Cuaxicala and the calabash tree

In the area of the Nuevo Necaxa–Tihuatlán highway project, ICA introduced a sustainable project in Cuaxicala, a community located in the mountainous region of Puebla, surrounded by forests and inaccessible to automobiles or machinery. Because of ICA's relationship of open dialogue with its communities, we were able to establish a productive interaction with residents and authorities of Cuaxicala, promoting environmental education which, through our highway projects, was brought to 13 municipalities in Puebla and Hidalgo.

Cuaxicala means "place of the jícaro (calabash) tree," a species that had practically disappeared because of deforestation. The final blow was a frost that finished off the last remaining species in the area, revealing how important to the local environment and economy it had been, especially its enormous rounded fruit which, when dried, can be used to make crafts and receptacles, as well as animal feed and, as it decomposes, attracts various species of fauna that had also been lost.

ICA created a project that was enthusiastically welcomed by local residents: besides replanting a well-defined area with jícaro trees, it encouraged the use of the jícaro fruit for making crafts and obtaining an economic income. As a first step, each child was given a tree to plant at home, and instructions on how to care for it.

To date, ICA has planted 8,000 trees and forged a closer relationship with the community. Through unity, work, effort and dialogue, this project has been advancing at a steady pace, while building a more promising future for the community of Cuaxicala, a place whose cold climes contrast with the warmth of its people.