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Puerto Vallarta News NetworkNews from Around Banderas Bay | March 2008 

A Shining Moment at the Botanical Gardens
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The second annual "Noche de las Luminarias," held last month at the Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens, was everything you could want from a Gala Night - and more!
(Video by Promovision)
While everyone else in Vallarta seems to be cutting down trees, Roberto and his Mum Betty are reforesting and creating ecological awareness in an increasingly magical environment - just up the road at the Vallarta Botanical Gardens.

On Thursday, February 21st, the Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens hosted its second "Noche de las Luminarias," or "Night of Light Party." This is an annual Members Appreciation Night, a lovely way to say "thank you" to all the people who have supported the Gardens through membership and donation.

It was everything you could want from a Gala night at a place as delightful as this, and it was a little more. There was an old-fashioned goodness and sweetness about the event that perfectly reflected the essence of the Gardens.

From the donkey rides and the sombrero contest, (won by Garin Bakel with his "Night of the Botanical Iguana" entry) to the children from El Tuito who danced their traditional dances for us, to the way everyone, young and old had fun on the dance floor together after the Orchid House had been officially opened and we had all eaten our fill of the delicious food.

"This is everybody's garden" Roberto says, "I want people to be able to come and reconnect with nature and experience natural beauty."

And they do, you can feel it. One can take pride in being a member of this organization: To be able to do something to help beautify Vallarta, or at least to help Roberto make a positive difference.

They've come a long way in a couple of years. I remember the first time I visited the Botanical Gardens, it was butterfly day. The path that leads to the river from the main buildings is lined with the orange and yellow bushes that magnetize butterflies of all colours, shapes and sizes. Clouds of them rose up and danced around us as we passed. I was completely enchanted.

It's an enchanting place whichever way you look at it. The magic begins before you even get there. If you don't have a car, a 45 minute bus ride will take you along one of the most scenic drives in the entire Bay. The Gardens are one stop after Chico's Paradise and a 10 degree cooler world away from town.

You walk down a gently winding path past blue agave plants, flower gardens and rain forest nooks, toward the main building; a gracious, well appointed hacienda elegantly draped with soft white material replacing sold walls, perfect for the tropics, it catches every breeze.

For weeks before I first went I had been hearing about these gardens and the work Roberto has been doing, and most specifically the pizza, everyone had been raving about the pizza. I'm not a big pizza fan myself but I was more than interested in the reforestation.

There is a long low water feature in the courtyard, and the rest rooms are in a building whose front is almost entirely covered with a very impressive butterfly collection.

The Native Mexican Orchid House is Roberto's pride and joy and the inspiration for the whole place. Orchid fanciers from all over flock there for regular meetings. "There are over a thousand species of orchid here in Jalisco, more than anywhere else in Mexico" he says proudly as he introduces people to some of the different varieties. "Many of them are for sale here."

When Roberto first arrived in Puerto Vallarta he was looking for a sign as to what to do with his life, and while he was hiking in the mountains looking for orchids it came to him that nothing made him happier than doing just that, and the idea for creating an orchid farm here took hold.

The concept blossomed as he realized that what Puerto Vallarta could really benefit from was a Botanical Garden, a place where people could go to learn about nature and discover the miracles available to them in plants and flowers.

So he and Betty started work. They started by planting 3000 hardwood trees between the 6000 agave that are already there, they are only using local trees as they turn their eight hectares back into rain forest with the acorns they have collected from all over.

It's a wonderful thing they are doing, and it gives heart and hope to those of us who are despairing at the wholesale destruction of natural resources everywhere else round town.

We were given a fascinating botanical tour through the different environments they are creating there; then we went down the river for a refreshing swim before lunch.

Bring your swim suit when you go, there are terrific swimming holes and diving pools near some wonderful white rock formations that look like they have been molded out of clay by a giant hand.

It's a great place for a picnic but we wanted to eat in one of the lovely dining areas back at the main house. There are several, each with its own charm. We sat on a terrace overlooking the river admiring the frame of lush jungle clad mountains and I finally got to taste what everyone has been raving about.

I don't know what it is about their pizza, maybe its the way it is cooked in their big brick oven, or the all natural ingredients, or the heavenly breeze and the gorgeous environment, most probably its all of the above, whatever it is I am no longer surprised that people are willing to drive 45 minutes to have lunch here.

Afterwards we wandered up to the gift shop, they have all kinds of cool things to take home as souvenirs but they are probably best known for their beautiful statues of the Virgin Mary. They have several different sizes Roberto is known for donating them to hospitals and other worthy causes.

He's a good bloke that Roberto, and he's doing some fine things for Vallarta, so get out there and support him, and enjoy some truly awesome pizza in the process.

The Botanical Gardens is a non profit organization dedicated to those who work to preserve the beauty of the earth and those who labor to teach others the value and wonder of their environment.

They rely on volunteers and members, and there are seven different membership types available depending on one's budget, all are tax deductible. For more information, please visit or send an email to membership(at)
JOY! Is an internationally acclaimed life transformation coach, famous for her unreasonable success in helping people move through their challenges with her unorthodox approach and emPOWERment tools. For more information, visit her website or call 044-322-129-1128.

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