When he pulled out the homemade wine, I knew I was in for a doozy of a day. I was sitting in the cluttered, 1980’s-esque office of Max Pons. A tall, narrow-faced Texan with just a hint of that unforgettable drawl, Max poured his wine out of a Snapple container into a plastic medicine cup with a subtle grin. We brought our cups together, guzzled the delicious drink, and set out to explore a piece of property unlike any other in the United States.
Max Pons is the preserve manager of the Lennox Foundation Southmost Preserve, a 1,034 acre parcel of protected land occupying the southernmost part of the continental United States. The property is bordered on three sides by the Rio Grande, while the infamous (and unsightly) border fence separates the preserve from the rest of the country. Some of the last native sabal palm forest left in the United States can be found there, as can many animal species found nowhere else in the country. That’s the reason I traveled over 2,000 miles to pay this place a visit. It was with timid excitement that I parked my trusty rental van and began exploring this Nature Conservancy preserve with my eccentric, but brilliant, guide.