth of the Little Hell’s Channel (Canal Infiernillo) at the Sea of Cortéz this trip will provide a unique glimpse into this fascinating terrain.

Each day of our trip will be filled with a variety of exploration, cultural immersion, plant knowledge, language, music, foods of the land, traditional healing, and so much more. This opportunity allows participants to immerse themselves in the world of the Seri and begin to see through their eyes the world in which they live.

Several meals are included with vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free options available. Meals prepared by loving, caring women using traditional ingredients cooked over natural wood fire, or in some cases freshly harvested from the sea. 

*More details coming soon.

photo credit - Ardea Maddock

photo credit – Ardea Maddock

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transportation is each participant’s responsibility. 

Full trip fee is $395 per person.

For further information:  mexicotrips@sonoranherbalist.com

Space is limited.

Price: $395.00

*Deposits are 100% refundable before January 1, 2015; 50% refundable January 1 – 15, 2015. Deposits non-refundable after January 15, 2015.

Herbal Traditions of Mexico – Voyage to Isla Tiburón

March 4-9, 2015
Led by Sonoran Herbalist John Slattery 
with the Molina Martinez family 
DSC_0599Welcome to the trip of a lifetime!

Isla Tiburón is the ancestral home of the Seri people (Comcáac). Two of our elder hosts were raised on the island in a hunter-gather lifestyle. Needless to say, they know this land well. They have relied upon this land and sea for their food, clothing, shelter, medicine, tools, stories, music, and everything which has made them who they are.

We have been granted a very unique opportunity to travel to this incredible island and to view it through the eyes of the Seri. They will be our guides, our hosts, our educators, and leaders. Their steady and kind presence allowing us to feel secure in this seemingly inhospitable world – until we begin to see it through their eyes!

Sonoran herbalist, educator, forager, clinician, and experienced liáson to this family of herbalists John Slattery will be your guide on this trip. John’s goal is to help facilitate the most meaningful experience for you on this trip while informing you in whatever way he can (logistics, botany, traditional knowledge, etc.). John will be translating the content of the discussions and lessons presented by our hosts in Spanish. Normally, there are also native Spanish speakers in the group who can assist.

Seri game

Each day of our trip will be filled with exploration, cultural immersion, plant knowledge, language, music, foods of the land, traditional healing, and so much more. This opportunity allows participants to immerse themselves in the world of the Seri and begin to see through their eyes the world in which they live.

The sea and the desert will be our classrooms with our naturalist hosts serving as facilitators and guides. The pace of learning and sharing will be dictated by our presence and willingness to listen. Our Seri hosts are extremely generous with all that they know and are more than ready to share.

Ten meals are included with vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free options available. Meals prepared by loving, caring women using traditional ingredients cooked over natural wood fire, or in some cases freshly harvested from the sea. 

photo credit - Ardea Maddock

photo credit – Ardea Maddock

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transportation is each participant’s responsibility. 

Full trip fee is $798 per person.

For further information:  mexicotrips@sonoranherbalist.com

Space is limited.

Price: $250.00

*Deposits are 100% refundable before February 1, 2015; 50% refundable February 1 – 13, 2015. Deposits non-refundable after February 13, 2015.

Herbal Traditions of Mexico: Jan. 29 – Feb. 1, 2014

A Sonoran Botanical Adventure: from the Pinacate Volcanic Fields, to the Seri homelands at the Sea of Cortéz, and the home of Olga Ruíz, legendary Sonoran Herbalist. *SEE BELOW FOR REGISTRATION Seri game This one-of-a-kind trip offers four days and three nights of guided travel and exploration through the Sonoran desert. This will be the first of our series of adventures into Sonora, Mexico for 2014. Considered the hinterland of Mexico, Sonora contains tremendous botanical diversity and a rich tradition of herbalism and wild food knowledge. We will have the great fortune of being hosted by indigenous healers and herbalists who are very open to sharing their knowledge and life experiences. Olga's house This trip is particularly unique in that we will travel to the Pinacate Lava Fields for our first night of camping. This landscape appears lunar in its starkness, yet explodes with floral brilliance in response to ample winter rains. El Pinacate   After traveling south along the new coastal highway to Santa Rosa estuary near the village of Punta Chueca, we will spend the night with our Seri hosts at their desert encampment. The following day will include a rich exchange in their cultural heritage including wild foods, plant walk (from desert coastal scrub to seashore to mangroves), medicine making demonstration, and more.

Hortensia making Salve

Hortensia making Salve

During our time together we will be botanizing in the field, discussing herbal energetics and traditional uses, identifying wild foods, and discovering unknown treasures. This trip includes one pint of tincture for each participant (there’s an option to purchase cane alcohol at our border crossing), made in the field by your own hands. We will collectively decide on a plant to harvest for medicine and prepare tincture together as a group. Organpipe Tincture After spending our last night in a clean hotel in Kino Bay (Kino Nuevo) we will head back north through Hermosillo to the small town of Imuris, Sonora. Here we will visit the legendary Sonoran Herbalist, Doña Olga Ruíz Cañez. At her home we will be treated to a tremendous feast of seasonal comida sonorense (“Sonoran cuisine”), and a full discourse on her approach to healing with herbs. Doña Olga’s yard is a repository of several important native medicinals of the region – not to mention a couple dozen fruit trees!

Doña Olga with Baiburilla

Doña Olga with Baiburilla

This unique botanical and cultural experience is facilitated by Sonoran Herbalist John Slattery. John has been leading these adventures into Sonora, Mexico since 2008. He seeks to create a bridge between the holders of traditional knowledge and those who are open to receive it; a bridge between those who live with plants, and those who seek to learn; a bridge between two cultures connected by a landscape yet divided by political boundaries. Ultimately, we wish to support their way of life in a way that honors them and provides sustenance so that they may continue on for generations to come. Total Cost for the Trip:  $395 per person *Trip fee includes:

  • 2 nights camping, 1 night hotel
  • 6 delicious home-cooked meals (gluten, corn, & dairy-free options available)
  • Several Handouts: Columnar Cacti of Sonora (Slattery), Medicinal Herbs of Doña Olga Ruíz (Slattery), A Seri Herbal, by Maria Luisa
  • Field Lesson: Herbal Tincture Making (Includes harvesting of fresh plant material and processing herb for alcohol extraction)
  • Translation for non-Spanish speaking participants
  • An integrated journey through cultures and traditional plant knowledge
  • Several mini-plant walks, including field botany, ethnobotany, and discussion of plant energetics and clinical applications

*With continued support our Seri hosts have hopes of building an herb shop within their community. Any additional donations towards this goal would be greatly appreciated. Transportation: *IMPORTANT*  Transportation is the responsibility of each participant. Upon registration please indicate if you intend to drive or need a ride. We will help facilitate a rideshare upon registration. Note: Many of the roads we will be traveling on are BRAND NEW. Although they are more narrow they are certainly of good quality at this time. All of our traveling experiences have been safe and enjoyable on these trips. A vehicle permit is NOT necessary for where we will be going on this trip. Vehicle insurance is up to the discretion of each participant, but is not required by Mexican law. We use Sanborn’s Mexican Insurance, locally. Money: You will be able to extract Mexican pesos from an ATM whenever available (each day, at some point). Cash will be needed to purchase herbs, jewelry, or museum quality baskets and crafts from our hosts. Also, there will be at least 3 restaurant meals (1 in the U.S., 2 in Sonora). Gas stations will not accept U.S. bank cards, but you can pay in US dollars. Limited space is available!   Reserve your space today by placing a $200 deposit per person:

Price: $200.00
*Deposits are refundable (minus a 5% fee) through January 8, 2014. Requests to refund deposits after January 8 through January 22 will incur a 25% fee. Deposits will not be refunded after January 22 (exception: 50% of deposit can be put towards another trip within 1 calendar year).   Reserve your space and pay for the trip in full: 
Price: $200.00
  Any questions regarding the trip email: info@sonoranherbalist.com