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Vista de la Mesa del Rincon
Juanita Ames y la autora en el campoJuanita Ames prepares one of the rock markers during a field test with the author.
Author Presents Bilingual Interpretive Trail and Plant Guide of Mesa del Rincón, San Ignacio, BCS
By Debra Valov*

Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula is a natural treasure that should be valued by Mexicans and foreigners alike.  However, almost all of the materials on the natural history of the Sonoran Desert, in which more than 60% of the peninsula is located, are only available in English.

Because I believe strongly that the local Spanish speaking population should have access to the research and projects carried out by visitors to the peninsula, I wrote my Guide to the Trails and Plants of Mesa del Rincón.

This interpretive guide about the plant species found in the San Ignacio area, is my most recent regional bilingual project.  It contains 68 pages with descriptions of the mesa, which is located on the southern edge of the town, as well as of the seven segments of the trail that cross it.  It also has descriptions of 38 species of plants, 18 of which are illustrated, and a pictorial glossary of botanical terms.

With no outside financing, our finished product would be printed on a small scale and all work would be donated.  The biggest challenge was in figuring out a way to represent the plants without the cost prohibitive reproduction of color photos, my usual medium.  Finally, I was able to turn my photos into black and white drawings with the help of a computer program.

I began the project at the end of 2009 with several hikes of the area.  However it wasn’t until almost a year later that I was able to really get to work on the project.  Nine months later, the first version in English was completed.  It consisted of 56 pages (14 folded sheets) with illustrations in black and white.  The first printing of 100 copies was done on a copy machine.

Nonetheless, I wanted to publish the same content in Spanish.  The fastest and most economical way to do that was to translate the original into Spanish, reformat it and then copy it as before.

Four months later I was able to upload the two versions to my web site, in order to make it available to the public at no cost.

The third step of the project finally combined the two publications into one truly bilingual version.  The current guide is a small, low cost, spiral bound book.  It is also available in an electronic version (PDF format).  Both versions can be found at the same site.
logo Escuinapa
Guia de los senderos y plantas en venta en Ensenada
Left: A panoramic view of Mesa del Rincón is possible from the other side of San Ignacio. Right: the Guide was on sale at the 10th Binational Botanical Symposium in Ensenada. (Photos: Debra Valov)
Pagina de la guia con ilustracionesThe guide contains illustrations based on the author´s photos
Fortunately for me, a number of opportunities have arisen to share the guide beyond the immediate San Ignacio area.  When the first Spanish version was completed, a friend invited me to give a presentation to his classmates in the alternative tourism program at the Autonomous University of Baja California Sur (UABCS) in Guerrero Negro.

Since then I have made other presentations: to the Botany Department at UC Berkeley, and at the 10th Binational Botany Symposium on Baja California and Adjacent Areas that took place at the School of Sciences at the Autonomous University of Baja California in Ensenada.  I am planning another presentation for the students in the alternative tourism program at UABCS in Loreto in January 2013.

With these presentations, besides being able to share the contents of the guide, I have been able to share a process for creating a low-cost but high quality interpretive guide, using a computer program to help create the drawings in black and white from photographs.  Perhaps one day this process will help someone interested in interpreting their own trail or region.  For me, the most important goal is to be able to teach others what I’ve learned about this unique peninsula.  In the making and publication of this bilingual trail and plant guide of San Ignacio, BCS, I believe that I have met this goal.

*Botanist and environmental educator, founder

Markers placed along the trails correspond to points on the map and to the detailed inventory of plants included in the book, offering the reader/visitor a step by step interpretation of the trail and its treasures

The first phase in the project, originally conceived by Jane “Juanita” B.  Ames of Casa Lereé in San Ignacio, was the production of a pamphlet in English.

With the goal of creating an attraction for both residents and foreign visitors to San Ignacio and with help from local youth, in 2007 Ames began to clean and restore some of the trails that already crossed the mesa, marking them for better visibility.

Already familiar with my first bilingual book on the plants of the nearby Sierra San Francisco, Ames asked me in 2008 to design a pamphlet or booklet for the interpretation of the mesa´s plants.
Journalism to Raise Environmental Awareness