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Here I would love to share with you our travels and adventures as international mushroom consultants. MEMOIRS about husband Pieter Vedder, who was a SCIENTIFIC PIONEER in Commercial Mushroom Cultivation Education. His practical handbook is in 9 languages and is called the MUSHROOM BIBLE: https://mariettesbacktobasics.blogspot.com/2020/08/modern-mushroom-growing-2020-harvesting.html

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Mexico's Mariachi music, string, song and trumpet and I got serenaded...

 We both have been so fortunate for having met the pure Mexican culture in many ways.
Here I'm standing next to a group of Mariachis that came to play and sing at a stylish Mass, celebrating the 49th anniversary of El Encinal, Monteblanco's oldest mushroom farm.
Mariachis are without hats; out of respect!
To the left is the manager from El Encinal and Don Victor who started Monteblanco 49 years ago is seated next to me and on the right of me is his son.
The kind Mariachi lends Pieter his violin...
The priest is getting ready for saying Mass
It was a very special Mass and afterward lunch for all employees.
During Mass, which got celebrated with lots of fresh flowers!
Mariachis still playing while employees are seated at table now.
Second from left is me standing near the door...
No paper napkins and such, but instead an Eco friendly table setting!
That was a meaningful event and most of the employees are grateful for their job!
UNESCO has added Mexico's Mariachi music to its list of 'intangible cultural heritage of humanity'.
Glad they did!
On our fourth trip for consulting in Mexico, we got another very special royal treatment...
On Saturday, December 2 of 1995, we got picked up at the Camino Real Hotel in Mexico City, by Agustín and Carmen. They took us to the Historic District of Mexico City (UNESCO World Heritage Site) where we had lunch on a terrace with a margarita, under a parasol in the sun. It is such a beautiful city with many parks, trees and green planting; paradise. 
After lunch we did walk around for some shopping together, for us CD's from the three tenors and organ music from Bach which we could not find at Schiphol/Amsterdam airport.
After a rest period back in our hotel, Agustín and Carmen picked us up again at 21:00 to go to Plaza Girabaldi where, according to the old Spanish tradition, the Mariachis still serenade. The idea is that you will listen in the square and pick out a group for taking to your home for serenading your wife/girlfriend/lover... 
What a display! 
It's like being in a live operette with such beautiful costumes!!!
Beautiful trousers with those gold decorations along the side of their legs. The length is also perfect; nice and long down to their booties. Very slim cut and higher waist, as in the movies used to be. Also with hats on, and they use violins, bass guitars, trumpet and a unique instrument the Vihuela (a 15th-century fretted plucked Spanish string instrument).
Agustín bought a group, for three songs; dedicated to Carmen and me.
That was very special!
Of course, the audience could also enjoy it. 

WISH we'd had our iPhones back then...!

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Sunday, June 27, 2021

Mansión Galindo in San Juan del Río, Querétaro in México

On Sunday afternoon, February 27, of 1994 we departed from Valle de Bravo to Amealco in the state Querétaro, our 3rd state. It gave us a good idea of the rural area where lots of cacti and agave grew, rather poor and very sparsely populated. Homes that looked more like huts, with corrugated metal roofs and big rocks that had to hold them in place. A donkey or a cow often stood there, on a rope. We saw also lots of pack mules, that were badly in the hair and looked desolate. If the humans have no wealth, it shows also on their animals...
For both of us, as son and daughter of a market gardener, the soil looked very poor with so much stones and only a very thin upper layer. 
Agustín pointed out how happy those farmers were with the spent compost from their mushroom farms; that was such an improvement for them.
Next we approach better grounds where in the 16th century the Spaniards had started irrigation by means of canals, to divert the lake water to the fields.
We're approaching such a medieval Spanish hacienda; Mansión Galindo where we will stay. 
Here Pieter is outside on the patio of Mansión Galindo where we always enjoyed our breakfast.
Photo is from May 29, 1997 as we have been there, numerous times over the years.
Me standing inside the patio.
If only those ancient trees could talk!
Do you see that HUGE palm tree to the right? How old that might be.
Fiesta Americana where you can see also a gallery of photos
Our first trip for consulting work, we did stay here for three nights before going back to the airport in México City on March 2nd. 
Another beautiful experience richer we arrived back home in Georgia/USA!

Related links:
Hacienda Galindo Fiesta Americana | Excellent 2 min. video to see how we arrived and how it looks

Friday, June 25, 2021

Trip to Zitácuaro in Michoacán, México for Viewing Monarch Butterflies

Another highlight of our very first consulting period:
 It was quite a treat when Agustín and Carmen took us after our patio breakfast, to this Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary in Zitácuaro in the state of Michoacán.
It was a good two hour drive and quite a climb into the mountains.
The trail we followed was also steep at certain segments.
Taking a 'good' photo was nearly impossible as those butterflies don't sit still...
There are state rangers watching, it is prohibited to smoke and you are not allowed to be noisy!
Incredible to see those Monarch butterflies EVERYWHERE!
Millions of them make the migration every year from Canada and the USA for the winter.
The Monarch butterflies seek refuge in the protective Abies religiosa, Oyamel fir trees,  known as Oyamel in Spanish.
Pieter, Carmen and me in front of the trees with yellow flowers on which the Monarchs feast and they drink water.
Carmen and me with a butterfly on the flap of my cap.
Carmen trying hard to stand still, not using her camera and one is right on top of her hat!
Pieter has one on his cap...
Millions of Monarch butterflies...
Pieter standing quiet (which is very hard for him to do!) and he is surrounded by lots of them.
Just walking quietly everywhere...
It sure was a once in a lifetime adventure!
Patrimonia de la Humanidad = World Heritage Site and since 2008 also added as UNESCO World Heritage Site

Both of us feel privileged for having them as our own garden critters: Monarch Butterfly on Citrus Flower ←click for my short video

Related link:
Relaxing Weekend at Valle de Bravo, Mexico | we arrived at the sanctuary from Valle de Bravo
Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve | UNESCO World Heritage Center
{Monarch Butterfly - Danaus Plexippus} | previous post by me about Monarch Butterfly in our garden
{Fall is the Spring of Winter} | previous post where I also show a Monarch in our garden

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Relaxing Weekend at Valle de Bravo, Mexico

 Our first week at work ended with a royal treatment at the owner's lake house in Valle de Bravo
Pieter, happily standing outside with the spectacular view of the lake and mountains!
During our 2nd stay there on January 15 of 1995, Pieter did sail on the lake with Agustín; his first time ever.
Breakfast outside, on the patio... Eco friendly without any paper napkins, plates or cups!
It can't be more romantic than that!
Agustín and Carmen always were such gracious hosts. They have over those twelve years of working for the company, and even far beyond that, become great friends!
View from the patio over the lake...
Such a lovely place to come to with their family and friends...
We sure didn't mind being here Friday late afternoon through Sunday!
View from the pool area.
View to the other side, as seen from the pool area.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Settling a Dispute in SPANISH with Disgruntled Customer

My 6th period of consulting in Mexico, May 1997. 
Only being my 2nd day on the job as consultant, I got involved in solving a customer's dispute...
Trying to convince a disgruntled customer of our intention to grow, pick and ship top quality mushrooms...
Quite a language test!
Looking inside the truck at product that was refused; wrongly in my opinion because it was quite good.
Yes, we do have quality on the beds and harvesters are quite well being trained and educated.
The dispute has been settled.
Earned me a cup of coffee!
Yes, it was an impromptu Spanish practice but I've always loved this language and the people.
Manager Luis Astier next to me and Agustín one of the owners of Monteblanco.
Great friendships over the years and fond memories.
On Friday evening, three days later, we enjoyed a delicious dinner at a well known fish restaurant in Mexico City where also was a kind of an antique bowling alley.
Agustín, one of the owners with his wife Carmen.

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Saturday, June 19, 2021

Pleasant Environment in Mexico with Great Team

At the Monteblanco location of El Corralito, there was a great team spirit.
Basque born Chef (manager) Luis Astier (left) with his Sous Chefs...
Yep, preparing good compost substrate is the most important ingredient to success in mushroom growing!
A coffee break was always great for catching up with everything going on in the different areas.
Husband Pieter is 2nd from right, wearing his Monteblanco overall for hygienic reasons, just as I wore my white coat apron (3rd from right).
Left my cap on the table...
Chef Luis Astier was a great manager and also a real hobby Chef; hence that first photo with the Chef's hats.
It was Luis, who installed a coffee break with fresh fruits for his staff!
You can now see my plate with fruits... The 'Chef' is 2nd from left, next to husband Pieter.
Agustín, one of the owners is to Pieter's right.
They sure had some great Lady Chefs on the premises, who prepared a delicious lunch for the staff people and we both got lucky for being part of that!
Speaking the language and managing to pass down a compliment to the Lady Chefs, they learned that my Pieter LOVES arroz con leche (rice pudding) so they saved him some leftover for surprising him next day. 
Pieter was smiling from ear to ear. 
Kind people!
View from the window over the compost slab with the mountains in the back.

Related post:

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Consulting in Mexico Brought us Again to Mountainous Areas

 Yes, most of the mushroom farms we did consulting work for, were located in mountainous areas...
Here, Pieter is smiling happily in our new surroundings on Saturday, February 19, 1994 at our very first consulting trip to Mexico. On our way to one of the Champiñones Monteblanco farms outside of Mexico City, called Rancho El Corralito.
Approaching the mushroom farm...
A very nice layout for a mushroom farm and complete with garden!
Having a closer look
Very well maintained!
Taken during a different trip, from the car...
Together with Juan Carlos I did go to four of their locations on that Saturday, the ones around Mexico City. 
Just to get an idea of how we will start the training for next week.
Juan Carlos told me that it meant a lot to those Mexicans; part Indian and part Spanish, that a blonde blue-eyed Dutch was coming to work with them, at their level. Showing them how it is being done by using my hands and verbally explaining to them 'why' and 'how'.
For both of us, no reservations but it seems that still in many countries people look up to Europeans as being superior. What a pity but at least the two of us have worked on that in many countries for evening it out.
In the afternoon, Agustín and his wife Carmen took us both to the Highlights of the National Museum of Anthropology of Mexico City or Museo Nacional de Antropología which was very interesting!
It made us want to eat, and love, our Aztec soup, once back at our hotel and we went to bed early.
A lovely day!
Sunday, was a lazy day for us with swimming in the heated pool at the Camino Réal Hotel.
We also walked to a nearby Church for attending Mass. 
On Monday, we both started our work and I had the back up of Juan Carlos, IF I got stuck with my Spanish, and it went well, with a few times his help.
After work we had a quick change at the hotel and Agustín took us to Carmen's Parents; Don Victor and Doña Conchita. We enjoyed a lovely dinner and talked a lot about his almost 45 year old mushroom business with now 3 of his children running it.
Their etiquette was impeccable, as their servants served the ladies first and the lady guest(s) before their own ladies and then the gents.
That was a real honor and it's all so obvious in our work, as compensation or as an extra appreciation. 
It sure builds a fine and lasting friendship with such people.
We went home feeling grateful.
On Tuesday, after work, we had the BEST experience that we've ever seen so far... Agustín and Carmen came to pick us up at the hotel for a beautiful Mexican Folklore Ballet 
That was a superb dance group!
The Ballet was in Mexico's Palace of Fine Arts a wonderful, beautiful architectural marvel in itself. 
And there you are, as two humble market gardeners' children, enjoying such a famous group in all its exotic colors... More beautiful than anything you could ever see on T.V. 
Palace of Fine Arts in the Historic Center of Mexico City has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Another spectacular evening, above all expectations of Mexico City.
A city that already amazed us...
On Wednesday, after work, Juan Carlos took me to his home for introducing his wife and baby-daughter to me. A very pleasant meeting and good for both parties to know who is working with whom.
On our route from the mushroom farm we saw a pilgrims tour. Every village makes yearly a pilgrimage on foot to Maria of Guadalupe. They walk about 100 km on foot with a few small trucks in-between for food, water and blankets. When evening sets in, they sleep alongside the road, against houses on the pavement and rolled inside blankets... also in groups beneath the trucks if they park them alongside the road. Entire caravans and they do block the traffic for a moment when passing by.
It was very impressive!

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