Members of the Mayan Garden Club recently toured the Dr. Alfredo Barrera Marin Botanical Garden, near Puerto Morales, for their April meeting. Located on a large swath of land carved from the jungle, the Gardens are laid out along a 2km path, sometimes interspersed with rocks, so one must be careful while walking. Trees and plants along the path are labelled with their common, Latin, and local names; additionally, those sacred to the Mayans are wrapped with purple ribbons.
Different areas of the Gardens are set aside for plants of common interest; orchids, medicinal plants, fruits and vegetables, cacti, ferns, etc. Signs along the path instruct the visitors as to locations of the different areas, as well as information of educational interest.
As we toured during the end of the dry season, there were few flowers in bloom, but it was nice that the Gardens are kept as authentic to their natural habitat as possible. We saw some butterflies, spider monkeys chattering the trees, and plenty of iguanas. There were few birds, but plenty blood-sucking flies! (Note: take insect spray next time!)
In addition to the plant exhibits, there’s a charming hanging bridge, and a 3-story wooden tower that, once climbed, lets you see over the jungle and mangroves towards Puerto Morales and the Caribbean. There’s an example of a traditional Mayan home woven from twigs and a setup of how chicle was processed. There is also an area of ruins, with an “altar” of stacked stone that is quite lovely.
We all had a wonderful time at the Gardens, finding it both fascinating and educational. We highly recommend it to visitors and locals alike!