It's still brutal icy winter here in Massachusetts, but every morning shower brings a burst of Mexican sunshine via some wonderful soap that I picked up in the gift shop at San Miguel's botanical garden, El Charco del Ingenio. I'm generally not a fan of perfumed soaps, but the products made by The Lavender Project at Rancho la Colorada are heavenly. They seem to carry the smell of fresh lavender and desert air, along with the good karma of supporting a worthy cause.
From The Lavender Project website:
"In a pueblo in the central mountains of Mexico, the people can smell their independence. In a field surrounded by nopal cactus, each one looking like a collection of Mickey Mouse ears, are 2,000 fat lavender plants, which fill the country air with their famous aroma. This scent may be able to solve the problem that afflicts not just Rancho La Colorada (population 1,000), but so many pueblos across Mexico. The problem of the missing men and lost opportunities.
With almost all of the young and middle-aged men in town gone to the States looking for work (and maybe or maybe not sending money back), Rancho La Colorado feels like a women's commune. Until two years ago, these women and a few old men were supporting themselves mostly through subsistence farming. But now a U.S. non-profit called St. Anthony's Alliance is helping the pueblo become self-sufficient through lavender, with the idea that many of the townspeople can earn money through the cottage industries--soap-making, sewing sachet bags--associated with lavender. The hope is that many of the men now working in the States will eventually be able to afford to stay at home.
Now that the organic lavender plants are producing flowers, the town's co-operative has started to sell goods in the nearby tourist center of San Miguel de Allende."
--- Jeannie Ralston, author, The Unlikely Lavender Queen